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Living in Germany
Buying a Car in Germany
If you plan on driving or owning a car in Germany, there are several aspects to consider: What’s easier – importing your vehicle or buying a car in Germany? Do you need a German driving license? What about insurance? This Relocation Guide to Germany hopefully answers all your car-related questions.
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Now that you have a valid German driving license, you might want to buy a car in Germany. Whether you should get a used car or a new one mainly depends on the length of your stay, your budget, and what you need the car for. If you spend so much time on the road that buying a car is worth it, here are some tips for you.
Buying a New Vehicle
Most German auto manufacturers list some licensed dealers on their website. If you cannot make up your mind between a BMW and a Volkswagen, a number of special-interest magazines can help you make up your mind. Once you have decided on a brand or model, you should check out several dealerships. Most car dealers in Germany offer good services, but it doesn’t hurt to compare prices or the help you receive from their staff.
If you are lucky, there’s a dealer in the showroom who speaks some English. Unlike in some other countries, bargaining for a new car isn’t common. You may receive a discount, though, if you discuss the number and type of extras included (for example AC or stereo). Sometimes, you can purchase showroom cars at a lower price because they count as “used”. If you can’t pay in cash (which most people can’t or won’t), the dealership or your bank will offer you a loan. Always compare and contrast the respective conditions before taking out any loan.
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Buying a car from a second-hand dealer is cheaper than purchasing the latest model, but it has certain risks. These are lower, though, when you purchase the car via a licensed dealer. Again, manufacturing companies sometimes list second-hand dealers on their website. The advantages of buying a used vehicle from a licensed dealership are as follows:
- The car usually comes with a guarantee, i.e. one year of warranty that covers all defects at the time of sale. These (as well as past technical inspections) are listed in the so-called Inspektionsheft.
- The dealer should make sure that the ownership and registration documents (Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I und II, also known as Fahrzeugbrief and Fahrzeugschein) are in order.
- There is always a written contract.
- The dealer can register the car for you.
Private individuals mostly advertise in local and regional German newspapers, or on Internet sites such as Autoscout. When you’re going through the ads, these are the criteria for buying a car in Germany that you should take into account:
- date of first registration (Erstzulassung /EZ)
- date of next TÜV exam
- number of previous owners
- type of catalytic converter
If you have any doubts about the offer, ask the local TÜV or ADAC office for advice. If the current owner refuses a pre-purchase roadworthiness test, you should think twice about buying from them. Moreover, the owner should offer you the same information as a licensed dealer (apart from the warranty and the help with registering the car). When a private person sells you a second-hand car, you have to take care of the registration process immediately. You need the following documents:
- vehicle documents
- proof of technical inspection (TÜV/HU) and of exhaust emission exam (ASU)
- proof of residence
- proof of car insurance
- direct debit authorization for vehicle tax
However, if you are going to use your car as a commercial vehicle, the procedure may differ. Please ask the Motor Vehicle Registration Office for details.
If you plan on owning or buying a car, please note that you are legally required to have third-party liability insurance in Germany. This basic form of car insurance covers all third-party damage or injury to another person, car, or object (Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung). However, you might want to spend a little more money on comprehensive vehicle insurance (Kaskoversicherung): You can choose between Teilkasko (covers third party, fire, theft) and Vollkasko (all-inclusive). The price depends on your age, driving experience, place of residence, driving record, and car model.
As soon as you receive your insurance certificate, you have to carry it with you at all times. In case you should have an accident, you can ring your insurance company directly from the scene. The central hotline for all German car insurance companies can be reached under 0180-25026.
After informing them of the accident, we recommend you to file an official accident report within one week. If necessary, press your insurance company for a declaration of cost liability to cover the necessary repairs and even a courtesy car. After spending quite a bit of money on buying a car in Germany, you wouldn’t want to pay for all repairs yourself.