Buying a car privately in my home country of New Zealand is really easy: you hand over some money and change the ownership online via the Transport Ministry’s website. It takes about 10 minutes and you can do it from the comfort of your living room.
In Slovakia however it’s a little bit more bureaucratic (though things are getting better) and this bureaucracy can be enough to scare foreigners (and Slovaks) away from a buying a car from a private individual. This is a shame because there are some great bargains to be found outside the car dealers’ lots.
Don’t let this put you off, because it’s not as frightening as it might sound. Once you’ve found a car you like, there are actually only two things you need to do in order to own a car in Slovakia: buy PZP insurance, then change the ownership at the Transport Office. Let’s start with the easy one first.
1: Buy PZP insurance.
Third party vehicle insurance known as PZP (Povinné zmluvné poistenie) is mandatory in Slovakia, and you’ll need to prove the car is covered with this insurance to the Transport Office or you won’t be able to change the ownership. Don’t worry though, because you can buy this insurance right now via the internet. All major insurers offer it and here are a couple of links to get you going: Allianz or Generali (though their websites are only in Slovak).
After buying PZP, you’ll be emailed a document similar to this one above which you must print out. I recommend printing out a copy of your payment confirmation if you paid for this insurance with internet banking to prove that it’s paid for and valid just in case the Transport Office staff ask. With the PZP insurance taken care of, let’s move onto the second part.
2: Change the ownership at the Transport Office.
This part involves filling out a change of ownership form and going to the Transport Office (Dopravný inšpektorát) with the seller. The change of ownership forms are available on the Interior Ministry website by clicking here.
You can use the example I made above which includes all the details you need to fill in, in order to change the ownership. The blue text is things that don’t change, the red text is the previous owner’s details, and the green text is the new owner’s details. When you have that filled out, you can pop into the Transport Office.
Keep in mind that the above form is for buying a car within the same locality. If you buy or sell a car from a different locality (i.e. outside of Bratislava), you will need to re-register the car in your locality with new, local licence plates. That means more forms, more hassles, and more fees.
If you live in Bratislava then your only Transport Office is the wonderful Dopravný inšpektorát on Kopčianska street in Petržalka. Let me break down the procedure so that it doesn’t freak you out:
Get there there soon after the doors have opened early in the morning. This means you’ll only lose about 2 or 3 hours. Start by going straight into the inspection zone where a police officer will check your car’s VIN compared to your technical document.
He will then stamp the car’s technical document to say that everything matches up. Go and park the car, then go inside and get a number from the ticket machine near the door.
Don’t panic because if you have PZP insurance and all the forms filled out the hardest part is just waiting. It’s not scary; it’s just a bit bureaucratic.
You now have a little time on your hands as you wait for your number to be called.
While you are waiting you should buy “kolky” from one of the machines pictured above.
Kolky are a form of payment which allow you to pay for government services without state staff dealing directly with cash in order to reduce the risk of corruption. The cost to change the ownership of a car is €33. Some machines accept cash and others accept bank cards. The machine will print out some electronic kolky and you can sit down and wait.
And wait and wait and wait. Oh yeah, make sure to bring a book with you or make sure your phone is charged up and full of good stuff to watch. This part can take a couple of hours on a busy day, like Friday.
If you’ve signed up for one of the new ID cards with an electronic signature then you can use the card to book a more precise time at the Transport Office, however I don’t, so I had to wait like everyone else.
Before you know it, your number will be called and you’ll go and hand all the paperwork to a police officer. The next part is him just entering details into the computer and printing out a new technical document with the new owner’s details.
Then, before you know it, he’ll give you the new technical document and you’re done!
Your new technical document (shown above) must be with you when driving for up to 30 days, according to the police officer we spoke to.
In that time you will receive your plastic “techničák” via the post, which will replace the paper version and which can fit into your wallet. Store the paper version somewhere safe and use the plastic one from here on.
Gone are the bad old days of having to go back and wait in line at the Transport Office to pick it up.
The postman delivered my new techničák straight to my hands, and it’s all over. We’re done. Not so scary after all, huh?
I hope these instructions prove to be useful to you, and that it removes the cloud of doubt and confusion surrounding buying a car from a private seller in Slovakia.
If your Slovak isn’t too great I strongly recommend taking a native Slovak speaker with you to the Transport Office. Of course, if you’d rather save yourself the hassle althogether, buy from a dealer.
Šťastnú cestu / happy travels, and remember, please drive courteously.