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Buying a car in Belgium
Since both the new and second-hand car markets in Belgium are well-regulated, and prices are competitive with neighbouring countries, buying a car here can be a worthy investment.
Buying a new car
New cars are sold at dealerships across the country, and pretty much every globally recognised brand can be found. For reviews, check out Auto Magazine (in French and Dutch).
Don't hesitate to negotiate, whether getting them to shave something off the sticker price or to throw in an option for free. Make sure that any price you hear includes VAT (TVA / BTW), the 21% tax the dealer pays to the government.
Once the decision is taken, the dealership will create an order form (le bon de commande / bestelbon) for your new vehicle. This should include:
- details of the car’s characteristics, including the make and model, the year, any options and the colour
- the agreed-upon price, including any discounts
- the date and place where the order form is being signed
- the delivery date of the new car
- underwriting of credit
- any amount offered in exchange for your current car
When your car is ready to be picked up (which can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks for a model that is already on the market, or a few months for a new model), there are more documents you need to get from the dealership:
- the invoice, which should include the make and model of the car as well as the year, the size of the engine, the date of purchase and the price, both with and without VAT
- the certificate of conformity (certificat de conformité / gelijkvormigheidsattest), which confirms that the car meets the technical specifications required by Belgian law
- the so-called pink form (formulaire rose / roze formulier), which allows you to register your new vehicle
The next step is to register your new car, which you do through the insurer. The bank or insurance company you choose to cover the car registers the vehicle for you with the DIV. A new registration costs €30, and you receive the number plates within a few days.
If you have the European-norm number plate on your current car, you can keep the same number plate. Then you pay €26.
An interesting note: According to Belgian law, if you sign an order for a new car at the Auto Salon or other auto market outside of the dealership, you have 14 days to change your mind, with no repercussions. At the dealership, however, you'll have to pay a fee if you change your mind. They vary, so check with the dealership in question.
Buying a second-hand car
There are many used car dealerships in Belgium. Among the largest are D’Ieteren, Cegeac, Cardoen and NNC.
Even if you entered a dealership that sells news and used the purpose of buying used, it's sometimes worth considering a new car. Sometimes overstock means that a new car will cost the same - or even less - than the sticker price of a used car on the lot.
Just don't forget that all the options of a new car (including the colour) cost more, so take your time to consider the full and actual price of any car at the dealership that catches your eye.
In the case of second-hand cars, sellers, whether professional or private, must also provide a certificate proving that the vehicle has undergone a technical examination (controle technique / autokeuring) within the last two months.
The buyer receives, together with the certificate, a report on the condition of the second-hand car (rapport d’occasion / gelijkvormigheidsattest), which provides full details of the results of the technical examination and detail of any faults with the vehicle.
The seller is also obliged to provide a Car Pass (this is the same in all the languages), which confirms the number of kilometres a car has travelled. Buyers are advised by Car Pass to check that the certificate matches the odometer.
Finally, the seller must provide an invoice and the pink form, as with a new car.
Private buying and selling of cars is extremely common in Belgium. All of these websites are dedicated to buying and selling used cars:
It is also worth considering buying an eco-friendly model or electric vehicle since there are many deductions available, including a substantial cut on the road tax (taxe de circulation / Verkeersbelasting). Vendors are also obliged to cut the price on low-emission models by as much as 15%.
If in doubt that all the paperwork is in order, check the Belgian government's website on the buying and selling of new and used cars.
Before you buy, it’s worth considering whether your employer will offer you a company car. This is common practice in Belgium, and the European Commission estimates that only 30% of journeys made with company cars are for professional purposes.