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Last checked: 01/03/2017

Buying a car in Austria

Can I pay for a car in cash?

Yes, there are no restrictions on this. If you travel within the EU, you don't need to declare money you take with you to customs. When entering or leaving the EU, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to customs using a specific form.

What about payment of VAT?

Within an intra-EU transaction new cars should be sold without VAT. A car is considered new if no more than 6 months have passed since the date on which it was first registered or if its mileage does not exceed 6 000 km. In practice, some sellers may require payment of VAT as a deposit, to be refunded once the car is registered in the buyer's country. Check in advance with the seller how to claim the VAT refund. Generally, the seller requests a copy of the registration certificate and proof of payment of the VAT. Be aware that you have no direct claim against the fiscal authorities, only against the seller, so you should claim any refund quickly. All other cars are considered second hand (more than 6 months since the date of first registration and mileage of more than 6 000 km). They are generally sold inclusive of VAT (20 %) if the supplier is a commercial seller (The supply is not liable to VAT if the supplier is a private person). You don't have to pay VAT in your country of residence.

Is the seller obliged to provide a vehicle inspection?

No. Concerning the timeframe for vehicle inspections in Austria, the so-called 3-2-1 rule applies; the first inspection has to be carried out 3 years after the vehicle is first registered, the next one 2 years later and the following one 1 year after that. Average cost: EUR 50-100, depending on the services needed.

Is the Austrian vehicle inspection recognised in my home country?

Some countries recognise it. Check in advance with your national authority to avoid unnecessary costs.

Can I have an expert carry out a check on the car at the seller's premises?

With the seller's agreement. In general, consumers are advised to have the car checked before buying (at an independent automobile club or by an independent expertde), particularly for second-hand cars. You will usually have to cover the costs (EUR 60-70 on average).

What should I look out for in the contract of sale?

Contracts do not have to be in writing. Read carefully through those that are and only sign contracts you understand. Some traders try to exclude legal guarantee rights by claiming that the contract is a business-to business contract or that the car is sold "without warranties" (only in business-to-consumer contracts would such a clause be considered null and void).

Can I cancel the signed contract?

If the contract is signed on the seller's premises, you have no legal right to withdraw. However, if the contract is dependent on a credit agreement and this is cancelled, the car purchase contract is also cancelled. Additionally, the consumer can withdraw from the contract within one week under the following circumstances:

What documents should the seller provide?

Check if other documents are needed in the country where you intend to register the car.

Should I apply for temporary plates to drive the car home?

The Austrian Automobile Clubs recommend that consumers living in another EU Member State and buying a car from a trader based in Austria apply for green Austrian transit plates ("Überstellungskennzeichen"). Usually, the trader organises this for the consumer. Otherwise, transit plates can be applied for at the nearest registration office ("Zulassungsstelle"), which can be found throughout the country. Documents to be presented: identity card, contract of sale, COC, proof of short-term insurance. Average costs: EUR 184.30 (insurance company handling fee: EUR 47.30, transit fee: EUR 83.60, transit plates: EUR 17.40, deposit for the transit plates: EUR 36 refundable after return of the transit plates within one year). Timeframe: issued immediately. Validity: 3-21 days Austrian transit plates allow you cross borders to travel to your country of residence. You may also be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority.

Regular national plates

If you wish to drive home with the national plates still on the car, are you obliged to return them to the competent registration offices, either in the country of previous registration or in the registration country?
Based on a bilateral agreement between Austria and Germany, the car documents as well as the plates will be taken by the national registration authority (Zulassungsbehörde) of your country and will be returned to the authority that registered the car in the country of the seller. In such a case, the car is automatically deregistered in the country of the seller. There are no such bilateral agreements with other EU Member States. This means that you have to deregister the car with the registration authority in the country of the seller and return the plates to this authority yourself.
If you import the car to your country of residence and register it with your national registration authority, the authority will take the plates. The car is thus registered twice so you have to contact the registration authority in the country of the seller to deregister it. As you do no longer have the original number plates, you have to forward confirmation that your national registration authority has taken the plates.

Do I need temporary insurance?

When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads. You may ask the seller to organise transit plates and short-term insurance. You can also contact an insurance company in Austria. Each week, a specific insurance company is responsible for insuring transit plates purchased in Austria. Phone +43 1 711 56 – 0 to find out which insurer to contact for the week in which you need insurance. 

If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?

Contact your local ECC

What out of court dispute resolution body is available in Austria?

Consumers can contact the Schlichtung für Verbrauchergeschäftede at office@verbraucherschlichtung.at

To whom do I report cases of fraud?

Any police station or the competent public prosecution authority; or the cyber crime reporting office at the Federal Criminal Police Office: Bundesministerium für Inneres Bundeskriminalamt – Meldestelle Cybercrime, Josef-Holaubek-Platz 1, 1090 Wien ; e-mail: against-cybercrime@bmi.gv.at


Information provided by ECC-Net in March 2016 - see our legal notice.

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