Buying a car in an EU state?

Whether you're searching for a particular model, for better value for money, or simply for more choice, many European consumers looking to buy a car decide to go bargain-hunting in an EU Member State.

Consumers may have to ask themselves some of the following questions: what documents are needed? In which country does VAT have to be paid? Is the car covered by a guarantee? Are insurance or transit plates needed for the journey home? To whom should a complaint against the seller or an issue with the registration process be addressed?

In an effort to help car buyers by providing a comprehensive set of answers, a study was conducted by 29 European Consumer Centres (coordinated by ECC France) into the hurdles faced by consumers when buying a car across borders.

In order to help consumers get the best possible deal and avoid nasty surprises, the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) provides a one-stop-shop for practical advice and recommendations on what precautions to take.

The ECC-Net also provides stakeholders with real-life examples of the obstacles that still exist in the internal market and of good practice implemented in some EU Member States.

Before you buy: How can you know if the seller is legitimate? Does the car really exist? What steps can you take to make payment more secure?

When buying: Does VAT need to be paid at the place of purchase or back home? Does the seller need to provide certification that the car has undergone a technical inspection? If so, will it be recognized in my home country? Which documents should I ask the seller for? How can I make sure the car is in good condition? What should I look out for in the sales contract? Do I need specific plates or insurance to drive home?

After purchase: Can I cancel the contract? What steps need to be taken to register the car? Who can I contact to make a complaint against the seller or the registering administration?

To read the report click here

To read the summary click here

To read the practical advice click here

These documents are all freely accessible online at

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