What you need to know when buying a car from the European Union

What you need to know when buying a car from the European Union

Checking the price, as well as whether the dealer and the car actually exist, are the first things you should verify when deciding to buy a car. Practice shows that buyers are mainly interested in the price, and often the seller’s actual existence is not properly checked.

Before ordering
Require the car serial number, a copy of the registration certificate, the initial purchase invoice (if the car is second hand), and the mileage readings, this will allow you to get an idea of ​​the seller and the estimated value of the car.
The Estonian Road Administration offers an online service through which the basic parameters and review of the car can be checked before it is purchased online. The Swedish Transport Agency also provides a similar online service. However, it is not always easy to get information whether a car is stolen.
It is generally recommended to avoid any prepayments in cash or bank transfers to foreign accounts and to look with suspicion on sellers who allow only these forms of payment. It is advisable to pay with a credit card because in case of problems, payment may be contested.
We pay special attention to two types of fraud that can be victimized by consumers buying a car abroad – cloning and unreal mileage.
In Germany, manipulated mileage is punishable by 1 year in prison or a fine. In France, the fine is up to two years in prison and a fine of € 37,500, while in Slovakia the fine is € 266.
At the same time, only five countries can obtain information on the actual kilometers of the car before the purchase. In Belgium and the Netherlands, buyers receive the so-called “Car-Pass” or “NAP document” where this information is recorded. In the UK, mileage can be verified using MOT records. On the Swedish Transport Agency website, users can find the corresponding mileage data since the last technical inspection. In Hungary, a similar check can also be done.

Cloning is giving identity to another car that is already registered. Buyers often understand that they have been victims of such interfering by receiving acts of parking tickets or speeding. In that case, they have to prove that they were not there.

During the order

Once the dealer’s legitimacy has been established, it is also good to check the quality of the car. In accordance with the minimum requirements of Directive 2009/40 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers, they must be tested 4 years after their first registration, as and every 1 or 2 years thereafter. In France, there must be a review 6 months before the sale and the report must be provided to the buyer.

The purchased car must also undergo a technical inspection in the country where the consumer lives before being registered.

A written sales contract is not required, but we advise you to request an invoice for the purchase. Typically, this is required for car registration in Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania and Sweden. In Bulgaria the contract must be in writing and notarized.

Consumers must ensure that the contract contains the information required by the law of the country of sale and registration.

In order to register a car that was previously reported in another country, the buyer must submit the registration certificate to the competent authorities.

The seller must provide the consumer with a registration certificate, which in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Sweden is in two parts (big and small coupon). The user has to make sure that he receives both parts or the registration can be refused in his country. In addition, the two parts of the registration indicate that the car is not stowed.

The consumer should consult the seller to be able to provide him with a European Certificate of Conformity (COC). If there is no such certificate or it has been modified, it must be issued by the authorities which will register the vehicle in the country where the buyer lives. Experience has shown that users often have to pay for the tests and this takes time. In France, for example, the procedure can take up to 6 months and cost over € 1500. In Bulgaria such certificate is not required for the registration.

After the purchase

When you decide to transport the car home, you should put it with temporary (transit) numbers if the registration plates have been downloaded. The national rules for these provisional numbers are different and must be studied beforehand – they are not allowed everywhere.

The car should also have an insurance. Our advice is to ask the seller to help you to arrange the transit numbers and short-term insurance in the country where the transaction takes place, this is an additional service and is subject to a separate payment.

The payment of VAT is a major problem in such transactions, with deductions which is varying between countries and the rates range are from 17% to 27%.

VAT is required in the country of registration if the car is new (up to 6 months from the date of first registration or up to 6000 km) or if it fulfills certain conditions, which means that the seller is obliged to sell it without including this tax in the price. In practice, for new cars, some sellers require payment of VAT as a deposit. And it is restored after the car is registered in the consumer’s country. In Germany, for example, all sellers offers new car with a similar deposit being requested initially. Second-hand cars are sold with VAT included and the seller after the transaction pays the VAT amount to the relevant financial authorities.

Directive 1999/44 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and related guarantees provides a 2-year guarantee for the purchase of cars starting from the date of delivery of the car. Practice shows that trade guarantees (which are longer) are becoming more commonplace.

When buying a new or second-hand car, the following guarantees can be given:

Mandatory statutory guarantee. It entitles the user to receive a repair or replacement of a defect in the car or in some cases a replacement.

The manufacturer’s commercial warranty is usually free of charge as part of the full price – for example for 3 years or for a 100,000 km run.

Additional commercial guarantee offered by the seller or manufacturer, or even by a third party, against payment.

For professional advice, please contact Kirilova Law & Associates.

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