I just recently changed headlight bulbs on my 1999 VW Beetle 1.8T. The process is a little strange, but it is not very difficult to do, once you understand it. I am assuming that the set-up is the same for a 2003. If not, I apologize up-front for not having the right answer for you.
There are a few posts at this link that I used initially to guide me. http://www.myvwlemon.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000071.HTML
Anyway, here goes:
The car should not be running during this process. Open the hood and look at the backside of the headlamp assembly. If you are looking at the driver's side lamp from the front of the car, towards the left, you will see a plastic lever that moves up and towards the outside of the car. Slide it very carefully, do not force it; it is plastic. This will cause the entire headlamp assembly to shift out forward from the body. The sealing adhesive used on the gasket may not make this readily apparent. I used a silicone lubricant on the lever to make mine move easier. Gently pull the headlight assembly out of the body and disconnect the plug to the lamps. Take the assembly somewhere where you can work on it comfortably and swap out the lamp(s) as needed. When you are done replacing lamps, I suggest spraying lubricant on the rails in the body and on the headlight assembly grooves before putting it back in. Plug the lamp back in first. Then be very patient in putting back the assembly; be sure everything lines up. Do not force it. Once it is back in, the lever can be reset to its original position and you are done.
ADDENDUM from a third party: Just finished doing my passenger side; driver side likely the same. i saw a refernce to some metal strap on older models- not present on 03 model. the plastic lever is in fact the only thing to move in order to slide the whole assembly out of the front ofo the fender, however, it is an odd mechanism. mine slid with great resistance due to sand and dirt buildup in a remote area. to slide the lever up, depress the small tab with diamonds on it as you pull on the lever. you will notice that the lever has a certain amount of distance it can travel before hitting the housing.mine went about half way at first. as you pull up on the lever from here, i found it helpful to press on the back of the headlight assembly itself which is grey plastic as opposed to the black plastic and metal housing. the lever thing is trying to push the assembly out about half an inch as it travels up to it's maximum distance- mine slid really poorly due to dirt in the tracks that the assembly slides on. it needs help to slide the half inch AS the lever is being raised- again, push on the grey plastic assembly back as you slide the lever. when the lever is as far as it can go, either pull the light out from the front- mine was way stubborn, but IF THE LEVER IS ALL THE WAY UP, nothings holding the thting but dirt; pull it and it will come. after it's slid all the way out, depress the wire harness tab to pull it off of the assembly harness. take the black plastic cover off of the rear. the low beam is closest to you, the high beam is deep inside- for the high beam, i found it helpful to remove the wire harness f ROM the housing before goin further ( don't disconnect the wires from it, just let it hang so it's out of the way. bulbs are held in place by a spring clip. push down on the spring and pull it asidewhile pressing- it's a loop on a pin kinda thing. pull off wire from bulb and insert new bulb- try not tto touch the bulb itself as i understand hand oils and grimy engine dirt you're covered witht by now can make the bulb shatter when it gets hot. put it all back together in reverse, clean and lube the tracks and slidinf lever track if you can. when sliding the assembly in, put the bottom track in first, then the eone nearer center of car, the the last one, whiich i needed to sort of lift the assembly into so it lined up ( it's dark and hard to see it since the assembly's mostly in by now. the whole thing would only take me 10 minutes next time, but it took me almost 2 hours since i didn't understand it at first and changed the high beam and had to do it over , not to mention removing extra pieces unnecessarily and trying to be cautious.
I have a 2003 beetle and it took me forever to figure it out. By the time I did I decided to take pictures of it and put it on the web to help others. Volkswagen is getting more and more complicated for us "volks". My website can be found at: http://www.uahardwick.com/tech/2006/03/how-to-change-taillight-on-new-beetle.htm
The original Volkswagen Beetle design did not include seatbelts. One of many relatively minor adjustments to the Volkswagen Beetle over the years (1938 to 2003) was the installation of seat belt mounting locations starting in 1962. Seatbelt mounting holes will need to be drilled in Volkswagen Beetles built prior to 1962.
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