Registering a car in Germany is a process that you must go through if you want to do this on your own.
With my first two cars that I bought, I asked the car dealer to take care of the car registration in Germany. I did that because I was not yet very familiar with this process in Germany.
I then personally took care of the other four cars that my family owned or still owns. In the following article, I am happy to take you through the exact steps I took for registering a car in Germany on my own.
1. The car registration process in Germany consists of 5 steps.
2. In Germany, car registration without having a driving license is possible.
3. To register your car online in Germany you need the eID-online.
4. If you cannot register your car in Germany, you can let someone else do this for you.
5. There are different types of license plates in Germany. Check this out below.
6. You need a car insurance before registering a car in Germany.
7. The costs for car registration in Germany are not high. But there are some costs.
Topics in this article
The car registration process >>
Registering a car without a driving license in Germany >>
Online car registration in Germany >>
Can someone else register a car in Germany for me? >>
Types of license plates in Germany >>
Car insurance while registering your car in Germany >>
Costs for registering a car in Germany >>
Driving a car in Germany without license plates >>
The car registration process
The registration process in Germany is, from my experience, relatively straightforward. You just have to make sure that you bring all essential documents with you. Where? To the “Zulassungsstelle” or car registration office in Germany.
Step 1: Getting an appointment at the car registration office in Germany
First, make sure you set an appointment before going to the registration office. Depending on the local situation, there may be significant delays in getting an appointment.
You can book an appointment in advance on the website of your local “Zulassungsstelle”.
If don’t know where it is, you can search on this website for the next car registration office in your area: Zullasungsstelle finden.
Step 2: Bring all essential documents for registering a car in Germany
There are a couple of essential documents that you will need to register a car in Germany. Since the requirements are different between registering a brand new car and registering a used car. Germans define a new car like this: a car that’s less than six months old and has less than 6,000 kilometers on its tachometer.
Documents you will always need for registering a car in Germany
Your identity card or passport, your “Personalausweis” or “Pass”
To register a car in Germany, you will need a registration in Germany (Anmeldung). To find more information about that, please have a look at my article about Registration in Germany Anmeldung
the number of the electronic insurance confirmation, i.e., the eVB number. To get this electronic insurance number, you need to close car insurance first. For this, read my article about insurances in Germany.
The registration certificate part II (vehicle title or “Fahrzeugbrief”)
A SEPA mandate (direct debit authorization or “Einzugsermächtigung”) for vehicle tax collection. By the way, you need to have a German bank account for that.
To learn more about getting a bank account in Germany, please go to the article How to open a bank account in Germany.
You can get that “SEPA-Mandat” either online at your local “Zulassungsstelle,” or you can fill that out as soon as you get to the respective office.
Additional documents for registering a NEW car in Germany
- the manufacturer’s EC certificate of conformity (COC papers) or “EG-Übereinstimmungsbescheinigung”
- the registration certificate part I (vehicle registration document) or “Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I,” sometimes still called “Fahrzeugschein”, is issued by the registration authority when the vehicle is first registered.
Additional documents that you will need when registering a used car
- the registration certificate part I (vehicle registration document) or “Fahrzeugschein”
- report of the last general inspection or “Hauptuntersuchung (HU)”
- as a rule, the old license plates, if available, and if the car has not been deregistered in the past.
Step 3: Go to your appointment at your local registration office in Germany
As a recommendation, it can be beneficial to arrive at your local registration office earlier as it can take some time to find the right office.
Step 4: Getting the official license plates for your car in Germany
Suppose you decided to reserve your individual license plate ahead of your appointment. This means your individual letter and number combination after your city code. And you also paid for this extra service.
In that case, you can already get your license plates ahead of time. Those are not valid as long as the HU and the state’s coat of arms are missing on that plate.
If you haven’t registered your “Kennzeichen” first, you need to pick one of the available combinations shown during your meeting at the “Zulassungsstelle”.
After choosing your favorite combination, you will have to pay for the registration. They will then send you to one of the “Schildermacher” nearby the car registration office.
Schildermacher = license plate manufacturers in German
Those licensing plate manufacturers can produce your license plate within a few minutes. As soon as you get your new license plates, you can go back to the registration office. You will then receive:
- your coat of arms of the state you are registering your car at
- and the sticker for the primary inspection or “Hauptuntersuchung” on it
Step 5: You should choose to get a “Feinstaubplakette” or “Umweltplakette” for your car
Having a fine particle sticker is beneficial when you live or go to a city that has a so-called “Umweltzone” or low emission zone in place.
If you need more information about those low emission zones, please take a look at the article here on Wikivoyage. You can find a list of all German cities with those “Umweltzonen” in place on that page.
Can I register a car without a driving license in Germany?
In Germany, they differentiate between the owner of the car, called “Fahrzeughalter” in German and the person who actually drives it.
So yes, you can register a car without owning a valid driver’s license in Germany.
Is online car registration possible in Germany?
According to the website of ADAC, the online registration process is possible in Germany. Unfortunately, as a foreigner living in Germany, you can’t use this process as you do not have a valid national ID that supports the eID-online functionality.
Can I send someone else to register a car in Germany for me?
Yes, you can send someone else to register a car in Germany for you.
However, if you buy your car at a dealership, they usually offer that service. In case you are in a situation where you do not have time to go to the car registration office in Germany, you can send someone to take care of it.
You need to provide them with a “Zulassungsvollmacht” (authorization or admission power of attorney) and hand over all essential documents as listed above.
They have to follow the same process as you would, and they can bring back the license plates to your car.
What kind of license plates are there in Germany?
In Germany, you have different license plates to choose from. The type of license plate you can choose depends on the intended use of your car. A standard license plate looks like this:
The first one to three letters before the coat of arms of the state and the sticker for the HU validation is the code for the city or town or region you are registering your car at. Major cities only have one letter, while minor cities have two letters, and smaller towns often have three letters.
This initial part is followed by a combination of up to two letters (two again reserved for vehicles registered within the city limits and one letter representing the county).
The letters are followed by four numbers that have no relation to anything and are unique and random.
Following that general concept, here are the available license plates that are in use in Germany.
Standard license plate in Germany
The standard license plate allows the unrestricted usage of a vehicle.
Short-term license plate in Germany
It is valid for a maximum of five days and you may only use it for transfer and registration journeys. In German they call it “Kurzzeitkennzeichen”.
Seasonal license plate in Germany
A vehicle with a seasonal license plate “Saisonkennzeichen” may only be driven during a specified period. The example shows a validity between April and October.
H license plate
For historic vehicles at least 30 years old, you can apply for a license plate marked with an H at the end. Vehicles with H license plates are tax-exempt. The h license plate is also called “Oldtimer-Kennzeichen” or “H-Kennzeichen”.
E license plate
There are license plates with an E for purely electrically powered vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Some cities grant them special rights, such as free parking. In Germany, they also use “E-Kennzeichen” for this specific license plate.
Interchangeable license plates in Germany
Under certain conditions, it is possible to register two vehicles with only one license plate. The rule is that you cannot drive both cars simultaneously. This can result in advantages of vehicle insurance. In German, they call this type of license plate “Wechselkennzeichen”.
Export license plate
The export license plate may only be used for cars that are exported from Germany. I am talking about in my article about exporting a car from Germany. They commonly either the term “Exportkennzeichen” or “Ausfuhrkennzeichen” at “Zulassungsstelle”.
Green license plate
Agriculture and forestry vehicles and cars belonging to non-profit associations and aid organizations (for example, ambulances) may get one. They are then exempt from vehicle tax.
Can I have an individual license plate in Germany?
The license plates above all follow some specific rules in Germany, but you may be able to choose the letter and number combination of your license plate after the initial city code.
Finding the best car insurance while registering your car in Germany
You need to show a valid eVB (electronic insurance confirmation) at the registration office, as I have mentioned previously. My recommendation is to take out not only a regular “Haftpflichtversicherung” (liability insurance) but also:
- “Vollkaskoversicherung” (fully comprehensive insurance)
- or “Teilkaskoversicherung” (partially comprehensive insurance)
While having car liability insurance is mandatory, both other insurances are not required. As a rule of thumb, you should always consider getting a “Vollkaskoversicherung” for a brand new or newer car. My recommendation is to take out “Teilkaskoversicherung” when you are registering a car in Germany which is older than 4-5 years. If you bought a used car with a shallow residual value, “Restwert”, taking out liability insurance only might be enough.
If you need to find the best car insurance in your case, you should look at my article that I put together about this topic.
Costs for registering a car in Germany
The fees are not federally regulated and can vary from authority to authority by about 2 euros. Please find an overview of the current costs from January 2022 based on the example of Munich.
- Initial registration or “Erstzulassung” of a vehicle: from 26,90 Euro
- Registration of a used vehicle in the same district: from 19,20 Euro
- Registration of a used vehicle in a new district: from 29,50 Euro (with the change of ownership or “Halterwechsel”)
- Short-term license plates or “Kurzzeitkennzeichen”: from 13,10 Euro
- Seasonal license plates = “Saisonkennzeichen”: from 27,10 Euro
- H license plate or “H-Kennzeichen” or commonly known as “Oldtimer-Kennzeichen”: from 27,10 Euro
- Export license plate or “Exportkennzeichen”: from 31,80 Euro
- Reservation of a special license plate “Wunschkennzeichen”: from 12,80 Euro
- “Feinstaubplakette” or fine particle sticker: between 5 – 8 Euro
Is it allowed to drive a car in Germany without license plates?
In general, it’s not allowed to drive your car without a license plate or registration in Germany. But, there is one exception for this. Suppose you ordered your license plate already ahead of time online after making sure that you reserved your special license plate or “Wunschkennzeichen”. In that case, you can go to the registration office without the official stickers on the “Kennzeichen”.
The only rule is: you have to take the shortest and direct route if possible to the “Zulassungsstelle”. If police stops you, they will ask you for your residency permit. And if you are heading in the right direction, you will not run into any issues.
I hope I was able to provide you with a good overview of the process of registering a car in Germany in this article.
Source for pictures: I configured the license plates on the website nummernschild.heisnbrg.net
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