Buying a car in Germany & registering it

With a few years in the country behind you often comes a more stable job with a more stable income. When this happens, you decide it’s time you earned some comfort and stopped with those dodgy BlaBlacar car-sharing trips and those horribly late Deutsche Bahn trains. You have earned some independence and so you might want to buy a car in Germany.

However, you are not really familiar with the rules that governs the local car’s market and you don’t want to be screwed over because the dealer took advantage of your lack of knowledge. I crafted a guide to a prospective car owner so you don’t make the mistakes i did. 🙂

Buy car germany

Here it goes.

1 – Buy a car in Germany

Buying a new car in Germany

I won’t go into much details about buying a new car in Germany as most of the process is similar to what you might know in your own country.

  • Create an account and search alerts on platforms like Mobile.deAutoScout24 or AutoHaus24
  • There are dealerships which sell your favorite brand of car
  • You go in one to test drive it and talk about options with the sales man
  • You discuss leasing rates if you can’t afford to pay for it cash
  • You discuss the trade-in value of your own car if applicable
  • You shake hands and wait 2-3 weeks to pick it up

The only additional information that is relevant to you at this point is that the dealerships usually offers to assist with the insurance & registration process. It is sometimes a way to get good prices on car insurance in Germany. Otherwise, there is little room for negotiation on the price than in other countries. Options’ prices can be more flexible though.

Buying a second-hand car in Germany

My father once said; “a new car is the worst investment you can make in life as its value only drops with time”. That might put you off buying a brand new car and will push you to go towards the more affordable second-hand options (Gebraucht). It’s a good idea. German people absolutely love trading cars and they also take good care of them so it’s not rare to find second-hand cars in Germany that are in pristine conditions.

My father once said; “a new car is the worst investment you can make in life as its value only drops with time”

Speaking of car value; there is scale known as the “Schwake Liste” that all car traders who sell & buy cars in Germany recognize. It sets the value of all cars down to every model of every year. This is handy to compare the listed price with the offers you will find. Although it’s excellent guidance, this list also reflects price drops due to the bad reputation or perception of certain brands.
Typically, German cars experience a smaller value drop than french cars due to their reputation. Although it is often justified, some cars with less “prestige” might also be worth a second look. Other example; Skoda cars which use the same parts as Volkswagen experience a higher price drop. If you have already have a car, this list will help you trade it too.

You can find second-hand cars in Germany on platforms like AutoScout24 or too. I found my beloved Peugeot 308 on after creating an account and a search agent with my main criteria. Not too narrow, not too broad: “A Peugeot 308 or Skoda Fabia less than 10 years old, less than 150.000 km” was a good start for me.

What to look for when buying a car in Germany

Now all those are just reminders, i know you’ve made your research already! 😉 The ADAC also has a full check-list there (DE) or another check-list here in English.

  • Mileage – age of the car
  • First registration (EZ – Erstzulassung)
  • Number of owners
  • Diesel fuel or Petrol (Diesel or Benzin)
  • Date of the next roadworthiness check (HU/AU/TÜV).
  • Engine power
  • Known issues

How to find cheaper second-hand cars in Germany

You can take advantage of certain tips & rules to drive the price down further and making the most of your budget if you want to buy a car in Germany.


Those are vehicles bought new by employees of car manufacturers such as BMW or Volkswagen with a special discount. To avoid unlawful trading, they have to keep it at least a year before selling it again. This means that the car are in a really good condition, fairly recent, and at a good price. Definitely something to look for in listings.

EU cars

The European Union has introduced the common market where each country can freely trade their goods & products with anyone in it. This is also true for cars; you can buy them from other countries where they are cheaper, thank to lower tax rates among other things. In other words, you are free to shop for a second-hand car in Germany (or new cars too) in other countries. Be careful though; some models have different options from a country to another and the terms of the sales contract & warranty might be less protective of the buyer than in Germany. There might also be less included service in the contract. Make sure to read to small prints. Another drawback is naturally that you can’t test-drive the car before you buy it.


This literally means “test drive cars”. Those are the new cars used to take around customers looking for a new car in a dealership. Although it’s not exactly a second-hand car, there can be a significant rebate on a car that has been driving only a few kilometers. However, what you see is what you get. No possibility to take different options or a different engine. There is only this one car.

Graffiti of the Berlin Wall
Graffiti of the Berlin Wall

2- Administrative steps to take once you found your dream ride

Finding a car to buy in Germany is only your ticket to get into the ring, you need to fight a few more rounds to finally drive away with it. You have to make all the technical checks happen, insure and register your car in Germany.

TÜV/AU/HU – Roadworthiness inspection

In Germany, roadworthiness inspections are a public safety business conducted by private organizations such as TÜV & DEKRA in mandated technical center. They make your car go through the “Hauptuntersuchung” (HU) & the “Abgasuntersuchung” (AU). Both checks are part of the same test now, and German people will often simply say the “TÜV check” when talking about the HU. They are pretty much synonyms today. If everything goes well, your car will be given the green light for 24 months, after which a new inspection has to be performed. This inspection is mandatory to register your car in Germany and costs around 110€.

If the car you bought still has a valid certificate, you don’t need to make it test again. Make sure to get the certificate from the previous owner then.


I teach you nothing; to buy a car in Germany also means having an insurance. I have made an extensive post about it here on this page. It is also a step-by-step-guide and a recommended read. The EVB Nummer is also mandatory to register your car in Germany.


Once you have collected all the right documents (Insurance certificate, TÜV certificate, sales contract, passport, Meldebescheinigung), you are ready to go to the local car registration office, the Zulassungsbehörde also know as KFZ-Zulassungsstelle. Once all the documents have been checked, you will pay 46€ to receive a paper that will finally allow you to buy your license plates. You can’t miss all the shops right next to the Zulassungsbehörde which sole’s business is to sell you those. You can negotiate prices between 15€ & 20€. When you have bought them, you need to come back to the registration office so the Zulassungsbehörde employee can put an official sticker on one of them before the end of the same day. Yes, convuluted administration also applies when registering a car in Germany.

Can i register my car in Germany online?

In theory, yes but it won’t be possible for a lot of people. The reason for that is that a so called Neuer Personalausweis (nPA) oder elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel (eAT) with the new online authentication chip (eID) is needed. Other requirements include:

  1. A vehicle first registered after 01/01/2015. Ein nach dem 01. Januar 2015 zugelassenes Fahrzeug
  2. License plates including the stamp badge/tag (Stempelplaketten, the round sticker thing) with hidden security codes.
  3. Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I with hidden security codes, mit verdecktem Sicherheitscode

Detailed process is explained on this page.

3- Drive in the sunset

The road to buy a car in Germany and register was long and full of darkness, but you finally made it. Don’t forget to enjoy now. 🙂

Tip 1: In Germany, every car owner has to pay a “car tax” yearly to finance highways among other things. Its price differs depending on the power of your engine. I pay around 250€ a year for my Peugeot 308.

Tip 2: If you buy a car in Germany through a dealership (second-hand), it automatically comes by law with a 12-months warranty. This means that in case of repairs, the dealership has to cover the costs for a year. Beyond that, the seller might offer an special insurance for used cars that covers 50% of repairs. Again here, read the small prints.

Tip 3: Here are some commons terms of features on a car will you encounter during your research.

  • Getriebe (Schalt / Automatik): Gear box (manual/automatic)
  • Türen: doors
  • Klimaanlage: air conditioning
  • Tempomat: cruise control
  • Wegfahrsperre: Anti-theft device
  • Lenkrad: steering wheel
  • Serienausstattung: standard equipment
  • Bremskraftverteilung (EBD): ABS
  • Allradantrieb (AWD): 4×4
  • Handbremse: handbrake

Tip 4: If you are short on cash and need a loan to buy your ride, have a look at this post about getting one here. There are loans to buy cars too.


  • Reply Ivar Omar Atlason 10/06/2018 at 15:11

    My name is Ivar. I am coming to Frankfurt to reiceive a car which I will have paid for already. This is a branch from Mercedes and the person told me that they are not a dealer and will just deliver me the car without helping with the paperwork such as getting the plates and prepare the refund of the v.a.t.
    I was wondering if you could point out a good dealer which could prepare things and put the plates on the car before I come to Germany. Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 01:05

      Hi Ivar. Sorry, i can’t help you with that.

  • Reply alideniz 05/06/2018 at 15:10

    another perfectly helpful article, thank you SiB team! a stupid question : i am going to buy a used car from a dealer, and i was told from friends at work that KFZ-zulassungstelle job can take a while so I am trying to make an appointment at Kreuzberg or Lichtenberg locations. however, despite lots of google translate efforts, i wasn’t able to find the correct service in for chasing a termin. could you help me out? i believe that dealer will offer help in this but i also want to take the matter in my own hands (already reserved a license plate online).

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 00:57

      I’m not sure i understand the question. In the link contained in the article, there is a link to pick the standort and make an appointment …

  • Reply jules 23/05/2018 at 16:04

    Im a little confused at what the proccess would be if i lived in berlin, and would want to buy a car outside of berlin.
    How would i sort it out so i wouldnt have to go check the car out, come back to berlin, register the car if i’m happy with it, and go back out?
    Would i get temporary plates in whatever city im checking out the car to drive it back to berlin? and in that case would i need to be insured?

    thanks a lot !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/05/2018 at 22:32

      Hi Jules. All these details can be discussed with the seller directly, they can arrange this for you in some cases.

  • Reply Florin 15/05/2018 at 15:13

    hi if I buy a car in Germany and drive away do I still need to register it there or can I take some temporary plates , and if I can take temporary plates do you know how much will that be?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:37

      Hi Florin. What you are looking are called “Ausfuhrkennzeichen”, which are export plates. I believe you don’t need to be a German resident to get those. More info in German here.

  • Reply Ferris Buhler-Frye 06/05/2018 at 20:40


    I must say, this is an amazing post and it took me some time to read all the replies to ensure I don’t duplicate.

    If I bought an oldtimer car in Berlin (1978 Merc W123 Petrol) a few years ago, and the seller did not give me a Sales Contract he only Gave me the Fahrzeugbrief + Abmeldebescheinigung fur den Fahrzeughalter(vorubergehend stillgelegt issued in 1988)

    Will I still be able to register the car in my name, considering I have everything else?

    Do you know if this Classic Car(oldtimer) is exempt from from the HU or other environmental tests?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/05/2018 at 20:35

      Hi Ferris. It’s a specific question for sure! I’m not knowledgeable about the special treatment vintage cars have regarding TÜV and other tests. Sorry. You should gave gotten a sales contract, it’s a protection for both the buyer and the seller. I think it should not be a problem though.

  • Reply Alessandra Neri 21/04/2018 at 22:49

    I read all the questions and answers but I still have a doubt:
    I am an EU citizen and want to buy a second hand van in Germany and register it in Germany. Is the Anmeldung enough to do it, or do I need to be resident in Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/04/2018 at 09:23

      Hi Alessandra. Yes.

  • Reply Tim Svensson 18/04/2018 at 12:35


    An old (bj.1993), broken german registered car is now in Sweden so how to buy a german registered car out side Germany and get registration papers from Germany (otherwise it is impossible to register car to me in Sweden) and in this case, I do not need to have a “export plates”.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:40

      Hi Tim. I don’t see where the problem is. You can do all of that even if the car is not physically located in Germany. The only problem is that you need to have the TÜV certification, which can probably only be done in Germany.

  • Reply samboy 13/04/2018 at 21:19

    Hi! Firstly, this post has been a god send, so thank you for posting it.

    I have one question though – I’m in somewhat of a rush and want to get a car on the road ASAP… How long should I expect the entire process to take? I have read in a number of comments that the registration can take a few weeks. Is there any way to drive it before then? Or do the temporary plates only last a day or so?

    Thanks!! ::)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/04/2018 at 08:51

      Hi Sam. Yes, depending on the insurance, the Zulassungstelle, etc. It can be anywhere between a few days and weeks. Temporary plates could be a solution depending on what you need.

  • Reply Raj 08/04/2018 at 23:18

    Hello Bastien,

    I just moved to Berlin for work on Blue Card and I registered my address here. Can I buy a car and register it using my Indian drivers license? Will I be able to also get car insurance on my license. I will eventually apply for German drivers license but for now, I am legally allowed to drive in Germany for 6 months. Not sure if this 6 months rule is only for driving rental cars or can I actually buy a car and drive here in Germany. Please clarify.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/04/2018 at 08:48

      Hi Raj. I guess it boils down to if your license will be recognized and valid by the German authorities to do that.

  • Reply Zyad Sherif 08/04/2018 at 22:32

    I have a question about having the car parked on the street without plates, I bought a car and the handler drove it to my home and parked it there. the registration will take at least one week and am afraid I’d run into troubles with the controllers if the car is just standing like this. Anything I can do?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/04/2018 at 08:50

      Hi Zyad. Good question. I think it’s in theory not allowed but can’t you have the temporary plates there instead?

  • Reply Barak 24/03/2018 at 08:31

    hi Bastien,
    I bought a new car and waiting for it’s registration by the car dealership. the process started a week ago but wasn’t completed because of a mistake in the insurance. I have now the right insurance and I need the car ti be registered maximum on 27.3 (Tuesday). in the car dealership they told me that it will take additional week because they need to start the process from the beginning.
    do you have any suggestions how to complete the process quicker and hopefully have it done by Tuesday? is there an option for a sofort registration somehow? I am willing to drive anywhere if there’s an option like that.
    thanks, Barak

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/03/2018 at 19:07

      Hi Barak. I’m sorry i don’t think it can go faster in that case.

      • Reply Misha 29/03/2018 at 16:56

        I was so naive to go to register my future car with an appointment. I wasted time and I ended up with an appointment on April 16th. It’s frustrating to have the car ready waiting for you while you have to wait for the appointment. 1 week is not bad in your case Barak

  • Reply Kasun 15/03/2018 at 23:38

    Hey, thanks for the advice. I got my Führerschein done.
    I live in Berlin. If i buy a car out of Berlin, what’s the procedure?
    Can I just drive it back to Berlin and register here? Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/03/2018 at 10:45

      Yes kasun. Yes. Pretty much.

  • Reply Nasser 13/02/2018 at 23:38

    Hi Bastien,
    I’m new her in Germany and recently i have Anmeldung.
    Can i buy and register a used car, as my driving licence was issued from Dubai.
    I’ve been told that i can drive only for six months with Dubai driving license.
    But after that i need to replace it with German one, but this will take time.
    So, is there any chance to buy and register a used car with Dubai driving license.
    Thanks a lot for your kind advice.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/02/2018 at 22:47

      Hi Nasser. It won’t be a problem in my opinion.

    • Reply linda DUKES 04/03/2018 at 11:54

      Hey Bastien,
      I’ve posted before.Thank you for your comment. I am now buying a secondhand car (2015) Renault Kangoo froma registered Renault garage here in Berlin. I hope to travel back to the UK in it next weekend. What should I do next? I need insurance, what else? I am officially living here now.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/03/2018 at 17:20

        Hi Linda. Well, all steps are listed in the post. Is something unclear?

  • Reply Larisa 13/02/2018 at 14:33

    Hi Bastien! I will probably not find the car of my dreams near me, so if I want to go to Bavaria or Hesse or somewhere else would I be able to register it there with papers and license plates showing my Landkreis (for insurance purpose, I prefer not to have it registered in a big city) or I have to get temporary yellow plates (Kurzzeitkennzeichen) and register it where I live?
    And if temporary plates is the answer, do you know perhaps if I can get those there or I have to bring them with me from my local Zulassungsstelle?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/02/2018 at 22:46

      Hi Larisa. Tmeporary plates are probably the answer. I think you can get them from any Zulassungstelle or even directly for the handler in some cases.

  • Reply Leon 19/01/2018 at 03:26

    Hello Bastien,

    A really useful article about buying a car in Germany! I am now trying to purchase one too in Berlin and naturally I have some questions related to the topic. I would be relieved if you tried to answer them.
    1) I live in Berlin from 2012. By nationality I am Spanish, my driving licence is Spanish as well. My question is: could I register a car in Berlin with my spanish driving licence?
    2) unfortunately now I do not have Anmeldung (where I live). Question: would it cause any problems while trying to register the car?

    Thank you a lot for your time.

    Best wishes,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/01/2018 at 09:47

      Hi Leon. 1) No. 2)As mentioned in the post, yes.

      • Reply linda DUKES 22/01/2018 at 18:06

        hello Bastien, Ive not posted before so unsure if it will get to you??? 2 questions please. I have an english number plate skoda octavia estate here in Berlin. Is there anywhere in Berlin I can exchange for a german reg car? Also. Ive lived in Berlin for a year and a half, have a german bank account but Im not regisitered as being here although I rent an apartment.. I need to buy a secondhand car here in Berlin, Can I without credentials? thanks Lin

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/01/2018 at 18:21

          Hi Linda. The process is the same for your car, as described in the post. You can buy a second hand car sure, but you won’t be able to insure it.

          • linda DUKES 22/01/2018 at 22:48

            well without insurance, its a non starter, isn’t it? Sooooo, I need to register that Im living here at presence?

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2018 at 09:36


      • Reply Larisa 02/02/2018 at 13:43

        Hi! I am in the same situation and this answer worried me. For sure you can’t register a car in Germany without a German driving license? I have an EU one, it should be accepted everywhere in EU.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/02/2018 at 20:18

          HI Larisa. Yes you can register a vehicle with any license recognized by the German state, including any EU issued document.

      • Reply Berhram 07/02/2018 at 23:43

        Hi Bastien. I am not living in Germany. I want to come to Berlin and buy a motorbike and then ride it back to istanbul.
        In this condition I will not use that in Germany just will ride highways to border.
        1) Is it (buying car/motorcycle) possible for whom dosent live in Germany and he/she is just a tourist?
        2) What about taxes?

        Thank you

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 08:25

          Hi Berhram. I guess it’s possible for anybody to buy a vehicle in Germany, it’s the questions of the cots of bringing it back home. Concerning taxes, i guess you have to check what the import duties are with the Turkish administration. Can’t help you there. Good luck. 🙂

  • Reply Adrian Dulea 15/01/2018 at 21:00

    Dear Bastien, Kindly ask for your assistance as I do not find no information on my topic. As I am leaving in Germany from 2015 and i bought an used car from a dealer in april 2015. Car was financed by VW Bank and in 2019 April i have the ,,schlussrate’’. But from July this year I need to go back with work in my home country Romania. What possibilities do I have? Can I keep the car with German plate no. As I will have no longer German address and reaidance? Do I have the possibility to give back the car to the deaer? What do you recommand? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/01/2018 at 14:23

      Hi Adrian. I think you’d better look at the contract to see termination conditions for that financing. Worst case scenario, you take the car with you to Romania but you still need to pay for it.

  • Reply Karine JR 14/01/2018 at 21:52

    Hi Bastian,
    Thanks for this great job. As you can see, it is helpful for many people.
    As fa as I’m concerned, It could be off topic but I actually am about to create my own car export business here in France to an Indian Ocean country and my clients are only interested in german mercedes benz sprinter, so I’d like to know if you can give me some tips of how to handle it : getting in contact by phone with a car dealer settled in Germany (have you any names, any wellknown places?) or moving myself to Germany to do the search myself ?
    Now I know at least how to handle with papers thanks to your guide.
    Sorry for my poor english.
    And thanks for your kind answer

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/01/2018 at 12:47

      Hi Karine. I am afraid i can’t help you further for b2b related requests. Good luck.

  • Reply Robert Mark 10/01/2018 at 21:34

    Hi Bastien,

    A quick one as I can’t manage to find a clear answer anywhere. I brought my personal car recently in DE from another EU country, after moving here a while back, and want to register it here and have two questions.

    Regarding the Proof of Ownership. I have a short contract in my native language, is this accepted by the registration office or are authorized translations a must? Second question is regarding the DE plates, do I need to hand in my old plates when I go for the registration or after I get the new plates?

    Thank you!

  • Reply RONALD V PERRIER 07/12/2017 at 22:56

    I quickly perused all the answers and could find nothing about new cars. I have paid the down payment on a factory order VW California (30%) and take possession on January 31, 2018. I understand that I can only keep the car in Europe for one year then need to leave Europe or sell it. But I understand that I can register it without an address. The dealer can arrange insurance but how does the registration work? If I want to drive the vehicle to Italy a few days after purchase, can the dealer arrange licence plates so that the vehicle is all ready to go? Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/12/2017 at 11:24

      Hi Ronald, yes the dealer can arrange license plates. Registration and insurance process is the same as described in the article above.

  • Reply rachel 18/11/2017 at 12:12

    Bastein, I do wonder if you could help me please! I have spent endless days trawling through pages and trying to translate and still no answer to my question. Which is…I want to buy a vehicle in Germany because they are lots cheaper than Spain (where I live) and UK (where I am from). I plan to live in the van or travel a lot therefore I am not sure where to register the vehicle or import it to. It would be a lot easier to keep it as German, but I do not live in Germany. Do you know if I can keep the vehicle registered there for my nomadic tendencies? Thanks so much, this damsel in destress appreciates all advice 😀

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/11/2017 at 14:45

      Hi Rachel, you’d need a local German address and registering at the city hall to be able to do the whole process of getting an insurance, registering it etc.

      • Reply rachel Noel 18/11/2017 at 21:43

        Ok thanks I think that is impossible for me right now so I guess I will have to import it to either uk or spain 🙁

  • Reply Darius 25/10/2017 at 15:48

    Many thanks for your detailed information.
    One month ago, we bought a second-hand Skoda from a dealer. We made a one-page contract, paid one-third of the negotiated fee, and also gave the dealer all the requested documents such as insurance, passport, etc., since the dealer was supposed to do the registration paperwork for us. We were told to wait for something around one month for the registration process and then we will be able to pick up the car. So during the past month, the dealer had our documents.
    Now we intend to travel abroad in the next few days, but the registration has not yet been done. We asked to at least have the documents but the dealer told us they are in the police station. So my question is that, is this typical for the car registration office to keep our identification documents for a long time? I am aware that it normally takes several weeks to get an appointment, but I thought after finding an appointment date, the dealer must only show our documents to the officers and that’s it. I am wondering if they should keep our docs or not?

    • Reply Darius 17/11/2017 at 15:35

      I found my answer!! now please delete my unanswered question! tnx!

  • Reply Pedro 20/10/2017 at 16:20

    Great info here! Thanks. Do you know if it is possible to buy, register and insure a car in Germany even if I have a danish residence? (the car would stay on the german side of the border)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/10/2017 at 18:58

      Good question. I don’t think it would work, then it would be danish plates.

  • Reply Samanta 17/10/2017 at 14:02

    Hi and Thanks for the very useful information.
    I have a car with Italian license plate and I am moving permanently to Germany, Berlin with the car. I am renovating the Insurance in Italy and also there is something similar to TUV that every 24 months I have to do. (this time it will be in January). My questions are as follows: How much time do I have to travel and live in Berlin with the Italian license plated-car and Italian insurance? I know that I cannot park the car in public places unless I register the car, Can I register the car with the insurance from an Italian Company? Can I register the car in Germany with the Italian TUV-similar certificate?
    Do you have any suggestions that facilitate the traveling and living in Germany with my situation? what is the best path to follow?
    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/10/2017 at 20:26

      Hi Samantha. There is no magic formula. Come here with your car on Italian insurance and switch to a German one when you are resident here. I believe the Italian TUV certificate won’t be enough i’m afraid. It’s probably not recognized in Germany.

  • Reply Nenad 15/10/2017 at 13:06

    I need some help.
    I found a car in EU.Bulgaria and it is on German license plates.
    Private owner.
    Can I buy it here in Bulgaria (without going to Germany)?
    I want to register it on my name in Bulgaria
    Who steps to take?
    What documents do I need?

    Thank you in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2017 at 16:54

      Hi Nenad. I guess then registration happen in Bulgaria so my advice is not relevant for you.

  • Reply Anna 14/10/2017 at 22:59

    Thanks for this awesome post! Quick question – I bought a used car from a dealer in a different city and have an appointment here in Berlin to register it next week, after which I’ll be able to go pick it up. The email I got from the Zulassungsstelle mentions potentially needing to take the previous licence plates of the car to the registration appt. I have all the papers from the dealer for the car, but not the old plates. Do you know if this is really necessary?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2017 at 16:53

      Hi Anna. If you haven’t been provided the old plates, then there is no way to give them to the Zulassungstelle. I guess they want to avoid that these plates are used from criminal behavior. I guess you will have to explain the situation to them.

      • Reply Konrad 27/10/2017 at 13:49

        Hi Anna,
        You will need so called Kurzzeitkennzeichen (valid for five days, the date will be on plate on a yellow label) – you can order them online and as you will receive them go for the car, mount the plates and go to Berlin. Here is a link to order the plates:
        That worked for me as I bought a car in Germany and drove it by my own to Poland.
        You can also buy the plates at the place where the car is located.

  • Reply Spyros 11/10/2017 at 11:52

    Hi Bastien,
    I am registered at Hesse and i plan to get a new car . What are the advantages of Leasing vs Buying one ?
    Would you please be kind and advise of tax implications due to the owing a car ( apart from the annual amount of apprx.250 Euros, as you state in your article) ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/10/2017 at 20:01

      Hi Spyros. tax implications depend on so many factors that i can’t explain in a comment and i would need to more details about your car and stuff.

  • Reply Petr 10/10/2017 at 22:48

    Hey buddy,

    Thanks for interesting and useful info. Do you know anything about the SIXT Leasing program? I heard you can get a car off them for a fixed time period (e.g. 2 years for a monthly installment , say 150 EUR and then just return it, without having to pay any initial lump sum. So it is almost like a long term rental!



    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/10/2017 at 20:00

      Hi Petr. Havent heard from this before. Feel free to get more info and come back here to tell the tale.

  • Reply Kristo 09/10/2017 at 16:48


    I’m an Estonian currently living in Switzerland and want to buy a car from Germany, but i don’t want to register it here in Switzerland. How is it possible to use the car with German plates from October 2017 until May 2018 (then i can make an official registration in Estonia)? And what are the approximate costs of doing that?

    Thank You for Your help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/10/2017 at 10:52

      Hi Kristo, it is possible to register for temporary plates but i don’t know about the costs.

  • Reply Roger Bryenton 02/10/2017 at 04:40

    We would like to buy a used campervan in Germany and are having a difficult time to find a registration service to do this, to provide a local address. There are several in Holland: BW Campers, Turner Cars, etc but we can find none in Germany. Can you help us please? Thank you very much. Roger

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/10/2017 at 16:19

      Hi Roger. Sorry, i cant really help.

  • Reply Edison 26/09/2017 at 22:55

    what if a car comes from another country try and they sale it in Germany but it is not registered yet? how much could it cost? would it be risky to buy a car like that? I am looking at a BMW X6 from 2008 with Lybian documents apparently. what do you suggest?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/09/2017 at 10:08

      Hi Edison. I would not do it because you’d have all the trouble of having to effectively import the car into Germany.

  • Reply J.K. 17/09/2017 at 17:11

    thanks for the wonderful posting! 🙂

  • Reply Ruth 12/09/2017 at 10:18

    hi! quick question: if you buy a 2nd hand car from a dealer, it is normal to pay all the amount in cash? This is how it is usually done here? Best!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/09/2017 at 19:24

      Hi Ruth. Yes, this is Germany and they ask for cash. It’s crazy and i don’t know how this is still a thing. I bought my car with close to 5000€ in cash for example.

      • Reply Anon 13/10/2017 at 14:38

        Just to add a bit: it is not really true. A lot of delars accept bank transfers as form of payment.

  • Reply Sara 29/07/2017 at 23:33

    Hello , and going to Germany for about 3 to 4 month and am thinking about buying a cheap used car instead of using public transportation to save time, I was wondering if I can register a car with holding a touristic visa only to,Be noted am not a EU citizen

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/07/2017 at 10:01

      Hi Sara. If you fit all requirements and give all papers mentioned in this document, i don’t see why not. However as a tourist, i’m not sure you will be able to register an adress somewhere in time to start the buying and insurance process.

  • Reply Saketa Musinipally 14/07/2017 at 00:37

    Hi Bastien!
    I am a diplomat in Berlin and I am getting lots of mixed advice on the depreciation of cars in Germany. Mercedes is currently offering me 24% of on list price and 10% tax is refundable as well ( I am only here for 1 year).
    So does it make more sense to buy a used car and get the 10 % tax back or should i buy a new one and get a larger discount. My main consideration is to lose as less money as possible!
    Also, is it just my experience or is the used car market in Berlin way overpriced than outside. I understand that people can buy cars from say, Frankfurt and drive them in Berlin. There is no state/lander restriction, so why do you think berlin is so expensive??!
    Thanks in advance!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/07/2017 at 19:22

      Hi Saketa. I don’t know why it’s more expensive in Berlin. I guess if you are confident you can sell your new car before you leave, it could be a good option. If not, then maybe a used car is preferable.

  • Reply Paolo gari 09/07/2017 at 00:24

    Hello everyone,
    I am italian and I live in rome. I am planning to buy a used car from germany for my son.
    Here are my questions:
    How ling does it to finish all the procedures when i find the car?
    How much does it cost to insure it for one week( just the time to get it to italy)?
    Can i register it in my son’s name without him
    Being present with me in germany?
    I will appreciate your help and thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/07/2017 at 11:15

      Hi Paolo. When you find the car, and you have all necessary papers, it depends how soon you can get an appointment at the local “Zulassungsstelle”. Hopefully a matter of days. You need to check with your insurance provider for costs. It depends on your record as a driver, model of the car, etc. If you are buying the car to bring it to Italy, register it to your name in Germany, and then register to your son’s name in Italy.

  • Reply Naumil 09/06/2017 at 12:12

    Great post. Very Helpfull!
    I am currently living in Saarland and im planning to buy a second hand car from Munich (since they have better and favouable options there). Is that possible? If yes, are there any particular things i should take care of (like registeration place or kfz)?
    Also, which option is more preferable, dealer or private owner?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/06/2017 at 19:25

      Hi Naumil. The process should be the same. I’d prefer a dealer since you have more guarantees that if something is wrong post-purchase, he needs to fix it.

  • Reply Pedro 23/05/2017 at 00:22


    This post is really really helpful, thanks a lot!

    I have a question, I hope you can help me with this. I’m currently living in Germany (I have my residence here) and I would like to buy an used car from Spain. He is a private seller and it’s his first time selling a car. In your post you say that I’m going to need a sales contract in order to register the vehicle here in Germany. Do we need to make any kind of specific/official contract? Is there any model in the internet?

    Maybe it’s better to find a specialist in this kind of paperwork? How are they called in german, do you know?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/05/2017 at 12:09

      Hi Pedro. A quick research uncovered the following templates (here and there) for you to use. They are from trusted sources and should be fine but don’t hesitate to add any particular conditions. Hope this helps.

  • Reply Zlatko 04/05/2017 at 15:22

    Very helpful article! I’m looking to buy a second-hand car. My only question is when I have all the needed documents, do I need an appointment at the KFZ-Zulassungsstelle or can I just show up early in the morning and the job done the same day? Checking for appointments, it takes more the one month to get one.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/05/2017 at 10:14

      Hi Zlatko. I’m glad you find the post helpful. You should check on the website of the Zulassunstelle to see if they are open to walk-ins. In Berlin for example, it seems to only be working with appointments.

      • Reply Daniel 07/05/2017 at 22:57

        So does that mean that you cannot drive your car for about a month after you buy it (until having appointment for registering it)?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/05/2017 at 10:13

          Hi Daniel, you might want to use temporary plates if you want to drive it before hand. It’s only just valid for a few days though. But yes, no driving if you don’t have plates.

  • Reply Martin Vermaak 07/04/2017 at 14:48

    Thank you this information is super helpful it made my car buying experience much easier!!!! You are a Hero and thanks for taking the time to do this

  • Reply Sergio 07/04/2017 at 11:47

    Great article, thanks!
    I work and live in Spain, I will soon exchange my Argentinian Driving License for the Spanish one. Been driving for +12years. I am cosidering buying a car from an individual in GER. Some doubts:
    1. I need to check that TUV/AU/HU are ok; at least until I arrive to Spain. Correct?
    2.How do I do with the insurance? Considering I need to drive to Spain and then, once I register it there with the new plates, get a local insurance?
    3. Regarding the Anmeldung… as I don’t live in GER, what do I need to do?
    4. I need to get temporary plates then so I can register then the car in Spain?
    5. and finally, is there any special sales contract? to transfer the ownership of the car from the previous owner to me?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/04/2017 at 13:50

      Hi Sergio. All those points are regulated on the Spanish-side, so you are probably in a better situation to do research than me as i don’t speak Spanish. I’m sure there is a guide for this somewhere. If you don’t live in Germany, you will need to register the car in Spain, with a spanish insurance, get spanish plates etc… Sorry i can’t help further.

  • Reply Orges 28/03/2017 at 16:37

    Hello. Yesterday i bought a car in Berlin but i need to take temporary plates because i live in Albania. Can you help me by teelin me where can i get those temporary plates?
    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2017 at 09:46

      Hey Orges. If you bought from a dealer, they can probably arrange that for you. However, those temporary plates are only tolerated within EU countries as mentioned here.

  • Reply Robert Paul 26/03/2017 at 17:06

    Hello. I am resident and citizen of Romania, and I am looking forward to travel to Germany for a day or two and buying a second hand car from there to bring it home, because of some reasons including dealers in my country ripping people off in a great manner like unwinding / rewriting the odometer sometimes even tens of thousands of kms backwards . and the price is sometimes more than double than it is in Germany. I need to be filled in with some details. Step by step. So. I travel there, I pick a car and I want to buy it. I’ve seen some cars on already have the TUV check. Do I need to do it again? What do I need to do to just drive it home? Do I need to re register it? Can I get to an understanding with the seller to keep the plates so I can get the car home and send them back once I get new plates in my country? Also. Are the sellers going to sell me the car and help with paperwork in English, cause I don’t know how to speak German unfortunately. Thanks a lot in advance and have a great day!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/03/2017 at 10:13

      Hi Robert. Regarding the TÜV, this is a technical check that’s valid for a certain time. If still valid, no need to do it again but TÜV is probably not recognized in Romania, so you might have to make this again but the Romanian version. When you buy it, you will get temporary plates on the car to drive it home (arranged from the dealer, maybe for an extra fee). Regarding in English, it’s probably a case by case basis thing, you will need to ask before-hand if they can assist in English. Good luck.

  • Reply T. Smith 05/03/2017 at 03:31

    Looking to buy a cheap car for travelling a few countries (I’m from canada). Would I have to go through all the steps of registering etc or is there a quicker way to get one and start my trip?
    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/03/2017 at 16:11

      Hi Tory. If you plan to buy one, i’m afraid that you will need to do all that yes. Another solution would be to borrow one from a friend or relative with appropriate insurance to cover you too.

  • Reply Gary 22/01/2017 at 05:15

    Do I need to be legally resident and/or have a German driver’s license to own a vehicle? I have a holiday home and am registered with the local council, but not a full time tax paying resident. I’d like to have a motorbike to use while on holiday in Germany.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/01/2017 at 15:30

      Good question Gary. Although you don’t need to be resident to buy a vehicle, you need to be resident to register and drive it. It seems less complicated and less hassle to simply rent for that time instead of buying a motorbike.

  • Reply Peter Spartalis 13/01/2017 at 15:15

    Hi I live in Australia and was looking at purchasing a motorcycle in Germany to tour though Germany and surrounding countries. Can you give me any advise on registering a bike. Is there any form of international registration?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/01/2017 at 18:28

      Hi Peter. Registering a bike is the same rough process. You can drive anywhere in the E.U with the same registration number. Just make sure to book an insurance that cover international trips. It shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Reply Benjamin 05/12/2016 at 16:21

    please can i have a a local site to check out used cars in germany

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2016 at 18:25

      As mentioned in the article both Autoscout24 and are platforms with used-cars as well.

  • Reply 1r 22/11/2016 at 20:16


    can anyone say about how much time I (as a german) have before I need to register car in Germany if I bought it in France?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2016 at 13:15

      In theory, it should be as soon as possible and no longer than 6 months after you have moved the car. Source:

  • Reply Nigel Russell 22/11/2016 at 17:45

    Hi Bastien,

    My daughter is looking to register a GB car in Germany as she is going to be there for around 12 months which is the limit I believe., I has a full UK MOT, insurance etc. Any ideas of the process she’ll need to follow.

    Thanks foe any help you can give.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2016 at 13:13

      I think the process is the same but you will probably need to switch to a German insurance to get a policy recognized by the German government to go through the whole process.

  • Reply MIGUEL MARQUES 26/10/2016 at 23:12

    Hi! I wanted to buy a car in Berlin and it is a private seller.. do you know if anyone can take care of things for me there? I would pay for their service of course.. here we also have companies that should handle it but they work too slow.. I’m still waiting for them to contact one seller there in Berlin… thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/10/2016 at 09:43

      Hi Miguel. Thanks for your message. If you are looking for a middle-man, maybe try the keywords “gebrauchtwagen zwischenhändler berlin” – used cars middle man berlin – on Google to see if you can find a company that can manage the sell for you. Hope this helps.

  • Reply Kasun 07/10/2016 at 08:06

    Your article is so helpful. I’m a crazy person when it’s come to vehicles. I’m a student, and I study Maschinenbau. I still don’t have a Führerschein. But I found a good deal for 600€. I feel like buying and keep it until I get my Führerschein. It might at least take 6 months me to get it. So after I get it done only I can register the car right? Will it be a problem if I buy the car and keep near my apartment? Or can I do every other thing without my Führerschein? Like the insurance and the registration
    (Why I want to buy a car so badly – It’s a 1995 old car, free time I just want to spend time on it and make it. I know it sounds crazy)
    But I’m looking for an advice. Thank you 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/10/2016 at 09:52

      Even though it’s not a problem to keep the car on the streets. I wouldn’t do that since you will also need to pay for insurance for the time you can’t drive it, which might cost more than the price of the car itself. You can indeed register the car & book an insurance without a Führerschein. Just a lot of costs for now. Mabye wait a little bit?

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