Buying a car in Belgium
Can I pay for a car in cash?
Yes, for amounts up to the value of EUR 3 000 (at the time of publication of this report, there is a legislative proposal to increase this limit to EUR 7 500). When entering or leaving Belgium, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to the customs authority ("Douanes") using a nlfr.
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. The seller is responsible for the refund so check in advance with them how to claim it, i.e. the documentation they need from you. 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 (21 %) 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?
Not necessarily if the car is for export, but the seller must provide a Car-Pass certificate created within the previous 2 months. This indicates the mileage of the car at different dates. If the Car-Pass is not provided, you can request cancellation of the sale. Every car registered in Belgium must undergo a vehicle inspection 4 years after it is first registered, and then every year. Prices start from EUR 33.80 for a petrol car, EUR 41.40 for a diesel car and EUR 55.10 for a liquid petroleum gas car.
Is the Belgian 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?
It is theoretically possible, but the seller will have to agree and you will usually have to pay.
What should I look out for in the contract of sale?
There are specific legal requirements for new cars . In any case, read the contract carefully 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). Make sure that the name of the seller is the same as the name given in the registration document, or that the seller has power of attorney to sell the car in the registered owner's name. If you buy from a trader, make sure that the name of the company is mentioned in the contract and that there is an indication regarding VAT.
Can I cancel a signed contract?
- If the contract is signed on the seller's premises, you have no legal right to withdraw unless it is connected with a credit agreement. If the credit agreement is cancelled, the car purchase contract is automatically cancelled too.
- If the contract is a distance sale contract and you have not yet collected the car from the seller's premises, you can withdraw from the contract before delivery. You can also withdraw up to 14 days from delivery of the car to your address. If you collect the car at the seller's premises, the contract is usually signed there and either will not foresee or will exclude the right to a cooling off period.
What documents should the seller provide?
- The contract of sale or an invoice;
- The Car-Pass;
- The service book;
- The registration certificate (« certificat d'immatriculation » in French, „inschrijvingsbewijs" in Dutch);
- It is not mandatory for the seller to provide the European Certificate of Conformity (COC) but it may be requested for registration in your country of residence.
Check if the seller can provide a COC. If not, a duplicate can be requested from the manufacturer for a fee. 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?
Transit plates should enable you to drive the car home. You can order them in advance if you purchase a car. You can obtain transit plates from the Direction pour l'Immatriculation des Véhicules/ Directie Inschrijvingen van Voertuigen - DIV, City Atrium, rue du Progrès/Vooruitgangstraat 60, 1210 Bruxelles/Brussel. Tel: +32 2 277 30 50; e-mail: email@example.com
Approx. price: EUR 75; Timeframe: issued immediately; Validity: 30 days. You may also be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority. In Belgium, it is not possible for Belgian residents to obtain Belgian transit plates.
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? Belgian number plates are linked to a specific person not a car, so the seller may keep the number plates for his/her next car or return them to the Ministry for deregistration. No obligation is put on you to verify the deregistration of the car, but you may better use transit plates.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads. When applying for transit plates, you need to show proof of (temporary) insurance cover which you can take out in Belgium. Check with your regular insurer if you are covered for the journey home, or ask if the seller can provide help you to get transit plates and insurance. A Belgian insurance policy costs about EUR 200, depending on the insurance company and the vehicle type.
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 Belgium?
"Commission de conciliation pour véhicules d'occasion/Verzoeningscommissie Tweedehandsvoertuigen" for claims against members of Traxio (formerly Federauto), the Belgian Confederation of Motor Vehicle Dealers, Repairers and Operators in Related Sectors, who use the standard contract format.
To whom do I report cases of fraud?
There is no specific authority for such complaints. You can lodge a complaint with the local police station.