Buying a car in Italy
Can I pay for a car in cash?
As of 6 December 2012, cash payments are only allowed up to an amount of EUR 3 000. When entering or leaving Italy, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to the customs authority.
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 (22 %) 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. Previous vehicle inspections are listed on the vehicle registration document so the seller is not obliged to provide anything further, but you can ask for the service book. A roadworthiness test has to be performed on every car registered in Italy 4 years after it is first registered and then every two years. Prices average EUR 70- 80, depending on the province, and include administrative fees and emission checks.
Is the Italian 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?
There is no legal provision for this, but the seller might agree to it. You can ask a mechanic or repair centre, but you will usually have to cover the costs.
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.
In Italy, cars are considered as ‘registered movable goods' (beni mobili registrati). This means that a purchase can be considered legally valid even if a contract has not been signed. However, to register the car you have to present an invoice or a contract.
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 registration certificate (carta di circolazione)
- The European Certificate of Conformity (COC), if available. If no COC is available, you can contact the manufacturer in your home country to obtain a duplicate for a fee. If the manufacturer cannot provide a COC, you can contact the authority which initially registered the car.
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?
With Italian transit plates and an export clearance document (foglio di via per esportazione) showing the route you will take, you can cross borders and travel to your home country.
Competent authority: Direzione Generale per la Motorizzazione, via Caraci 36, I-00157 Roma (RM), Tel: +39 06 4158 6236-6296-6297, Fax: +39 06 4158.6203, e-mail: email@example.com
The transit plates must be requested at the Department of Motor Vehicles (Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile) according to article 99 of the highway code (Codice della Strada).
Documents to be presented:
- new cars: completed application form, payment receipts, declaration of conformity, authorisation for export, copy of the dealership legal representative's identity card, request for temporary plates, copy of passport or identity card of the owner
- used cars: completed application form, payment receipts, certificate of ownership, authorisation for export, request for temporary plates, copy of the owner's passport or identity card, copy of the registration certificate.
Timeframe: issued promptly (exact timeframe varies between offices)
Price: EUR 23.62 (EUR 28.12 if it has to be fast tracked)
Validity: 60 days maximum, depending on the destination country
As of July 2014, for all cars intended for export and registration in another country, evidence of registration abroad is normally required before deletion from the Italian register can take place. Evidence of the presence of the car in the destination country, such as a transport document or transit plates, may be accepted. More information can be found at:
You may also be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority. However, transit plates issued by the destination country might not be accepted by the Italian Police in the event of roadside checks.
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?
Number plates have to be returned to the Public Motoring Register (PRA) together with the ownership certificate (CDP), the vehicle registration (Carta di Circolazione) and a document certifying that the vehicle has already been or is going to be registered in another EU Member State (i.e. a copy of the vehicle registration issued by the competent office abroad or a sales invoice). The owner receives the original copy of the Carta di Circolazione, duly cancelled by the PRA.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads. You can take out specific insurance cover by visiting or contacting an insurer in your home country, or online. In any case, when applying for transit plates, you need to show proof of (temporary) insurance cover.
If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?
What out of court dispute resolution body is available in Italy?
There is no specific out-of-court body for car purchase matters, but it is possible to forward cases to chambers of commerce. Furthermore, the Chamber of Arbitration of Milan offers an online mediation service.
To whom do I report cases of fraud?
There is no specific entity for the automotive sector, but you can report online scams in general to the police station nearest to where the trader is located. You can also report them by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to the anti-IT crime group (Gruppo anticrimine tecnologico – GAT), a special department of the Guardia di Finanza, the law enforcement agency dealing with financial crime, as well as to the Postal and Communications Police (Polizia postale e delle comunicazioni) via their website. In both cases, you need to confirm the report at the local police station.