Sunday, April 27, 2014

Buying a car in Austria (For the English speaker)

My partner and I recently bought a car in Austria. Given that neither of us had brought a car before and that my German is less than average this was no easy task.

We did a lot of researching online and posted questions in forums and were fortunate enough to find some helpful people. As I found it hard to find all the information we needed (in English) in one place, I decided to write the following step by step guide, to help people in the same position in the future.

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Finding Cars
To register a car in Austria you need to be a registered citizen with an address. 

Austria is known to be slightly more expensive to buy cars than Germany and some other surrounding countries. However, if you buy a car from another country you must pay an import tax and obtain a road worthy certificate, 2 (potentially large - depending on the condition of the car) expenses you can avoid if you buy the car in Austria.

Good websites to use to look at cars are: 
www.autoscout24.comhttp://www.car4you.at and http://www.gebrauchtwagen.at
Hint: You can translate pages into English by right clicking the mouse and selecting 'translate into English'.



Variables To Take Into Account
The horse power (Pferde-Stärker) of the car will be a major factor on the price of your insurance. The higher the horse power, the higher the insurance.
Pickerl (Report § 57a) is the term for road worthy certificate. You do not need a pickerl to sell a car in Austria, but you do need one to register the car. As a rule, aim for a car with a pickerl as if will help you avoid unexpected costs in repairs when you register the car, as well as the cost of obtaining the pickerl. When the pickerl runs out you have up to 4 months to replace it while you're still driving it. The pickerl can be checked by looking at the sticker on the windscreen - the cars licence plate will be on the sticker - if you get a new licence plate the sticker should be changed - this is free. 

Pickerl
Image credit:  www.mats.at
 

 See if the car has a valid 'Autobahn Vignette'. You will need this to drive on all 'A' roads and on the spot fines apply if you are caught without one. This can be bought for periods of 10 days, 2 months or a full year.
Note: The Autobahn Vignette does not cover all roads - there are still privately owned toll roads around Austria with varying costs. One way to know where these are is by using online tools such as this one: http://www.viamichelin.com/
If it is coming into winter you should check whether the vehicle has winter tires or snow chains (some restrictions apply with snow chains). Regardless of conditions it is mandatory that you have winter tires or snow chains on your vehicle between 1 November and 15 April. Winter tires can be used in summer as well.
Insurance
Once you have a car in mind you should compare insurance prices. It is compulsory to have third party insurance - known as Haftpflichtversicherung -  when you register your car.  You can organise this directly through an insurer, Versicherungsunternehmen, an insurance broker, Versicherungsmakler or through an online comparison tool such as https://durchblicker.at. With cars over about 10 years old you can only get third party insurance, not insurance for your own car. You can also organise roadside assistance, legal assistance and passenger insurance with your Haftpflichtversicherung.
In Austria you start off with a rating 9 on the bonus/malus scheme, which is the lowest ranked entry level. If you have already had insurance on a vehicle in your home country you can write to the company and ask them to send your insurance record. Be honest with them and let them know you have moved overseas and would like your record to obtain insurance in a new country and they will comply with a nice letter with all the information you need. Most insurance companies in Austria will accept your previous record and rank you accordingly. Depending on how long you have been accident free this can make a huge difference on the amount you pay. If the insurance company you are looking at doesn't accept this, go elsewhere as many companies will.  With some companies you will pay a percentage more if you want to pay monthly instead of yearly. Ask your insurance company if this will make a difference.

Some companies will also offer lower prices (deductions) in exchange for a higher excess in certain situations. For example if the driver is aged under 25, if someone other than the insured driver is driving, if you don't want roadside assistance etc. Have a play around on the websites and see the differences it will make.


Viewing The Cars
Once you have found some cars you are interested in and know the insurance costs you will need to contact the seller. We have found that Austrian's are most responsive if contacted by phone, regardless of any language barrier. Sending emails is easier, but you are less likely to receive a response. If your German is not great, use a translator (such as google translate) to prepare a few sentences along the lines of 'I am interested in your car, is it still available?', 'When could I view the car?' etc, to save being caught out if they don't speak English (though many people do). 

Many prices are 'by negotiation', so if you want the car you can ask for a lower price - although it is rude to bargain if you do not actually want the car. 


The Paperwork
Once you decide upon a vehicle and an agreed price you will need to hand over the cash and fill out paperwork (autoverkauf vertrag)  with the owner, this is the legal document signing the car over to you and is needed when you get your insurance. You will also receive documents about the car, the service history (if available) and pickerl documents. 

You then leave the car with the seller and contact your insurer - you may need to make an appointment. 


Back To The Insurer
Safety Triangle
Image credit: www.rtpromotions.co.uk
Once you have filled out the paperwork for your car with the seller, you need to visit your chosen insurance company, where you will also register the car. You will need to bring with you, your passport or photo ID, (international) drivers licence, the autoverkauf vertrag (Car-sale contract),  pickerl (Report (§ 57a) documents (if your car does not come with a valid pickerl you will need to obtain this before registering the car). The initial registration & licence plates will cost approximately 170-200 euros, depending on your insurer. 

Once the registration and insurance is complete you will receive your licence plates (Autokennzeichen) ready to put on your new car, a pickerl with the new licence plate details (but same validity date) and have third party insurance and be almost ready to drive your new car. The documents you receive will need to live somewhere in your car and the new pickerl is placed on the front windscreen.

By law when driving in Austria you need to have with you a reflective safety vest, a reflective hazard triangle and a first aid kit. These can generally be found in service stations and at border crossings.   


Pick Up Your New Wheels
Go back to the previous owner and car. Put on your shiny new licence plates and pickerl. Shake hands. Drive home. Do a dance and open a beer =D


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Please note I am not an expert and by no means is this legal advice. This is just a collection of information as I believed to be true at the time of writing. Have an excellent day =)



61 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this. You have greatly helped at least one person in Austria!! :)

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  2. I am so glad to hear that =) Best of luck with your Austrian adventures.
    Also as a bonus note that we have now learned. If you sell your car later on, be sure to keep your number plates, life becomes tricky (and expensive) if you can not hand in your licence plates after the sale.

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    Replies
    1. I don't quite understand this part. What should a person do after the selling of a car?

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    2. When you sell your car, you must keep your licence plates. These are registered to you and not your car. If you cannot hand these in after the sale of the car, you will have to keep paying for your insurance, even though the car is not yours anymore.

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    3. hi there.thanks for this. i am selling a car tomorrow...so I should keep my own plates- yes got that.But how do I deregister the car- as in not have to pay insurance for now? I might buy a new car in a few months though. Do I give the typenschein and zulassungschein to the new owners when they pick it up tomo?
      thanks for advice if any,A

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    4. Hi Anita,
      After you have sold the car, keep the number plates and bring them back to your insurance company, then they can cancel your insurance for you.

      Are these the yellow pieces of paper with all of the car details on them? Give them to the new owners, but potentially make a photocopy of them for your own records.

      Hope it all goes well =)

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  3. Hi there and thanks from me too for this concise information. Very useful for me.

    Take care
    Lytton Coomer

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  4. Thank you very much for the useful info and nice writing style.
    Best regards,
    Mohamed

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  5. Do you know any way to buy a new car in Austria while still living in the U.S.? God bless you. Susan Fox

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    Replies
    1. Hello,
      Sorry for the late response, I have been away from the internet for quite some time. Unfortunately I am unsure if that is possible, however, as private sales are made without a guarantee, I would suggest that it is inadvisable.

      Delete
  6. Hi

    Thank you. This is great information. My family and I are moving to Austria in August, 2016. Do you have any other fabulous advice?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lorna,
      Thank you for your comment. Austria is beautiful! Definitely visit Innsbruck (in summer or winter), and eat a strudel for me! =D

      When you move to your new city, you will need to 'sign in' (anmeldung) at the Burger Service (citizens office). This is required of all residents. You will need to do this again if you move house or move away.

      I hope you enjoy your new home =D

      Delete
  7. We found importing a car from Germany relatively easy with a German set of export plates 15 days duration with insurance. However a newish car attracts a high purchase price based duty payable at the Finanzamt and the insurance is also high based on the PS.KW.
    In Austria the system appears to favour Diesel cars or CNG and it is almost impossible to buy a reasonable quality petrol car other than a small one or simply not available second hand.
    Scouted the country for a Volvo estate and could just find Diesels from 1600 CC 150 -185 PS. These are way underpowered for the size of car.
    T

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  8. I did find two 2 litre petrol Estate newish near Vienna and they were snapped up before I could say Jack Flash!

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  9. Thank you very much for such useful information. I have to buy an second hand car for my sister/beginer/ and I am still wondering to import or to buy from Vienna.
    Is the procedure of importing is much expensive and complicate than buying from the country?

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    Replies
    1. You are very welcome. We found that where we were - Innsbruck - was actually quite an expensive area for cars as there was not a lot of choice. I believe we saw cheaper cars near the capital.

      Also cars were cheaper in Germany, however the importing procedure made it more expensive - as they have individual registering/road worthy criteria in each country.

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  10. Thanks for the info. Recently moved to Innsbruck from Greece and just a english speaker for now.

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  11. i wanted to know ,where should one get his car registered..at insurance agency or at motar vehicle department in austria

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    Replies
    1. It should be registered in one of these institutions:
      https://durchblicker.at/kfz-zulassungsstellen

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    2. i did not get it..private insurance companies are doing registration ofvehicles

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    3. I got my plates from an insurance company. Here are the steps when you buy a car:
      https://www.zurich-connect.at/kfz-versicherung/anmeldung

      And here are the required documents:
      https://www.zurich-connect.at/kfz-versicherung/anmeldung/unterlagen

      Most of the dealers already have a deal with some insurance company so you can get the plates quickly.

      Delete
  12. Very good

    Thanks i have just agreed to purchase a vehicle from Austria and drive it back to the UK, i have a question, do i need any import documents ????

    thanks kind regards mark

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  13. Also how long do the plates take, the vehical im buying is not from a dealer,

    thanks mark

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,
      Unfortunately I do not know about importing documents, so I am unable to help you regarding this. The plates, however, were given to us as soon as we signed up for insurance - there was no waiting time, the insurance company just gave us some during the appointment.

      Good luck with your purchase =)

      Delete
  14. Hi Chelsey,

    thanks for you swift reply.....so in short my check list is
    1. pay for vehicle
    2. goto into town get insurance, with pickerl
    3. get plates
    4. pick up vehicle from seller
    5. leave and hopefully dont break down

    Is that it??

    kind regards mark

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,
      no worries at all. Yes, that checklist sums it up. I just remembered that you need an Austrian address to gain insurance in Austria. I would suggest further research into this before you leave.

      I believe what you need to apply for are apply for green Austrian transit plates ("Überstellungskennzeichen"). There is more information about that here: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/cars/buying-a-car-abroad/austria/index_en.htm

      Unfortunately I do not know much about importing cars - as we were living in Austria when we purchased ours.

      I hope this helps =D

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    2. Thanks Chelsey,

      That link was very helpful, i need to find out if i can buy and insure it, thats the main dilemma i have now

      thanks once again for your help xx

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    3. ..well, it's rather more than "having an address", you need a Meldetzettle which means you are registered as a resident within the district where you live and you get a certificate with your name and address on it from the district office. Jeff Turner

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  15. Hi Chelsey,

    How long does it take to receive the plate numbers? They give them to you on site right a the same time you request them is that correct?

    Thanks a lot for the post, helped me a lot getting my new car this days.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome =)

      The licence plate numbers? You should get them instantly when you go to the insurer.

      Delete
  16. Hi Chelsey...thanks for your and others useful tips on the car buying process. Hmm, just a question though...if you're buying a car privately, how do you know that there isn't a lien against it..or worse still that it's stolen? Is there a register somewhere in Austria where you can get the engine number or chassis number checked out...does the insurer run that check. In Australia where I know the system you can get a certificate that a vehicle is lien free..it costs a few bucks but worth it if you're buying privately. Jeff Turner, Vienna

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff,
      unfortunately I do not know. If you find one, I would love to know more information about it so that I can help people out with this in the future.
      Thanks
      Chelsey

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  17. Hi Chelsey, this is hugely helpful, we've just moved here a month ago (Innsbruck) and will potentially buy a car (should I not be able to keep using the company vehicle). I am also curious as to knowing whether or not there's an escrow service or something that prevents the buyer from being duped by a dodgy seller etc.

    We have the Meldenzettle etc and all paperwork, when you said your previous insurer is happy write a letter, is that for most insurers? We were living in Australia, so curious if it's a usual request across the board. Thanks again for your advice, great information to have.

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    Replies
    1. Hello!
      I am glad to be of assistance.

      In regards to insurers: we are also from Australia, our insurer there was very co-operative, with one phone call (and about a weeks wait) we had the letter. The larger variable is if the Austrian insurance accepts it, however as I said, many do - so shop around.

      Unfortunately I do not know if there is an escrow service. If you buy a car from a private seller, the car is seen as an 'as is' purchase. For more security you can buy from a licenced dealer, who has to offer a guarantee with the vehicle (I believe).

      Enjoy Innsbruck, it is a truly gorgeous place!

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    2. I think some of the private sellers are offering a possibility of checking the car at OEAMTC (http://www.oeamtc.at/). I think it should cost you 50-100 euros.
      You can also go to OEAMTC branch offices and ask for help with buying an used vehicle. Most of the people in the offices speak English.

      Delete
  18. Chelsey, thank you so much for this! I just moved to Innsbruck a week ago and a car is on the list - this was fantastic to stumble upon! Any other advice for Innsbruck-living? :D

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    Replies
    1. No worries at all. Get yourself a citizens season pass to make the most of the activities in the area (snow sports, pools etc) and check out the strudel place Kroll in the old town, it was my favorite place to go =D

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  19. Does anyone knows what is the difference in taxes between importing 96hp small car 9years old and 7 years old 160hp bigger car. What are the average taxes and insurances you paid? How big is that import tax and how is calculated? I have 2 cars and live in EU and I am still cosidering if I should move to Wienna (I have a job offer), but I definately was not planning to sell mine 2 and buy new one :(

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    Replies
    1. I think the comment at https://www.virtualvienna.net/topic/using-a-car-from-eu-countryhere/#post-2400 nicely describes the process and costs.

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  20. .
    Hi Everyone,
    What a well used blog this is, thanks for all the information.
    One bit of info I miss (or missed reading) do you need to show you have an address in Austria to buy and insure a car? I am buying an apartment holiday home and will only be in the country 5 months a year, will that be OK?
    Peter

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    Replies
    1. Hi Peter,
      thanks for the comment =)
      You need to be a registered citizen, so to speak. You need to 'anmeldung' (sign up) at the Rathaus (city council office), they will give you a piece of paper - you will need this paper to insure the car.

      Enjoy your new holiday home.
      Chelsey

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  21. Hey Chelsey,

    Im a student studying in Austria, I have an EU passport, have registered at the Rathaus and already have accomodation.

    Would this be all I need to buy and drive a car in Austria. Tricky to find this info online, so thanks so much!

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    Replies
    1. Hi,
      no worries! I believe that is all that you require.
      Enjoy Austria =D

      Delete
  22. Sorry, another question, did you have to renew your pickerl when you had the car?

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  23. Short, clear and extremely helpful! Vielen Dank!

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  24. Hi Chelsey,
    Thanks for the reply. That sounds simple, we will see. We are in the buying procedure at the moment and that is certainly simple, but a little expensive.
    I am sure we will enjoy our new home, looking forward to a little skiing this winter.
    All the best, Peter

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  25. Hi Guys,
    Let's say that I have found a car, I pay the owner and get the car papers signed by him that I am the new owner. Can I tow the car without going to the insurance company?

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  26. Thanks a lot bro! It's great work. You successfully helped a Chinese guy desperately looking for purchasing guidelines ;-)

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    Replies
    1. I'm no bro, but you're welcome all the same =D

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    2. Oh, I am so sorry. I did not pay attention. Many thinks to this nice lady then!

      Delete
  27. I have a question too. I am an EU citizen, and I just moved here. I want to buy a car, and your post was very helpful. But my question is, in my country in Croatia, once the car is bought we have to go to tax administration (not sure the right name ?) and we have to pay taxes there. So do we have to do the same thing here in Austria?

    Thank you,
    :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,
      sorry for the late reply. From my experience we only had to do as stated above, pay the fees at the insurance office for the licence plates etc. I don't think you need to go to the tax administration as well.
      Thanks for reading and good luck with the new car =D

      Delete
  28. Thank you so much! Very helpful!

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  29. Just a quick line to say thanks so much for the info - It's really helped!

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  31. Thank you so much for this information!!!great job!!!

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  32. Thank you!
    It was very helpful! :)

    J.J.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete