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Buying and Selling a Used Car in Belgium

Information on how to buy or sell a used car in Belgium, with details on the Car-Pass system, as well as other necessary documents...

Second hand cars are plentiful in Belgium and can be bought from garages, other VAT registered businesses or from private individuals. They may also be advertised in car magazines or online publications, such as:

The Belgium government portal provides detailed information in French.

The authorities urge those buying second hand cars to be vigilant in checking a vehicle's registration documents (certificat d'immatriculation/inschrijvingsbewijs). It is important to note if a vehicle has been admitted temporarily or must leave the country by a certain date unless further import/excise duties are paid. While this in itself need not prevent a sale or purchase, both parties need to be sure that all documentation is in order, and that any additional re-registration costs are known.

No taxes are payable on the sale of a used vehicle from a private individual. This is not the case if buying from a VAT registered garage or business. In this case, VAT can be calculated in at least two different ways, depending on circumstances.

Vehicle documents

Any used car for sale in Belgium must have a valid roadworthiness certificate (Contrôle technique/Technische Controle) no more than two months old. This is required by both private sellers and garages.

When the car is entered for its roadworthiness test, the owner should state the intention to sell it so that correct documentation is provided. Equivalent standards among firms undertaking the technical inspections is maintained by an officially recognised federation, GOCA (Groupement des Entreprises Agréées de Contrôle Automobile et du Permis de Conduire/Groepering Van Erkende Ondernemingen Voor Autokeuring en Rijbewijs).

Car-Pass

All second hand cars must be sold with a Car-Pass. This can be arranged at the roadworthiness test centre. A small fee is charged.

Car-Pass makes it compulsory for the seller of any car or small commercial vehicle (private individual and businesses) to provide a Car-Pass for the vehicle. The only exemption is a private individual who is selling his vehicle to a professional, for example a garage.

The Car-Pass provides mileage readings for the vehicle at various dates in its history, and may not be more than two months old. The Car-Pass document also details the make and model of the vehicle, its date of first registration in Belgium, the chassis number, the date the document was prepared and a unique document number for traceability. Every time that a vehicle goes to a garage, tyre centre or technical inspection, its mileage is noted and passed to the central Car-Pass computer, so that these details can then be provided to the owner at the time of sale to help authenticate the vehicle's mileage. Without a Car-Pass, a sale is not valid and the buyer can withdraw from the sale and demand to be reimbursed.

Buyers can check the validity of a Car-Pass via the website.

The Car-Pass includes:

  • Make and model of the vehicle
  • Chassis number
  • Year of first registration
  • Mileage reading indicated at the date of sale

It is the seller's responsibility to have this document prepared, except where an individual is selling a second-hand vehicle to a professional (perhaps as a trade-in): in this case, it is the garage or dealership which must prepare the document.

If a seller is not replacing the vehicle then their number plate (which is personal to them and not the vehicle) must be returned to the DIV, which will remove it from the records. It will also calculate the road tax refund if relevant.

The process is strictly controlled by the authorities and, in particular, the DIV, whose central office maintains the records of owners, vehicles and number plates. Anyone not following the correct procedures is liable to penalties.

The seller

The seller must provide the following documents:

  • Bill of sale including details on
    • the make, model, engine size of the vehicle
    • VAT (price without VAT, VAT rate, VAT amount, total VAT inclusive price paid)
    • names and addresses of previous owners/sellers
  • Roadworthiness certificate
  • Registration certificate
  • Request for registration (Demande d'immatriculation – formulaire rose/Inschrijving van voertuigen).
  • Certificate of Vehicle Roadworthiness (contrôle technique)
  • Certificate of Conformity (certificat de conformité) proving the vehicle conforms to European safety and emissions standards
  • Certificate of installation of LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) if the car is equipped with it
  • Service record
  • Car-Pass for the vehicle, which records details of the car and its history

A VAT registered seller is obliged to provide:

  • bill of sale detailing the make, model, and other characteristics of the vehicle
  • the details relating to the VAT charged and on what basis this has been calculated

The buyer

All vehicles need to be insured and it is the vehicle which is covered, not the driver. The minimum required by law is third party, but fully comprehensive cover is available. It is the buyer's responsibility to arrange insurance before taking delivery of the car.

The vehicle must be registered by the new owner, either under a number plate from a previous vehicle, or on a new plate. This is done at a DIV office. The buyer submits the seller's registration document for the vehicle (Demande d'immatriculation/Inschrijving van voertuigen), and the DIV cancels all taxes due on a previous vehicle (if applicable) and credits any monies for taxes not due against the taxes to be paid for the new vehicle.

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