Shipping a Car to Germany


Shipping Car from USA to Germany

Ship Overseas, Inc. has been shipping cars back and forth between USA and Germany for almost 4 decades. There’s no reason to be scared or nervous if you have never shipped a car. This page should answer nearly all questions regarding the shipping process including Pricing, Documents, Departure and Arrival Ports. To get pricing we only need the Year/Make/Model of your car, Pickup Zip Code or Departure Port, and Destination Country (in this case Germany).

Pick Up

When you get a quote to ship your car to Germany, you’ll see an OPTIONAL charge if you want us to pick up your car for you and transport it to the shipping port. You can do it yourself, but you should compare the costs of gas & food, time off work, how you’ll get back home, and maybe a couple nights at hotels. Or you can just pay a couple hundred dollars for us to take the hassle out of taking the car to the nearest port.

Departure Shipping Ports

This is a list of departure ports where the ships leave from.

  • New York, NY
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Charleston, SC
  • Brunswick, GA
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Newport News, VA
  • Galveston, TX
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Tacoma, WA

As mentioned above, you can take your car to one of these ports or we can handle it for you.

Arrival At Shipping Terminal in Germany

All shipping lines arrive at Bremerhaven, Germany. This is where the designated person will pick up the car. Remember that we only send quotes for the transport of your car. Whoever picks up the car in Bremerhaven will need some cash to pay in person for Tax or Duty. See the section below for Vehicle Import Tax & Duty

Shipping Car from Germany to USA

The process for shipping a car to USA from Germany is similar, but in reverse. Also, many cars aren’t allowed into USA because of high vehicle safety standards. If you are wondering if your car is able to be imported into USA, simply fill out the quote form or send us an email via the contact form and ask for Paul Alpren.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car to Germany

  • Pricing to ship a sedan or regular SUV to Germany ranges from $781 to $1,000.
  • Pricing will depend on the year/make/model of your car, the departure shipping port, and whether you need us to pick up your car or if you want to drop it off at the shipping port.
  • Destination handling charge E150 ($165 USD)

The cost to ship a car to Germany depends on a few main factors. A compact car is cheaper to ship vs. a large SUV. If you’re shipping from the East Coast USA, it’s cheaper than shipping from the West Coast. If you need us to pick up your car at your house, that’s an additional cost. If you want to personally drop off the car and meet us at the departure shipping port, you’ll save money (of course you’ll need to make your own travel arrangements for getting back to your house).

Departure & Arrival Ports, Starting Costs, & How Long Shipping Takes

The Estimated Time in Transit does not include the transit time from when the trucker picks up your car. It only includes the time from when your car arrives at the shipping terminal.

Shipping To/FromEstimated Time in TransitCost
Ship Car New York, NY to Bremerhaven, Germany11-21 DaysFrom $781
Ship Car Baltimore, MD to Bremerhaven, Germany11-21 DaysFrom $781
Ship Car Charleston, SC to Bremerhaven, Germany11-21 DaysFrom $781
Ship Car Brunswick, GA to Bremerhaven, Germany11-21 DaysFrom $781
Ship Car Jacksonville, FL to Bremerhaven, Germany11-21 DaysFrom $781
Ship Car Newport News, VA to Bremerhaven, Germany11-21 DaysFrom $781
Ship Car Galveston, TX to Bremerhaven, Germany21-33 DaysFrom $791
Ship Car Long Beach, CA to Bremerhaven, Germany28-35 DaysFrom $1,175
Ship Car Tacoma, WA to Bremerhaven, Germany31-40 DaysFrom $1,280

Vehicle Import Tax & Duty & Destination Handling Charge

Destination handling charge E150 ($176 USD)

If you are in USA, contact the Germany Embassy by phone if you need the latest information.

Embassy of Germany
4645 Reservoir Rd NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 298-4000

Please note, Ship Overseas does NOT collect the import duty. It must be paid at the time the car is being picked up.

German & European Citizens

When shipping a car to Germany as a private person and your final destination is another country, you will be charged 30% tax on the value of the vehicle. This is refundable once you register your car in your country.

If you are a German citizen, you will pay 10% customs taxes + 19% VAT. This will not apply if you can show residence out of Germany for more than one year. If the vehicle is owned by a German citizen for less than 6 months and residency is out of Germany for one year, then duty is payable. The destination handling charge is €150.

If you are a Private European Citizen returning with your vehicle to Europe, you will be subject to the same destination charges above and have to pay a Customs Tax and VAT TAX on the Value of your vehicle. However, if you have owned the vehicle for 6 months or more and can prove residency in the United States for 6 months or more you will not pay the Taxes.

US Military

For active military personnel, normally the payment for the shipment of your car to Germany is covered by the military. If you have a 2nd car (normally when a spouse is shipping a car too), you are the one who pays for the shipment.

We are authorized shippers for the US military.

POV Transfer Requirements for Military

  1. The car must be owned or being leased by a member of the military or a dependent
  2. The auto must be self-propelled and legal on public highways
  3. If a leased vehicle, written consent for transport must be included from the third party
  4. Must have four wheels or more, with exceptions for mopeds and motorcycles 

For more information, read about military car shipping.

Travelers (Temporary Imports)

Anyone traveling to the EU will be able to bring their car for up to 6 months. This is a temporary import. You’ll need to leave a deposit for the temporary import upon arrival. This deposit needs to be paid upfront. Once a traveler is leaving, the deposit is refunded.


If you have lived in USA for 1 or more years and you are a returning EU citizen, you’ll be able to being back your car duty free! You cannot have any liens on your car. Please check with the German Customs Department.

New/Used Car Purchase

If the final destination is an EU member country, you pay 10% duty and 19% German VAT if the car is owned for less than 1 year.

Classic Car Purchase

If you are shipping a classic car (30 years old or more), then you’ll pay a lower amount of duty. Duty for importing classic cars is 7% while duty for cars less than 30 years old is 10%.

Storage Fees

Sometimes when someone’s car arrives, they do not pick up their car on the scheduled date. When this happens, the port in Bremerhaven will charge storage fees. If you need to know the latest storage fees, contact us.

Optional Marine Insurance

We HIGHLY recommend purchasing the optional marine insurance. We offer FULL COVERAGE Marine Insurance against Loss or Damage from the time your car is loaded onto the ship. The cost is 1.75% of the value you wish to insure the car for. Purchase Marine Insurance if you cannot afford to come out of pocket for repairs or loss. We have never ‘lost’ a vehicle unless it was a hurricane. Hurricane season is from June 1 and ends on November 30. You can learn more about Marine Insurance here.

Shipping Car to Germany Military, Government Contractors

The only people who can ship a car overseas and still carry a lien on the car are US Military and Government employees  (or 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.

US Military and Dependents

At the Base ports of Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, you will be required to pay a destination offloading fee of $280.00 per car and $350.00 per SUV. These prices are subject to change but not by much. To get a release of your vehicle, you will need to Identify yourself, and before that, you will go to the Officer at your Base in charge of Transport, who will give you a document to complete which will act as Military Tags and will enable you to drive to your base.

If you would like your vehicle delivered to your Base, then you can request a delivery service from us, and we will arrange the forwarding for you at an additional fee.

Government Contractors

Government contractors follow a similar procedure as US military active-duty personnel.

Documents Required to Ship Car to Germany

US Military

A1. If you are in the Military, Government, or State service and there is a Lien recorded on the vehicle, the Lien Holder needs to give permission to export the vehicle. This permission must be an Original Letter from the Lienholder together with 3 certified copies of the Certificate of Title. You will also need to present your Military orders or a letter from the Government or State authority and a copy of the Title Record History obtainable from the Department of Motor Vehicles in the State the vehicle is registered.

EU Citizens

A2. Everything in (A)

Non-EU Citizens

A3. For Non-EU Citizens

Copy of Passport

Power of Attorney Form for international residents.

Vehicle Registration in Germany

You should get an International Driver’s License from the AAA Automobile Association in your area. Your American Driver’s License will suffice in Europe. As a tourist or temporary resident, you can drive with your American license plates in a foreign country until your registration for that year expires.

(A) The original Certificate of Title of Ownership of the vehicle without a Lien recorded on the Title.

  • If the vehicle is used or pre-owned the existing Certificate of Title can be endorsed by the seller to the new owner. No Sales Tax is payable to the Seller and proof of export will be given to the Seller if requested.
  • Depending on which Port the vehicle will sail from, you may need a Bill of Sale or a Notarized Bill of Sale.
  • When a new vehicle is purchased, an original Certificate of Origin must be obtained from the Dealership that sold you the vehicle. We need this to get Custom Clearance. A Bill of Sale is also required.

For some ports in Florida, you will need a Power of Attorney giving the clearing agents permission to clear your documents on your behalf

Vehicle Registration For Military & Government Contractors

This will be taken care of at the military base. Talk to your Officer in Charge. You’ll also be getting your military tags for your base.

Vehicle Registration For EU Citizens

Since by this point your car has been passed by German Customs, your car should meet all safety standards. Take your car to the local DMV. You’ll need to bring your German Customs Clearance info, proof of residency, Bill of Sale, and the original license plates. Ship Overseas Inc. does not provide any guidance at this point.

Shipping Methods

RoRo (Roll On Roll Off)

These ships are made specifically for vehicles.
RoRo ships are built so anything with tires can Roll On and Off the ship. Automobiles and motorcycles are the most common vehicles. Other types of vehicles that can be shipped are motorhomes, campers, trailers, buses, construction vehicles, and boats. RoRo shipping is normally used when you only ship one vehicle. The car MUST be able to make it up and down the ramp without any assistance. The inside of a RoRo ship looks like a big parking garage. Once loaded on the RoRo vessel, each vehicle is tied down securely in its designated spot (as shown in the picture)

This shipping method has proved highly efficient and extremely cost-effective. When compared to container shipping, it has an additional advantage: it provides reliable departure and arrival dates. The ship’s departure and arrival schedule run almost like an airline flight schedule.

Also, RoRo shipping is the preferred shipping method for new car manufacturers to ship their own vehicles. All vehicles are tied to the deck and are not exposed to the ocean. That way, the vehicles have all the protection against external elements.

Container Shipping

Most people have seen a container ship at some point in their life. Container shipping falls into two categories, as shown below.

Shared Container

With this method, multiple vehicles are loaded into a container at a warehouse. Normally 4 cars fit into a container. The container must be filled with vehicles in order for it to be loaded onto the container ship. Because a container must be filled, it doesn’t provide fixed departure dates as the RoRo method does. You might need to wait an extra week until the container is filled with the 4th car. Use container shipping when you’re shipping 2 or more vehicles.

In addition, customers are allowed to ship additional items in the trunk or the backseat of their vehicle, which is largely thought to be the only real advantage container shipping has compared to RoRo.

With shared container shipping, you can ship vehicles that do not work. Many people who buy broken down classic cars in USA (over the internet) choose a shared container.

Exclusive Container Shipping

Exclusive container shipping is normally used when shipping exotic vehicles like Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, etc. It is also used if you want to ship personal belongings along with your car. Exclusive container shipping is more expensive than RoRo and Shared Container shipping.

Like shared container shipping, you can ship vehicles that do not work.

Air Shipping

Ship Overseas has never offered air shipping because the cost of shipping a vehicle via air is super expensive for almost all people who come to our website. If you need to ship your car to Germany via air, we can refer you to a couple of people in the air shipping industry.

Payment Methods / Options

Payment doesn’t have to be made until your vehicle is at the departure shipping port.

Wire Transfer or Cashier’s Check

This is a very common way to pay for your shipment if you are not in USA. We will send you our bank information once your order is placed.

Credit Card & Zelle

There are no service fees if you choose to make payment with Zelle. Basically, Zelle is bank-to-bank transfer.

There is a 3% service-fee if payment is made with credit card.

Canceling Your Order

If for some rare reason you need to cancel your order, let us know by email. Normally payment is refunded via the same payment method you chose. If you cancel your order, there is a $300 cancelation fee

Additional Information

  • Destination handling charge E150.
  • If final destination is an EU member country, you also pay 10% duty and 19% German VAT if the car is owned for less than 1 year.
  • If in transit through an EU country, leave a deposit of 30% of the value of the car which is refunded after the car is registered at the final destination country.
  • 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.

USA Customs Clearance

Ship Overseas, Inc. will clear US Customs for you.

When your car is shipped via RoRo ship, US Customs agents simply look through the window. At most, they will open the trunk and peek inside.

When it comes to container shipping, the US Customs agent may sometimes need to open the container to check whatever is inside the container. This process takes longer than the RoRo method, but either way, Ship Overseas, Inc. will clear customs for you.

Preparing Your Car for Shipment to Germany

  • Disable the alarm – Seems obvious, but to avoid making an enemy of the truck driver, be sure you disable any alarm systems your vehicle may have.
  • Don’t gas up – Your vehicle is being transported, not driven, so there’s no need to fill up prior to loading. In addition, having a full tank of gasoline makes your car heavier. Additional weight can add and risk to the shipment. Leave as little fuel in the tank as possible when preparing your vehicle for transport.
  • Check for leaks – Before your car or truck gets loaded onto the truck, check the undercarriage for any noticeable leaks. If your vehicle has an aggressive leak, the car shipping company may refuse service. If you see a leak, make sure to get it repaired prior to moving day.
  • Check tire pressure – Under-inflated or over-inflated tires are just as risky in transport as they are on the road. By not having your tires properly inflated, you could be increasing the risk of damage to the tire. Tire damage is most likely to occur during loading and unloading, but if your tires are properly inflated, you won’t have a problem.
  • Remove custom accessories – To prevent the risk of a car spoiler and other special accessories breaking in transit due to their odd size, make sure to remove any custom parts or accessories before the vehicle is loaded onto the truck.
  • Lock the car – Once your vehicle is loaded onto the auto transport truck, there’s no reason for it to be opened up until it is delivered.

Who Can Pick Up The Vehicle in Germany

You can nominate any person to pick up the vehicle at the destination Port. You must advise us of this a few days prior to the sailing of the date so that we can enter their name as the Receiver or Consignee. They will be required to identify themselves with a picture ID as well as produce the Title of Ownership and a letter of permission to pick up the vehicle. There is a charge by the shipping line if you notify us of any changes after your cargo has been loaded on the vessel.

Buying a Car in USA Online

If you are only looking for a quote, but don’t have a car to ship, most likely you are researching online to purchase a car and send it to Germany.  Try to buy a car near one of the shipping ports listed above, like New York or Baltimore, MD, so the car is cheaper to ship to Germany. Germany doesn’t accept salvage title cars.

Do a Google search for “buy car online” and you’ll see many websites where cars are listed for sale.

Here are a few that are super reputable and have been around for 20+ years.

Don’t forget to check the value of the car at Kelly Blue Book so you don’t overpay for your car.

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