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FAQ - Buying a Used Car

I am buying a used car in Germany and am wondering how I can find out if there is an existing lien against the car?

The easiest method is simply to ask if the seller has the original Fahrzeugbrief. All vehicles in Germany are required to have this and it is handed over from owner to owner. (This is not to be confused with the vehicle registration, which is called a Fahrzeugschein.)

If a vehicle is still financed, the Fahrzeugbrief is physically kept by the bank or the lending institution holding the loan; it is not given to the owner of the vehicle until the loan is paid off. Thus, if the vehicle is owned free and clear, the seller will have the original Fahrzeugbrief. This document will have the ownership information as well as official stamps from the various municipalities in which the vehicle was registered.

If you're looking to buy a used car, one central source of information can be found at http://eng.autoscout24.com/index.asp?language=ger.