These questions were put to and answered by a European consumer advice service. Do you have questions of your own? Contact your local European Consumer Centre.
NO - That's illegal.
If you are planning to buy a new car, you can compare prices using the report on car prices across the EU, published annually by the European Commission.
However, you must also take into account the cost of VAT:
A temporary licence or number plate allows you to drive a car you have recently bought in one country to the country where you intend to register it. You can obtain a plate in the EU country where you buy your car.
You should get a permanent number plate in the country where you register your car.
You will also need insurance that is valid in all the countries you will drive through.
If something goes wrong with your new car bought from a dealer, check the terms of all relevant warranties (such as the manufacturer's warranty and dealer's warranty) to find out whether the problem you have is covered, and if the warranty applies in Ireland.
If so, you should contact the dealer to seek a remedy. You will also be covered by EU consumer laws on minimum guarantees, which usually last for two years.
You are covered by a two-year legal guarantee when you buy a new car from a professional seller. The guarantee period may be reduced to one year for a used vehicle. The guarantee covers manufacturing faults, for which the seller is responsible.
In addition to the legal guarantee, you may also have a commercial guarantee.
Under EU law, you may invoke your guarantee at any dealer in the manufacturer's network, regardless of the EU country in which you bought the car. So if you buy your car in Germany and take it back with you to France, you go to a car dealership for that make of car close to your home to ask for a manufacturing fault to be remedied (within the guarantee period), rather than travelling back to Germany.
This will depend on what the dealer told you about the car when you bought it, and what the problem is.
Under EU law, the quality and performance of goods must be satisfactory. This depends on the nature of the goods and the statements made about them by the seller, the producer or their representative.
If the car has a major defect which you were unaware of when you bought it, you may well be entitled to a remedy. If you are, you should contact the seller first to check that they agree to your taking the car to a local garage for repairs. This is generally not a problem for new cars, but can be for second-hand cars.
Your rights in this case are extremely limited. Consumer law does not apply to a private sale - it only applies when a ‘business' sells to a ‘consumer'. You should therefore exercise extreme care if you buy from a private individual.
If you cannot resolve the matter amicably, you might consider a civil action against the seller, but this can prove costly and difficult.
Rules and guarantees differ depending on whether:
You have the greatest level of legal protection when you buy a new car from a professional seller based in the EU.
You will need to go to your national customs office, where you will make a special VAT declaration and pay the applicable VAT for your new car.
You will also need to get insurance for your vehicle, pass a government safety test if it is a used car, register the car and pay any other relevant taxes in your country, such as road tax.
Customs will convert the price paid in pounds sterling to euros. You will pay VAT at 21% of that amount (the rate applicable in Belgium).
Customs will use the value of the pound against the euro on the date shown on your sales receipt. If there is no sales receipt, it will use the date on the purchase order.
YES - A car sold in the EU is considered new if:
A car is considered second-hand if:
If you buy a new car in another EU country, you will not pay any VAT in that country. You will pay the local rate of VAT when you import the car to the country where you plan to register it.
A seller who is a private individual, rather than a professional car dealer, may reclaim the VAT they paid on the car when they first bought it. This is to avoid VAT being paid twice on the same vehicle.
If you buy a used car from a professional seller, you will pay VAT on it at the local rate in the country where the seller is based. If you buy a used car from a private individual, you will not pay VAT.
Make sure you: