Registering a self-built vehicle: this is how it works

Germany is considered a country of hobbyists. Many a car enthusiast has the goal of assembling his vehicle completely by himself. A self-built car is often referred to as a kit car, which translates as "construction kit car".

Who thinks a self-built car saves money, is wrong. Also self-built cars are allowed on the road only with appropriate registration. The registration of a kit car usually involves some effort and enormous costs.

In order for a self-built car to be approved, certain conditions and requirements must be met. The costs incurred for this are considerable.

Germany is considered the land of hobbyists. Many a car enthusiast has the goal of assembling his car completely by himself. A homebuilt is often referred to as a kit car, which translates as "kit car".

Who thinks a self-build saves money, is wrong. Even self-built cars are only allowed on the road with the appropriate registration. The registration of a kit car is usually associated with some effort and enormous costs.

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1. Kit cars: An introduction to the subject

Own construction permit

Do-it-yourself cars were especially popular in the second half of the 20th century. Century very popular. But even today there are still corresponding Kits available. Kit Cars originate from Great Britain. There, when a new car was sold, a Sales tax Calculated, which was however omitted with the individual parts. Therefore, it is not surprising that many Brits used to assemble their own car. Also in the today’s time applies United Kingdom as the largest manufacturer and sales market for Eigenbau cars.

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Numerous kits were and are also sold in Germany. Most in demand are Retro models, so old sports cars or limousine classics like the AC Cobra or the Lotus Seven. However, there are also more modern variants like the C7. From a technical point of view, the roadster is based on the Smart and costs about 15.000 euros. According to Michalak – the designer of the C7 – assembly requires neither a welding machine nor a lifting platform.

Allow self-build - vehicle parts

Currently, most kits are replicas of historical models. You usually buy the replica as an incomplete kit. The chassis is separated from the bodywork. Technical components such as the engine or transmission often come from used cars, too. Some hobbyists even make or adapt the car frame themselves. Assembling a car usually requires several hundred hours of work.

2. Registering a self-built car in Germany

Register a homemade car? This is also in modern times a costly affair. After all, you usually need an individual operating permit. In the old federal states, this is the responsibility of the TuV, and in the new ones it is the responsibility of DEKRA. If you use an original vehicle frame for the self-build, the car is then considered a Conversion of the original vehicle. This makes the later registration of the vehicle much easier. If you work on the frame, the authorities will consider the car as a new registration.

Depending on the component, different documents are also needed. These are, for example Type approval or a parts certificate. In the absence of corresponding documents, the examining authority is forced to collect all the information required for the registration certificate. Only then will the authorities approve the self-build. For Part I of the certificate, the inspection company examines for example

  • the vehicle dimensions,
  • the vehicle weight,
  • the engine power and
  • the maximum speed.

§ 21 StVZO (1): "If a vehicle does not belong to an approved type, the person authorized to dispose of it shall apply for the operating permit [… Together with the application for type approval, the expert opinion of an officially recognized expert for motor vehicle traffic must be submitted to the authority responsible under national law . "

Do-it-yourself registration made easier by Europe-wide standards

Since 1998, the registration procedure has been standardized throughout Europe (ECE homologation). All participating states are authorized to register a vehicle or vehicle parts. This is also taken advantage of by the suppliers of kits. For various kit cars there are already national type approvals. In this case, the TuV or DEKRA only checks whether the car complies with the respective approval. Decisive in this context is how detailed the technical documentation of the kit provider fails.

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If there is no EC declaration of conformity or type approval for the vehicle or one of its parts, the registration of the car becomes enormously expensive. However, it must be strictly avoided to drive with untested parts in road traffic. If you are caught doing this, you will lose the registration for your vehicle. In addition, in various cases you are forced to pay a fine. So: First homologate and then drive the car. The penalties for various offenses are listed in the table below:

Offence fine and points
Type approval or ABE does not exist 10 euros
Driving without type approval 50 Euro
. with a negative impact on the environment 90 Euro
. with impairment of road safety 90 Euro and 1 point


  • Type approval or ABE not carried: 10 euro
  • Driving without operating license: 50 euros
  • . with adverse effects on the environment: 90 euro
  • . with impairment of road safety: 90 Euro and 1 point

3. Produce and register a self-built vehicle: These are the costs

With the necessary documents and certificates, there is a very good chance that the responsible authority will approve your self-built car. Which costs arise for the registration, depends on the individual case. In order to reduce the registration costs, we recommend you to use an original frame. In addition, it is worthwhile to inquire whether a EC declaration of conformity for the used parts respectively the used kit exists. Depending on the respective circumstances, the approval alone already costs four- or even five-digit amounts.

Costs for self-build registration

The price of a kit is usually in the five-digit range and depends on the intended replica. For example, anyone aiming for a Lotus Seven as a self-build is digging deep into their wallet. Here is with a price of about 40.000 Euro to be expected. However, the cost of assembly often exceeds the purchase price many times over.

The self-construction of a car represents a very cost-intensive undertaking dar. From an economic point of view, it is more advisable to buy a vehicle already assembled. A self-build is especially interesting for those who enjoy screwing and technical challenges.

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