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They say that Germany is one of the most exciting places to drive your car, especially if you're the sort who likes to hear the engine roar since the famous Autobahn highway has no speed limits! Whatever the reason for your move, you can have your car shipped to your new address and drive it on the roads of the country.
This guide will take you through all the major stages of shipping your car from the USA to Germany while sharing the different options that will allow you to trade between convenience and overall cost.
Your first endeavor should be to look for an international automobile transport company that is insured and licensed, plus it should have a good reputation regarding its services and trustworthiness. Instead of creating an impression based on what you see on the company's main website, look for honest customer reviews on yelp, scan through their blog to see how well they know their business, and if need be, ask for credible references.
You need a company that guarantees safety for your vehicle. It will ship it according to your preferences (shipment/delivery options) and is acquainted with the import regulations for vehicles in Germany, i.e., A1 Auto Transport. Don't rush this step. Choose wisely because it will affect the rest of the process.
Your choices regarding the shipment option and delivery preference will depend on your budget. The average cost for shipping a car from the USA to Germany can be between $1,800 and $3,900.
This fluctuation is dictated by several factors such as:
There are several instances where your choice will dictate the cost, but the cost will be constant in other cases.
First, start by cleaning the exterior and interior of the vehicle thoroughly. This also includes the undercarriage, which may have mud/soil deposits (this will make the car inadmissible in any EU country, Germany included, due to biosafety reasons). For the undercarriage, steam cleaning may be needed.
Plus, make sure that none of your possessions, especially items of value, are inside the vehicle. You'll also have to add fuel to the tank, but no more than ¼ of its full capacity. Overdoing it will increase the vehicle's total weight and your shipment costs, but don't keep it bone dry either.
Remove any detachable add-ons or accessories, and then have your car inspected (vehicle safety check) by an expert. After that, you'll have to do a surface inspection of your own to note any existing damage and then photograph it from all angles for your record.
You can compare the state of the car after it has been delivered to you.
The documentation requirements for Germany are more or less the same as other EU countries, but be sure to stay up to date here. You'll have to log into the website of the German customs department to get an updated list of the required documents.
Some quintessential paperwork includes:
Make sure that you have all of the aforementioned documents and that all of them are error-free to avoid any trouble with the customs.
The next step is to select the most suitable car shipment option; there are three main options in this regard, and your budget, above all other things, will dictate your choice. The more you pay, the better your option will be:
Roll-on, Roll-off Shipment: This is the simplest of all the methods listed; it involves driving the vehicle onboard the shipment vessel, transporting it under the open sky, and then driving it off-board upon arrival. For this reason, it is also dubbed as "open-air shipment." There are some requirements here, firstly, your vehicle must be operational, and none of your personal belongings should be inside the vehicle when you ship it. While this is the cheapest shipment solution, it does not guarantee any additional safety.
Container Shipping: This option, in contrast, involves a sealed container that shields the car from any damage, and you can also keep your possessions inside the vehicle in this case. Once the shipment arrives at the destination port, the container is off-loaded and then stored in a wharf or warehouse until it is opened; then, your car is delivered as per your instructions.
Air Shipment: This is only for those who're in a hurry to get their vehicle to wherever they're headed. The same principle applies here like that to overseas transport, just replace a sea-voyage with air travel and jack up the cost accordingly.
You have the option of having your car delivered from door to door, i.e., the shipment company will pick up your vehicle from your current location and ship it overseas to your new place. This will save you lots of hassle but will cost more.
If you're on a tight budget, you could simply drive your vehicle to the departure port, whichever is nearer to your original location, and receive your shipment at the destination port. It's either some extra payment or extra effort – the choice is yours.
After the initial import processing of your shipment (once it arrives at the destination port), your car will make its first stop at the customs department of Germany. The customs officers need to verify that the vehicle you've imported is valued accurately so that it can be taxed accordingly.
Here's what you can ensure to smoothen the process:
Usually, the department charges the importer 10% (of the vehicle's original value) in customs duties and 19% on top of that as import taxes. However, you can secure a tax exemption if your case falls within one of the following categories:
This should not be an issue in most cases; non-EU cars coming to Germany will be tested for overall vehicle safety and emissions levels. If your car complies with the vehicle and environmental safety standards of the EU, then this will be easy.
If not, then you'll have to get it modified for compliance.
Once you clear the customs and pass this inspection, you're free to get your car registered with the German authorities.
Once your car is released, you'll have to contact the Vehicle Registration Office in Germany to apply for registration. This is compulsory unless you have imported the vehicle for a short term. After the payment of the VAT and customs duties, registration should not take long.
All you need to provide the officials is as follows:
And then you can drive your car on the streets without fear!
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.
Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.
And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.
The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.
When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.
The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.
They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?
So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!
If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.
I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!
The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!
There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.
After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.
Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.
By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.
We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!
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