Thinking of relocating to Germany? If you own a car that’s brand new or in good shape, you may not want to leave it behind. Fortunately, you don’t have to. With the prevalence of international shipping services, there are plenty of options when it comes to shipping cars to Germany.
Think it’s too long, complicated, and stressful? While the process can be time-consuming and demanding, it’s definitely cheaper and more efficient than purchasing a new vehicle in a completely different country.
Plus, auto shipping company agents are here to assist with every step and ensure a smooth, hassle-free experience. Let’s take a look at the process so you know what to expect and how to prepare.
Prepare Your Documents
One of the most effective ways to prevent delays is to prepare the necessary documents in advance. While the accurate list can vary from case to case, below is the most critical paperwork you need to line up.
Bill of Sale
It may be obvious but it’s a crucial document for shipments. The bill should include all of the following information:
- Car manufacturer
- Car type
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Year of the car
- Date and signature
You will need to fill out a Declaration of Dangerous Goods form prior to shipping your car to Europe. The form is used to identify whether any of the parts of your automobile is considered potentially dangerous. These may include car batteries, gasoline, and airbags, to name a few.
Furthermore, you will need to prepare a Shipper Export Declaration. The U.S. Census Bureau mandates this for all exports valued over $2,500 or for goods that require a license.
Certificate of Title
If you purchased your car in the U.S. then you must have a Certificate of Title which is often referred to as the title or pink slips. The certificate should include the following details:
- Identifying car information including Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), car type, and year
- The license plate number
- The car’s technical information which is used to identify its tax class
- Purchaser’s or the registered owner’s name and address
- Name of the legal owner or lienholder who financed the car
If your automobile is brand new, it may not have a title. Instead, you can prepare a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin.
American residents wishing to personally drop off their cars at the port need to obtain a registration card, which can be done through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These cards need to be carried at all times as they prove that the car has valid registration. If you intend to register your automobile, you will need to present the certificate of title and proof of auto insurance.
The process varies depending on the state and the type of vehicle. The cost is anywhere between $10 and $70 per car. Sometimes, dealers can assist with the preparation of the application if you purchased your automobile directly at a dealership.
Depending on your state, your license plate may remain with the vehicle even after the event of a sale. In other cases, the previous owner gets to hold on to it. If you bought a new car that doesn’t have a license yet, you will need to acquire a plate for the trip to the shipping port.
Oftentimes, dealers can help with the procurement of “One Day Permits” or you can visit your local DMV. When shipping cars to Germany, you will need to submit your American license plate to the European regulatory authority in the country of destination.
Speak to your car shipping representative and ask for a list of paperwork required in your case. Double-check all documents are valid and present. One of the biggest benefits of hiring an international auto transport company is that an agent can assist you at any stage of the process and answer your questions and concerns.
Getting to the Port
Now that you’ve prepared all your paperwork, it’s time to transport your car to the port. You have two options: driving your car there yourself or hiring a delivery shipping service to do the job. Let’s take a brief look at them:
If you live close to a port, want to personally ensure a safe delivery, or are trying to save a buck, you can drive your automobile to the shipping port yourself. Just make sure you take into account the applicable expenses which include fuel, the ride back, and accommodation if you’re driving a long distance.
Booking a Delivery Service
Hiring a driver to pick up a car from your doorstep or dealership and deliver it to the port may cost extra but has its advantages. It will save you plenty of time and effort so you can focus on other things.
Roll on/Roll off (Ro/Ro)
Shipping Method Ro/Ro is a large shipping vessel that looks like a massive parking garage inside. Once loaded onto the ship, each car is securely tied down in its designated spot. Ro/Ros are an efficient and economical option for cars that are operable and can be driven on and off the vessel without any assistance.
In fact, you can transport a wide variety of vehicles on a Ro/Ro including boats, trailers, motorhomes, and more. Furthermore, Ro/Ros are a lot more reliable when it comes to departure and arrival dates as they usually adhere to strict schedules.
Container Shipping Method
You can request a spot in a shared container or book an exclusive container.
- A shared container fits several automobiles (usually 4 but the exact number depends on the size of the container) and must be fully loaded in other to ship. For this reason, the departure and arrival dates are not fixed as in the Ro/Ro method. Shipping in a container is a great way to provide protection to your car; also, it’s also convenient for shipping two cars or more. Furthermore, container shipment allows you to transport your personal items inside your vehicle or load an inoperable car. For example, if you own a broken vintage or exotic car, container shipping would be the optimal shipping method.
- Exclusive container shipping ensures extra protection to your automobile at a higher cost. While it might be unnecessary for your standard sedan, highly valuable and fragile cars may require this type of transport. As with the shared container option, you can transport your personal belongings inside your car.
Picking Up Your Car
A wide and reliable network of auto transport companies can help with the shipment and pickup of your vehicle. You can also request to have your car delivered to your doorsteps for extra convenience. It usually takes around 3 to 5 days and it’s very important to let the driver know if your automobile has any idiosyncrasies.
Hiding critical information about your vehicle and arranging the transport of a damaged car may result in higher charges.
If possible, plan to reach the destination port a few days before your automobile’s arrival. This allows the U.S. Customs Service to review all documents and ensures a smoother procedure. It’s always advisable to make copies of all of your documents and carry them in your luggage so you have them on hand in case something gets lost.
Shipping cars to Germany can be quite a complicated process but transportation agents can provide the necessary assistance. Nevertheless, it is always recommended to familiarize yourself with all of the requirements to facilitate a hassle-free delivery. Below is additional information about automobile shipping Germany:
- You will need to pay a destination handling charge which is around €150.
- You will also need to pay 10% EU duty and 19% German VAT if your automobile is less than 1 year old. This is also applicable if you are a German citizen. However, if you can prove you’ve resided outside of Germany for more than a year, these duties may be waivered.
- If you’re only transiting through Germany or any other EU country, you will be required to leave a 30% deposit of the car’s value. You will receive the amount back when you register the vehicle at the final destination country.
- For safety reasons, you cannot leave more than a quarter tank of gas full.
For further questions regarding customs and import duties, you can speak to your shipping coordinator or contact the German Embassy.
Written By:Joe Webster
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.