I am not a resident anywhere and plan to travel for the foreseeable future, mostly in Europe. My country has good visa-free access to most of Europe, so it is conceivable I could remain without any residency for quite some time.

I enjoy driving, and maintaining cars, and I would like to purchase a car somewhere in Europe.

Where, if anywhere, in Europe (or outside of Europe, but with the ability to drive the car in Europe) can I legally purchase and insure a car as a non-resident? I am open to creative solutions like setting up a company to own the car, if the capital and ongoing paperwork requirements for the company are not too onerous.

I am aware that I could save money, get places quicker, etc, by taking trains or flying. I have a passion for cars and driving. Suggesting that I not buy a car is out of scope of this question.

  • 1
    My guess that finding a suitable insurance company first may help with your search, as they advertise what they offer much more than the state car registration authorities. Here is a related forum post from another site. They only had a partial solution there: expatforum.com/expats/france-expat-forum-expats-living-france/…
    – DCTLib
    May 5, 2016 at 10:59
  • 1
    By Europe do you mean the EU?
    – JonathanReez
    May 5, 2016 at 11:25
  • 1
    @JonathanReez I suspect that the question is not limited to the EU and in fact that it might even be easier to buy a car like this in a non-EU country like, say, Serbia. Regardless, a plan of road-tripping "for the forseeable future" in only the EU is likely to be run into trouble on visa grounds, but including non-EU countries in the Balkans and eastern Europe makes it much more feasible.
    – phoog
    May 5, 2016 at 18:33
  • For the UK if you know someone there just use their address and register your car and get the insurance
    – Winston
    Mar 14, 2019 at 3:22
  • @Winston for the reg that is 100% fine. For the insurance it's risky. The q. the insurers ask you is where you keep the car, and where you live. This is different from the address the DVLA ask for, which is just somewhere to send notices. If you tell the insurers that you don't live at the address and don't keep the car there, they probably won't insure you. If you don't tell them, I imagine not much will happen if you never claim, but if you do claim and they find out about your deception, your claim will certainly be rejected & you might find it harder to get insurance in future.
    – jbg
    Mar 14, 2019 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


Buying a car is not the issue, really, it is getting it registered in your name. I am not aware of any countries where you can do that. I am aware of two alternatives though. In this answer I will focus on the Dutch side of these things as I am most familiar with them. Note that I am not a lawyer and I may be missing factors.

Option 1: registering as a resident. This is a lot easier than it might seem, as you only need to be a resident at the time you are registering the car in your name. You will have to find a place where you can register, though. There are a few consequences, like having to get health insurance and effects on government support the people already living on the address might have. The registration takes no more than a few days usually. I am unaware of how difficult this would be for a non-EU citizen, you could consider asking this on expats.se. In case you buy an old timer car (25 years or older), you can then emigrate again without any troubles, as they don't have to pay any taxes. They do need insurance, though! Getting insurance and then leaving should work fine, as long as you always pay.

Option 2: German export license plates. This is more of a short term solution, but perhaps suitable for you. If you buy a car in Germany for immediate export, you can get export license plates valid for up to a year. These are (to my knowledge, and certainly in Netherlands) legal to drive around with outside of Germany till they expire. More information (in German) can be found here: http://www.ksm-online.de/.

Added by Dennis:
To add an alternative, the UK seems to be quite relaxed about non-resident car owners (it may be that they assume you are resident but nothing involves checking that) and will register the car if you have a UK address to receive correspondence. Many UK insurers will provide insurance for foreign-licensed drivers only with a requirement that they get a UK license within a year, but there are brokers specialising in finding policies for those who won't ever have a UK license so this is apparently not uncommon. The downside of a UK car for travel in continental Europe is obvious but buying, registering and insuring one is at least possible for a non-resident with a UK address to use.

  • A year and a bit late, but I'm accepting this comprehensive answer. Thanks! (And there are quite a few LHD cars for sale in the UK too!)
    – jbg
    Aug 23, 2017 at 9:52
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    DVLA needs a UK address for the registered keeper of the vehicle but it can be a "care of" address (i.e., no obligation that the registered keeper has to reside there). You can find confirmation on car enthusiast forums or through this freedom of information request. I know that both Axa and Aviva will insure non-resident drivers but only through a broker, not directly.
    – Calchas
    Jun 28, 2018 at 20:48

As already mentioned, buying the car is not the problem, but registering in your name is, if you do not have residency. If getting residency is not an option, an alternative could be setting up a company and registering the car on the company.

This seems to be possible in Bulgaria. You can drive around in the whole European Union with Bulgarian license plates. You can even buy the car in another European country and then get Bulgarian license plates for it. There are providers offering this as a service (this is just an example, there might be others offering this; I'm not affiliated with them): they will set up a company for you for around 250€. It will then cost another 500-600€ (depending on the car) for license plates, insurance, eco tax and fees.

I'm sure you can get this done cheaper if you don't rely on someone else doing it for you. However, I guess this might be difficult without some Bulgarian language skills.

  • Do you know how insurance for the car is arranged if you follow this route? I know that in several European countries getting an insurance for a car is impossible when you are not a resident or citizen.
    – Willeke
    Jun 28, 2018 at 19:56
  • 1
    The service provider will take care of getting the insurance for you, see here: bulgarianplates.com/car-insurance-in-bulgaria
    – Bob
    Jun 28, 2018 at 19:58

The U.K. is not as easy as the People here describe ! I was in England last Year to buy and register a Car, but it is NOT possible without a RESIDENTIAL Address, both for Registration AND Insurance; a Mailbox-Address will not suffice.

I am now in Spain, where my Car expired, and here too Requirements are higher and more complicated than the Information found on the Internet would indicate. One needs an N.I.E. (Numero de Idenditat de Estranjero), which also requires a RESIDENTIAL Address, AND Health Insurance, AND an Appointment at the Policia Nacional, which can take up to 6 Weeks! The whole Process is completely absurd and frustrating.

Now I'm considering using this Company in Bulgaria mentioned above by Bob. I have been in Contact with them to clarify some Questions.

Here are some Problems I see with Registration in Bulgaria:

  1. The Car has to be driven to Bulgaria to register it, and it's a long Way from Central Europe or Spain, and requiring driving through Areas that are not the most desirable.
  2. The Car has to be driven back to Bulgaria EVERY Year for the M.O.T., not something I would want to do.
  3. Then You are driving around with Bulgarian Plates, which is a potential Magnet for the Police in central and northern Europe, and could attract some discriminatory Law Enforcement. Not something I wish to deal with.

It could and should be relatively easy to register a Car as a Foreigner in Europe, especially now with the E.U. in Place, but it is not thanks to Pencil-pushing Bureaucrats of the respective Countries that need Job Security and make our Lives difficult.

  • It's possible to register a car in the UK using a PO Box address. Many people do this with no issues. Insurance is a different story, since they need to know where the car will be kept, and most UK insurers will not insure a car that is kept outside of the UK for long periods of time.
    – jbg
    Mar 10, 2019 at 13:04
  • Why should it be easy? The whole point of registration is so that the authorities know how to find you if you commit a traffic offence. The number of people who travel constantly is tiny, and is, unfortunately, much less than the number of unscrupulous people who would abuse such a system to avoid traffic fines...
    – Nick C
    Mar 14, 2019 at 9:53
  • @NickC Why is not really so relevant here - the reality is that you can register a car in the UK without residing there, as long as you can provide an address for the registration. The authorities don't seem so interested in finding you in relation to your car registration, but rather contacting you - i.e. somewhere to send notices to.
    – jbg
    Mar 14, 2019 at 20:20

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