Buying a car in Belgium
While public transport in Belgium is excellent within and between cities, journeys to the suburbs and smaller towns are more easily accomplished by car. Having your own vehicle will save a lot of time on the commute and allow for greater exploration of Belgium’s less accessible regions.
Since both the new and second-hand car markets in Belgium are well-regulated, offering much protection to consumers, and prices are competitive compared with neighbouring countries, buying a car here can be a worthy investment.
New cars are sold at a variety of dealerships across the country, selling many of the globally recognised leading brands. For reviews, check out Auto Magazine. Second-hand cars may also be found at professional dealers, although private sales are common in Belgium. Among the largest of the car dealerships are D’Ieteren, Cegeac, Cardoen and NNC. Many private sales are advertised on recognised websites (see box below).
Be it a new car or a second-hand car, there are several documents that must be provided by the seller, including a document detailing the car’s characteristics, the price, delivery date, any agreed reductions, underwriting of credit and any amount offered in part-exchange.
The seller must also provide a certificate of conformity (certificat de conformité), a log-book for the vehicle (carnet d’entretien) and a so-called pink form (formulaire rose), required for the registration (immatriculation) of the vehicle.
In Belgium, registration is required in almost all cases for residents and can be made online with the Vehicle Registration Service (DIV). The only exceptions are for cars registered abroad and offered by a foreign employer or international institution in another EU member state for use in Belgium.
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. Private sales are often cheaper, especially if you pay cash in hand.
The buyer receives, together with the certificate, a report on the condition of the second-hand car (rapport d’occasion), which provides full details on the results of the technical examination and detail of any faults with the vehicle.
Finally, the seller is obliged to provide a Car Pass, a certificate of the number of kilometres a car has travelled. Buyers are advised by Car Pass to check that the certificate matches the odometer, which should also increase at a steady rate.
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 percent of journeys made with company cars are for professional purposes.
It is also worth considering whether to buy an eco-friendly model since there are many deductions available, including a substantial cut on the on-the-road tax (taxe de mise en circulation). Vendors are also obliged to cut the price on low-emission models by as much as 15 percent.
The government, conscious of the large volumes of traffic on Belgian roads and the consequent emission levels, has recently published a comprehensive guide (in Dutch and French) on the environmental credentials of leading brands.