Buying a car in Germany can be daunting, especially if you need to become more familiar with the language, regulations, and procedures. However, with some preparation and research, you can have a pleasant car purchase experience and enjoy the benefits of driving in one of the most car-friendly countries in the world. In this guide, we will walk you through the fourteen steps to successfully buy a vehicle in Germany, including knowing the benefits of a car with roadworthiness. We’ve got you covered. Whether new or used auto, from a dealer or a private seller. By providing a video that shows the step-by-step process in action and gives you some tips and tricks along the way. Only when you test-drive you will know the actual condition of a vehicle, so let’s find out why.

Step 1: Buying A Car With Roadworthiness In Germany

To purchase a vehicle with roadworthiness in Germany addresses some of the concerns a buyer might have. With that alone, you have uncovered about 50 percent of the uncertainty you may have about the car’s condition. Meanwhile, here are the reasons and the benefits:

The Reasons:

Buying a car in Germany with roadworthiness ensures legal compliance, safety assurance, and potentially a longer life expectancy. You get a high resale value if your vehicle still has roadworthiness and wants to sell it.

The Benefits:

Compliance with Legal Requirements: Vehicle roadworthiness tests, known as Hauptuntersuchung or HU, are mandatory in Germany. Ensuring your car has a valid German roadworthiness certificate is crucial to comply with the law and avoid potential fines or points on your driving license. 

Safety Assurance: The roadworthiness test comprehensively examines the vehicle’s mechanical safety. It includes checks on the tires, lights, braking system, chassis and structure, fire safety equipment, exhaust system, steering, and CO2 emissions. Buying a car that has passed the roadworthiness test means purchasing a safe vehicle. 

Longer Vehicle Life Expectancy: Cars that pass the roadworthiness test have a longer life expectancy. It is because the test ensures that the vehicle is in good condition, which can contribute to its longevity. 

Note: Roadworthiness ensures that the car is legally compliant, safe to drive, and potentially has a longer life expectancy. However, it’s essential to remember that while roadworthiness covers many aspects of the car’s condition, it may not cover all potential concerns a purchaser might have, such as the car’s history, fuel efficiency, or specific features. Therefore, conducting a thorough check and asking for all necessary documents before purchasing a vehicle is always recommended.

The Process of Getting Roadworthiness for a Car

Before buying a car in Germany, you must ensure it meets the roadworthiness standards regulated by the Technical Inspection Association (TÜV). The TÜV is a body that certifies the safety and environmental compatibility of vehicles and other products. The name of the test that a car must undergo to get roadworthiness is Hauptuntersuchung (HU).

Hauptuntersuchung (HU) Is A Must

Every car in Germany must undergo a HU check every two years to be roadworthy. The owner receives a license plate with a sticker that shows the year and month of the next inspection. The color changes every year to make it easier to identify. The color does not indicate the car’s current status, but only the year of the last inspection.

Getting A New Sticker

Cars that pass inspection receive a sticker indicating the current year and month. Failed inspections result in a report detailing defects and a repair deadline, typically one month, but adjustable based on defect severity.

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Checklist HU Emission Standard Inspection

If you do not resolve the defects and have the car re-inspected within the deadline, you must pay for a complete re-examination. Driving a vehicle without a valid TÜV sticker is illegal and can result in fines and penalties. Below is a breakdown:

ChecklistHU inspectionEmission standard inspection
PurposeTo check if your car is safeTo check if the emission of your car is clean
FrequencyShows the date of the next inspection and the color of the previous inspectionEvery two years, but sometimes sooner or later, depending on your car
StickerShows the date of the next inspection and the color of the last inspectionYou get a report with the issues and the time to fix them
PassingYou get a new sticker with the current date and colorYou get a new sticker with the current date and color
FailingYou get a report with the problems and the time to fix themYou get a report with the issues and the time to fix them
Re-inspectionYou have to do it within the deadline or pay more moneyYou have to do it within the deadline or pay more money
Driving without a valid stickerYou can get in troubleYou can get in trouble

The positive aspects of the HU Inspection are:

  • Both inspections help keep your car in good condition and protect the environment. ✅
  • Both inspections indicate when you need to do the next inspection and what year you did the last inspection. ✅
  • Both inspections reward you with a new sticker if you pass them. ✅

The negative aspects of the HU Inspection are:

  • Both inspections can be costly and time-consuming and are mandatory. ❌
  • Both inspections can result in fines and penalties if you fail them or drive without a valid sticker. ❌
  • Both inspections can vary depending on your car type, age, and emission class, which can be confusing. ❌

Step 2: Emission Standards (Green Sticker)

Another requirement for buying a car in Germany is to comply with the emission standards, which the TÜV regulates. Cars of certain types and ages may require a green sticker, showing they meet or exceed the Euro 4 emission standard.

You need a green sticker in specific cities to drive in environmental zones (Umweltzonen). Without it, you could be fined 80 euros. You can get this sticker from TÜV, car dealers, or some gas stations for about 5 euros.

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Eligibility Criteria For The Green Emissions Sticker

Vehicle typeEngine typeEmission standardEligibility for green sticker
PetrolPetrolEURO 1 or higherYes
LPGLPGEURO 1 or higherYes
HybridHybridEURO 1 or higherYes
DieselDieselEURO 4 or higherYes
DieselDieselEURO 3 + DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter)Yes

This table helps you understand the eligibility criteria for the green emissions sticker when purchasing a car in Germany. You can also check your vehicle registration certificate to find out the emission standard, vehicle category, and fuel type of your vehicle.

Step 3: How to Approach a Car Dealer or Seller

Once you have checked the car’s roadworthiness and emission standards, and I assume you are online looking for a car, you can initiate contact with your chosen vehicle’s dealer or seller. There are two main options for car buying in Germany: a dealer (Händler) or a private seller (Privatverkäufer). Each option has pros and cons, so you should weigh them carefully.

Buying A Car In Germany From An Auto Dealer

Buying a car from a dealer in Germany can be more convenient and secure. They usually offer a warranty, a service contract, and a trade-in option for your old car. They can also help you with the registration and insurance paperwork and may have a more comprehensive selection of vehicles.

However, purchasing a vehicle from a dealer can also be more expensive, as they charge a higher price and a commission fee. They may also try to sell you additional services or products you do not need, such as financing, insurance, or accessories. Therefore, you should always compare prices and negotiate with the dealer to get the best deal possible.

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Buying from a Private Seller

Buying a vehicle from a private seller in Germany can be cheaper and more flexible. You can bargain directly with the owner and avoid the dealer’s fees. You may also find some rare or vintage cars unavailable in the dealerships. However, purchasing from a private seller can also be riskier, as you need a warranty, service contract, or trade-in option.

When purchasing a car from a private seller, you must handle paperwork and check the car’s condition. And ensure it matches its description. Always request a test drive, vehicle history report, and purchase contract.

This video reveals the truth about the car purchase process: Buying a car in Germany can be a rewarding experience.

Step 4: Online Marketplaces to Find Used Cars in Germany

One of the easiest ways to find a car in Germany is through online marketplaces. You can browse thousands of listings from dealers and private sellers nationwide. On the other hand, you can use a car purchasing service like ours.

Car Buyers Broker: A professional who helps individuals find and buy a car in Germany. They work on behalf of the buyer to negotiate the best price and terms for the purchase. They may also assist with locating specific makes and models, arranging test drives, and handling paperwork and financing. Car buyers brokers are typically paid a fee or commission for their services.

Step 5: Test-Driving and Buying a Vehicle

Always test drive a car before buying, whether from a dealer or private seller. This helps you check the car’s condition and performance and negotiate the price and terms. Now, let’s discuss some tips for test-driving and purchasing a vehicle in Germany.

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How To Test-Drive A Car In Germany

You want to get the best deal possible while ensuring the car you’re purchasing is in good condition. One crucial step in the car-buying process is test driving. Make your vehicle roadworthiness review of the car. This section covers five tips to help you achieve the optimal test drive experience in Germany.

Additionally, you could have hired a professional auto broker to assist you as a non-German buyer throughout this process. You also had the option to pay for a pre-purchase inspection before committing to the car. Those are extra tips you remember while aiming to achieve the optimal test drive experience in Germany.

Test driving is a crucial part of the car-buying process, and following these tips can help ensure you make an informed decision and get the best deal possible. Remember to thoroughly inspect the car, ask the seller questions, and negotiate the price using your test drive experience and inspection findings as leverage. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect car in Germany.

Step 6: The Requirement of a Car Purchase Contract

After you have agreed on the price and the terms of the sale, you need to sign a car purchase contract (Kaufvertrag) with the seller. This is a legal document that confirms the transfer of ownership and the details of the transaction. It also protects both parties from any disputes or liabilities that may arise in the future. You can find a standard car purchase contract template online or use the one the seller provided. However, you should always read the contract carefully and make sure that it includes the following information:

  • The names and addresses of the buyer and the seller
  • The date and place of the sale
  • The make, model, color, year, and VIN of the car
  • The mileage, condition, and features of the car
  • The price and the method of payment
  • The warranty and the service contract (if any)
  • The delivery and registration of the vehicle (if applicable)
  • The signatures of the buyer and the seller

You should also ensure that the contract is written in a language you understand and get a copy for your records. You should keep the original vehicle registration certificate (Zulassungsbescheinigung Zeil 2 → Fahrzeugbrief) and the vehicle title (Zulassungsbescheinigung Zeil 1 → Fahrzeugschein) until you register the car and afterward.

Step 7: Getting a Vehicle Registration Certificate

The vehicle registration certificate (Fahrzeugbrief) is a document that proves the ownership and the technical specifications of the car. It contains the name and address of the owner, the make, model, color, year, and VIN, engine size, fuel type, emission class, and inspection date. The vehicle registration certificate is issued by the local registration office (Zulassungsstelle), and it is required for registering, selling, or transferring the car.

Who Gives A Car Registration Certificate?

You can get a car registration certificate from the seller or apply for a new one from the registration office if the car is new or imported. To apply for a vehicle registration certificate, you need to provide the following documents:

  • Vehicle Title (Fahrzeugschein): If the vehicle is unregistered or has a foreign license plate, it can be obtained from the seller or registration office.
  • Proof of Identity and Residence: Your passport, visa, and registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung) from the local citizens’ office (Bürgeramt).
  • Proof of Insurance: Insurance policy or electronic insurance confirmation number (eVB-Nummer) from your insurance company.
  • Bank Details: Provide your bank details so the authority can debit the annual vehicle tax (Kraftfahrzeugsteuer), which is based on the vehicle’s engine size, fuel type, and emission class.
  • Proof of Valid TÜV Inspection and Green Sticker (if applicable): This can be obtained from the TÜV or the seller.
  • Car Purchase Contract (Kaufvertrag): the seller signs the document. (if applicable)

You can apply for a vehicle registration certificate in person at the registration office or use an online service that can handle the process for you for a fee. You can find the nearest registration office or the online service on the official website of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The vehicle registration certificate costs around 30 euros; you will receive it by mail within a few days.

Step 8: How to Get an Inspection Certificate

The inspection certificate (Hauptuntersuchung) is a document that shows that the car has passed the TÜV inspection and meets the roadworthiness and emission standards. It is required for registering, selling, or transferring the vehicle and is valid for two years. As explained in the previous steps, you can get the inspection certificate from the TÜV or the seller. However, if the inspection certificate is expired or missing, you must obtain a new one from the TÜV. To acquire a new inspection certificate, you need to provide the following documents:

  • The vehicle registration certificate (Fahrzeugbrief) is the document that proves the ownership and the technical specifications of the car, as explained in the previous step.
  • The vehicle title (Fahrzeugschein) is the document that shows the car’s registration and license plate number, as explained in the previous step.
  • The proof of insurance, such as your insurance policy or your electronic insurance confirmation number (eVB-Nummer), is explained in the previous step.

You can book an appointment for the inspection online or by phone, and you can find the nearest TÜV station on the official TÜV website. The inspection fee is around 50 euros, and you will receive the inspection certificate and the sticker on the spot.

Step 9: Car Service History (Maintenance Record)

The car service history (Scheckheft) is a document that records the car’s maintenance and repairs. It shows the date, mileage, service type, and service provider of each service. The car service history is vital for assessing the car’s condition and value and is also required for some warranty and insurance claims. You can get the car service history from the seller or request a copy from the service provider if the seller does not have it.

However, the car service history is incomplete or missing. In that case, you may have to rely on other sources of information, such as the vehicle history report, the inspection certificate, or the seller’s testimony. You should always check the car service history carefully and compare it with the other documents and the car’s actual condition. You should also ask the seller about any major repairs or modifications the vehicle has undergone and request the receipts or the invoices if possible.

Step 10: What to Check Before Leaving the Auto Dealer’s Place

Before you leave the auto dealer’s place with your new car, you should ensure everything is in order and that you have received all the necessary documents and items. Here is a checklist of what to check before leaving the auto dealer’s place:

The Car: Ensure the vehicle is clean, fueled, and ready to drive. The documents should match the license plate, sticker, and registration number. The keys, spare tire, jack, and tool kit should be included. Any damage, scratches, or dents not disclosed or agreed upon should be reported to the dealer for a solution or compensation.

Documents: You should have received the original or a copy of the car purchase contract, vehicle registration certificate, vehicle title, inspection certificate, green sticker, proof of insurance, evidence of vehicle tax payment, car service history, and the warranty and service contract (if any). These documents should be complete, accurate, and signed by both parties. If any documents are missing, request them from the dealer immediately.

Extras: Any extras you negotiated or paid for, such as a new set of tires, a full gas tank, free service, or a gift, should be included. If any missing extras exist, request the dealer deliver them or refund the difference.

Step 11: An Insight into the German Vehicle Insurance System

The German vehicle insurance system is a mandatory and comprehensive system that covers the liability, the damage, and the injury of the car and the driver. There are three main types of car insurance in Germany:

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)

In simpler terms, liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) is a basic car insurance in Germany. It’s mandatory and covers costs if you damage others’ property or injure them with your car. It doesn’t cover your damages or injuries. The price varies based on car details and driver’s profile, with an average annual cost of about 300 euros.

Partial coverage insurance (Teilkaskoversicherung)

Partial coverage insurance (Teilkaskoversicherung) is an optional and intermediate type of car insurance. It covers damage to your car caused by fire, theft, vandalism, natural disasters, animals, or glass breakage. It does not cover damage caused by collision, vandalism, or negligence. Partial coverage insurance is recommended for older or cheaper vehicles that are not worth repairing or replacing in case of a significant accident.

The cost of partial coverage insurance depends on factors similar to liability insurance, plus the car’s value and condition. The average annual cost is around 100 euros.

Comprehensive insurance (Vollkaskoversicherung)

Comprehensive insurance (Vollkaskoversicherung) is an optional and the most advanced type of car insurance. It covers damage to your car caused by any reason, including collision, vandalism, or negligence. It also covers injury to your vehicle or yourself caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. Comprehensive insurance is recommended for newer or more expensive cars worth repairing or replacing in case of a significant accident.

Complete insurance costs depend on the same factors as partial coverage insurance, plus the deductible and no-claims bonus. The deductible is the amount you must pay out of your pocket before the insurance pays the rest of the claim. The no-claims bonus is the discount you get every year you do not make a claim. The average annual cost of comprehensive insurance is around 500 euros.

Choose the type of car insurance that suits your budget. You can compare and apply for different insurance plans online or through an agent. You can change or cancel your insurance plan based on what is on the insurance contract you signed if you notify your insurance company and registration office in advance.

Step 12: List of Companies that Can Help You Get Insurance Cheaper

If you want to save money on your car insurance, you can use online platforms or services to help you find your car’s best and cheapest insurance plan. Some of the most popular and reliable platforms or services are: is Germany’s largest comparison platform for car insurance. Enter your details, and get affordable plans from 300+ companies.

You can filter, sort, and compare plans. Apply directly and get a contract within minutes. Modify or cancel anytime. is another reliable comparison platform. Use it like to get exclusive offers and discounts. Change or cancel your plan anytime. offers flexible, affordable car insurance. Choose from liability, partial, or comprehensive plans. Customize your plan, and add or remove features.

Pay your insurance monthly, quarterly, or annually. Adjust your mileage and coverage. Apply online and get a contract within minutes. Modify or cancel anytime.

Step 13: Car Registration Processes in Germany

The car registration process (Zulassung) is the final and most crucial step in buying a car in Germany. It involves registering the vehicle in your name and getting a license plate and registration number. Completing the registration process within one week of purchasing the car is imperative to avoid facing a penalty.

  • Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil 2 (Fahrzeugbrief): Proves car ownership and technical specifications.
  • Fahrzeugschein: Displays car registration and license plate number.
  • Inspection certificate (Hauptuntersuchung): The car has passed the TÜV inspection and meets the roadworthiness and emission standards.
  • Green sticker: Indicates that the car meets the Euro 4 or higher emission standard.
  • Proof of insurance: Includes your insurance policy or electronic insurance confirmation number (eVB-Nummer).
  • Proof of payment of the vehicle tax (Kraftfahrzeugsteuer): The tax you must pay annually for owning a car in Germany.
  • Car purchase contract (Kaufvertrag): The document you signed with the seller.
  • Proof of identity and residence: Includes your passport, visa, and registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung).
  • License plate (Autokennzeichen): The metal plate that shows the car’s registration number.

How To Register Your Car In Germany

You can complete the car registration process in person at the registration office or use an online service. Find the nearest registration office online using a search engine like Google or Bing. To complete the car registration process, you need to provide the following documents and items:

Getting A License Plate (Autokennzeichen) After Buying A Car In Germany

License Plate AcquisitionYou can get a license plate for your car from the office, online, or shop.
Number SelectionYou can pick a number from a list or make your number for more money.
Number CompositionThe number has letters and numbers that show where your car is from and which office you got it from. It also has a blue part on the side that displays the EU flag and the letter D for Germany.
CostThe license plate costs about 20 euros.
City CodeBig or old cities have one letter for the city, like B for Berlin. Small or new towns have two or three letters, like TR for Trier.
Office CodeThe office you got the license plate from has one or two numbers, like B-AB 1 or B-AB 12. The more people want a license plate from that office, the more numbers they have.
Personalized NumberThe letters and numbers after the office code can be random, or you can choose them. But you cannot have bad words or symbols, like SS, 18, or 666.
Number LengthThe letters and numbers after the office code can be random or you can choose them. But you cannot have bad words or symbols, like SS, 18, or 666.
Custom License PlateThe letters and numbers after the office code can be random, or you can choose them. But you cannot have bad words or symbols, like SS, 18, or 666.
Registration FeeCar registration costs about 40 euros. You get a new title (Fahrzeugschein) and certificate (Fahrzeugbrief). Attach the license plate and sticker to the car. Keep the Fahrzeugbrief safe
Getting A License Plate (Autokennzeichen)

Step 14: What Do You Need for the Registration of Your Car

To summarize, here is a list of what you need for the registration of your car in Germany:

  • The vehicle registration certificate (Fahrzeugbrief)
  • The vehicle title (Fahrzeugschein)
  • The inspection certificate (Hauptuntersuchung)
  • The green sticker
  • The proof of insurance
  • The proof of payment of the vehicle tax
  • The car purchase contract (Kaufvertrag)
  • The evidence of identity and residence
  • The license plate (Kennzeichen)

You can get most of these documents and items from

  • The seller,
  • The TÜV,
  • The insurance company or the registration office.

You can also use online platforms or services to help with car registration, such as or Always check the documents’ validity and accuracy and keep a copy of the papers and items for your records.


Embarking on buying a car in Germany can be a fulfilling experience. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can discover your dream car and legally navigate it on the roads of one of the world’s most car-friendly countries.

Understanding the costs and responsibilities associated with car ownership in Germany is crucial. This includes insurance, tax, maintenance, and ensuring the car’s roadworthiness. The vehicle purchase contract is an essential document in this process.

Test-driving a car in Germany is essential before purchasing, allowing you to experience the vehicle’s performance firsthand. It would be best if you also respected the rules and etiquette of the road and always drove cautiously and carefully.

We hope this guide has been beneficial in your car-buying journey in Germany, and we wish you many happy and safe travels!

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