What is the registration process when buying a car from a previous owner?

After you buy a car in Poland, it has to be registered at your city/town hall, at the vehicle registration department, within 30 days. But first there are a few prerequisites that you have to meet.

    Wartburg – an East German two-stroke wonder, the sound of its engine was unforgettable

    Wartburg – an East German two-stroke wonder,
    the sound of its engine was unforgettable

  1. Before you visit the registration office ensure that the vehicle has a valid technical inspection / roadworthiness test (badanie techniczne), which for cars older than 3 years is valid 12 months. If the technical inspection is invalid, you only need to visit the closest “stacja kontroli pojazdów” and get your car checked.
  2. You also have to get insurance (OC – civil liability), if the vehicle is not already insured. It’s up to you to choose the insurance company, but you can also hire an insurance adviser to help you find the best deal available on the market. The insurance deals are signed for 12 months.
  3. You have 30 days after the purchase to visit your town hall and get your vehicle registered. Remember to take the licence plates and all the documents (including your own ID, stay permit and registration document) with you. The old licence plates and the car registration document (dowód rejestracyjny) will be taken from you and you’ll get new ones.
    You’ll get the licence plates immediately after submitting the application, but you’ll have to wait maximum another 30 days for the issuing of the new documents (you’ll be able to use temporary ones during that time). You can check if the documents are ready to be picked up here (unfortunately, in Polish).
  4. At the closest tax revenue office (Urząd Skarbowy) you have to submit a filled-out PCC-3 form and pay tax in the amount of 2% of the car value. You have 14 days after the purchase to do it, but it’s not necessary to do it before the registration.
Prerequisite document checklist
Document Polish name Comment
Technical inspection Badanie techniczne A stamp with a due date in your car registration document is a confirmation of the inspection
Car registration document Dowód rejestracyjny Includes the most important information about your car and proves that you’re its owner (when the police stop you on the road for example)
Sale/purchase agreement Umowa kupna/sprzedaży The agreement you sign when buying a car
Vehicle card Karta pojazdu Includes technical specifications of the vehicle and all its owners
Registration application Wniosek rejestracji Fill out and take with you to the vehicle registration office
Insurance slip Kwit opłaty za ubezpieczenie Proves that your car is insured
Your ID or passport Dowód osobisty lub paszport You’ll have to show it to the registration office employee
Stay permit Karta pobytu If you’re not a Polish citizen you at least need to be allowed to live here (you get this at the voivodship immigration office)
Residence registration document Poświadczenie zameldowania This document proves that you live in Poland (you get this from your local town hall)

Car registration takes up quite a lot of time, and also, unfortunately, quite a lot of money. The technical inspection would cost you about a 100PLN, the registration about 250PLN, and tax and insurance costs might be even higher. So if you’re considering getting yourself a car, keep in mind that it won’t only be the car price that you’ll have to pay.

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