How to register a car in Germany

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Car registration – the basics

  • In order to drive on public roads, you are legally obliged to register your car.
  • You can register your car at the Zulassungsstelle at your place of residence, online, or in some places at the Bürgerbüro.
  • Depending on the situation, you will need different documents for a vehicle registration. In all cases, you will need your eVB number and ID card.
  • If it is not possible for you to register your car yourself, you can authorise another person to do it.
  • Before you can register your car, you need car insurance. With Joonko, find the insurance that suits you best.

In which cases do I have to register my car?

There are different situations in which a vehicle registration is necessary. Joonko explains what these are and what special features they entail.

Registering a new car

The most common reason for registering a vehicle is when you buy or receive a new car. You may only drive on public roads after the car has been registered with you as the owner. If the car has never been registered before, the process is called first registration.

Registering a used car

Whether you can re-register or register a used car depends on whether the seller has previously cancelled the registration. You can specify this with a clause in the car purchase contract. If you receive a deregistered car, you can register it again. If, on the other hand, a used car passes into your possession that is still registered with the previous owner, register it as soon as possible (change of car ownership).

Re-registration after decommissioning

If you want to register a deregistered or decommissioned car, the time span plays a major role: How many years has it been deregistered? There is a period of 7 years within which a vehicle can be re-registered at any time. If you plan to register your car after this period has elapsed, you will need a full report from the TÜV. An expert will then decide whether you are allowed to register your car again.

Vehicle registration: Waiver for driving to the registration

If you have purchased a vehicle and now want to register it properly, the first question is often: how do I get to the registration office? After all, the law stipulates that a car may only be driven once it has been registered. Exceptions are journeys undertaken purely for the purpose of authorisation. These include, for example, the route on the date for vehicle registration. However, there are also clear requirements for this:

  • The vehicle has at least liability insurance.
  • The registration authority has already assigned a license plate to the car and the corresponding number plates (even if unstamped) are available.

For example, these can be license plates that you have kept after deregistering a vehicle (and that have not been directly assigned to another vehicle). When re-registering, the number plates often still exist and you can use them for this purpose.
If you want to register your car and have to drive with an unstamped license plate, report this to your car insurance in advance. Also check whether your policy covers such journeys.

Where can I register my car?

Depending on your main residence, you have up to 3 different options to register your new (used) vehicle:

  • Kfz-Zulassungsstelle: If you want to register your car, contact the registration office responsible for your place of residence. Please note, however, that there is often a large crowd and long waiting times. However, you can make an appointment in advance to register your car.
  • Bürgerbüro: In some cities, citizens’ offices and residents’ registration offices now also offer vehicle registration services. However, certain services (e.g. re-registration after closure) continue to be provided only by the respective vehicle registration offices.
  • Online: Thanks to the “internet-based vehicle registration” (i-Kfz) project from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, you can register your car online. However, certain requirements apply – including possessing a new ID card with an online function.

How do I register my car?

There are two basic conditions attached to the registration of a motor vehicle. You can only register a car if:

  • its road safety is confirmed (by TÜV, DEKRA etc.). Note that a new car is considered roadworthy up to 3 years after first registration. For the registration of a used car, however, you need a current test certificate of the main and exhaust emission test.
  • it is covered by car insurance. Without valid insurance, you cannot register your car – whether it is brand-new or used. The seven-digit eVB number (electronic insurance confirmation) serves as proof that your vehicle is insured at the date of registration.

Which documents do I need to register my car?

In order to be able to register your car, the responsible registration authority requires some documents. Which documents you actually need depends mainly on the vehicle to be registered (i.e. a new or used car).

With the help of this documents checklist, you can prepare yourself for your appointment and speed up the process:

New car registration – required documents

  • Identity card or passport
  • Registration certificate II (formerly vehicle registration document)
  • Electronic insurance confirmation (eVB number)
  • SEPA direct debit mandate for vehicle tax
  • COC papers (certificate of conformity)

Registering a used car – required documents

  • Identity card or passport
  • Electronic insurance confirmation (eVB number)
  • Registration certificate Part I (formerly vehicle registration document)
  • Registration certificate Part II (formerly vehicle registration document)
  • Proof of main and exhaust emission inspection
  • SEPA direct debit mandate for vehicle tax

You do not need a driver’s licence to register a car. After registration you are registered as a vehicle owner – but you can also drive the car with another (appropriately insured) person in possession of a driving licence.

Number plates for car registration

If you want to register your new car, you will need license plates. When you register your vehicle, it will first be assigned a license plate number. This not only happens when you register your car for the first time, but also when you register a used car if it no longer has a number plate.

Usually you can choose between several options for your licence plate number at your admission date. Once you have decided, you can go to a sign shop. These are usually located near the admissions office. You can order two number plates and then go back to the vehicle registration office with them. At the cash desk you pay the fee and the licence plates are attached with the necessary stickers.
If you want a specific license plate for your car and it is still available, you can reserve it for a fee online.

Cost of car registration

In order to be able to drive a car on the road, it is assumed that it is registered. But how much does it cost to register a car? Since this is not regulated uniformly throughout Germany, there is no single answer. Prices for car registration vary depending on the authority and registration district, but they tend to be between 30 and 60 euros.
The reservation of a license plate of your choice and the replacement of important missing documents can also influence the cost of registering a car.
Have cash or your EC card ready when you register your car. You pay the fees on the spot.

Do I have to register my car personally?

You register your car in order to be known as the new owner in the vehicle documents. It is therefore assumed that you will appear in person at the respective vehicle registration office. If this is not possible for you, however, you can authorise someone to do it for you. For example, a friend or a family member. In addition, car dealerships often offer to register the vehicle that was sold to you.

If another person is to register your car, they need power of attorney from you.

Register your car – only with the appropriate car insurance policy

Whether a new or used car, first registration or new car registration: if you want to register your car, valid car insurance is essential. But which policy suits you best? Joonko will help you find the ideal policy. Answer a few simple questions and you will get the car insurance that is right for you.

* Note regarding the car insurance comparison

Joonko has shut down its car insurance comparison as of October 30, 2020. The comparison is now done by another provider. Joonko earns an affiliate commission on every sale. For the user the comparison remains free of charge.