Everything you need to know before buying a car in Germany

The world over, Germany is known to be home to some of the best Automobile brands. Well known German cars manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz are famous for their quality engineering and precision.  If you’re living in Germany and you’re keen to explore the German car market, then his article is your guide to everything related to a ‘Das Auto’ (German for car) purchase in Germany.

Should you buy a car?

Before embarking on the process of purchasing the car, you need to be sure if the purchase is essential. Germany has a well-connected public transport system which offers a reasonable price for monthly and yearly train tickets. So most foreigners living in big cities don’t find the need to purchase a car. Below are a few pointers to help you decide better:-
  • Living in the city vs living in the suburbs – Life in the suburban part of Germany can be a challenge without a car, and it is usually recommended that you own a car.
  • Duration of stay in Germany – If you have moved to Germany for a short-term project or a fixed number of years, with no intention of making it your future home, then you should consider the resale value of the car. Post the sale of any new car, the price will drop progressively over the years.
  • Cost of the car – If you’re new in Germany and still getting a foothold with managing your salary and expenses, it is sensible to approach this decision a little later.
One great solution for foreigners in Germany who are managing their money and sending money to their families in Asia and Africa is Rewire. This trusted and secure app is your best bet for a fast and efficient money transfer. Their customer service is always available for a chat in multiple languages such as Hindi, English and Tagalog.

Where to buy your cars?

To make the process of finding your car easier would be to start with the basics – your budget and preferred car type. A little research into automobile brands would be a good place to start. According to a report released by the KBA, based on the new licence registrations Volkswagen’s Golf, Passt and Tiguan are the best-selling car models of 2017. This was closely followed by Mercedes Benz – C Class and Volkswagen’s Polo. The main platforms in Germany that advertise cars are usually – newspapers, automobile magazines and internet sites. Since newspapers and magazines will be entirely in German, a good place for most foreigners to start their search would be through specialised automobile websites. A few of the most well-known sites for Automobiles in Germany are:-
  • Ebay-kleinanzeigen: This website is Germany’s leading online classified marketplace, where you can buy, sell everything from clothes, electronics, plants and houses. Individual sellers and second-hand car retailers both advertise through this website which is mostly for second-hand cars.
  • Auto Build: The well-known German Automobile magazine has a classified section where you can find second-hand cars.
  • Mobile.de: The most popular and sought-after website for Automobiles that advertises new and used cars. The site’s English language option makes it a favourite with most foreigners.
  • Auto Scout 24: Similar to Mobile.de
  • Cars on the Web: Specifically for those looking for used cars in Germany.

Why should you consider buying second-hand cars?

  • Low cost: One main advantage of buying a used car over a new car would be the low cost. The German used cars market is known to be inexpensive because Germans are known to buy new car models once every 5 years.
  • Good condition of cars: Germans take good care of their cars, and you won’t be disappointed with the state of a second-hand car. So this makes it a safe option to consider a used car.

Tips to buying a car

  • Schwacke Liste – often referred to as the Bible for second-hand cars by both retailers and dealers. If you are opting for a second-hand car, then this list has the value of all used car models in Germany.
  • Buying second-hand cars through a car dealer: If you are keen on buying a second-hand car, be sure to buy it directly from a dealer than a private individual online. The one big advantage is that dealers often offer a minimum guarantee of up to a year. In some cases, although rare, there is a chance of also receiving a bank loan.
Read Rewire’s guide to opening a Bank account in Germany here.
  • Buy cheaper cars directly from Authorised car dealers: Employees of car manufacturers usually get a good discount on new car models which they sell after a year. These cars are called Jahreswagen which translated means a car that is a year old.

Important pointers to check when purchasing a used car

  • Check the mileage to know the age of the car.
  • The date of the first registration (Erstezulassung/EZ)
  • Type of fuel: Diesel or petrol
  • No of owners
  • Release year of the car model
This detailed checklist by DMV.org will assist your check the worthiness of your car. Click here.

Financing the car purchase

  • Private seller: If you are buying a second-hand car in Germany from a private seller, you will be expected to pay the entire amount upfront in cash.
  • Dealers: Buying a car through a dealership is a better option if you don’t have liquid cash to assist you with your purchase. Most dealerships expect a basic down payment of 15 – 20% and have various finance schemes where you can pay a monthly instalment over a few years. A pro tip here is that a good rate of interest can be secured by paying 20% downpayment.

Registration process

If you are buying the car directly from the dealership, they will handle the registration process for you. If you have purchased the car from a private owner, then you would have to head to your nearest care registration office or Kraftfahrzeug Zulassungsstelle with the correct set of documents and register the car yourself.

Documents provided by the dealer

  • Registration and ownership documents known as the Fahrzeugbrief and the Fahrzeugschein.
  • Vehicle Roadworthiness test comprises of safety inspection (Hauptuntersuchung/HU) and an emission test (Abgasuntersuchung/AU). These are conducted every year for vehicles that are more than 3 years old by authorised organisations known as the TÜV and DERKA.
  • In the case of a second-hand car, the service history of the car also needs to be provided.
  • Written sale of contract (Kaufvertrag) between the seller and buyer of the car.

Documents that the buyer needs to provide

  • Proof of identity: Passport and German ID card
  • Proof of Address: Rental agreement
  • Drivers Licence
Read Rewires Guide to obtaining a German driving licence here.
  • Bank account details: If you’ve opted for a financing scheme where you pay a monthly instalment.

Auto insurance

The most important part of the car buying process is the car insurance (Auto Insurance). To register your car in Germany, it is essential to ensure that it is insured against third party liability. This means that in the case of an accident the insurance will cover all cost of damage that was caused by your car. Medical expenses are covered too in this case. This is also known as main insurance (Haftpflicht). If you are keen, there are also first party insurances that are available which covers incidents like theft, vehicle damage, vandalism, drivers injury, etc. Your car’s insurance documents are also a vital part of the car registration process. Price of the insurance depends on the age/experience of the driver, size of the car, residence in the city or suburbs and also the driver’s history of accidents.

Auto Tax

Once you have purchased the car, you would have to pay an annual tax to the Federal Government of Germany. The amount of the tax is determined by the age of the car, details about the car’s engine, type of fuel used and other details etc.  The Auto tax of Motor vehicle tax can be calculated online with the help of a calculator. Click here for the German version. The entire process of purchasing a car may seem exhausting, especially since most of the process is in a foreign language. Once the formalities are completed, and you have a car to call your own, don’t forget to hit the autobahn and celebrate with a long drive.
Still looking for a cheap and fast way to send money home?
A free MasterCard, or a way to manage your financials? Sign up to Rewire today and start saving!
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for a cheap, fast, and safe way to send money home?
Get Started