Buying a car in Estonia
Can I pay for a car in cash?
There is no restriction on cash payments. 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, i.e. what documentation the seller needs from you. 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?
The dates of previous inspections have to be provided in the registration certificate. Time limits for inspections vary according to factors such as the type and age of the car. You can search for background information (when the last inspection took place, when the next one is due, the car's technical data, when was it registered in the Estonian register, the country in which it was previously registered, etc.) prior to purchase on theet.
Is the Estonian 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?
You are advised to check the technical condition of the car before purchase in the car's official records or with a test at a designated service centre (a list is available on theet).
What should I look out for in the contract of sale?
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 the contract includes the possibility of withdrawal).
- 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 vehicle registration certificate ("Sõiduki registreerimistunnistus");
- A European Certificate of Conformity for new cars. If the seller doesn't provide one, you can ask the manufacturer for a duplicate for a fee;
- The car's Technical Passport.
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?
For information, contact the competent authority. Competent authority: The Estonian Road Administration – Maanteeamet Pärnu mnt 463a, EE-10916, Tallinn e-mail: email@example.com, Price: EUR 60, 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.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads. Ask the seller or contact your insurer beforehand. When applying for transit plates, you need to show proof of (temporary) insurance cover. According to the Estonian Motor Insurance Act § 4 for vehicles subject to insurance obligations, insurance is presumed to have been taken out for vehicles with customs plates issued in Estonia, vehicles normally based in foreign countries, except in EEA states or Switzerland, whereby the liability arising from damage caused by the use thereof is not insured.
If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?
What out of court dispute resolution body is available in Estonia?
The Consumer Disputes Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To whom do I report cases of fraud?
Fraud should be reported to the police (Police and Border Guard Board) or to the public prosecutor's office. Contact details and instructions on how to file a complaint are published on theet and at the prosecutor's office homepage.
Information provided by ECC-Net in March 2016 - see our legal notice.