5 steps to registering a car in Germany

5 steps to registering a car in Germany

by Lea Hauke

Updated June 15, 2023

Especially in many rural areas in Germany, a car is still necessary to reach your destination. But if you’re planning to buy a car in Germany and are looking forward to the adventure that is German traffic, you’ll need to be prepared for the steps you’ll have to follow . Although German bureaucracy has an infamous reputation, registering a car is not as complicated as you might think. You may even be able to finish up the whole process in just a few days! 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the five essential steps for registering a car in Germany. We’ll also list the documents you’ll need to have ready before you take your car to the registration office, as well as the costs you may want to consider. 

Learn languages at your pace

Requirements for car registration in Germany

Not everyone can register a car in Germany. In order to do so, you must be a German citizen with a valid passport or you must be a German resident with a valid residency card. 

The required documents include: 

  • Valid ID 
  • Registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung)
  • Proof of ownership (found on the second part of the car’s registration certificate)
  • Valid car insurance and eVB number (more info below)
  • Form 032021 (SEPA-mandate; mandatory for paying tax on cars. Learn how to open a bank account in Germany here.)
  • TÜV certificate (proof that the car has been inspected and approved for roadworthiness)
  • License plates
  • Foreign registration certificate (if you purchased your car outside Germany)

The 5 steps to registering a car in Germany

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to accomplish, before you can take your car on the famous Autobahn

1. Take your car to a general inspection

Every car in Germany must have a valid inspection certificate that declares that the car is safe to operate on German roads. There are a lot of different certified workshops in Germany. The most popular one is called TÜV. TÜV is so prevalent that the name is synonymous with the certificate of roadworthiness in Germany. However, you do not need to limit yourself to a TÜV workshop. DEKRA, GTÜ and other certified providers can also declare your car officially roadworthy.. 

How often are you required to get your car inspected? 

The regularity with which you are required to get your car inspected changes with the vehicle’s age. If you buy a new vehicle, the first check is due after 36 months. Vehicles up to seven years old must pass an inspection every 24 months. For vehicles older than seven, the check needs to be done every 12 months. 

What happens if the car does not pass the inspection?

If the car does not pass the inspection, it means that there are safety issues with the vehicle that must be addressed prior to registration. After a failed inspection, you have four weeks to get the repairs done. 

Good news: If you purchased a used car which already has a valid inspection certificate, you don’t have to take the car for an inspection again. However, you will need the certificate as proof. Always make sure it is handed over with the other documents if you purchase a car from its previous owner. 

Learn languages at your pace

2. Book an appointment to register your car

The next step of your journey is the car registration office, or Kfz-Zulassungsstelle. As soon as your car has passed the TÜV inspection, you should book an appointment at the next office near you. In most cases, you can book them online. 

Car registration offices differentiate between the registrations of new vehicles and used vehicles, so make sure you make an appointment for the one that applies to you. 

3. Insure your car 

As a car owner in Germany, it is your legal responsibility to have car liability insurance. This insurance covers the basic costs in case of an accident. 

There are also some additional insurances, which you can take voluntarily. The costs for car liability and other car-related insurances can vary by provider and may differ based on factors such as the owner’s age and vehicle’s age .

There are three different types of car insurances in Germany: 

  • Car liability insurance (mandatory)
  • Partial cover insurance (voluntary)
  • Fully comprehensive insurance (voluntary)

After you purchase insurance for your car, the insurance provider will hand you the eVB number. You will need this number later at the registration office, as proof of car insurance. 

4. Purchase German number plates

In most cases, you can either buy your license plates online or at a shop next to the registration office. It is mandatory to have one license plate affixed to the front and one affixed to the back of your vehicle. 

The first letter(s) on the plate indicate the city where the vehicle is registered. These letters are followed by a combination of letters and numbers that can be chosen at random or by you, availability permitting. 

5. Register your vehicle 

You’re almost there! Once you have all your documents and license plates ready, you can head to your next registration office and register your vehicle. 

Costs of registering a car in Germany 

The fees for registering your car may vary depending on where you live and what kind of insurance you choose for your vehicle. These are the primary costs to consider: 

  • Car registration fee (approximately 30 Euros)
  • Emission sticker fee (5 Euros)
  • License plates (approximately 40 Euros)
  • TÜV inspection costs (approximately 50 Euros)
  • Car insurance (depending on provider)

Buying and registering a car in Germany

Although most places in Germany can be reached via public transport, having a car can come in handy, especially if you are living in a more rural area. For non-EU members it can be worthwhile to apply for a German driving license in the long run. In comparison to other countries, the whole process of registering a car in Germany may seem a little complicated at first. However, after accomplishing five basic steps, you should have all the documents you need and you’ll be ready to take your car to the Kfz-Zulassungsstelle in a matter of days. Although the process is standardized, it can help to refresh your German skills before you take the German bureaucracy adventure. 

Learn languages at your pace

Lea Hauke

Lea is a writer and translator for English and German and lives in Austria. Her love for literature is only met by her enthusiasm for music. During her studies in Berlin, she started writing for different music magazines and was the singer and drummer of a punk band. When she completed her Masters in English Literature, she moved to Tyrol, where she started her own business. Since then she has made it her mission to help others to find the right words for their ideas and projects. You can find more information about her on her website and on LinkedIn.

Lea Hauke

Related articles