Rules and Regulations For Importing a Car Into Germany

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Rules and Regulations For Importing a Car Into Germany
Rules and Regulations For Importing a Car Into Germany

Whether you’re moving to Germany or just shipping a car to a relative, you’ll need to get it past German customs. This implies following a series of rules and regulations that may change from one year to the next.

We advise you verify these rules before proceeding with the vehicle’s shipment. Your auto shipping service provider will do the same. The following article will inform you of the general laws and regulations you should be aware of when engaging in such a project.

Import duty

An ownership title without liens placed upon it is needed to import your vehicle into Germany. If you’re a German citizen, you’ll pay 19% VAT and 10% other taxes to customs. However, this rule may not apply if you’ve lived in another country for more than a year. In this case, if you’ve also owned the automobile for less than half a year, you may not have to pay duty taxes.

If you’re trying to get your US vehicle to a country other than Germany, but must use one of its ports to enter Europe, then you’ll have to pay a 30% duty tax according to the car’s value. Once you register your vehicle in the new country, you’ll receive your money back. You will also have to pay 150 Euros for destination handling. Finally, you may avoid some import and duty taxes if you’re a US citizen moving permanently to Germany.

Importing a car to Germany without paying taxes 

There are ways to avoid paying taxes and duty charges when shipping your automobile to Germany. To achieve this, you’ll need to provide proof that:

  • You’re no longer a US resident.
  • You’ve become of resident of Germany.
  • You’ve been living outside of Germany for at least 1 year. If you had to return to Germany during that time due to unavoidable circumstances, you may still be eligible for alleviating tax and duty charges.

The following documentation will be needed to register an automobile in Germany:

  • Identification such as a passport.
  • Proof of registering your official German address.
  • Documents for clearing customs.
  • Ownership proof.
  • Export permit.
  • The automobile’s original registration documents.
  • A certificate provided by the German Motor Registry confirming the vehicle is not already registered in Germany.
  • Insurance proof.
  • Proof of passing the test for emissions control as well as the roadworthiness and safety inspection.

Transport paperwork

For the transport itself, several documents will be necessary, the most important of which is the sale bill. You should find the information mentioned below on the purchase invoice:

  • The seller.
  • The buyer.
  • The car’s manufacturer.
  • The type of car.
  • The price.
  • The VIN or vehicle identification number.
  • The Signature and date.

Furthermore, you’ll need a dangerous goods declaration to ship vehicles from the US to Europe. Its purpose is to list any hazardous items you may be shipping like paint, gasoline, car batteries, airbags, etc. 

Besides this document, an export declaration will also be needed. However in general, the United States Census Bureau only demands it if you need a license for the goods or if they’re worth above $2.500.

Origin certificate/title

US vehicles have title certificates commonly known as pink or title slips. Even if the price is unusually low, you should avoid purchasing vehicles that don’t have a title. The following information can be found on it:

  • Year, make, VIN, and other identifying information.
  • The vehicle’s license plate number.
  • Information needed to define the car’s tax class such as the gross price, power, weight, etc.
  • The purchaser’s address and name. If the buyer will not be using the vehicle, then the registered owner may appear instead.
  • The legal owner or lien holder’s name if you used their services.

New vehicles may have a Manufacturer’s Origin Statement or certificate which works similarly to a title. If you want to ship your automobile to Germany, you’ll need one of these 2 documents.

Registration card

Such a card is needed to take the vehicle to the port on your own as a US citizen. Registering the vehicle can be handled at the DMV. Note that the department’s name may differ from one state to another.

To register your vehicle, auto insurance proof and the title will be necessary. You’ll also have to pay up to $70/per vehicle depending on the state where you’re registering it. Dealers may assist you with registration formalities, including the application, if you’ve bought the car from them.

It can be very hard to obtain liability insurance for your car if you’ve bought it from somewhere else or if the dealer doesn’t assist you with the process. You should always carry the registration card, since it will prove the car’s registration is valid.

License/number plates

When changing the vehicle’s ownership, depending on the state you live in, the plates may either stay with it or with the last owner. In the later case, you need to buy plates before you take the automobile to the shipping port. If the port is close by, you can procure a 1 day permit from your dealer. If not, you’ll have to visit the DMV.

You’ll have to submit your US license plates to the regulatory authority in Germany. The same applies for any other European country. If you’d like to keep the license plates as souvenirs, then you can remove them before the shipper arrives and take them with you as part of your luggage.

You should arrange for the car to get to the port 3 days before the ship’s departure. This will help you avoid potential delays. Your documents will be verified by US Customs while it is there. 

In case you lose something, it’s best to have several copies of all your documents. A copy should stay with you, since you might need it to enter Germany.


Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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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.

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