For those in the market for a car, it might be a good idea to pick up a copy of Le Moniteur Automobile or its Dutch-language equivalent, the Autogids. Be warned that the official trade-in prices of second-hand cars are often lower than the price you can actually get.
If you're buying a new car in Belgium, it's worth shopping around as prices vary from one place to the next. The paperwork is fairly straightforward and your dealer will give you a registration form to fill in. Get it insured with an insurance company and you'll be sent by post a pink registration certificate, followed by your rear plate. Send the certificate back to the Vehicle Registration Service (DIV) and take the rear plate to a keycutting shop to get a copy made.
Note that number plates stay with the driver, not with the car, and must be returned to the registration authority when you leave the country.
New cars are subject to an initial tax that can vary from €100 for a small car to several thousand euro for fancier cars. If you buy second-hand, the tax drops by 10% per year based on the first registration of the car. (No taxes are payable on the sale of a used vehicle from a private individual.)
Buying an eco-friendly car can get you a reduction on this initial tax; in order to benefit from this reduction, the vehicle has to be compatible with the strict European emissions standards – the Federal Public Services for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment produces a handy online guide (www.energievreters.be) to the energy consumption of all new cars, as well as household appliances and buildings. For a list of charging points for electric cars, see www.oplaadpunten.org.
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