Buying a Car in Germany

The process of buying a new car is fairly easy. A reputed dealership would take care and advise all the processes involved from test drive to registration.

This page contains topics:

  1. How to register a used car on your name?
  2. Cost of vehicle registration
  3. Importing a vehicle to Germany

As anywhere else in the world, buying a used car is not an easy task. Usually, people in Germany avoid buying used cars from dealers, as dealership of used cars is not trusted. Instead, they find it more convenient and trustworthy to buy a used car directly from the owner. There are many websites where used cars can be found.

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20 years of experience

27 years research

Taught German from A1 to B2 in just 60 days

with Michael Schmitz

Some companies also sell their approved second-hand cars like following:




As anywhere else in the world thoroughinspection of used car and its documents before buying is necessary. Documents you should check are:

After you have inspected the car mechanically also tested it on road, and settled the price, don’t forget to write a buying contract (Kaufvertrag ). There are many ready to print examples are available online. For example, the this one is from TÜV Süd.

Odometer Manipulation (in German Tachomanipulation)

Among other mechanical checks is Odometer manipulation, to which most people don’t pay attention. Though any alteration or manipulation in Odometer is illegal in Germany but there are people, especially in Eastern Europe who have systems to change the kilometer readings (mileage) of vehicles.

Likely there are some mobile apps like "Carly" which can detect any manipulation in the tachometer. It’s a good idea to invest in such kind of soft and hardware to prevent a bigger loss.

Registering the Vehicle on Your Name

After buying a car you need to register it to your name in your city of residence. The authority responsible for registration is Zulassungsstelle or Fahrzeugzulassungsstelle. . Following documents are required to register a vehicle.

1. Proof of Identity

  1. Identity card or passport (in case of EU citizen Identity card is enough with Meldebescheinigung).
  2. You have to personally appear before vehicle registering authority, alternately you can provide power of attorney.

2. Proof of Address

In Germany, registration of residential address is necessary for everyone. Zulassungsstelle has access to your registered address, but authority there can also demand proof of address. German ID cards have the address written on them. Foreigners can take registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung) from town hall office as proof of address with them.

3. Proof of Ownership

Vehicle documents from the previous owner

  1. Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I (Fahrzeugschein)
  2. Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil II (Fahrzeugbrief)

and buying contract (Kaufvertrag).

Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil II (Fahrzeugbrief) is the original document that has all the details of the vehicle. It should be kept safe at home. Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I (Fahrzeugschein) is summary of Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I (Fahrzeugschein), that drivers keep in their vehicles with them. Registration is possible without Fahrzuegschein but not without Fahrzeugbrief.

4. Driver’s License

5. eVB Number (Electronic Insurance Confirmation)

A third-party liability coverage is mandatory before vehicle registration in Germany. Liability coverage is minimum officially required insurance. There are also partial coverage insurance and comprehensive coverage available.

Please see this page for more details on insurance.

6. Proof of Vehicle Safety Test (Hauptuntersuchung (HU)) & Emissions Test (Abgasuntersuchung(AU))

Previous owner must provide HU and AU inspection certificate (if there’s no entry in vehicle registration).

If the previous owner was still driving the car at the time of selling, he/she has not deregistered the car of his/her name. HU and AU inspections are mandatory after three years for a newly bought vehicle and after first inspection, the vehicle must be subject to inspection every two years. There are many firms which conduct these inspections and issue certificates, for example, TÜV, DEKRA etc.

If the previous owner has already deregistered the vehicle, chances are that inspections validity has also expired. You should mechanically check deregistered vehicle thoroughly before buying. Then you need to bring the vehicle to inspection firms and get an inspection certificate.

7. Old Registration / Number plates

Previous owner should also provide old registration plates if they are not attached to deregistered vehicle.

8. Direct Debit Authorization (Sepa-Lastschriftmandat)

You have to provide direct debit authorization to the authority for deduction of vehicle tax.

9. COC Papers (for New Cars Only)

The COC papers are a certificate proving that the car complies with EU standards. The COC papers are handed over by the manufacturer when the car is first sold. It contains all the important features and technical details of the vehicle.

Costs of Vehicle Registration

Cost of vehicle registration can vary from 10 to 40 Euros depending on the case. If you are just changing the registration district of your vehicle and not the owner, it may cost up to 11 Euros. If the registration has to change form one owner to another it can cost up to 30 Euros. You can even get the registration number of your choice by paying an extra 40 Euros.


Importing a Vehicle to Germany

Import from a non-EU Country

Vehicle import from a non-EU country is subjected to following taxes:

If your intention is to get permanent German residence you can avoid these import taxes on all of your households including a personal vehicle. Please see this page for more details.

If your plan is to live in Germany for less than a year, you are allowed to drive in Germany with your registration plate of your home country. You would need to translate the original vehicle documents into the German language (from any authorized translator/interpreter or from any national motoring club like ADAC). Additionally, you would need mandatory insurance for your vehicle and inspection test. Please note that most foreign vehicles need mechanical alternations to pass the roadworthy test in Germany.

For a stay longer than one year, the vehicle must be registered with your local Fahrzeugzulassungsstelle in Germany. In that case, you would need following documents:

Importing a Vehicle from an EU Memeber State

Importing a used car from an EU state into Germany is relatively easy. The big headache of vehicle inspection is over as according to current EU regulations a car from one EU country can be imported to another EU country without a mechanical inspection. However, it needs to pass a vehicle safety test ( Hauptuntersuchung (HU)) & and emissions test (Abgasuntersuchung(AU)).

The process of registering a vehicle imported from within EU is the same as a car bought inside Germany.

Please note that an import of a used car with kilometer reading of up to 6000km or a car older up to 6 months would consider a "new car" in Germany.