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. Buying a used car in Germany
    1. Odometer Manipulation
  2. How to register a used car on your name?
  3. Cost of vehicle registration
  4. Importing a vehicle to Germany
    1. Import from a non-EU Country
    2. Importing a Vehicle from an EU Memeber State

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1. Buying a used car in Germany

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

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

Buying a used car is not an easy task. Usually, people in Germany avoid buying used cars from used car's dealers and 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. Some are:

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

1.1 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 some 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 software or hardware to prevent a bigger loss.

2. 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.

2.1 Proof of Identity

  1. Identity card or passport (In case of EU citizen identity card is enough with the residence registration certificate i.e. Anmeldebescheinigung.)
  2. You have to personally appear before vehicle registering authority. Alternately, you can provide power of attorney to a third person.

2.2 Proof of Address

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

2.3 Proof of Ownership

Vehicle documents from the previous owner

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

and the 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 the summary of Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I (Fahrzeugschein), that drivers keep in their vehicles with them. Registration is possible without Fahrzuegschein but not without Fahrzeugbrief.

2.4 Driver’s License

2.5 eVB Number (Electronic Insurance Confirmation)

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

Please visit this page to read more details about insurance in Germany.

2.6 Proof of Vehicle Safety Test (Hauptuntersuchung (HU)) & Exhaust Emissions Test (Abgasuntersuchung(AU))

If the previous owner was still driving the car at the time of selling and has not deregistered the car of his/her name. Then he/she must provide an HU and AU inspection certificate for the vehicle. (If there’s no entry in the vehicle registration).

HU and AU inspections are mandatory after three years for a newly bought vehicle and after the first inspection, the vehicle must be subject to inspection every two years. Many firms conduct these inspections and issue certificates, for example, TÜV, DEKRA, etc.

If the previous owner has already deregistered the vehicle, chances are that the validity of the inspection has also expired. The buyer should mechanically check the deregistered vehicle thoroughly before buying. Unregistered vehicles may have serious problems. After buying, the vehicle must be brought to the inspection firm, which then grants an inspection certificate.

2.7 Old Registration / Number plates

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

2.8 Direct Debit Authorization (Sepa-Lastschriftmandat)

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

2.9 COC Papers (for New Cars Only)

COC papers provide certification that a car complies with EU standards. COC papers are handed over by the manufacturer when the car is first sold and contain all the important features and technical details of the vehicle.

3. Costs of Vehicle Registration

The 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, this may costs up to 11 Euros. If the registration has to be changed from 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.

4. Importing a Vehicle to Germany

4.1 Import from a non-EU Country

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

If you are intending 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 you plan to live in Germany for less than a year, then 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 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 (vehicle registration office) in Germany. In that case, you would need the following documents:

4.2 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 state can be imported into another EU state without a mechanical inspection. However, it needs to pass the vehicle safety test ( Hauptuntersuchung (HU)) & and the exhaust emissions test (Abgasuntersuchung(AU)).

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

Please note that an import of a used car with an odometer's reading of up to 6000 km or a car older up to 6 months falls under the category of "new car" in Germany.

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