Buying a Car in Germany in 10 easy Steps


Go to nice German bank and ask for as much money as you can get. They will say “Yes, straightaway, no problem” unlike nasty English bank who think any money earned outside the UK is by definition dodgy and that the Euro is the spawn of Satan.

Heidi in Roscoff. Full. Road trip 2014 (Black Forest, Freiburg, Beaune, Avallon,Tours, Roscoff)


Get registration document from car owner (or dealer) and go back to bank with it. Fill in some forms with a real person who is helpful (one of 6 visible and available human beings, who sit behind desks and counters with plants).

packed car A 30 2012
Room for all the family – there’s a 7 month old baby in there somewhere!


If moving apartments, go and register self as a resident of Unterschleissheim (or wherever). Get proof of this. We need to know where you are at all times.


Go back to bank and tell nice man all about it. Get given a coffee. A fresh, percolated coffee. Discuss insurance. It will be the car that gets insured to cover just about everything (including you) so all your family and friends can join in and party in the car if desired, at no extra cost.

You need a BIG car when you’re driving all your girlfriends to Wuppertal to see a Pina Bausch show


Take out cash which the nice man has given you and buy the car from friend who also helped you to get registered in Unterschleissheim ‘cos he could speak better German than you. However, DO NOT DRIVE THE CAR YET. Technically it’s not yours until you’ve given a blood sample and finger prints. Depending on your ‘Stadt’ you may also be required to dance with Beelzebub round a midnight fire.


Travel with the current owners of the car to the car registration place. The location of this will vary according to where you are registered. If you live in the ‘Hof this is right over on the other side of Munich. Make sure you get lost on the way (you could sing some Cockney songs or a bit of Bruce Springsteen en route).


Take the correct documents with you. If you are buying the car you will need: your EU driving license (obvs); passport (standard); proof of where you live (see no.3); proof of insurance (see no.4) and evidence of how you are financing the purchase (no.1). If you are selling, you will need all the above plus TUV certificate (MOT to you and me) and car registration documents. You will also need the special handover form which you fill in together with the purchaser. This is the evidence of the aforementioned car moving on from Freising to one Sarah Halliday of Unterschleissheim. A partridge in a pear tree may also come in handy.

Heidi packed again
Another road trip to England – this one via Strasbourg and Paris with equipment for the house.


Exchange car number plates. To do this you should take some tools with you but if you forget, just use the car keys to loosen them round the edges. They come off  easily enough. Take the original plates with you into the waiting room. See clerk no. 1 and exchange paper work. Then, ask the man in your party to go to the machine thingy (that looks like something from a metal work class c.1977), and insert the number plate. He should then pull the various knobs and levers to remove the 2 little round discs in the centre of the plate. He will enjoy doing this because it’s manual labour and requires little or no thinking skills whatsoever.

Once in Cornwall, Heidi gets attention from my Grandson


Go down to the Keller!! This is a scary moment because you have to find it first. You know it’s downstairs (even your German isn’t that bad) but you’re not really sure why you’re being sent there. Eventually you will find the New Number Plate Headquarters. Request new number plate from nice lady. If you want a special number you can buy one, for just 10 euros. The lady will then make you your own individual plate for your new car, reflecting where you live which you then take to clerks 2 and 3 for further documentation. This is another example of how basic but efficient technology can exist alongside all the high tech whiz bang stuff, and a cautionary warning to those countries who want to get rid of all their manufacturing industries in one go and sell them to the Far East like what happened in the UK during the 1980s under the Thatcher Junta. Should have been more long sighted Margaret….


Pause for thought. Although a bit of a hassle (and inconvenient in the last week of term when you have a production to put on) you have learnt:

  1. that there is no possible way the concept of a ‘ dodgy second hand car dealer’ can exist in Germany;
  2. that both you and the sellers have acted responsibly to make sure that this is a safe vehicle;
  3. that you have just bought the first car ever in your life and that it’s a beautiful, shiny Volvo that drives like a golf GTI and has room enough in it for dogs, tents, children, grandchildren, friends, re-cycling, furniture, more furniture (if you’re moving apartments) and you can give her a name and she’s called Heidi!!…….

Sarah Halliday


 June 2012

Heidi plus cow
June 2017. Still going strong, Heidi gets nuzzled in Spitzingsee