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Are you traveling or moving to Germany? Are you planning on taking your car with you? If the answer is yes, you should get thoroughly familiar with methods of transporting the car from the USA, as well as import and car registration requirements. Read on for a basic overview.

Car shipping to Germany

Depending on your budget and whether you wish to ship some of your personal belongings along with the car, you can pick either RoRo shipping or container shipping. When shipping your car in a container, regardless of whether it is a shared or an exclusive container, you are allowed to ship personal items, as well.

An equally important decisive factor is whether your car is in running condition or not. RoRo shipping supports only the shipping of cars that can be driven on and off a RoRo vessel, which is not the case with container shipping.

Before the actual sea voyage, the car has to be transported to the departure port. You can either drive the car yourself or have it picked up at your address and taken to one of the US departure ports (Newark, NJ, Jacksonville, FL, Baltimore MD, Galveston, TX, Charleston, SC, Long Beach, CA, Brunswick, GA, Tacoma, WA). Once the car reaches the arrival port in Germany (Bremerhaven), you can again collect it yourself of arrange for it to be driven to the address you provide to the carrier. Mind you that this service is not always available.

NOTE: For safety reasons, your car mustn’t be loaded with more than a quarter tank of gas.

Import duty for Germany

To import a car to Germany, you need to have a clear title of ownership with no liens on it. German citizens are to pay 10% customs taxes and 19% VAT, unless they have live outside Germany for a year and can prove it. Nevertheless, even if that condition is met but the car is owned for less than 6 month, the duty has to be paid.

If Germany is not your destination country but you chose to have your US car shipped there, the duty charge is 30% tax on the value of the car. However, this duty will be refunded upon the registration of your car in the destination country. Destination handling charge is €150.

For US citizens taking up permanent residence in Germany, it is possible to import their personal car and even some of their household goods duty and import tax free.

Duty and tax free import

It is possible to import a car to Germany duty and tax free. In order to do it, you have to prove that you:

– have given up residence in the USA
– are taking up residence in Germany
– haven’t been living in Germany for at least 12 months in a row. Duty and tax free import is also possible if you have returned to Germany in that period but the circumstances causing the premature return were beyond your control.

Car registration requirements

To register your car in Germany, you will need:

– passport or other identification
– proof of official address registration in Germany
– customs clearance papers
– export permit
– proof of ownership
– original car registration papers
– certification from the German Federal Motor Vehicle Registry stating the car hasn’t been registered in Germany before
– proof of insurance
– proof the car has successfully passed the safety and roadworthiness inspection and the emissions control test.

Contact us at Ship Overseas for more information on the import requirements, the best shipping method for your needs and other overseas transportation services!

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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