Buying and Selling a Used Car

How to buy or sell a used car in Germany, with details of any documents you might need...

There are some car magazines listing used cars for sale privately, many of which also have a website (for example, Auto-News). In Berlin, there is regular monthly magazine called Zweite Hand Autohandel ("second hand cars"), with a clear overview of car brands, models and prices.

Allrad Foto is a specialist publication for four-wheel drive vehicles with private and commercial picture classifieds, and is published monthly on the last Friday of the month. Oldtimer Inserat and Oldtimer Anzeiger are two specialist bi-monthly magazines especially for vintage cars and spare parts covering all of Germany.

Dealers sometimes sell used cars (Gebrauchtwagen):

When buying a used car, there are several things to take into account:

  • Mileage
  • Date of initial registration (Erstzulassung or EZ)
  • When the next technical inspection is due
  • Number of owners
  • Fuel consumption

The seller

The seller should provide the following:

  • Ownership and registration documents (Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil l und ll, formerly known as the Fahrzeugbrief and the Fahrzeugschein)
    • For current information on these documents: Click here (in German)
  • Proof of exhaust emission testing (AU-Bescheinigung) is required to re-register cars which are more than three years old
  • A dealer should supply a service history (Inspektionsheft) recording previous vehicle defects
  • Dealers must provide used cars with a roadworthiness certificate that is valid for two years. When buying a used car privately, buyers should check when the next vehicle inspection is due
  • A written contract of sale
    • A sample contract of sale (Kaufvertrag) for private car sales can be downloaded (in German). This document details the condition of the vehicle at the time of the sale: Click here

  • The seller should inform the insurance company, in writing, that the vehicle has been sold

The buyer

The buyer must then register the vehicle at the local vehicle licensing department (KfZ-Zulassungsstelle).  New number plates will be issued to the buyer.

The following documents are required:

  • Proof of identity (current passport or identity card)
  • Proof of residency (polizeiliche Anmeldung)
  • Proof of insurance (Doppelkarte)
  • Original vehicle registration documents
    • If the vehicle is to be registered as a company vehicle, then a copy of the extract from the commercial register (Handelsregisterauszug) or business registration (Gewerbeanmeldung) is required
    • If a third party is registering the vehicle on someone else's behalf, they need a letter from the vehicle owner confirming authorisation (Vollmacht) and this must be presented to the registration authorities, along with the owner's passport
  • Written contract of sale (Kaufvertrag)
  • For further tips on buying a used car in Germany: Click here (in German)

The vehicle owner does not receive a copy of the proof of insurance documents (Doppelkarte) for the purpose of registering the vehicle. Due to data protection regulations between insurance companies, vehicle registration offices and the German driver vehicle licensing agency (Kraftfaht-Bundesamt), as well as for environmental issues to save paper. Instead, the owner receives an insurance confirmation number from the insurer (VB-Nummer), which is stored in a central database for other agencies for the purpose of confirming insurance. Some vehicle insurers allow a copy of the "Doppelkarte" document to be printed online.

Consumer rights and information

Private individuals who buy used cars from a professional dealer have the right to claim for body defects within six months of purchase, as decreed by Germany's Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof).

  • For more information on consumer rights: Click here (in German)
  • also has advice in English on buying/selling cars over the Internet: Click here
  • For information on environmental appraisals of vehicles: Click here