Phurpa Lhamo 

Since the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) initiated a grace period for the public to transfer vehicle ownership, 20,860 vehicles have been transferred to new owners between May and October 27.

Out of the total, 17,793 were light vehicles and 1,364 were two-wheelers.

In May of this year, vehicle owners across Bhutan searched for the owners of their old vehicles after the RSTA started to review the vehicle registry system.

Section 25 of the Road Safety and Transport Regulations 1999 states that a person selling the vehicle must report to the authority in person and transfer the ownership in the name of the person buying the vehicle within 15 days of the sale.

In an earlier statement, RSTA stated that the requirement to change vehicle ownership was not a sudden policy or regulatory change, but has been consistently implemented as per the RSTA Regulations 1999.

The grace period was initially introduced for three months: between May 1 and July 31.

RSTA chief transport officer Sithar Dorji said that the grace period was extended until December 31st, because individuals were still coming forward, and dzongkhags such as Chukha were under lockdown, and people were unable to appear in person to transfer the ownership.

To further encourage transferring of vehicle ownership, for individuals who haven’t been able to find the previous owner of the vehicle, a letter of undertaking was introduced to replace the sales deed.

Sithar Dorji said that the letter of undertaking, which is available on the RSTA website, is equivalent to the sales deed.

RSTA data shows that 5,044 ownership transfers were made in May of this year. The number increased to 5,560 in June, and later to 6,611 in July. In the month of October, as of the 27th, there were more than 800 ownership transfers.

Bhutan has 114,646 vehicles registered with the RSTA as of June 30th this year.

Meanwhile, for the financial year 2020-2021, the authority earned Nu 487.302 million, which was an increase of 15.8 percent from the last financial year.

Sithar Dorji said that the increase couldn’t be attributed to ownership transfer alone, but to the introduction of more efficient online services as well, among other reasons.