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Buying and selling a vehicle

Buying a vehicle is a matter of trust whether you are buying a new or used car from a private seller or dealer.

The following information is intended to help you think about the most important aspects to be considered before you decide to buy.

German automobile clubs (such as the ADAC, ARCD, AvD and ACE) produce statistics about the reliability and the frequency of defects and breakdowns of different makes and models. In addition, many automobile clubs provide checklists for buying second hand cars on their websites. Some of these associations can also carry out a technical inspection of the vehicle – the service is usually only available for members.

Tip: Get some information in advance about the Current Resale Value of Used Cars and look in the used ads to get an idea about the market value of the car you would like to buy. As the seller is not bound by the manufacturer's recommended price, new vehicles may also have a different price for the same vehicle at different dealers.

Take the car for a test drive before you buy it.

When concluding a purchase contract, it is advisable to use the printed purchase contract forms which some motoring organisations and insurances provide on the internet as a download. If in doubt, ask for advice. It is important that both you and the seller each get a copy of the contract.

Note: Since November 1st 2004, you as a consumer have the opportunity to directly compare the fuel consumption and C02 emissions data of new passenger cars. As of this point in time, all dealers must display such information on all new cars. In addition, all dealers must keep a record listing all vehicles available on the German market together with their fuel consumption and C02 emissions figures.

Buying a new or used car

When the dealer or seller hands over the vehicle to you, please make sure that you get all the important papers, particularly the following documents:

  • The European Community Certificate of Conformity
  • For new cars, in addition:
    • the vehicle title (Zulassungsbescheinigung II) (previously called "Fahrzeugbrief")
    • if the dealer has registered the vehicle for you: the vehicle registration certificate (Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I) (previously called "Fahrzeugschein")
  • For used cars, which are still registered, in addition:
    • the new vehicle registration certificate and the vehicle title (Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I and II) or the old ones (Fahrzeugschein and Fahrzeugbrief)
  • Valid certificate of the main inspection
    Note: If your current inspection certificate for the emission inspection is dated before 1st January 2010, until your next main inspection you will have to prove that you have carried out the emission inspection by showing the inspection certificate separately.
  • Approval certificates for any equipment or rebuilds
  • If the vehicle registration was temporarily suspended before 1st October 2005: confirmation of deregistration

Tip: You should not pay the full purchase price until all the important documents have been handed over to you.

Note: The subsidies for the environmental incentive have in the meantime been exhausted and the waiting list is closed. New applications will not be accepted.

Selling a Vehicle

If you have chosen to sell your vehicle you must inform the registration authorities of the sale. The relevant procedure description gives you all the information you need to know about selling your car.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Verkehrsministerium released it on 16.08.2021. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.

In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.