Buying a used car in Denmark

Tiny Fiat
We are getting close to having lived in Sonderborg for a year and about a month ago we decided it was about time we bought a car. I have previously lived in Copenhagen, Prague and London where a bike and public transport can easily cover your travel needs. In Sonderborg you can also make do with public transport. However, it does limit your range and for trips further afield it can be a bit of a puzzle to find the right connections.

We decided to take the plunge and buy a car. Here are some tips from our experience. Remember that in Denmark cars are taxed 180% which means a lot of people drive small cars or old cars. Also because of the weather the cars have a hard life. Roads are salted during much of the winter making rust a big problem unless the used car has been washed and treated properly.

Where to look is a very good place to start looking at cars. Most second hand dealers will put their cars on here. The search engine lets you search based on price, make/model, type, age, fuel economy and distance from you. You can mark cars as favourites and get notifications when their price is lowered or they get sold from under your nose. You can set up search agents that on a daily basis give you an update on new cars that match your criteria. Other sites in this industry that we didn’t use but could be useful are BilPriser and DBA where a lot of private people post their cars. Prices on these sites include purchase taxes but exclude delivery costs.


Buying from dealers vs. from private people

Prices at used car dealers are higher than if you buy from a private person but a used car dealer also has to give you 2 years “faults on purchase warranty” (reklamationsret) on issues that were present at the time of purchase. Many used car dealers also offer six months warranty on issues that arise after the purchase. Buying from a private party there are not these warranties and you buy “as seen”. However the car will be cheaper to purchase from a private person (in the range of DKK 5-15000 cheaper). I do not know much about cars so we opted for buying from a dealer.

Blue vetran car

Getting a second opinion

As I was new to buying a car and don’t have any friends who are mechanics I opted for a service called Used Car Test (brugtbilstest) by the Federation of Danish Motorists (FDM) on the car that we were most interested in. The test is thorough and checks all the vital parts of the car but also comes at a price of DKK 2200.

Buick Riviera

Price and costs

Keep in mind that there are more costs to having a car than the price tag in the window.

Delivery costs (leveringsomkostninger) about DKK 3500 are paid to the dealer and covers getting new license plates and making the paperwork.

Green Tax (Grønne afgifter) is the biannual cost of owning a car. It is based on the fuel economy or energy class of the car. The fuel economy is measured according to the EU standard. When you see cars on site like BilBasen you can see the energy class. Our car is a diesel in class A, which costs DKK 1330 every six months.

Insurance (forsikring) costs are based on the car type, your age and your experience. It’s required by law to have third party insurance (ansvarsforsikring) and optional to have comprehensive insurance (kaskoforsikring). We asked four companies for quotes and got prices ranging from DKK 8000 to DKK 13000 so it’s worth shopping around. There is an independent site where you can get some initial quotes from a couple of companies but do call them and explain your specific situation to get a definitive offer.

Vehicle inspection (Bilsyn) are done after the car is four years old. Then it has to get an inspection every other year. These are about DKK 500. Of course your car has to be in good nick to pass the inspection so there might be a bill from the mechanic to pay before you take it to inspection.

Winter tyres. If you are from a warmer climate you might not be aware of the difference between winter and summer tyres. There is no legal requirement to change over in Denmark but most people do and in Germany and other North European countries it is a legal requirement. An extra set of tyres costs from DKK 2500 (plus rims which are from DKK 2000).

An old Ford Escort

These were our tips. Here are links some linke for further reading on buying and selling and importing cars. Do you have any pointers to give to potential car buyers in Denmark?

BTW – none of the cars pictured in this post are from Denmark, I just thought they were cool.

29 thoughts on “Buying a used car in Denmark

      1. Alex

        Hey!! You are a web dev? I want also to be one, I will come to Dk hopefully this year, i was thinking to bring my car.

        1. Michael Post author

          Bringing your car is not easy with all the paperworks – see the comment from < href="">Robin

  1. moin

    Thanks lot, its so worthy and useful info for new comers to denmark, iam interested to buy small and 5 doors car, but is there any customized search in bilbasen or dba? iam not able to search for small cars.
    Thanks in advance

  2. AJ

    Thanks for the post, exactly what I was looking for, my company does offer me a car, basically they will cover all costs for leasing the car and pay my gas bills, this will however add 50K DK to my taxes yearly. I did some math and from the looks that will set me back roughly 20K DK in Netto income. that is roughly 1.8K a month, I was wondering if you did do some math on the yearly costs of owning a car, I.e. insurance/taxes/service/gas/depreciation …I really want to decide whether to get the company car or own my own.

    1. Michael Post author

      Hi AJ,

      Doing a rough calculation using this tool I get our annual costs to around 35k for driving 10k in a 5 year old small car including gas, insurance, depreciation etc. I think that is quite cheap. Most likely you will drive more and have a bigger car. 1.8k net a month for having a car that you don’t have to maintain sounds like a great deal to me 🙂

      If you know enough Danish you can set up a profile on BilBasen and at the bottom of each car they do a similar calculation for what the car would cost you per year.

  3. Frank Harvey

    Hi, thanks for the info. I’m shocked at the ‘delivery’ charge…3500,- (actually it’s 3800,- now i think) just for some paperwork and two plates. What this nations government get away with never ceases to amaze me.

    In the UK transferring ownership is free.

  4. Mark

    Hello dear,

    Thanks for very useful information! I am just about to buy a car in Denmark. One more thing, maybe anybody does know a places where I can find no runner, breakers cars in denmark, as I am thinking about repairing a car for myself. Thank you for your comments. Mark

  5. Chris

    I’m staying in Sonderborg for three months July-October 2016. I’m Australian, can I buy a car & register it in my name for the time I’m there & then sell it??
    Thank you

    1. Michael Post author

      Hi Chris, I haven’t considered this and to me it sounds like a hassle and quite expensive.

      In order to register a car you need a Civil Registration Number (CPR nummer) and that might take a while to acquire – depending on what brings you here.

      Cars in Denmark are ridiculously expensive and buying/selling a car over 3 month can be tricky without getting a considerable hit on price.

      Since you probably won’t be a “Danish resident” while you are here an option might be to go to Germany and buy a car. They are a lot cheaper there. (But people with Danish residency are not allowed to drive German registered cars in Denmark).

  6. Melia

    We are moving to Copenhagen and I’m wanting to lease a second hand car. Which websites do you recommend t

    1. Michael Post author

      I don’t know much about leasing cars in Denmark except that it is getting more popular. The way I understand the system you normally lease a brand new car and sign a contract for a couple of years. If you want independent advice FDM is the Danish Motorist Association and they offer help (to their members) in figuring out what to lease and help with the contracts. Here’s more info (in Danish):

  7. Rajeev Sinha

    HI Michael

    I am planning to relocate this August with family; and your post is helping us a lot. Thank you

    While selling my existing car, I have realized the value of also considering “Resale value” of the car. I brought a feature rich car few years back in my home country and it is going out for penny!!

    Which brand and model has good resale value in Denmark? Is there a report / link that publish this? Alternatively, do you have any guesses (or personal opinion – I won’t hold u to that 🙂 )?

    My son has motion sickness (terrible one) and hence I was thinking of VW Passat / Jetta. This model has some good report on motion sickness. On Bilbasen there are 4000+ VW cars – so I assume many people buy them. Any views?


    1. Michael Post author

      Yes it can be worth paying a lot for a car in order to get a decent amount for it when you sell it again. Especially if you know your ownership is only going to be 2-4 years. Here is a good article of cars depreciation after 4 years ownership and 80.000 km driven:

      These are the cars that Danes love owning the most:

      Personally I love to drive VW – but the prices are really high in Denmark. Currently we have an Opel and our next car will probably be a Skoda.

      I don’t think they call them Jetta in Europe anymore – I’m not sure if they removed that size altogether but Passat is a good choice in my opinion.

  8. Robin Kok

    Thanks for this information! I moved to Denmark from the Netherlands and after a lot of calculations I opted to import my car rather than sell it in the Netherlands and buy another one in Denmark. And trust me, the paperwork to get my car registered was tenfold that of the paperwork I needed to live and work in Denmark, strangely…

    1. Michael Post author

      It could still be worth it but I have heard the paperwork and taxes makes it a close call whether it is feasible.

  9. Maj-Britt

    Do not forget to check out this site/app:
    Although it is in Danish it is a great tool for getting all the info you need in one place. You simple type in a numberplate of a vehicle you have interest in and it will warn you of issues and show you the last MOT reports etc

  10. thearada

    Hi, I am an aylum seeker here in Denmark, and I would like to buy a used car from an individual and send it to my country in Africa. Can you please suggest how I do it. Do I need to pay any feesfees? Can I legally buy a car as an asylseeker?
    thank you very much.

    1. Michael Post author

      Sorry but I don’t have good replies for your questions. But my best guess is that you would not be legally able to buy a car. In practicality you might be able to purchase a car. I don’t know.

      You should do a “slutseddel” with the seller to cover all the basic stuff. As a buyer you need to register the car in your name and get insurance for it.

  11. Reuben

    Hello, just a question, I am a British citizen looking to buy a used vehicle from a dealer in Denmark in order to export to Spain. The price is listed as 10,000 euro plus VAT which I have been told is 25%. Is there anything more to pay or do? or will I be able to pay the money, get transit plates and leave immediately? Also, is the reklamationsret valid once the vehicle has been exported? As I will not be covered if the vehicle has problems otherwise.

    I messaged a company asking if they can do a pre-purchase inspection for me but said they can’t as they don’t have an official documents, but to ask for an FDM attest. Will the dealer already have the FDM attest?


    1. Michael Post author

      – Yes VAT is 25%. Often there is “Leveringsomkostninger” a fee for making the car ready (not sure why they add that but I’ve seen it when looking at used cars from dealers.) Other than that I can’t think of other costs.
      – I have no idea how transit plates work but if you are planning on driving it to Spain you need some sort of insurance.
      – Reklamationsret is a limited warranty on used cars. Its for 6 months as I remember on working parts. In order to make any claims you would most likely have to bring it back to the place you bought it and if the claim is valid they would fix it for you at no cost. But if you are in Spain the transport costs are going to outweigh the value of most repairs.
      – I’m not sure what a pre-purchase inspection is. The dealer would not make a FDM test for you. That’s a cost you would have to cover.

  12. David Curtis

    Hi the information here is useful, but quite a bit out of date. Cars here aren’t as expensive as they were when you wrote the main article, and unless people read all the comments, they will assume the worst and think owning a car here is a horribly expensive process – which it’s not! Having just left Alaska, I can tell you that overall car ownership and maintenance here isn’t that bad, compared to what we had to spend each year.

    Sure, they are expensive, but as someone pointed out on another site, everyone in Denmark advises newcomers to avoid buying a car, but 80% of those nay-sayers have a car lurking in the garage or parking lot! Costly, but Danes seem to be making enough money to afford cars I could only dream about living in Alaska.

    So for all those newcomers heading to Denmark who are reading your fine website content (me included!) please refresh the main story and cover car ownership as it stands in 2019/2020, not back in 2012. Much has changed since then, much is the same, but I think the changes in the tax laws, fuel economy of the vehicles, overall resale values etc. warrant a revision to the article.
    Cheers, Dave Curtis

    1. Nicolas

      Really, like what for exemple ? don’t know Alaska, but is it so different than Canada or the rest of the states?..
      And what about fuel price ?


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