Checklist – buying a car in another country

Updated: 2/8/2016

  • Check the trader. There are traders who are trying to sell cars that are stolen or have been involved in a crash. And remember that if you are buying a car from a private person the consumer protection laws are not applicable to your purchase. Therefore it is better to turn to an authorized dealer.

  • Get in touch with a number of dealers before you go. The trader may, for example, send pictures, copy of service history, registration and other information via e-mail or fax. That way you also get the opportunity to get an idea about the seller and his or her willingness to help. It is good to start a negotiation about the price early in the process. To start a negotiation at place are likely to be difficult because the trader is well aware that you are far from home.

  • Make sure that the car can be registered in Sweden. Never buy a used car without a registration certificate in original. If you buy a car in Germany, for example, without getting the registration certificate (Fahrzeugbrief / Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil II), you can lose the car if it later turns out that someone else has the right to it. In Germany, the person who has the certificate of registration is the listed owner. Therefore, check that the seller and the owner of the certificate of registration is the same person.

  • Request certificate - if the car is approved in Europe. The approval number is starting with an "e" and should be found in both the certificate and at the manufacturer's plate that are normally found in the engine compartment of the car. If the car has been registered (not just temporarily registered), the number also should be listed on the registration certificate.

  • Check what conditions the Swedish insurance companies require to insure the car. Does the content of the insurance differ if the car was sold in Sweden – for example does it include insurance against machine damage? is the insurance fee more expensive compared to a car sold in Sweden? Does the insurance company have specific requirements for private imported cars? Contact several insurance companies.

  • Make sure you have a Fully Comprehensive Insurance. When you buy a new car in Sweden, collision damage warranty is included. This does not apply on imported cars. To obtain the same insurance coverage for the corresponding imported cars you have to write a Fully Comprehensive Insurance.

  • Check the warranties. A new car warranty, a so-called manufacturer's warranty, that the buyer can get in the country of purchase also apply in Sweden. The duration of this warranty differ from brand to brand, usually from one to three years. Collision Damage Warranty only occurs in Sweden.

  • Check the odometer. One problem with imported used cars is that they could have odometer adjustments so that it looks as if the car has been driven a shorter distance than it actually have. If you buy from an authorized dealer the risk of that happening is just as small as if you buy the car from an authorized dealer in Sweden. In many modern cars the mileage is also recorded in the computer of the car. But those who have advanced skills can also make changes in the computer without trace.

  • Make sure the car comes with a well-documented service book. Check the printing date - if the service book is newer than the car, something is wrong. You can also contact any of the service companies that are stamped in the service book to check that the specified service is really done and that their data on the odometer matches the information in the service book.

  • Be aware of that the manufacturer is not responsible for the state of the emission control when importing a car. For cars sold in Sweden, the manufacturer is responsible for 5 years after the purchase, or for 8000/10 000 Swedish miles, but these rules do not apply for imported cars.

  • Let an independent motor organization test the car before the purchase. If you get into a dispute with the seller, it can be difficult to get the dispute to court. Therefore, try to prevent the problem by requiring the car to be tested before you decide to buy it.

  • Check the corrosion protection. The car may need an additional corrosion protection. Cars sold in other countries do not always have as good corrosion protection as cars designed for Nordic winter conditions. The heating system may also be less powerful and there may be no seat heating.

  • Check to which country you should pay for VAT. If you buy a used car, (driven more than 6000 kilometres and have been in use for more than 6 months) the VAT should be paid in the country of purchase and if you buy a new car, VAT shall be paid in Sweden and you will have to report your purchase to The Swedish Tax Agency in Ludvika.

  • Contact your bank in advance and arrange so you can make a transfer from your account when you decide to make the purchase. Do not bring cash. If possible, pay by credit card, in that way you will get extra protection through the Consumer Credit Act. In that way you can make the same claim against the credit card issuer as to the seller if something goes wrong.

  • Remember that an imported car often does not have the same resale value. The value is obviously affected by the history of the car and documentation.

  • You have the right to make a complaint up to two years from purchase. When buying a new car, you have the right to make a complaint up to two years from purchase. If you are buying a used car, the seller may, in some countries, limit the time to one year.