$2 vs. $300: New Online Service for Drivers Allows Ukrainians to Access the Information They Need without Middlemen or Bribes

Buying a second-hand car in Ukraine used to be far from simple. Oleksiy would go to the online marketplace, find a car he liked, and drive to its location to check it out. But, according to Oleksiy, “you couldn’t just buy a used car without an intermediary, otherwise you didn’t know what you were getting, because there was no access to information about used cars.” So, while test driving the car, he would get the vehicle identification number (VIN) from the owner and call a middleman at the National Auto Inspection Service (DAI) to verify the number.

Since these databases weren’t accessible to the public, people like Oleksiy had to ”know someone” at the DAI to get this information. Each VIN verification cost up to $200. Another $100 went toward travel to see the car and to get DAI assistance with registration. All in all, car buyers in Ukraine were paying an average of $300 in shadow money per vehicle. Unless they paid these bribes, they risked buying a stolen or damaged vehicle.

Since December 21, 2018, with the help of USAID / UK aid TAPAS Project, Ukrainians can search a car’s history by its VIN for less than $2 via the Driver’s Web Portal. As of July 2021, more than 1.6 million Ukrainians have used the Driver’s Web Portal. In addition, according to the new edition of the CMU’s Decree No. 835, the Ministry of Infrastructure recently opened VIN code data within the national dataset on information about vehicles and their owners, the most popular dataset on the opendata.gov.ua portal (https://bit.ly/3hdbuiu). Making this data available for everyone will boost transparency in the сar market.