Introduction: When purchasing a car in Germany, it is essential to follow the proper procedures, including obtaining insurance, registering the vehicle, and paying car taxes. Navigating the bureaucracy may seem daunting, but we’ll guide you through the steps to register a car in Germany, so you can soon be driving on the famed Autobahn.
Please note that to register a car in Germany, you must be a resident of the country. If you are relocating from another EU country for a stay exceeding six months and bringing your car with you, it must be registered in Germany within the first six months of your residency. Detailed information about car registration rules in other EU countries can be found on the EU website.
Step 1: General Car Inspection To register a used vehicle in Germany, it must undergo a general inspection (Hauptuntersuchung) to ensure it meets safety and cleanliness standards for road circulation. The inspection typically lasts around 30 minutes and may cost between 70 to 150 euros. If any issues are found during the inspection, you have four weeks to address them and re-present the car for inspection.
If you purchase the car from a dealership, they might offer to handle this process for you, often at an additional cost. Once the roadworthiness certificate is obtained, it will be sent to you with all the necessary car registration documents.
The frequency of inspections in Germany varies depending on the car’s age:
- New vehicles: first inspection after 36 months
- Used vehicles: every 24 months
- Used vehicles older than seven years: every 12 months
Notable certified inspection workshops include DEKRA, KÜS, and GTÜ, but the most popular is TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein). Ensure you schedule an appointment for the inspection, which can be easily done online by searching for “TÜV Termin + city name,” and make sure to bring all your car documents.
Step 2: Make an Online Appointment for Car Registration To register your car in Germany, you must book an appointment at the car registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle) as soon as you’ve confirmed it passed the TÜV inspection. For new cars, look for “Zulassung eines fabrikneuen Fahrzeugs” or “Neuzulassung.” For used cars, search for “Umschreibung eines Fahrzeugs mit Halterwechsel.”
Here are links to the registration authorities in major German expat cities:
Step 3: Purchase Car Insurance Every car owner in Germany is legally obligated to have car liability insurance. There are three types of car insurance in Germany: car liability, partial cover, and fully comprehensive cover. The cost of your insurance will depend on factors like your age, the vehicle’s age, and your chosen insurance type.
As of 2020, the average annual premium for car insurance in Germany was as follows:
- Car liability insurance: 258 euros (mandatory)
- Partial cover insurance (an add-on to car liability insurance): 85 euros (voluntary)
- Fully comprehensive insurance (an add-on to car liability insurance): 329 euros (voluntary)
Once you purchase car insurance, your provider will give you a digital policy number called ‘eVB Nummer,’ which is necessary for car registration.
Step 4: Purchase License Plates Online In Germany, cars are required to have license plates in both the front and rear. If you do not have license plates, it’s advisable to purchase them online to save time and money at the registration office (KFZ-Zulassungsstelle).
When buying license plates through a website like STVA, you have the option to reserve a combination of letters and numbers you prefer, subject to availability, following the city abbreviation. For example:
- B for Berlin
- M for Munich
- F for Frankfurt
- HH for Hamburg
- D for Dusseldorf
- S for Stuttgart
The ADAC provides a comprehensive list of license plate abbreviations in Germany. After selecting the city abbreviation, you can choose a combination of additional letters (1-2) and numbers (1-4). Alternatively, if you prefer not to purchase license plates online, there are numerous shops near the registration office. Expect to pay approximately 20 to 40 euros for both license plates.
Step 5: Register Your Vehicle at the Car Registration Office You should visit the car registration office (Zulassungsbehörde or KFZ-Zulassungsstelle) with all your documents. The mandatory documents for car registration in Germany are as follows:
- German residence card (temporary, permanent, or blue card)
- Proof of car insurance (eVB number)
- Registration certificate part II (Fahrzeugbrief)
- Form 032021, filled out, including your European bank account IBAN for automatic vehicle tax payments. You can estimate the taxes using an English car tax calculator.
- License plates
Additional requirements depending on the type of vehicle include:
- For new vehicles: Certificate of Conformity from your car manufacturer (COC-Papiere)
- For used vehicles: Report of the last general inspection, registration certificate part I (Fahrzeugschein), or de-registration document
In Berlin, you must also provide a filled-out registration application at your appointment. The official will review your documents, and if everything is in order, you will be asked to pay the vehicle registration fee, which varies by region. On average, the registration cost in Germany falls between 30 and 60 euros.
You should also request an emission sticker (Umweltplakette) from the official, which must be affixed to the lower right corner of your windshield. Most German government offices do not accept credit cards, so be prepared to make the payment in cash or using a Girocard.
After completing the process, you will receive a new registration certificate part I (Fahrzeugschein), an updated registration certificate part II (Fahrzeugbrief), city stickers for both license plates, and a TÜV inspection sticker on the rear plate.
Cost Breakdown: The registration fees for a car in Germany are not standardized, and the amount may vary based on your location. As of November 2020, here is a sample breakdown of costs:
- Car registration: 30.20 euros
- Emission sticker: 5 euros
- License plates: 37.90 euros
- The fee for reserving and choosing a preferred license plate: is 12.80 euros
- TÜV inspection (covered by the car dealer): 115 euros
- Car insurance: 623.93 euros
The total cost of registering a used car was 85.90 euros, but when including car insurance, which is necessary for registration, the total cost amounted to 709.83 euros.
Online Car Registration: As of October 1st, 2019, online car registration is possible in Germany. However, certain conditions must be met:
- The car must have been first registered after January 1st, 2015.
- The new owner must possess a digital ID card, known as the Elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel (eAT) for expats. Details on how to register your car online can be found on the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure’s website. You can use the ‘Translate to English’ feature in Chrome for English translation.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully registered your car in Germany, and now you’re ready to enjoy driving on the Autobahn! 🚘