In this guide, we provide information about buying a second-hand car in Zimbabwe. We hope you find it useful.
We focused on the legal process of buying the car and not on how to choose the right car for your needs.
If you have suggestions to make the guide more useful, please contact us at email@example.com.
Before buying the car
Getting the car checked
Once you find a car for sale that you’d like to buy, ensure that you get the car checked by an independent mechanic of your choice.
You can also get these services done for a fee by AA Zimbabwe or the government’s Vehicle Inspection Department (VID). VID tends to be cheaper but it’s worth comparing prices since price changes happen quite frequently in Zimbabwe.
Next, you should check with the seller that the car is registered with that seller. The registration book should have the seller’s name, or at least you should confirm that the person or company selling has the authority to do so. You will need the owner of the car or the car dealer to help with the Change of Ownership process so this is important.
Without this, it’s possible to pay someone who does not actually own the car and find that you can’t have your new car. It’s also possible that you will have problems doing the Change of Ownership process if the registered owner of the car is not available to give you their documents (ID copy and Proof of residence).
In the case that the car was imported recently and has not been registered yet, ensure that the seller is the importer of the car and can therefore legally sell it.
Getting the car checked by the Vehicle Theft Squad (VTS)
This is optional but important for anyone looking for peace of mind. You can find the VTS at Southerton Police in Harare and at Drill Hall in Bulawayo (opposite Nhlanhlandela government building).
Know the status of licensing of the car
A car whose vehicle licensing is not up to date will attract a licensing penalty and will need to be updated before you’re able to license it yourself. This has implications on the total cost of the car to the buyer so you need to be aware.
If the licensing is not up-to-date it is a good thing to negotiate to have the total penalty and licensing fees subtracted from the final sale price.
Buying the car
Once you and the seller of the car agree on a price, you or the seller can draft an Agreement of Sale document which contains the details of the transaction:
- The details of the seller and the buyer: Full Names, Residential Addresses, and National ID numbers
- The details of the car being sold: Make (e.g. Toyota), Model (e.g. Corolla) and Year of manufacture, engine and chassis numbers. You will find this information in the registration book.
- Full sale price agreed upon and any payment terms.
- The signatures of both the buyer and the seller. It is always good to also have a witness sign in the presence of both parties in case of legal complications later.
The agreement of sale needs to be 2 copies which are signed separately so that each party goes away with an original copy. You can even sign 3 so the buyer can take 2 original copies.
Avoid paying for the car before signing the agreement.
With most car transactions done in USD cash, please make sure you do it in a safe place. As much as possible go with someone you trust who can help in case something doesn’t seem right.
Once you have paid for the car, the next step is to do the change of ownership process.
The Change of Ownership process starts with the police department called Vehicle Theft Squad. You can just go to your local police and ask them where you can get Change of Ownership for a vehicle done. As the buyer, you will then be given a form in which you fill in the details of the car (Make, Model, Engine Number, Chassis number).
The police will also require the ID of both buyer and seller, Proof of residence of both, and the registration book.
Both parties don’t have to do the process together. In fact, some professional sellers will offer to do the process for you as a buyer. If they offer to do this, let them – they know how to deal with the police to avoid delays.
However, if you decide to do it yourself as the buyer, do know that the process can take more than a day depending on where you do it. Harare (Southerton Police) tends to be the fastest – it’s usually done within an hour.
Other places like Bulawayo can take longer (it seems they have to contact Harare for the process).
Do note however that Police Clearance for Change of Ownership is free. Anyone asking for payment is essentially asking for a bribe.
Once done, you will be given the completed and stamped Change of Ownership form (officially called CVR Form Number 4).
Your next stop is ZIMRA and you need to do this within 14 days, otherwise, your Clearance will become invalid and you have to clear again.
ZIMRA Change of ownership & payment of VAT
At ZIMRA and you will need the following documents:
- Original vehicle registration book
- The police clearance mentioned above
- Proof of residence for both the seller and the buyer
- National Identity Cards for the seller and the buyer
- The original Agreement of Sale document signed above. Please note this should not be a photocopy.
- If the agreement is lost, then an affidavit, which is signed and stamped by a Commissioner of Oaths will be required.
When COVID started, ZIMRA introduced the means to do this process electronically. You can therefore call ZIMRA to get the email address you can send the attachments to.
To process the change of ownership, you will need to pay Special Excise Duty. This amount will be provided by ZIMRA. However, it’s available on the ZIMRA website (here: https://www.zimra.co.zw/customs/special-excise-duty-on-change-of-ownership-of-second-hand-motor-vehicles) so you can check for yourself before you go to ZIMRA.
Essentially the tax depends on the engine capacity and the year of the car. As an example, if you are buying a Honda Fit with an engine capacity of 1.4 L, and the car was manufactured in 2009, the amount payable is USD $100.
Generally, cars that are newer in years, and bigger in engine capacity, will make you pay more. The minimum you will pay is $50 and the maximum is $600 (e.g. a 2020 Toyota Landcruiser with 4.0 L engine capacity)
Once you have finished the ZIMRA process, the next step is to complete the Change of Ownership at Zimpost.
You will need all the documents you have accumulated so far.
Assuming all papers are in place, the Zimpost process will be done within an hour. Unless of course there are queues.
You will need to pay for the new registration book and if you want, the new number plates as well. Remember, getting number plates changed on a second-hand vehicle in Zimbabwe is now optional.
This is the last process. You will leave Zimpost with your new registration book, and if you prefer, your new number plates.
Make sure you insure your new car
It goes without saying that you will need to insure your new car.
Most Zimbabweans go with 3rd party insurance alone, but this is a mistake. Such people will always find themselves crying when they are involved in a serious accident that needs extensive repairs to the car, or worse if the car is a write-off.
Insuring a car comprehensively should not be considered expensive when you have already paid to buy the car.
There is also the myth that insurance companies never pay after you have had an accident. This is a lie. Insurance companies do pay as long as the circumstances of the accident are clear and are covered in the terms of the insurance policy.
If you don’t understand the insurance policy terms, it is your right as an insurance buyer to have those terms explained in simple English or to have them translated into a language you understand better.