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.
Select A Trusted Auto Transport Company
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.
Figure Out The Shipment Costs
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:
- The specifics of the car, i.e., its cost, make and model, etc.
- Customs duties and value-added tax applicable in your case
- Distance between the departure port and destination port
- Shipment option selected, i.e., roll-on, roll-off shipment or container shipment or air shipment
- Your delivery preference, i.e., port to port or door to door
- Vehicle registration fees
There are several instances where your choice will dictate the cost, but the cost will be constant in other cases.
Prepare Your Vehicle For Shipment
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.
Gather All The Necessary Documents Beforehand
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:
- Title of the car
- Export permit issued by the US government
- A copy of your passport
- Vehicle registration documents
- Driver's license
- Invoice/bill of sale detailing the specs and price of the car
- Lading bill
- Insurance documents
- Documented ownership proof for the vehicle
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.
Choose The Most Appropriate Car Shipment Option For Your Vehicle
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.
Select A Delivery Option
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.
Getting Customs Clearance
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:
- Have all the necessary documents
- Make sure that your paperwork is completely up to date
- Correct any errors or omissions in your documents beforehand
- In case of tax exemption, provide the necessary documents to avoid paying the import taxes and customs duties
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:
- If you've been a resident of a country outside the EU for a full year (minimum)
- If you plan on settling in Germany permanently and acquiring citizenship here
- If the car is legally your property
- If you've been using the said vehicle for at least the past six months (before moving to Germany)
- If you agree not to sell it to anyone for one full year after importing it to Germany
Passing The Safety Inspection
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.
Registering Your Car In Germany
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:
- Insurance documents
- Valid ID
- Certificate of inspection
- Original vehicle registration documents
- Sales invoice
And then you can drive your car on the streets without fear!