owning a car in germany

For most people, life in German cities is just fine without owning a car. Public transport is reliable and cheap. There are also alternatives concepts for mobility such as carsharing. However, you may want or need to buy a car while living in Deutschland. In this article, I will go through the process of acquiring a car in Germany. Also, I will try to explain where to find one and how to handle the paperwork.

Finding a car

First, you should try to have or get a rough idea of what kind of car you want. How you approach the search largely depends on whether you want a used or new car and under which circumstances you use it. However, keep in mind that many car dealerships also list their vehicles on the same sites as private sellers.

Finding a car online

The most common and convenient method to finding your dream car is on these websites and apps. The two biggest platforms are.

You can use the filter features to narrow down the kind of car of what you would like to have in a car.

Both sites also offer among others an English version. This way, expatriates have no problem finding what they need in a car in Germany.

Alternatively, if you want to be as efficient you can use metasearch engines. I found AutoUncle to be the most useful. Such sites scrape through the databases of other websites and show the combined results.

Unfortunately, AutoUncle does not provide an English version of the website, but if you know the parameters of a car in the German language, it should be no issue.

Here are a few keywords and their meanings.

  • Erstzulassung – First date of registration
  • Modell – Model
  • Kilometerstand – Mileage
  • Getriebe – Transmission
  • Kraftstoff – Fuel

Buying from a local car dealership

If you want to use a “more traditional approach”, finding a local car dealership via Google Maps would be the next best take on it. Here you can expect a professional consultation, but keep in mind that these people are salespersons, of course.

On top of that, you will have to pay VAT (Mwst – Mehrwertsteuer).

Buying a car

Once you have inspected the car and made sure it is what you want, buying it is the next step. Whether you pay in cash (Bar) or via bank transfer (SEPA Sofortüberweisung/Lastschrift) depends on the person you’re buying the car off.

After having paid, you will receive several important documents related to the car:

The sales contract (Kaufvertrag)

contains all the essential information regarding your new car. You can fill out this template online (pages 2 – 4).

The registration certificates (Zulassungsbescheinigung)

  • The Registration Certificate Part 1 – Zulassungsbescheinigung I (Fahrzeugschein)
  • The Registration Certificate Part 2 – Zulassungsbescheinigung II (Fahrzeugbrief)

These are two different documents. Be sure to get them both. The first you must always keep inside the car, and the second you can leave at home.

Maintenance record (Wartungsprotokoll)

Thus another necessary document to have. It is the evidence for the car’s upkeep that you need to insist on getting.

Doing the paperwork

When registering a car, you will have to provide a so-called eVB-Number ( Elektronische Versucherungsbestätigung). You can get this from your insurance, and the license plate you can have later depends on how long your insurance runs.

After that, you should bring a few things to the vehicle registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle). These include your 

  • Identity card or passport 
  • The Registration Certificate Part 2
  • Direct debit card authorization (= SEPA-Lastischriftmandat)
  • The eVB Number.

If your car is a new one, you must also bring the CoC papers (Certificate of Conformity). These are also known as EG-Übereinstimmungsbescheinigung.

If you have bought a used car, you will have to provide

  • The Registration Certificate Part 1,
  • The latest TÜV report (TÜV Bericht)
  • Old nameplates(if it applies)

After buying your car

After registering your car and getting your paperwork done, you can enjoy your new car. Be safe on the road. If you got your driver’s license within the last 2 years, you might still be in your probation period. You might have to be extra careful. We also wrote about how to get a driving license in Germany.