faceThe following are 5 methods to import a car to Europe. Each of the 5 methods show the documents needed and the clearance options. For further details, contact us by email or call the office at 1-858-547-0840.


1) Customer is Member of US Armed Forces or Contractor with logistical support

Customer will have to provide customs forms. These forms are AE190-1AA (Vehicle Registration Office) and a AE550-175 (Military Customs Office).
If customer picks up the car at the port, the above listed forms have to be stamped at the port customs house prior to exiting the port.
If vehicle gets delivered to the customer, he/she is required to meet the delivery truck at the closest local customs house, present the AE-Forms and get a customs release.
1. Must have two forms (custom form -500 and another form from transportation office: both forms they will get on base)
2. Must pay only 150 Euro at the port.

2) Customer is NON-Military, moving to Germany or Returning German citizen

Duty-free clearance of a vehicle is only possible if the customer can provide proof that he/she has permanently lived outside the EU for a minimum of 12 months and has owned and operated the vehicle for at least 6 Months.

Copy of customer’s Passport
Copy of vehicle’s Title, US Registration (at least 6 Months) and Bill of Sale
Confirmation of Liability-Insurance Cancellation
Copy of Registration with German Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt)
Confirmation of employer listing time frame and reason for stay in foreign country

3) Customer is a Tourist & Imports a Car to the EU for a Maximum of 12 Months

If the customer wants to clear the vehicle through German customs directly at the port of Bremerhaven, a safety deposit of 10%+19% of the vehicle value will be collected – Refund only happens once the car leaves the EU again.

Original vehicle Title and copy of current US vehicle registration
Proof of International Liability Insurance
Contact Ship Overseas for advice on how to avoid paying the holding taxes when entering as a tourist or when driving to another country.

4) Vehicle was Purchased by European Citizen – Vehicle less than 25 years old

Customs duties 10% and VAT 19% of vehicle value will be collected at time of clearance.

Copy of Vehicle Title
Copy of Bill of Sale, listing full name and address of Seller and Buyer

5) Vehicle was Purchased by European Citizen – Vehicle over 25 years old

If shipped to the port of Bremerhaven: Customs duties 10% and VAT 19% of vehicle value will be collected at time of clearance.
If shipped to the port of Amsterdam or Zeebrugge: Customs duties 0% and VAT 19% of vehicle value will be collected at time of clearance.

Copy of Vehicle Title
Copy of Bill of Sale, listing Full Name and Address of Seller and Buyer
On the other hand, if one of the above requirements is not met, you are importing a car into the EU. Someone needs to pay taxes and duties for this car to be used in the EU. You can however choose which country you want to pay taxes and or import duties, or you can choose to bring the car to Switzerland (as per your situation).

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Important info to Ship a Car Overseas:
  • No car can leave USA if it has a lien on it. What does this mean? Your car must be paid in full. The only people who can ship a car overseas and still carry a lien on the car are US Military and Government employees/contractors. For those people a letter of authorization from the lender will need to be issued to pass US Customs. Otherwise the car may be considered stolen.
  • A clear Title of Ownership with no Liens on the Title.
  • If you bought a car new, then your name must be listed on the front of the Title as the registered owner.
  • If the vehicle has been sold, then both the Seller and Buyer have to sign the back of the Title in the spaces as detailed on the back of the Title.
  • For safety reasons, the vehicle cannot have more than a ¼ tank of gas.
Import Duty for Destination Country:
  • Import duty is NOT collected by Ship Overseas. It must be paid at the arrival port by whoever is picking up the car. We wrote a blog post about vehicle import duty here. It talks about how to find out import duty for your country.
Travel & Living Abroad:
  • Most countries will allow a traveler to temporarily import their car for up to 6 months. After the 6 months is up, import duty will be charged. For many travelers going to Europe and taking their car, a deposit is paid up front. When the car goes back to it's destination country, the deposit is refunded. If a person has lived in USA for 1 or more years, most countries will allow that person to bring their car back duty free! The car must not have any liens on it. Please check with your Customs Department first.

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