Car purchase tax – who has to pay and when?

Are you planning to buy a car abroad in France, Germany, Italy, or in another European country and are wondering who must pay the tax, when, and how to complete all the tax formalities successfully? Find out all you need to know about how and when to correctly pay your income tax for the vehicle you are buying.

How do I complete my car tax formalities?

Depending on the country in Europe where you have bought the car and want to register it, the formalities, the amount of car purchase tax and how you can complete the tax formalities differ.

What does the car purchase tax depend on in Germany, Italy, and France?

Do you want to buy a car in your chosen European country, but don’t know what the tax rate to pay is and what it depends on? Find out what the tax rate is in different European countries.

In Germany, every driver who wants to drive a car on the road must have valid insurance for their car and pay car ownership tax.

Each driver has to pay a duty of between €150 and €200 and a short-term fee of around €100, including liability insurance costs. Each driver must also pay a compulsory fee for issuing a temporary vehicle registration certificate, which amounts to €30.

The tax value of a car bought and registered in Germany depends on several important factors, this including:
• the type of car purchased and the year of manufacture,
• the type of engine capacity (electric, petrol or diesel),
• exhaust emissions (calculated in terms of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre driven),
• the date of first registration of the car.
• for electric cars, the amount of tax depends on the weight of the vehicle – the lower the weight, the lower the tax payable. The greater the vehicle’s weight (over 3,500 kg), the greater the emissions into the atmosphere, which also affects the amount of tax payable.

In Germany, every driver pays an annual car use tax (known as Kraftfahrzeugsteuer), which is approximately €100. In addition, when buying a new or used car in Germany, you must be aware that a VAT of 19% is applicable. If, for example, you are exporting a car bought in Germany to Italy or another EU country, and you have bought it from a private individual, you must know that you cannot deduct the value of the VAT from the price.

Car registration takes place at the registration office responsible for the place of residence. However, the town or district office is responsible for registering the car.

Purchasing a car in France and the level of fees and taxes

Buying a car in France and registering it in the country is subject to a fee payable by the car owner, depending on the type of car, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated, and the registration region on which the regional fee depends.

It is assumed that the value of the registration fee for passenger cars is approximately €60. You also have to add to this the value of the regional tax (depending on the specific region) and the emissions tax, which has been in force in France since 1 January 2022. For cars with emissions of less than 128 g/km, this charge is around €50.

Cars generating carbon dioxide emissions of more than 133 g/km incur a charge of more than €100, depending on their exhaust emissions.

Diesel cars emit less exhaust fumes, so their registration has a lower tax rate than petrol cars. Buying a car in France also involves paying excise duty within 30 days of registration. As of 6 November 2017, the car registration procedure is only possible online in France.

Car registration fees in Italy

Are you planning to buy a car in Italy and want to register it? The amount of tax for registering a car also depends on the emission level, the type of car, and the engine. It does not matter whether the vehicle is new or used, as the registration costs (Imposta Provinciale di Trascrizione) are fixed at approximately €151 and are paid by the car owner.

The amount of tax is calculated based on the actual power of the vehicle. For cars up to 53 kilowatts, the cost is €151, while cars with a higher power output are subject to a surcharge of around €4 per kW.

Car registration in Italy is possible at the provincial motor vehicle office, where complete technical documentation of the car and proof of purchase must be presented. Once the documents are approved, you only need to apply to register at the PRA (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico), the Italian public car register.

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Car purchase tax - who has to pay and when?

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