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How to buy cars from another country?

If you are a car dealer

5 min read

Buying used cars from abroad

The cross-border used car trade is very common for EU dealers. Member State wide commerce provides more variety, different standard equipment options, and technical features of the vehicles that are usually hard to find in the country-specific markets.

For example, according to a Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias in 2019 there were up to 80 000 used cars imported to the country with an average age of five and a half years. 80% had diesel engines, against 14% gasoline. The rest were hybrids, with 1% of these vehicles being electric. Peugeot and Mercedes are topping the list for the Portuguese consumers.

Certain makes are cheaper in different parts of the EU. For that reason, Italians tend to import cars from Germany, Portuguese from the Netherlands, etc. Apart from the country of manufacturing, automobile prices can be more attractive in certain parts of Europe. Therefore, Spanish and Portuguese dealers source the used vehicles in the Netherlands, Belgium, etc.

Having the skill of finding bargains and importing these cars from one European country to another could be beneficial to a dealer of any size. Dealers should not only consider the price of the car, but all additional costs they will have to pay, such as logistics, registration fees, and different taxes. Those expenses vary from country to country.

Cross-border used car trade is very common for EU dealers.

«Having the skill of finding bargains and importing these cars from one European country to another could be beneficial to a dealer of any size»

Things to consider

The most common methods of sourcing and importing cars from different Member States are using classifieds and B2B auto auctions. Dealers should conduct their own research, reach out to different sellers, purchase the vehicles and bring them to their own locations.

Online inspection and evaluation

An online car inspection can be a little tricky and overall different from the real-world vehicle check-up. You don’t get to touch and feel the automobile. However, appraisal and car history reports that are provided by some sellers can give a full picture of the state of the car, giving the buyer confidence to finalize the purchase online.

Even the experienced dealers review the photos/videos thoroughly, check and confirm that options and features listed on paper visually match with the selected automobile.

The next step after purchasing vehicle(s) is to organize quick and cost-effective transport. Make sure all the necessary documentation for registration in the country of delivery is provided by the seller. Ensure that all VAT requirements are met accordingly. Different countries_en enforce different types of regulations, paperwork and taxes, for that reason it is essential to be thoroughly prepared.



One of the most important components in the used car import/export business is logistics. vehicle transportation costs have a direct impact on the profit. Therefore, it is essential to plan the process accurately. Delivery time/price ratio is the key factor here. Nonetheless, distance and destinations can affect both time and price. The quickest transportation options are usually most expensive unless this is a very common route with regular finished vehicle transportation traffic. Finding a reliable partner is not easy and will take time but with the perfect match it is possible to save both on time and finances. eCarsTrade is actively working with logistics companies that can make the delivery process fast and hassle-free.

«One of the most important steps in the used car import/export business is the logistics as vehicle transportation costs have a direct impact on the profit.»

Vehicle registration and taxation

In order to facilitate the import of a used car, even within the EU Member States, there are different requirements to fulfill for each state and the tax rates vary as well. For example, in Portugal, there are several platforms for reference e.g. Imposto Sobre Veiculos and eportugal. In different parts of Spain, there are different rates of registration depending on the age of the vehicle, engine size, CO2 emission, etc.

Motor vehicles are responsible for €398.4 billion of tax revenue for governments across key European markets (ACEA)

Market Potential

According to ResearchAndMarkets the European used car market is predicted to reach US$960.98 billion in 2025, making the business very lucrative and profitable for the parties involved. There is a lot of opportunity for all players given the right strategy, tools and partnerships.


eCarsTrade offers online auto auctions of ex-lease vehicles from Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany, with a complete maintenance history. We guarantee the quality of the vehicles, fast, simple and transparent purchasing process and fixed commission costs. We are working with both European and non-european used car dealers and traders. Last but not least, our dedicated managers are always available to assist you with your needs.
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