One of the first things after a foreigner lands in Germany, is to check the local transportation and its associated costs. Europe is a great place to explore. The local transportation is good, but Cars are more beneficial, comfortable and time saving.
Its everyone’s confusion on what are the German terms, local Tax, driving laws, Registration, what are the brands available in market and how to go about it. Buying a new Car/ used Car everything depends on
- How long you plan to stay in Germany?
- How much you want to spend for a Car?
- How often to you drive on Highways?
- What features do you expect in the car?
This guide will give you the 360-degree view on buying Cars in Germany.
Buying a New Car (Neuwagen):
Buying a new car is straight forward and easy.
- Research the list of brands, costs, features and different local Car dealers. Finalise the Car type and Brand. There are plenty of resources that can help online research, Automobile Magazines, Newspapers, Television Commercials, and friend’s recommendations.
- Visit few dealers, most have at least a few English-speaking salesperson.
- There is a great room for negotiation when it comes to extras like sunroofs, Soundsystem etc., You need to bargain your best deal.
- Head to the dealer. You can test drive a few cars before you finalise your dream option.
- Once you have finalized your Car, you need to pay the costs 20% – 50 % upfront and the remaining in monthly installments. You can get bank loans also.
- Next you have to register your Car. Normally a reputed dealer will take care of this part as a part of the purchase.
- In Germany, all Cars are subjected to 19% VAT and these taxes are levied by the Dealer with the purchase.
- The next and the final step is to buy the Car Insurance for your Car. The cost of the insurance depends on the car model, location, age, years of driving experience, past driving record. Do a detailed analysis for buying the best insurance that covers your needs.
- Whenever you drive you need to carry your Driving License and Insurance details.
Pre-owned (Used) Cars (Gebrauchtwagen) Jahreswagen:
As the name states (Jahreswagen) some vehicles are brand new or sold within a year of usage.
If you do your research good and wait for the right vehicle you can save a lot on Used Cars. You can see a lot of deals in online websites mobile.de, autoscout24, carnext.com, eBay Kleinanzeigen, Local dealers, Private sale etc., In general, dealers sell with a period of warranty(by law) but it does not cover the defects due to normal wear and tear of the car.
Most dealers take care of the car insurance and registration also for the used cars. But if you buy from Private owners from eBay Kleinanzeigen then you need to take care of the proof of ownership of the car (Kfz-Brief). Also getting in approved at local motor vehicle department (Kfz-Zulassungstelle), and they will check everything and give you the License Plate.
Buying cars online are more prominent now-a-days because all details are available online. After you decide where to buy, here there is a checklist to make sure you got everything right.
- Mileage (Kilometerstand-the Odometer reading)
- Date of the next inspection (TÜV)
- Date of the first-time registration (Erstzulassung or EZ)
- Number of previous owners (Vorbesitzer- How many people pre-owned the car)
- Maintenance record (Checkheft gepflegt)
- Emission sticker (Umweltplakete) – most German cities have an environmental zone
- Model year, type (Combi/Sports)
- A local trusted workshop evaluation is recommended
- Test drive the car
- Enquire any repair/ accident history
- Tyres (Do winter/summer Tyres come alone with the purchase).
How to register your Car (Kfz-Zulassung):
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. While planning to register a car, then you need to make sure you have the following on the day of registration.
- Address proof
- Proof of ownership of the car
- Valid passport
- Valid Driving License
- Cash / card payment for registration (around 30-40 Euros)
You will be given options to change the car number(Kfz-Kennzeichen) with an extra pay(10-15 Euros). You can select the number you want provided if its still available.
Prerequisites before driving
Before driving a newly registered car, make sure you have the following in the car. Every vehicle in Germany must undergo an inspection every 2 years. This inspection is called Hauptuntersuchung(HU/ TÜV). In the past, 2 individual terms “Hauptuntersuchung” (HU) & the “Abgasuntersuchung” (AU) were more prevelant and currently they simply say the “TÜV check” when talking about the HU. Workshops that are certified by TÜV, Dekra, can perform this inspection. costs varies between 70 to 150 euros
If a vehicle doesn’t pass the inspection, car can’t be registered, and you can’t drive it. vehicles are sometimes cheaper when their inspection approaches, and much cheaper when it’s overdue (TÜV abgelaufen). You might end up spending some additional money, if you don’t purchase the vehicle without verifying the actual condition of vehicle.
- Portable red reflective triangle
- First aid kit
- Safety vests (at least 2 vests)
- Fire Extinguisher
What driving licenses are accepted
Germany accepts EU/EEA driving licenses. Outside EU/EEA driving licenses are valid for up to the first 6 months. If you plan to stay in Germany for a short duration, then you can use this option. In special cases, this period can also be extended to 364 days. ( If proven the stay is not long than a year)
Any unregistered cars (Abgemeldet) cannot be driven in the roads till they are registered. For test run/ test drive make the vehicle temporary registered so you can test the car before buying it (Kurzzeitkennzeichen).
What not to do while driving
In Germany, the road rules are strict and the drunk driving laws are even stricter. You will get a penalty for a small trace of 0.05% blood alcohol level. New driving license holders and young (under 21) license holders are prohibited drinking while driving.
When not to buy a car
You can buy a car only if it has registration papers, any car without these papers are probably theft vehicles. If the buyer says he lost the paper, then the vehicle is not good for sale.
What to expect (Monthly costs) while you own a car:
The following costs adds up monthly budget while you own a car
- Motor vehicle taxes (Kfz-Steuer)
- Insurance (Kfz-Versicherung)
- Seasonal Tyre changing costs (around 20-30 Euros) ( Reifen wechseln)
- Inspection, maintenance (oil change), car wash costs.
- Parking costs (if opted), local parking costs if parked in cities
- Unexpected repairs (depending on the type of insurance either these costs are taken care by car insurance or by you).
- Tow services (breakdown assistance services like ADAC, DKV)
We wish you good luck and safe driving in Germany.