Selling a car in Germany

How to sell a car in Germany

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Sooner or later, every car owner faces the fact that his car won’t last forever. Visible signs of use or the age of the vehicle will lead to a complete loss of value, which literally won’t pay off in the end.

Selling a car in Germany can be easy if you know which route to take. There are a few options from which to choose: sell it to a dealer, an online buying site or to a private buyer. The specifics of how to sell a car in Germany differs from option to option, all explained below.

Selling a car to a German dealer

If you plan to sell a car to a dealer, you can expect a fast and easy process. Most dealerships that sell used cars in Germany will buy your car immediately without asking too many questions. But there’s a little catch: though a sale is guaranteed, you should be prepared for price negotiations. You will probably sell your used car for a much lower price.

Another possibility offered by many car dealerships is a trade-in, in which you simply exchange your old car for a new one, paying an attractive price.

Car sale with a buying site

Many online-based services offer the opportunity to sell used cars in Germany with minimal effort. and, for example, provide free online valuations of your car before selling it. The valuations require entering information about your vehicle to determine the current value; you can then often book an appointment at a location nearby, where someone inspects the car more thoroughly. After the TÜV-certified valuation, you get the chance to sell it at or near value.

The service differs from buying site to buying site. Some offer you a free valuation in advance, and they will also take care of the formalities after the purchase of your car. It’s important to check the fine print before committing to any one car buying site.

Besides the service’s speed, one of the primary benefits of this type of buying site is the lack of paperwork. You simply sign the contract of purchase and everything else is arranged, including the deregistration of your vehicle. In case of a disposal of your car, you will receive the certificate of destruction (Verwertungsnachweis), so you know that the car has been disposed of accordingly.

Selling a car at an auction

Auctions have grown in popularity in Germany. These Automarkt websites offer the possibility to present and sell used cars at a fair price. However, a good sale is not always guaranteed—and you are responsible for the appearance and presentation of your car, meaning you have to provide high-quality photos and create an informative description of your car on the platform.

A long time can pass by before an acceptable offer comes along, so you should have some patience. If someone presents with an offer, don’t expect the price to be a dream come true: a good deal is not always guaranteed, especially if it’s an old vehicle.

Used cars in Germany

Sell a car privately

A private sale is a common way of selling used cars in Germany—and there are plenty of ways to do so. You give pass it on to a family member or a friend, place a “for sale” sign on the car, or try to sell it by placing an ad (Anzeige) on a website. With this approach, the advertisement of your car lies in your hands. Thoroughly cleaning the vehicle and organising necessary vehicle papers is recommended to increase the chances that your ad will be seen among the thousands of others on the portal. A detailed description and high-quality photos of the interior and exterior also increases the sales opportunity.

A car inspection, though not required, can build extra confidence in the buyers. The required HU (Hauptuntersuchung, or general inspection), which needs to be done every two years in Germany, will ensure that buyers won’t disregard your car—they can trust that the car is in good condition.

Private sales can be more profitable, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get a great offer for your car. Time is also a factor—organising meetings and test drives with interested buyers would be on the agenda. In case of a successful deal, it is highly recommended to protect yourself with a sales contract, which includes all sales details.

If documents are missing during the transfer or registration of a vehicle, there is no way to pass another official inspection. Which documents must be submitted is outlined by many licensing authorities on their websites, such as

At the registration desk (KFZ-Zulassungsstelle) the seller must be in possession of specific documents in order to transfer the car. A passport and the vehicle letter (approval certificate II, also called Zulassungsbescheinigung II) are essential for admission to the registration office. For the re-registration or registration of a used vehicle, the old vehicle's registration document (approval certificate I, also called Zulassungsbescheinigung I) and the report of the last inspection must also be submitted.

There are quite a few documents and items that are essential for a successful sale of your car:

  • Registration certificate Part I and Part II (Zulassungsbescheinigung I, II)
  • Service book
  • Further written proof of maintenance and repairs
  • The latest TÜV report
  • Guarantees for built-in accessories
  • Existing car keys
  • Your ID

The best way to sell a car in Germany depends entirely on the time and effort you are willing to provide. Every method can lead you to a successful sale, provided you stick to the tips and know the true value of your car.


Expatica / Kevin Santa


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