How To Buy a Car in Germany for Export?

Germany is one of the most popular countries to buy a car for export. Many foreign nationals come to the country every year to purchase a vehicle and drive it to another EU or non-EU state. And no wonder, Germany is the world’s biggest car producer and offers by far the best prices for vehicles!

The process of buying and exporting a car in Germany can be done in the following steps:

  • Car selection
  • Car purchase
  • Car insurance purchase
  • Obtaining export car plates
  • Export and customs

Are you traveling to Germany to buy a car for export? In this article, you will learn all about purchasing & exporting a vehicle from Germany and all steps you need to take. We also recommend reading an article on how to buy a car in Germany as a foreigner.

Export procedure for the car in Germany

The process of car purchasing and exporting in Germany can be defined in particular steps which are:

  • Find a suitable car
  • Purchase the car – you can also finance a car with a car loan
  • Purchase car insurance
  • Obtain export car plates
  • Go through export and customs

Therefore, this process starts with buying a car in Germany.

How to buy a car in Germany for export

Any foreigner can buy a car in Germany. In fact, many people just travel to the country to make a purchase and go back to their home country. You can buy either a new/used car from the dealer or a used car from a private seller in Germany and export it to another EU or non-EU state.

The disadvantage of the dealership is that buyers must pay VAT taxes. You don’t have to do it when purchasing a used car from a private seller in Germany. However, the advantage of a car dealership is a 2 years warranty for a new car and a 1-year warranty for a used car.

On the other hand, private sellers won’t give you any warranty.

If you are looking to buy a car in Germany, read our article on the cheapest cars in Germany and some other car-related posts:

  1. Can a foreigner buy a car in Germany?
  2. Used car prices in Germany
  3. Getting a car loan in Germany
  4. Best car loans in Germany
  5. How to buy a car in Germany for export
  6. Best websites to buy a used car in Germany
  7. Car insurance in Germany
  8. Cheapest car insurance in Germany
  9. Buying vs leasing a car in Germany
  10. How much does it cost to own a car in Germany?

Where to find a car for export in Germany?

You can either buy a car from a dealer or a private seller. On the following websites, you will find listings from both, but in general, there are more private offers.

New cars can be purchased at various car dealership stores across the country.

Best websites to buy a used car in Germany include:

  • AutoScout24.de
  • Mobile.de
  • eBay Kleinanzeigen
  • Gebrauchtwagen.de
  • 12Gebrauctwagen.de

The most popular websites for finding car dealerships in Germany are mobile.de and autoscout24.de. They both have English versions and offer used as well as new cars.

Firstly you need to register on a web platform by setting up a profile. Afterward, you can search for the best deals depending on the criteria you are selecting.

Things to pay attention to when buying a used car for export:

  • Mileage – age of the car
  • First registration (EZ – Erstzulassung)
  • Number of owners
  • Diesel fuel or Petrol (Diesel or Benzin)
  • Date of the next roadworthiness check (HU/AU/TÜV)
  • Engine power
  • Known issues

Regardless of whether a vehicle is purchased from a dealer or a private individual, a written sale contract should be concluded. You must present it when exporting a car.

Read about car financing in Germany.

Which documents should you receive from the car seller

  1. Sales contract or an invoice
  2. A valid vehicle inspection certificate, however, it’s not a legal requirement. This test must be performed 3 years after the purchase and later every 2 years. The average cost is 85 EUR.
  3. Registration certificate, part 1 
  4. Registration certificate, part 2
  5. The European Certificate of Conformity (DoC) is needed for registering the car in another country. If not provided by the seller, a copy can be requested from the manufacturer.
  6. Maintenance records
  7. Owner’s manual

Also read: Cheapest car to buy in Germany in 2022 and the current prices for used cars.


What’s next?

Right after the car purchase, a buyer isn’t allowed to drive it yet. It must be registered and insured first. Since the car is intended for export, registration can be skipped, and export car plates must be obtained instead.

For this, you should make an online appointment at the local vehicle registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle) and purchase car insurance (which can be done online). Find the cheapest coverage here.

Export places for a German car

One of the most important steps of car export from Germany is obtaining the right car plates. Generally, there are two main types:

  1. Temporary registration number (Kurzzeitkennzeichen)
  2. Export registration number (Ausfuhrkennzeichen)

Where the temporary registration number (Kurzzeitkennzeichen) is intended for transport within Germany and export within the EU.

When exporting a car from Germany to a non-EU country, one should obtain an export number and thus export plates (Ausfuhrkennzeichen). Both are available at the local registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle).

If you are not a German resident, you must name a representative who lives in the municipality in which you apply for the export plates. This representative must be present when you apply. It might be easier to let the seller handle this. 

The prerequisite for these plates is that the vehicle isn’t registered to any owner, and the car is insured.

Looking for the cheapest car to buy in Germany in 2022? Check out this article, we have picked the most affordable new and used cars on the German market.


Temporary registration number (Kurzzeitkennzeichen)

The temporary registration number (Kurzzeitkennzeichen) for the export cars will only be valid in Germany as well as in other EU countries and just for 5 days.

In addition to the number and new plate, you will need a green card for export within the EU. However, such a card isn’t necessary for transport within Germany.

A green card will be given to you together with car insurance. Hence, a green card proves that the vehicle has insurance coverage within the EU.

Costs of getting a temporary registration number

The cost of the temporary registration number (Kurzzeitkennzeichen) is:

  • Plates: 25 EUR
  • Administrative fee: 13 EUR
  • Car insurance depends on the coverage: 30 – 130 EUR

Total: 55 – 165 EUR for 5 days

Documents you will need to get a temporary registration number

  • Passport or ID
  • Electronic car liability insurance confirmation (eVB number)
  • Proof of a valid general car inspection (Dekra, KÜS, TÜV)
  • Confirmation of the car registration – Part 1 (vehicle registration certificate) and Part 2 (letter)

What is eVB number? It is an electronic insurance confirmation, which serves as proof of car liability insurance. You will get it from your insurance provider.

Export registration number (Ausfuhrkennzeichen)

An export registration number (and export plates) is required to export a vehicle outside of the EU (non-EU country). In contrast to the short-term plates, the validity of the export number is up to 12 months.

Car insurance

The cost of car insurance varies significantly in Germany, depending on the provider and the coverage. There are three different coverage options: liability, partial or comprehensive insurance. For car export, the liability policy should be enough.

Documents you will need to get an export registration number

  • Passport or ID
  • Confirmation of the car liability insurance, which can be obtained at the vehicle registration office (eVB number)
  • Confirmation of the car registration – Part 1 (vehicle registration certificate) and Part 2 (letter)
  • Proof of a valid general car inspection (Dekra, KÜS, TÜV)
  • For deregistered vehicles: decommissioning (decommissioning, conformation of deregistration)
  • When available – the old number plate

The previous registration certificate won’t be valid anymore, while, the previous vehicle letter (Kfz-Brief) will be updated. In addition to the new, temporary registration certificate, the International Registration Certificate might be issued upon request. It will cost only 12 EUR.

A used car must be brought to the vehicle registration office for identification if you want to get export plates for it. Whereas, it’s not necessary for new vehicles.

Costs of getting an export registration number

  • Plates: 20 – 40 EUR
  • Administrative fee: 15 EUR
  • Car insurance depends on the coverage: 60 – 70 EUR for 15 days

Total: 125 Euro for 15 days


There are also taxes involved when getting export car plates. The exact amount you can see on the responsible website: www.zoll.de. The tax is usually paid per bank transfer; however, you can pay cash if you don’t have a German bank account.

How to get a new number and plates for car export?

You can obtain plates for export (EU, non-EU) in a few steps:

  • Contact the car registration office
  • Apply for an eVB number at your insurance company
  • Go to the responsible registration office or send a representative
  • Attach the transfer license plate to your vehicle

You or a representative person must have a residence in Germany and receive a power of attorney from you.

Get insurance for export car

Car insurance is a required document for getting export plates, thus for export. You also must obtain an eVB number (electronic insurance number) of the insurance. You can usually do this online.

Also, when driving the car to the final destination, you must be covered by insurance. One can ask the insurance company if they can provide short-term insurance since you don’t need it for a standard contract duration – a year.

The following car insurance coverages are available in Germany: 

  1. partially comprehensive insurance (Teil-Kaskoversicherung)
  2. comprehensive insurance (Voll-Kaskoversicherung)
  3. liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)

For export plates, you will need insurance with a validity of a minimum of 15 days and for a maximum of 1 year. For 15-day insurance coverage, you will pay between 60 and 70 EUR.

If the export license plate is valid for several months, the insurance premiums will also increase accordingly: for 30 days, you pay around 75 EUR, for 3 months, about 500 EUR; for a year, between 1,800 EUR and 2,000 EUR.

For temporary plates, basic liability insurance should be enough. It might cost between 30 EUR and 130 EUR. You will get the required eVB number free of charge.

For export within the EU, you can simply present an electronic insurance confirmation (eVB number). But cars with export registration plates will require you to have a yellow insurance card, also called a double card.

We recommend:

1. CosmosDirekt is the most popular car insurance provider in Germany. It’s known for low prices and good quality.

2. Allianz – the largest car insurance provider.

Alternatively, you can also use Verivox or Tarifcheck to compare car insurance prices in Germany.

You can find all information related to car insurance and the cheapest one in this article.


Car export and customs

If you have bought a vehicle in Germany and wish to export it to a non-EU country for private use, you must make a customs declaration.

If the vehicle is exported on its own wheels (you are driving it), the export declaration may be lodged directly with the German customs office at the border through which you are leaving the EU.

Otherwise, you must lodge a declaration via the electronic ATLAS export procedure. Your chosen shipping company can help you with this.

The obligation to submit electronic export declarations applies to all ways of export, including road, air, sea, and rail.

Be aware that your destination country will have its own process for testing and registering imported cars. You may also be required to pay import duties. Check with the car registration authority in your home country to ensure you comply with all necessary regulations.

Further documents may be required from the customs office to verify the declaration or to prove the legitimate purchase of the vehicle (e.g., sales contract or invoice of the EU-resident seller).

Therefore, an export declaration – is an essential document for exporting a car from the EU to a non-EU country for private use.

Taxes for exported cars in Germany

When buying a car for export, you will pay VAT taxes. In Germany, it’s 19% of the car’s price. It happens if you buy a car for export from a dealer or business.

When you buy a car from another individual in any EU country, you do not pay VAT.

When do you pay VAT?

VAT is due when you bring in a new car to your country on a permanent basis, and this car is:

  • Purchased in an EU country other than your own
  • Purchased with the intention of exporting to your own EU country

Thus, a buyer pays VAT on the value of the car in the EU country of residency, where the VAT rate of this country will apply. However, if you already paid VAT in Germany, it will be refunded to you.

Therefore, when bringing a car to another EU country, you must pay a VAT there anyway, but it only applies to new vehicles.

A new car is described as:

  • It has been in use for no more than 6 months or
  • It has been driven for no more than 6,000 kilometers

What if you paid VAT at the dealership in Germany?

Some sellers may require paying VAT upon purchase and refund that amount when they get satisfactory evidence that the car was transported to and registered in another EU country.

However, if you explain your intention to buy a car for future export, you shouldn’t pay a VAT at the dealership. This applies to all EU countries.

Read about car financing in Germany.


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