Is importing licence-plate covers allowed?

| 27/03/2019

Could you maybe look into why the importation of such (licence-plate) covers is not banned?

Auntie’s answer: This question was asked in a comment on a column that ran in January, “Stop obscuring licence plates”. They say timing is everything, so I want to point out that the column in question is from January this year. (And, please bear with me because I will be offering a related, though very partial, answer for you farther down.)

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

I sent the question to the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing (DVDL), and an official answered me in less than an hour. And, no your eyes are not deceiving you. In fact, I cannot say enough good things about how responsive that department has been to the many questions asked of them over the three-plus years this column has existed.

On the flip side, the Customs Department continues its lack of transparency (sort of like those suspicious licence plates). To be precise, almost two months and several emails later, I did not get so much as “I received your email and will respond in due course” from Customs. Even if they never actually answered the question, a return email at least indicates there is someone at the department receiving my queries.

I will note that Customs is not the only government entity that consistently ignores my attempts at getting information, but they are possibly the least helpful. It seems that some government departments don’t seem to understand the simple, yet elegant, concept of the “public’s right to know”. At the very least, it just looks bad for a public servant not to answer a question posed to them.

I like to think that, in my only little way, I provide a service both for my readers and the government agencies who only have to respond to me and, job done, the information gets disseminated without anyone leaving their desk. But, I will keep making the attempt because I am nothing if not stubborn.

Having that said, here is that partial answer I promised. The ever-helpful DVDL official explained that the Traffic Law does address the issue of obscuring licence plates. And Section 5(3) of The Traffic Regulations (2017 Revision) says that anyone who does something to affect the legibility of a registration plate “commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of three hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term of six months, or to both”.

The official added, “If, and when, a customer shows up at DVDL with those covers on, we have them removed before proceeding with inspecting the vehicle.” I realise that is not the most satisfactory solution but it’s something.

But I still cannot tell you why the importation of these offending covers is not banned or what, if any, policy on them exists over at Customs.

The law mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Vehicle Licensing Questions

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have a $5 clear UV cover on my plate to protect it from salt, dirt, and sun damage, and it is not obscured at all. No DVDL complaints whatsoever. I think the problem are the tinted/obscured variety, but none of this should really matter if there is a functional windshield RFID.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Clearly the customs department is on vacation somewhere. They don’t answer your questions — it takes 3-4 weeks for goods arriving in Cayman to make their way through customs.

    Asleep at the wheel as usual — GIG.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Think how much money the Traffic Department could make simply by walking through parking lots with one of those windshield breakers (that snap with a spring), breaking them and placing the required $300 fine on the windshield.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks good article and research – so if “… Section 5(3) of The Traffic Regulations (2017 Revision) says that anyone who does something to affect the legibility of a registration plate “commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of three hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term of six months, or to both”. “, another question could be ‘Why have the RCIP never enforced this ? It’s not hard to find cars with blacked out plates during a walk through the supermarket parking lot on any given day, and since the perp’s car is parked, they don’t even need to chase. Enforcing this law might also help enhance the value (some day?) of that multi-million dollar ANPR camera system installed a few years ago .. were those ever to become operable, they wouldn’t do much good on one of these cars with a blacked out plate. This is a crime that DOES also affect me as a member of the public, as I would be unable to report license number to the police in the case of a hit-and-run accident or other involving that car as ‘get-away’ vehicle …

  5. Anonymous says:

    Auntie. The bureaucratic stone-walling [by Customs] you received , in your instance , can be interpreted as ‘ We don’t like your questioning, so we don’t see a need to answer you , ever ‘.
    On the other hand , the prompt answer from the DVDL illustrates the exact opposite by a government entity :’ We have an obligation to answer the publics questions , as it is most likely related to road safety, as well as being a department priority’.
    The difference between the two just demonstrates the new ‘C.B.P’ considers themselves an entity on its own , whereby engaging the public just isn’t a priority on their agenda.

    • Anonymous says:

      Customs are all jokers…seconded by the residents and expats alike!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        If it is someone’s role, whether express or inherent, to provide a response, they should be prosecuted under the penal code for failure to perform their duty. When will enough be enough?