Last checked : 25/04/2017
FAQs - Buying and leasing a car
What formalities do I need to go through to bring my new car, bought abroad, into the country where I live?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.
Can't I just bring the car I bought abroad back to my home country using the number plates from my old car?NO - That's illegal.
How can I find out where the car I want to buy will be cheapest?If you are planning to buy a new car, you can easily compare prices on the internet. When comparing the price of a particular model in different countries, make sure you are comparing cars with the same equipment and interiors. Technical features (air conditioning, heating, and so on) may differ depending on where the vehicle is sold.
You must also take into account the cost of VAT:
- for a new car, the final price you will pay is the net price in the country of purchase plus the VAT in your country.
- for a used car, you do not pay VAT if the seller is a private individual. But if the seller is a professional, you will pay the local rate of VAT in the country where you buy the car.
How do I obtain a temporary licence plate for driving home a car I bought abroad?A temporary licence or number plate allows you to drive a car you have recently bought in one country to your home country for registrations. You can obtain a temporary plate in the EU country where you buy your car; the seller should be able to help you with this.
As temporary number plates are not mutually recognised within the EU, check first whether all the countries you will drive through will accept the temporary plate issued by the 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.
I'd like to buy a car in a neighbouring EU country. What kind of guarantee will it come with?You are covered by a minimum two-year legal guarantee when you buy a new car from a professional seller. The guarantee period may be reduced to no less than one year for a used vehicle. The guarantee covers manufacturing faults, for which the seller is responsible.
You may also receive an additional commercial guarantee. This can give you better protection but can never replace or reduce the minimum 2-year guarantee, which you always have under EU rules.
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 can go to a car dealership for that make of car that is close to your home to ask for a manufacturing fault to be remedied (within the guarantee period), rather than travelling back to Germany.
What happens if I buy a second-hand car from a car dealer in another EU country and there is a problem?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. Even if you buy a second-hand product, the seller must deliver you the product in conformity with the contract of sale. The product must comply with the description given by the seller and be fit for your particular purpose. The product must comply with the conditions you accepted at the time of conclusion of the contract.
The seller is not liable for defects you already knew at the time of purchase and for those resulting from the usual deterioration of the car.
If the car has a major defect which you were unaware of when you bought it, you may well be entitled to a remedy.
Under EU law, you have minimum two years to invoke guarantee if the product you purchased turns out to be faulty or not as advertised. The guarantee period may be reduced to no less than one year for a used vehicle. This should be made clear to you at the time of purchase.
If the defect appears within the first 6 months of use, it is presumed that it existed at the time of the delivery and only became apparent later.
After 6 months, you can still invoke the guarantee but, if the dealer contests that the defect existed from the start, you may have to prove it, probably by involving a technical expert.
When you discover a technical problem, you are required to notify the seller as soon as possible but not later than two months.
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.
What happens if I buy a second-hand car from a private person and there is a problem?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.