The different types of car certificate.
The car certificate is a certificate informing about the current state of the vehicle and can be embodied by different documents.
The certificate of transfer.
The certificate of transfer is a document that certifies that you have sold your vehicle if you are the seller (owner of the vehicle), and that you have bought it if you are the buyer. This document is at the same time a sales contract, and an administrative declaration (it is part of the list of detailed administrative documents).
This document is a standardized document by the state in France under the number cerfa. N° 15776*01. In Switzerland and in Belgium, it is a contract which includes obligatory mentions but is not standardized (obligation to use a model of the state). It is one of the 3 compulsory documents for the sale of a registered vehicle.
Please note that the holder of the vehicle registration document is also responsible for any damage or problems caused by his vehicle, so you have 15 days to declare the sale of your vehicle: after this period you could be implicated in case of prosecution. To obtain the certificate, you need to make a request on the ANTS or to a professional of the automobile.
The registration certificate.
The registration certificate is an official document from the Ministry of the Interior certifying that a given vehicle is authorized for circulation. This document is called CIM in Belgium, Carte grise in France, carte jaune in Andorra. The application for a registration certificate in France is made with the Cerfa document n°13750, in Switzerland, it is made with the cantons.
The registration certificate contains information standardized at the European level and codified. This certificate must be crossed out and annotated when sold. Depending on the country, a detachable part must be kept by the former or new owner of the car. The European rules of harmonization allow to circulate on the whole EEC with this document. This document can be obtained from the national agency for secure documents.
The certificate of non-pledge or certificate of administrative situation.
This document is a governmental attestation of the administrative situation of the vehicle, with regard to a possible pledge (financial guarantee carried on the vehicle directly, often following and as a guarantee of a loan) and which could see your vehicle seized or recovered by the pledgor.
This document does not exist in Switzerland, Belgium, Andorra and Luxembourg. It is one of the three mandatory documents to be presented at the time of a car sale, and it is also necessary to register the vehicle. The pledging organization may also object to the transfer of the certificate. Obtaining a certificate of administrative status is quite simple and quick.
The certificate of homologation
This little known document shows the road homologation for a given vehicle. It indicates that it is authorized to drive on the whole territory (while respecting the limitations in force as for the roads for example).
This approval can be requested either by the manufacturer at the time of marketing, or by a request on a series or a chassis number. A homologation number will then be generated by the country in which the request is made. It is possible for a manufacturer to request only one homologation for a country, the rules of harmonization applying then.
Private individuals can also homologate a vehicle, via a request for specific documentation and an inspection visit: this process is called an RTI.
The certificate for classic vehicles
Standards are constantly evolving, and it is not possible for an old vehicle to comply with current standards. It was therefore necessary to provide a special status for old vehicles, called collector vehicle, or ancestor vehicle in Belgium.
This certificate allows you to obtain a registration certificate with the annotation classic vehicle. Note that this certificate is now applicable to any vehicle over 30 years old at the date of application, however this date must be proven (date of manufacture or first circulation).
The Crit'Air pollution certificate
This car certificate applies to the "pollution level" emitted by a car. In reality, it is more a question of compliance with standards in relation to the date of manufacture of the vehicle. This document does not exist in Belgium (although EURO 3 restrictions apply in some places) and is called stick'air in Switzerland.
The technical inspection certificate
This document is drawn up by an approved vehicle inspection body. It establishes that the vehicle is in good driving condition and complies over time with the legal obligations of road compliance.