German export plates

I’ll be writing a few posts about our experiences buying a car in Germany and then importing it to France. There is a lot of miscellaneous information out there, but there were questions at each step of the way that were not readily apparent (in English).

First I’d like to talk about German export plates. When you buy a car in Germany, even if you don’t live in Germany, you can buy “Ausfuhrkennzeichen,” or (in English) “export plates.” Don’t confuse these with temporary plates, which are for a much shorter period of time. You can get these plates in any town/city in Germany. You do not need to be registered as a resident. These plates can be, in theory, purchased to be valid for any number of months up to one year. You can do this multiple times and in different cities. I paid about EUR 150 total each of the two months I registered. It was around EUR 95 for the plates, EUR 30 to the machine at the Stadtamt, and about EUR 15 for the tax. Use this calculator to determine your tax. Our car is pretty environmentally friendly so that helped us, but it is also a diesel which hurt us.

These plates are purchased with 3rd-party insurance (in the US, we would call this liability insurance). This is a major downside. You cannot easily get full-coverage insurance to cover collisions. The good thing is that the insurance works all over Europe.

Some relevant terms:

  • Kennzeichen – License plate
  • Fahrzeug – Vehicle.
  • Personenkraftwagen (usually just the initials “PKW”) – Passenger car. If you’re just registering a normal personal automobile, this is what you have.
  • Technischer Überwachungs-Verein (TÜV) – The organization that does the safety inspections.
  • Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I – This is the registration paper that should be in the glovebox.
  • Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil II – This is the other page that should stay at home to prove ownership of the car.
  • Steuer – Tax.

How to get your own German export plates:

  1. I suggest going to the information desk at the local Stadtamt to get a list of exactly what will be needed. The procedure could differ from place to place. In my case when I did this the first time (in Bremen) the dealer was with me and he was experienced so we knew exactly where to go. The second time, I was in Göttingen. Since it was a smaller town, the Stadtamt was set up a bit different. You’ll basically need your proof that you own the car (could depend, based on where it’s from) and proof of an up-to-date Technischer Überwachungs-Verein (TÜV) inspection. The TÜV is the roadworthiness check that must be completed every two years after the car is three years old. If you bought the car in Germany and it already had a recent inspection, that will transfer to the new owner (you), so you won’t need to do it but you will need proof.
  2. Shop around for plates and insurance. Generally there will be several shops right near the Stadtamt. They will be obvious because they will license plates everywhere. The prices for plates with insurance will vary, mostly depending on the distance from the Stadtamt. The more inconvenient places (farther away) will be cheaper. In Göttingen, I shopped around and found that it was anywhere from EUR 92 up to somewhere around EUR 140 for a single month. Some shops had slightly different time periods available. Generally you can either get 1 month or three months at most places, but in theory it’s my understanding that you could get some other number of months, up to one year.
  3. Once you find a plate shop, you can go ahead and pay for the plates and insurance. You won’t get the plates yet, as you have not been assigned a number. At this time, you will just get a piece of paper showing that you have paid for insurance up to a given date.
  4. Go to the Stadtamt. Typically you will have to take a number and wait a bit. In Göttingen this was about 10-15 minutes, if I recall correctly, and I think Bremen was quite a bit longer. In my experience, these employees didn’t or weren’t allowed to speak English. I spoke broken German and presented the documents and they knew what to do. The employee will give you a card (maybe different in some cities) which you will take to a machine down the hall to pay. I believe this will just be a small fee for the registration. I think both times my (pro-rated) tax was taken from my bank account and I received an invoice later in the mail. I’m not sure how this would work without a German account, though it must be possible.
  5. Go down the hall and pay the machine.
  6. Return to wherever the employee told you to go after paying. At this point you will receive a document with the number for your new plates.
  7. Take this to the license plate shop and they will make your plates quite quickly.
  8. Then you will go back inside the Stadtamt and they will place a sticker on the plates. I recall for my first registration that they needed a quick trip to another office to prove my TÜV compliance before I could get the sticker. If you already have time remaining on your previous export plates, they will want them back so you can’t have two active sets of plates. I got the guy to return mine after scraping the sticker off, for a souvenir.
  9. Install the plates and put the insurance paper and the Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I (that you received) in the glove box. The expiration date is printed on the plates. The insurance expires and you’ve only paid taxes up until that date so the plates will no longer be valid.

Hopefully this helps iron out some details. It’s a little silly the way they have private plate manufacturers, as they can basically only differentiate themselves on price and distance. It seems to me that it just adds hassle for the consumer, but the Germans like to do this sort of needless privatizing. The system actually does work well overall, and it can all be done in about an hour in a smaller town.


  • 2014-11-20 - 16:28 | Permalink

    Hello i want to buy a car in germany but the car have UK number plate end only the owner have the V5 lok book i want the car for export what i need to do for this things please i want to export the car to albania thank you

    • Eric
      2014-11-24 - 20:14 | Permalink

      Oh man, this sounds difficult. I don’t know anything about UK car registration, so I can only speak based on my experience registering cars in many places in the world.

      One of you is going to probably need to complete the process of importing the car to Germany first. I have to imagine there is a process similar to how I took the German car to France. (I’ve also done this process between American states.) You will probably need a safety inspection and this will likely include a check to verify that some things have been converted. I’ve read that UK cars have some different specifications that need changed for registration in the rest of Europe. For just one example, I’ve read that the headlights need to be aligned differently. So maybe you can do all of this after you buy it or maybe the seller can do it. I’m not sure what is best. All I know is Germany is unlikely to give you registration and plates on a car that is not certified for use in Germany.

      After this process is done, then things proceed just like when I did it. You will get some export plates for 30 days or 90 days, or whatever you like, and then you can just leave the country by that date.

      Finally, I’m not sure what your motivation is for going through Germany. Perhaps you are living there. But it may actually be the best way to do what you are trying to accomplish, as I’m not sure that other European countries do “export plates,” meaning that if you simply bought the car in the UK but don’t live there maybe you couldn’t drive it out of the country because maybe you wouldn’t be able to get plates as a non-resident. Going through Germany seems to possibly be a way around this problem (if you get it imported somehow).

      Viel Glück!

  • sheila
    2015-05-05 - 12:13 | Permalink

    thank you for this wonderful post.
    I have an urgent question as we are heading to Germany to buy a car. I just spoke with a dealership in Berlin and they are saying that to purchase export plates for one month is roughly 350 euros and for the 6 month duration for which we need it, it will be close to 3000 euros. What are we missing here? Has the price gone up since your post or is the dealership just using a very expensive office?
    I greatly appreciate your help,

    • Eric
      2015-05-26 - 16:47 | Permalink

      I’m so sorry for the delay. We’ve had a lot of visitors and traveling this month. I guess maybe you’ve worked this out by now, but I’ll attempt to answer.

      First, it’s possible that the dealer is charging you a little extra for being a middle man. Second, the cost may be a little different in each state. Finally, keep in mind that the money is actually going to cover Europe-wide insurance. It’s been a long time since I did this, but intuitively the insurance cost might vary depending on the car’s specs. My car is a VW Golf wagon with a 2.0 Liter TDI engine so it’s relatively low on displacement and power, for example. On the other hand, I can imagine a new BMW (perhaps with specs for the American market), would be more powerful and thus more costly to insure.

  • Robin
    2015-05-14 - 12:15 | Permalink

    This post has been so helpful! Thank you!!

  • chas
    2015-08-05 - 18:40 | Permalink

    Hi, I have a few more questions, What paper work do i need to bring from the UK apart from my passport and driving licence?, If I need proof of no claims discount do i need it to be translated into German?
    My other question might be a bit to Tec, The van i want to buy is a VW 1988, it has a brand new TUF (mot) but my fear was as it is so old would there be some sort of hefty charge to do with exhaust fumes or something related?

    • Eric
      2015-08-07 - 17:08 | Permalink

      You’ll need proof that you own the car. Otherwise, it may vary from town to town. It’s safest to contact the Stadtamt to get the correct information.

      I don’t know about no-claims discounts in Germany, as I just got the export plates. I don’t think there is any way to lower the price of export plates with such a discount.

      With respect to inspection of an old vehicle, I am not certain but I expect if anything the old vehicle may be easier because it may be exempt from some things. That said, you probably won’t classify for the sticker to drive it in the inner-city areas, in case that is important to you.

  • Mi
    2015-08-06 - 11:09 | Permalink


    We got a motorhome in germany and it had a breakdown in france, the head casket was the problem, our plates expire in a week or so and wanted to extend them, the dealer told us the motorhome has to physically be in germany to extend the plates one more month, others said send the plates to someone with written permission in your behalf to use your ID and let the show up with the plates to extend them another month, other wise they can not return to germany where we have plans to live and only returned to france on our way to Spain for a short vacation.

    Sadly no one can fix anything in the south of france since it’s august and vacation is at full mode, now we are stuck with no answers, not sure if the dealer is in the up and up back in germany but he says 150€ is the base charge for the one month plates.

    • Eric
      2015-08-07 - 16:58 | Permalink

      Nobody looked at my car when getting new German export plates (when I needed to extend the validity while staying in Göttingen). So, in this sense, the plan to send them to Germany makes sense. I’m not sure if you can give somebody written permission (which we would call “power of attorney” in the US) to conduct business regarding your vehicle.

      I’m a little surprised that no shop is open, as I did get my inspection done in France (at a private shop) during August and I think some shops in Chalon are open. That said, I’m on holiday for 5 weeks at the moment, so I definitely understand that not much work is getting done right now.

      As for the cost of export plates, the dealership is probably marking them up. And keep in mind that price covers insurance for the month as well, so it may vary (though I have no idea what factors affect the pricing). Generally, if an individual shops for plates in Germany, the places closest to the Stadtamt will be the most expensive. As you walk down the street away from the Stadtamt, the prices go down. You basically pay for convenience, so the dealership may be the ultimate form of convenience and therefore charge more.

  • Mia
    2015-08-09 - 11:40 | Permalink

    Yes I got a motorhome in Nuremberg almost a month ago, the dealer knew I am from france interested in moving to germany so I had no decided where or if I wanted to get French plates so he first claimed export plates come in limits of 3 days or one week for hundreds of euros, his wife who spoke English claimed she never heard one month plates, now I see a online service that does all this for you I later had a breakdown and realized if I got French plates the lemon law in germany does not apply to me, a mechanic told us that the engine casket blew and it was due to poor electronic connections the dealer could of told us about, under german law the lemon law, the dealer is responsible for having the vehicle broken down transported back to his garage and fixing it.

    The garage though in france, where adac refused to originally send it confirmed this so called vice chachè aka hidden defects and insisted to call adac to report to them that the dealer must honor the one year lemon law, pay for the transport back to germany and make the dealer commit to fully repairing the problem because he had to of known the vehicle been from 1980 had electrical problems and the fan would shut off when fuses shook., sometimes the beam lights would work or not, the fan, the battery., the Bosch garage should looked at it.

    Meantime adac had been rude to us, assuming we where part of a larger plan to get free reparation of a possibly minor problem that the dealer slash garagist can’t figure out.

    Either way the lemon law should be mentioned here

    • Eric
      2015-08-11 - 00:07 | Permalink

      There’s probably a means by which somebody could seek reparations for a lie/misrepresentation in a sales contract. But, as far as I know, you are correct that the lemon law wouldn’t apply after leaving Germany. I’m not sure if one could bring it back to Germany at their own expense and get it covered somehow. If practical, I guess my general recommendation would be for a buyer to drive it a while in Germany before leaving like I did.

      • Mia
        2015-08-30 - 06:55 | Permalink


        I have a interesting story about this subject, the vehicle is in france, the plates expired but the owner has MIAF insurance.., MIAF says they don’t care if the plates are expired, they said in the garderme aka French police speak to the owner all they have to do is point to the MIAF insurance card placed in their dashboard window and tell them that the car broke down during the month it was purchased in germany and so it’s in the process of a control technique or been sent back to germany which is true,

        Basically MIAF says the vehicle is insured for up to one year so it’s ok to drive around france with expired german plates, just let police know your gonna do something about it, they said some people have cars around like this and are trying to sell them or fix them in shops,

        We had the engine replaced, the mechanic has a bill with a letter saying the engine had fiberglass inside the casket, parts where not tight all over the vehicle, including electrical problems, the dealer had worked on it before we took it back to france and the mechanic believes the dealer wanted to make sure we never returned to germany with it, ADAC does have a history if the vehicle and believes that the dealer hid allot of things but they refuse to tell us unless we bring it back to germany somehow, maybe transport it over the border for 70€ because we can’t drive it with expired plates I guess.

        Our next move is to ask if we can drive it in germany with the French insurance., MIAF says it’s fine but that Adac will not continue to cover the vehicle if anything happens again, they will still help us as members plus though.

        Do you know about driving around germany with expired pkates?
        We need to bring it back and register it with a fixed, resident address once we arrive., my most likely Furth near Nuremberg.

      • Eric
        2015-09-02 - 15:07 | Permalink

        Sorry, I don’t have any information on the matter of driving with expired plates.

  • Mia
    2015-09-06 - 10:52 | Permalink

    I’ll try calling the police tomorrow., assuming it has to do with insurance which requires a TUV and we have that I may be able to drive, MAIF told me The police would normally assume the driver works with a garage or is moving but if they see me and or kids they may stop to ask for the TUV or insurance, but they where vague,

  • Mia
    2015-09-07 - 19:06 | Permalink

    Hi Eric ,

    I have to call the police officer in FURTH tomorrow after one, he was not in today,

    If you don’t mind me asking, we are now in germany, with the vehicle and the expired plates, lucky us no police noticed, it’s too late in the afternoon to contact anyone else for questions, the dealer we got the vehicle from has been ignoring our emails, especially since the breakdown and then since the questions another mechanic had about who and why was the morot that broke down pieced poorly together with fiber glass in the head casket which could over heat and lead to a fire.

    Anyway, if you have expired plates with a third party insurance and TUV what will happen if you went to extend them?, can you, let’s say you had a purchased car in a garage and could not get to it on time or that it simply broke down and it was serviced in germany for a week or more which went past the expiry date, what happens?


    • Eric
      2015-09-11 - 10:03 | Permalink

      If you’re just referring to extending the export plates, that should be no problem. Insurance is always included as part of the purchase of the export plates, so any insurance you may already have is not relevant.

  • Mia
    2015-09-11 - 14:32 | Permalink

    Hi Eric, the police told us to show the TUV and copy of insurance (3rd party French) if stopped, they said the only problem is we may get asked for it at times which is not good because been stopped and checked with a motorhome may involved checking the weight etc, it’s a risk we don’t want to bother with, how ever I’m in FURTH now and just drove off with the new plates again, only one month until I get a fixed residence.

    I can’t thank you enough for the invaluable information Becuase you saved us all allot of stress, not all bit 95 percent of stress we could of had, the police where fine with all this and told us they had no idea what type of plates we had or heard of them, but we had no problem as long as they knew we had insurance and that we are not planning to drive around for months with old plates, how ever it’s confirmed that once you are out of germany with export or temporary plates you can insure them and go anywhere until you reside up to a year, regardless of the expiration in germany, as long as you have insurance and the card in the window, once you register a residence in another country you will need to re do a TUV, mot or control technique to meet the countries road qualifications., only germany has one month plates like this.

    • Eric
      2015-09-13 - 22:15 | Permalink

      That is interesting regarding the ability to drive on expired plates outside of Germany. I guess it stands to reason though, because here in France we don’t renew plates. The only thing that gets updated is the insurance (once a year) and inspection (every two years). This probably would have saved me some hassle when I first moved to France, as I had a hectic time getting my plates switched quickly.

      • Mia
        2015-10-08 - 21:30 | Permalink

        You can drive outside GERMANY insured with no problem

        Wie just another month in germany but this time with out paying a dealer 150€, in stead we paid 135€ then 17€ at the machine for the paperwork and service of the stad office, and they spoke English, French and Spanish, not all but several employees., so our dealer was actually honest about the plates, aside the fact that another mechanic confirmed a cable missing from the motorhome since the dealer looked at it again was a heat sensor for the ngune to avoid over heating, I think while this dealer attempts to fix things out of good faith then shares some of the cost he breaks other things to get a bang for the buck.

  • Annabelle
    2015-10-06 - 11:10 | Permalink

    My boyfriend and I followed your blog through purchasing our car in Germany on export plates and found it very helpful. We are from New Zealand and don’t want to register the car in France (as that is where we are currently living for the next few months) but wanted to sell the car before the winter. The plates don’t expire till the end of November but hoping to sell it before then. Did you know much about selling the car on export plates and not having to register the car in France? Maybe new owners could do that? Or is it better to sell the car for scrap?

    • Eric
      2015-10-06 - 15:20 | Permalink

      I’m actually trying to sell our car at the moment as well, as we will likely move back to the US next month. I hope to write a post after it’s all done, to detail the process. I do have a couple thoughts right now though. In short, I would think the new owners could register the car in France just as they would if they were importing it themselves from Germany. Be aware this is probably a turn off to potential buyers. They might think it’s more risky to be scammed or be averse to the extra administrative stuff.

      My main uncertainty is the tax situation. When I registered my car in France, the first step was proving that VAT (or TVA, in French) had been paid. This is where my knowledge is really shaky. I don’t fully understand the tax situation on used cars. In the US it works a bit differently, so I couldn’t really advise you on this. Maybe I’ll understand more once I’ve sold our car.

      You will probably want to do the safety inspection, to make it more attractive to the buyer in terms of confidence in the purchase and reduced hassle. In my case it is mandatory to have a recent contrôle technique to sell the car, but I’m not so sure this will be by law in your case as, for all the French know, you could still be in Germany. Even if you’re not required to, it’s my impression that it will sell easier if you’ve had it done and it *should* transfer over to the new owner. I say this because I guess it will transfer if the car already has French plates, as in my case. I actually got the contrôle technique done before I switched to French plates and it is my understanding that it was still valid for 2 years even after switching the plates. I hope this is true, as our first window tag did still have the old plate number written on it.

      I don’t see why you’d sell the car for scrap so long as it works. I think that would always be a worse deal, plus less environmentally friendly and such.

      Hopefully this helps somewhat. I guess we expats are sort of muddling through all of this bureaucracy together. It’s all a learning experience for me so I try to share what I can. I hope you’ll share how this works out for you.

      • Mia
        2015-10-08 - 21:33 | Permalink

        Funny you talk about selling a car for scrap, we got our Renault espace back after returning to the german dealer in germany with our motorhome from france only to find out that we can’t sell the car in germany with French plates, eu papers at 150€ needed to confirm eu standards which takes a month etc etc etc, scrap is all it’s worth, the dealer offered 200€ for what sells in germany at 1000€ and up, espace 2011.

      • Eric
        2015-10-08 - 23:13 | Permalink

        You must have a certificate of conformity. Our car came with this, but maybe some don’t. I’m not too sure how our car came to be with this paper. I assumed it came from the factory new with this paper.

      • Mia
        2016-01-08 - 03:28 | Permalink

        Hi again Eric !

        So we got our own export plates in Berlin, one month with insurance, took off to france and bam! 90€ fine for driving a car to mcdonalds!

        We did not even reach our town yet the police claim we have to get WW 15 day temporary French plates at the perfecteur as soon as we cross the border!, and he said you give them all your papers and if all is good it should take 48 hours and fees are added for the 15 day plates., but the perfecteur told us this has to be done at a office where we live and that the police officer probably took orders to stop us but did not know that the export plates just expired one day., which justifies a fine,, he could not even really explain why he stopped is other then that we need to get WW 15 day plates etc.

        So we called to get a control technic and realized that we did not have a eu certificate of conformity, the vehicle is from 1980 and to get anything requires us to have it re checked,

        VERY Trixy STUFF

  • Greg
    2015-10-28 - 12:31 | Permalink

    This is such helpful information! Thanks so much.
    I have a question about VAT. Will I need to pay the VAT in Germany if I’m just getting export plates?
    We are planning to register the car in the UK in a few months, since we don’t have to residents to do that there.


    • Eric
      2015-10-28 - 14:11 | Permalink

      First, I really don’t understand VAT on used cars, so maybe somebody can chime in with better info.

      In my case, VAT had been paid in Germany so when I brought the car to France I had proof that it had already been paid and I thus didn’t need to pay it again. However, I think if you buy from a big dealer in Germany they can either exempt you from paying the VAT initially or they can refund the VAT once you prove it has been exported. In my case, as I was exporting within the EU I would have then had to pay the VAT in France so seeking exemption or refund would not really have been a useful strategy (in my understanding). If you do want to seek refund or exemption, I think there is some time limit (maybe a couple months) within which it must be exported.

      So what I don’t understand: I know people often seek exemption as you are doing. But I don’t really understand why. There must be cases in which it saves money, like if you must pay again when you bring it to the UK, but it was my understanding that within the EU you should only have to pay it once. Let me know if you have any clarifying information.

      • Greg
        2015-10-29 - 20:47 | Permalink

        Thanks a ton! I’ll find out with the dealer. I will have to pay it in the UK, for sure.

        Another question. The dealer near Koln just said that I can only get 30 days. Just to double check, 90 days is possible right? Should I go to another office?

      • Eric
        2015-10-29 - 20:59 | Permalink

        Unless something has changed, 90 days shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe the dealer only offers the 30 days but I don’t know why. You can get 90 day plates yourself initially or just extend them when you need. I think it’s probably cheaper to get the plates yourself anyways, as I think dealers probably aren’t giving you the best deal on the plates and the associated insurance.

      • Greg
        2015-10-29 - 21:38 | Permalink

        Thanks Eric.
        He told me that I do not need to pay VAT.
        But he said that the office where he does the plates only does 30 days.
        I found insurance online at for 300 euros for 120 days. I just need to find an office that will give me the plates for long enough.

      • Eric
        2015-10-29 - 21:48 | Permalink

        Normally you buy the plates with insurance. The best way to get plates is typically to just walk around the Standtamt. Normally there are several plate places and they keep getting cheaper as you walk farther away. If I recall correctly, different plate shops will offer different possible time periods.

  • Gary
    2015-11-03 - 14:54 | Permalink

    Great article. Clear and concise and now leaves me feeling equipped to take on a bit of German bureaucracy before getting back to wrestle with the French.

    p.s. Love the outfits!

  • tony
    2016-01-12 - 16:21 | Permalink

    Do you have to use the address of your I’D when remastering a address?

    I ask because I just moved to spain and only gave a RIB number from my Spanish bank and address where I rent.

  • Eddy
    2016-03-25 - 14:00 | Permalink

    Thanks for the post and step-by-step, it is a ray of sunshine for us.

    We have ordered a new motorhome from a German dealer and hope to collect in May and bring back to UK to register. We understood that the export plates and insurance that the dealer would be able to provide us would only give third party liability over and only then for the immediate and direct journey from dealership to our home – at which point we understood our new vehicle had to be parked (off road) pending the UK registration process.

    If we can secure an export plate in Germany for a month, and more comprehensive European insurance cover with it, or from elsewhere, then we may be able to at least tag a short vacation in our new vehicle to the collection trip.

    Does any of this ring alarms for you?

    • Eric
      2016-03-29 - 04:32 | Permalink

      I believe it is true that the insurance is normally liability only. That was fine for us, as our car wasn’t that expensive. I’m not sure how hard it is to get additional insurance through some other company. As for the liability insurance, I think it should work fine to drive around for a month.

      I don’t think the registration is only intended for a direct trip (at least so long as it’s in Germany), and in fact it is common for tourists to drive around on export plates. But, once you get to the UK, maybe they will require new registration right away if you are a resident.

  • Jon
    2016-06-15 - 22:26 | Permalink

    Thanks for the step-by-step information! I am looking to buy a car in Germany next week to have for 6 months so it’s been very helpful.
    Do you (or anyone else with experience viewing this page?) have any recommendations on insurance companies to use? I have seen a few people recommend, and Greg above got a quote in October last year for 300 euros for 120 days. The price list on that site now only gives quotes up to 90 days and that costs 450 euros! Ive been to another 8-10 insurance websites and best I can see is 870 euros for 6 months… Pretty steep considering the car I want is only about 1300 euros to buy!
    Thanks for any help!

  • Tafzzz
    2016-07-14 - 04:52 | Permalink

    Jon if you buy the plates to export they naturally come with insurance… no need to buy at any insurance company.. we bought a truck + we bought plates for 3 months = 3 months insurance, until you arrive to the country of destination…

    2016-08-08 - 16:32 | Permalink

    Excellent post! I wish more people would share their knowledge this way!

  • Tim
    2016-10-11 - 19:45 | Permalink

    I am just buying a new (pre-registered) car in Germany. The dealer is providing 1 month plates and 3rd party insurance. But……I have to drive it 1200km back to where I live in France and I am not happy about 3rd party only insurance….does anyone know how I can get fully comprehensive insurance until I register the car in France and get my normal French insurance?
    Otherwise it will have to come on a trailer/transporter.

    • John Dunstan
      2017-04-10 - 20:58 | Permalink

      I use Agence General in Cognac to insure my UK car when I exported it to France and registered it here. All staff speak good English

  • Julian
    2016-12-29 - 16:32 | Permalink

    I’m buying a car in germany that has been importen from USA. All taxes have been paid in Germany.
    I need number plates on the car for just 8 hours or less so I can drive it from Marburg to Denmark.
    The car will not pass an TUV inspection as it stands. Can I still get export plates and insurance?

    • Eric
      2017-01-04 - 04:42 | Permalink

      Given that you paid the taxes, I presume you’ve already figured out the certificate of conformity and such, as I think that would be the hard part when importing from the US.

      Unfortunately I do not know the answer to your question about getting export plates before passing TUV.

  • Steph
    2017-05-11 - 16:25 | Permalink

    Hi Eric and Tiffany,

    I’m purchasing a van, driving it to Greece, and exporting it to Canada (about 3 months after I have arrived in the EU). I have read several blogs and checked comparison websites about the process of obtaining insurance for the export or transport plates. Since I am staying in the EU for about 90 days, I would need the export plates, correct? If I am reading correctly, you did not purchase insurance before going to the registration office (Strassenverkehrsamt).

    If I am only getting Kurzzeitkennzeichen, I can’t keep the car in the EU, and it won’t be insured beyond the 5 day period, right?

    Is it possible to shop ahead of time for plates? I know what vehicle I’m getting and where the vehicle is (I’ve already test driven it and given a deposit) but I am not in Germany at the moment, and need to be in Germany for as few days as possible.

    • Eric
      2018-01-03 - 03:48 | Permalink

      Sorry for the slow response. I don’t spend much time on here these days.

      Yes, you probably need 90-day export plates. You purchase the insurance when you pay for the plates (it’s a package deal). You will do this before going to the Stadtamt. Then you will return to the plate shop to pick up the actual plates.

      I don’t remember much about the Kurzzeitkennzeichen.

      I’m not sure if you can buy the plates before you have the car transaction finalized. I don’t recall what documents they needed at the plate shop. It might be possible…

  • Andrew
    2017-06-17 - 13:34 | Permalink

    Hi! How exactly the Zulassungsbescheinigung should be done if I buy a vehicle privately?

    • Eric
      2018-01-03 - 03:30 | Permalink

      You will receive that from the Stadtamt when you register it in your name.

  • Alain
    2017-08-07 - 16:31 | Permalink


    Thanks for the info.

    What are the proofs of owning the car when i just bought the car from the dealer. The german contract?

    I heard you just need you id card and Teil 1 plus Teil 2 ?

    Best regards.

    • Eric
      2018-01-03 - 03:33 | Permalink

      I don’t recall in detail, but I guess it is at least the sales contract.

  • Adrian
    2017-08-20 - 19:18 | Permalink


    I want to ask if the temporary plates can be renewed and if yes how many times…there is any limits after you buy the car?



    • Eric
      2018-01-03 - 03:26 | Permalink

      I actually did get a second set of export plates because I ended up staying in Germany longer than intended. In my case, I got the second set in another town, but I suppose you could probably do the same in a single town. I don’t think you’ll be able to “renew” the same physical plates, as they are sold with a fixed period of insurance and they have the expiration date stamped on them.

      I don’t know how many times you can get new export plates. It may very well be limited. In my case, I chose to get my initial plates for 1 month, which was less than the maximum of 3 months. So possibly that is why they let me get new plates, but I don’t really think so. I could imagine a world in which it was possible to get new export plates indefinitely, because ultimately it’s probably more costly than just registering for real.

  • Kartci
    2017-09-11 - 15:19 | Permalink

    Could some one guide me on ;
    How to buy a car in Germany and register it in Germany as a Canadian ? Then rive away to any place in Europe

    • Eric
      2018-01-03 - 01:19 | Permalink

      The process for getting a real registration should be similar to the above, but I don’t know exactly what will differ from getting export plates.

  • Anita
    2017-10-08 - 16:14 | Permalink

    Thanks so much for all this info! So useful and it can’t be found anywhere else on web.
    I would have one question: I am Canadian citizen, planing to buy a small car in Germany, put on export plates and drive it around for a month visiting relatives. Can I also drive it outside EU, namely into Serbia where my father lives? Or I will have to pay duties and taxes and such?

    • Eric
      2018-01-03 - 01:17 | Permalink

      Sorry, I don’t know the answers to these questions.

  • Sidrit
    2019-06-16 - 07:37 | Permalink

    Hi.i live in Albania.i want to buy a car in germany but i want yo know the about the temporary plated and insurannce.i want to buy the car and registrate in is the cost of the plates and the insurances.

    • Eric
      2019-08-25 - 15:28 | Permalink

      I don’t know exactly what the plates cost, but back when I did it I paid around 150 for a month. The plates include insurance (unless something has changed in the past few years).

  • Bogdan
    2019-06-27 - 12:52 | Permalink

    I am in Bremen to buy a motorcycle and looks that i have to teach them what to do . My problem so far is this tax because I don’t have german card . What you sugest i do .
    Tomorrow i do insurance, contract done , tuv ok , pay the plates and ?

    • Eric
      2019-08-25 - 15:25 | Permalink

      Sorry I’ve been slow at responding lately. I would think that it would be the same for a motorcycle as a car. Please let us know if you encounter any differences, either due to it being a motorcycle or this post being pretty old.

  • Dhia
    2019-12-08 - 11:37 | Permalink

    Do any other EU countries also do export plates? If not, then this leads to my second question:
    Does the car you’re buying have to be a German-registered car? Or can one buy a car in a different EU country (France or Luxembourg for example) and then basically use this German system of export plates to get export plates for their car, drive around Europe for 3 weeks, and then sell it or legally export it to US/Canada?

    My specific situation I’m planning for a 3 week vacation to Europe where I plan on buying a car, and driving around Europe. Spain –> France –> Germany –> Italy –> (maybe ferry to Morocco for a bit) and then send the 25 year old car to the US. I found some potential cars on Autoscout24 and but my problem is that some private sellers are in France, Italy, Benelux, and other EU countries. That said: Can one buy a car from these countries, and then just use the same German system you described above to get export plates and drive around Europe?

    • Eric
      2019-12-30 - 22:25 | Permalink

      I don’t know if other European countries do this. I guess they all must have some mechanism to accomplish the same objective. The EU allows for easy travel throughout, so there must be lots of people who buy a car in one place and then export it.

      I don’t think this would work for a non-German-registered car. I don’t remember details, as it’s been so long at this point, but I tend to doubt they will let you do this with a car from another country.

  • John Wadsworth
    2021-05-30 - 11:45 | Permalink

    Would I be able to get export plates to last for six months, and would I be able to get insurance to drive the vehicle in more than one country during that time? I want to buy the vehicle in Germany, take it to the UK for three months while I apply for Portuguese residency, then drive it to Portugal and import there. If I have owned the vehicle for six months before importing, then it is free to import to Portugal. Thank you.

    • Eric
      2021-06-04 - 20:41 | Permalink

      I don’t think you can avoid taxes in this way. Either Germany is going to make you pay taxes at some point or Portugal is. Plus, the UK may have strange requirements due to Brexit. For example, maybe the insurance on the plates wouldn’t work in the UK.

      Also, this is a pretty old post and I haven’t worked with this stuff in several years now, so the export plate rules may have changed.

  • Stephen Flaherty
    2021-09-09 - 05:24 | Permalink

    I want to be able to read the comments

    • Eric
      2021-09-12 - 12:55 | Permalink

      Sorry, there is a technical issue at the moment. I’m looking into it.

  • Nick Adams
    2022-02-06 - 02:11 | Permalink

    Hey! This is such a great article! Thank you for doing this. Sorry I’m late to the party but I was hoping to get a little more of that nicely aged advice🤗. I have a few questions about the export plates and 3rd party insurance. I hope to buy a motorcycle in Germany this summer and then get export plates to tour around for a couple months until I leave and sell or give it away. When you get german export plates and enter another country do you have to get new plates or register in that country? EX: I drive my motorcycle from Germany into Switzerland. Do I have to register the bike in Switzerland upon arrival? I’m not sure if this is just convenient because it’s very short term (like 1-2 months) or why this process seems like a suspiciously easy way to avoid registering in a country and proving eu residence haha. Secondly, where can I find this third party insurance?

    • Eric
      2022-02-06 - 10:45 | Permalink

      First 3 caveats:
      1) It’s been a long time, so I forget some things.
      2) It’s been a long time, so things may have changed.
      3) I don’t know if there are any differences in the rules for motorcycles.

      You should not need to register in every country you go to as a tourist. There may be some local rules in countries that require one to register locally upon becoming a resident, but I’m not sure. My German export plates expired relatively shortly after arriving in France, if I recall correctly, so I got them switched right away. That said, other countries might not have such rules, as it wasn’t even required to switch to a French driver’s license so long as I didn’t get any tickets (wherein they would have wanted to assign points). So, long story short, it should be OK to travel freely throughout at least the EU.

      That all said, Switzerland isn’t in the EU, so things could be different there.

      Regarding insurance, I’m not sure what you mean by third party insurance. Liability insurance is included in the cost of the export plates for the entire term of the plates. Again, there is some question in my mind how Switzerland handles this since they are not in the EU, but I drove our car all around Switzerland with French insurance. The only unusual thing we had to do when we went to Switzerland is purchase the vignette.

      UPDATE: Sorry for the lack of paragraph spacing. I can’t figure out right now how to do it, as I don’t work in this very often anymore.

  • Zac C
    2023-01-27 - 12:15 | Permalink

    Do you know if you need a Austrian Vignette if you have a car with export plates?

    • Zac c
      2023-01-27 - 12:16 | Permalink

      To clarify, driving new car from Germany back to Austria

    • Eric
      2023-01-29 - 20:53 | Permalink

      If it’s the same as a Swiss vignette, I assume you would. The plates shouldn’t have any implications on your need to pay the road taxes in other countries that require them.

  • noam tzadok
    2023-06-04 - 01:52 | Permalink

    Don’t know if anyone is still on this forum but going to try anyway. I’m Australian planning to buy a car in Germnay to travel and hopefully sell it after 3 months. I most likely would sell it in Porrtugal. What is the criteria for selling a car with export plates in other EU countries? Do I still have to pay import tax even though I have export plates? Are there any countries that are easier than others? If anyone has any info would be amazing thanks!

    • Eric
      2023-06-14 - 20:15 | Permalink

      Somebody is going to have to pay tax. But I’m not sure aside from that.

    • SHany Yasur
      2023-06-17 - 13:06 | Permalink

      HI Noam- did you manage to buy the car already? Im getting mixed info across the web about if its possible to buy a car with export plates in Germany without an EU passport or residence. Some say its not possible, some say it is. Would love to confirm with someone who has done this recently.

    • Shany Y
      2023-06-17 - 16:06 | Permalink

      Hey Noam! Did you manage to buy the car and export plates? I was told you need to be a resident to do this if you’re not immediately exporting the car. Would love to hear of someone who managed it recently.

  • GB
    2023-06-11 - 04:30 | Permalink

    Hi Eric,

    I bought a car in Germany with Export plates (Valid till 1 July 2023), it is private sale. I intend not to export it but register it in Germany (i live here and have all valid documents needed for registration, valid TUV, Part I and II of registration document and my residence status in Germany).
    As the car is given to me with export plates, will i face any issues registering it in Germany? I tried doing online registration but it did not work due to temperory nature of the plates.
    Your insight and suggestion helps, hopefully i did not dig myself into a deep hole without researching it more.

    Thank you for your informative post.

    • Eric
      2023-06-14 - 20:18 | Permalink

      As I also replied to the commenter before you, I’m confident somebody will have to pay tax. I’m just not sure who or how. I’ve never thought about this scenario of selling a car with export plates.

  • William Edwards
    2023-08-22 - 11:54 | Permalink

    Hi there,

    I bought a car in Germany and because of a lack of understanding of English the dealer didn’t explain to me that the temporary export plate I bought was only valid for 2 weeks. I thought that it was a month. I took the car back to the UK but now it’s expired.

    I know I have to go back to Germany to get another plate because I need to drive it to it’s final destination in Slovakia where I want to import it( long story).

    My question is, can I buy the plate without the car being present? I have the TUV, proof of ownership, all those documents.

    Thank you in advance

    • Eric
      2023-08-23 - 08:55 | Permalink

      I don’t recall anybody looking at the car. I think you can do it.

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