Driving a Car in Austria: How to Import a Vehicle for Personal Use

More+More+ ♦ Published: August 4, 2019; 15:08 ♦ Updated: April 1, 2021; 13:13 ♦ (Vindobona)

What is required to register your car in Austria that you have purchased abroad? What do you need to look out for when buying a car? What costs do you have to bear? You can find all tips for importing your own vehicles (Eigenimport) to Austria here.

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Moving goods to Austria (vehicles as moving goods) or buying a car abroad

Does it pay off to import yourself a car purchased abroad into Austria?

Before making a decision, it is essential to obtain an overview of costs, necessary documents and official channels.

Overview of costs incurred

Importing a rare model from the UK can be attractive, as can cars, which may cost less in other countries than in Austria.

In addition to the purchase price, however, there are numerous other costs, which we will inform you about here.

NoVA (standard consumption tax): The NoVA is due at the first registration in Austria for new and used cars. The NoVA varies depending on age and model. NoVA calculations can be carried out by the ÖAMTC.

VAT: If you buy a new car in the EU, you do not pay VAT to the dealer abroad, but you pay the purchase tax in Austria at the rate of 20 percent. In the case of used cars, you pay the VAT directly to the foreign dealer.

Import sales tax: If you import the car from a third country (country that is not part of the EU), import sales tax is payable. This is 20 percent.

Customs: This is due at the EU external border when importing from a third country. The customs duty for passenger cars is 10 percent.

Costs for transfer license plates: To transfer the car to Austria, you need a license plate. The costs vary depending on the country and license plate type.

Entry in the approval database: This takes place in Austria and costs a maximum of 180 euros.

§57a expert opinion: If a "sticker" would already be due for the vehicle, you must have a §57a certificate or the equivalent, including translation, carried out abroad before registration.

How do I proceed with my own import?

In the following we go into the individual steps in detail and document which documents you still need for the successful import and/or which you should absolutely consider with the car purchase.

1. Purchase

If a vehicle is brought to Austria, a distinction must be made between whether it is a second-hand vehicle or a new vehicle and whether the vehicle comes directly from an EU member state or not. These distinctions are essential for tax and customs treatment.

What is a new and used vehicle in the tax sense?

  • A new vehicle does not have more than 6,000 km on the tacho at the time of purchase or the initial commissioning was not more than 6 months ago. Therefore, most demonstration cars also fall into the category "new cars".
  • If the vehicle has more than 6,000 km on the speedometer at the time of purchase and the first commissioning was more than 6 months ago, then it is a used vehicle.

Tips for buying:

  • It is best to buy from a dealer: In addition to the statutory warranty - at least in the EU - purchases from the dealer, compared to those from private individuals, also offer the advantage of any additional warranty services. In addition, the purchase price is accepted by the authorized vehicle dealer in the EU, usually also by the Austrian tax office as the vehicle value. In the case of private purchases, on the other hand, the current market value is based on a vehicle valuation.
  • Do not make any advance payments, but only pay when you collect the vehicle.
  • One should also inquire in advance whether an EU-wide operating licence for the vehicle in question is available, as otherwise an individual licence is required in Austria - to which no legal claim exists, even if the vehicle is registered in another member state (see entry in the licence database).
  • In the case of used cars, it is advisable to have the purchase checked in advance by an independent body in order to avoid any nasty surprises.

Value added tax:

  • When purchasing a new vehicle from a dealer within the EU, no value-added tax is payable by the dealer, as this is payable in the form of purchase tax (value-added tax) in Austria together with the NoVA at the tax office. The purchase tax is also due if you buy a new vehicle from a private person in another EU country! Attention: In the case of new (residential) trailers, VAT must be paid by the foreign dealer.
  • In the case of used vehicles purchased from the dealer in the EU, the corresponding value-added tax must be paid directly to the dealer. In Austria, VAT is no longer payable on the vehicle.
  • You should make sure that the sales tax is shown on the invoice or that there is a reference to differential taxation. Only in this way can the net purchase price paid be used for the NoVA calculation at the Austrian tax office.
  • When purchasing in third countries, the VAT paid can be refunded by the foreign trader on the basis of a customs-certified export declaration. Irrespective of this, the import turnover tax of 20 percent is payable on imports from third countries.

You should receive the following documents from the seller:

  • Purchase contract or balanced invoice (incl. value added tax or reference to differential taxation)
  • Vehicle documents: EEC certificate of conformity (also known as COC paper), foreign type certificate or foreign registration certificate (if the registration certificate consists of two parts, then both parts must be provided) as proof of an EU-wide operating permit. In the case of motor vehicles without an EU type approval, an individual approval must be obtained. In such cases, you should make sure that you also obtain the foreign vehicle documents.
  • Positive result of the technical inspection
  • When purchasing in a third country, additionally: export declaration from the trader, with which you can get a refund of any VAT paid, as well as proof of preference, with which possible customs privileges are possible (see customs).
  • When buying private property, it is also advisable to certify the purchase contract (court or notary). It is not mandatory, but can be required by the registration office if there are doubts about the authenticity of the purchase contract. In this case, an authentication would have to be submitted later, which could cause practical problems (e.g. if the seller can no longer be contacted).

2. Transfer

Once the vehicle has been purchased abroad, the question of transfer to Austria arises. If the vehicle is not transported on a trailer or a truck, but is to be driven to Austria, a suitable license plate is required.

Transfer with export number plate

  • When transferring from abroad to Austria, it is advisable to have a foreign transfer license plate with a corresponding short term insurance policy. The foreign dealer can help you with this. For the import from Germany, for example, for export license plates about 100 to 150 euros.
  • The duration of the validity of the foreign transfer license plates must be observed, whereby these may not be used in Austria for longer than 4 weeks in any case.
  • You can find a summary of the transfer marks in the EU at the European Consumer Centre Austria.
  • Although it is also possible to use the Austrian green transfer indicators, their use may cause problems abroad. In addition, a proof of ownership (e.g. purchase contract) must be presented for the Austrian transfer marks. They may therefore prove to be impractical, as they have to be applied for in Austria.

3. Customs

Imports from the EU do not require any customs formalities and are not subject to customs duties. The situation is different for imports from third countries, i.e. countries that do not belong to the EU.

At the third country border:

  • Have the export declaration confirmed at the border so that any VAT paid can be refunded by the trader.
  • (Certified) purchase contract or balanced invoice
  • Prove the purchase price paid abroad
  • If no purchase price has been paid (donation) or if no credible price is included in the purchase contract, an estimate can be made.

At the EU external border (or Austrian border):

  • Written border formalities during office hours are carried out free of charge, fees apply outside these hours. Therefore, inquire about the official hours and never cross the border without completing the customs formalities.
  • If the imported vehicle must pass through another EU country in order to reach Austria, this shipment must be declared (accompanying document for the transport of non-Community goods within the EU).
  • Declare import
  • Submit certified purchase contract or balanced invoice
  • If applicable, submit valid proof of preference (e.g. possible for Switzerland or Norway). Imports from certain third countries are exempt from duty if proof of preference is available. For this purpose, a movement certificate "EUR 1" or, up to a value of 6,000 euros, a declaration of origin must be shown on the invoice.
  • Pay import duties (customs, import turnover tax) or provide security (for shipment).
  • Customs duty: Usually 10 percent of the value (including delivery costs up to the EU external border) of the car (and other vehicles which are mainly intended for passenger transport) or 6 percent for motorcycles with more than 250ccm.
  • Import sales tax: 20 percent of the value of the vehicle (including delivery costs up to the EU external border and customs duty)
  • issue a customs clearance confirmation

4. Registration in the licence database

In order for the vehicle to be registered in Austria, it must be entered in the so-called approval database.

EU type approval is available: If an EU type approval is available, the vehicle only has to be entered into the approval database. Proof of an existing EU type-approval is the EEC certificate of conformity (also known as COC paper), a (foreign) data extract, the foreign type certificate or a foreign registration certificate (if the registration certificate consists of two parts, then both parts must be present). The registration is primarily carried out by the general importer (costs: maximum 180 Euro). A list of the Austrian general importers can be found HERE. If the general importer does not act within 14 days or if there is no authorised representative who can carry out the registration, the registration can also be carried out via the competent provincial inspection authority (around 150 euros, depending on the required documents).

If the vehicle had already been subject to a §57a inspection ("sticker") in Austria, a positive inspection report must also be submitted for registration in the approval database. Foreign expert opinions in German which comply with Directive 2009/40/EC or Directive 2014/45/EU (i.e. from EU countries) are generally recognised. Find out in advance whether test reports from other EU countries in a non-German language, or translations thereof, are also accepted. If the foreign expert opinion is not recognised, an additional expert opinion in accordance with §57a KFG must be carried out at an Austrian testing laboratory.

EU type approval is not available:

If there is no EU type approval for the vehicle, then an individual approval is required from the provincial inspection office responsible for the owner's place of residence. As a rule, the vehicle must be presented and must comply with the year of construction regulations of Austrian motor vehicle law or the EU regulations. If the corresponding regulations are not observed, the individual approval can be refused. The approval in another member state does not entitle the holder to an individual approval! In addition, a positive §57a inspection ("Pickerl") is necessary if this would have been due in Austria.

Irrespective of whether an EU type approval exists or not, changes requiring notification and approval must be entered into the approval database by the provincial inspection authority.

5. Payment of the NoVA

When the vehicle is entered into the approval database, a temporary registration ban is imposed on cars, station wagons and motorcycles. By paying any NoVA and, if applicable, purchase tax (see VAT above) at the tax office of the place of residence, this block is lifted and registration is possible in Austria.

In the case of used vehicles coming directly from the EU, the NoVA is always based on the regulation that applied in Austria at the time of first registration in the EU. In addition, any bonus-malus amounts applicable in Austria at the time of initial registration in the EU must be adjusted in line with the performance of the vehicle. This regulation is intended to ensure that the tax burden for an imported vehicle corresponds to that of an equivalent vehicle already registered in Austria. One of the consequences of this is that, for example, no bonus-malus regulations apply if the vehicle was registered in the EU for the first time before 1 July 2008, or that no NoVA is payable at all if the vehicle was registered in the EU for the first time before the NoVA Act came into force (on 1 January 1992).

In the case of new vehicles from the EU or a third country or used vehicles from a third country, the currently valid NoVA calculation method must always be applied, which is based on CO2 emissions and vehicle value.

6. Registration

If the NoVA is paid to the tax office, the vehicle is also simultaneously unlocked in the approval database and the vehicle can be registered with the registration office.