Congratulations! You are on your way to your new duty station in Germany and want to ship your POV. How long is that going to take, and how can you make it easier?
Your vehicle will be shipped for you, and in most cases will arrive in Germany within about three weeks. The cost of shipping that POV to Germany is covered, along with your allowance for household goods, as long as the vehicle is within the size and weight limits, so check your orders and make sure you comply before you make plans. You can do a lot to make sure that your POV doesn't get stuck somewhere and take a lot longer to get to you.
How can I expedite the shipping of my POV to Germany?
Starting with the drop off at the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC), and even before you arrive, you can expedite the process when you are getting it ready to go. Top reasons for turn-in delays at VPCs include these:
• Too much fuel (no more than ¼ tank is allowed for any vehicle being shipped)
• Vehicle not clean per standards (inside, outside, and under)
• Documentation not complete (includes your orders, and if the vehicle is not registered to the person being assigned or a spouse, then a power of attorney is required. If the vehicle is leased or has a lien, you must have authorization from the lienholder)
• Late for appointment (all drop-offs are now by appointment only—no walk-ins)
• Recall not corrected (make sure you have proper documentation that any applicable recall on your POV has been fixed.) You can find the relevant recalls at the NHTSA website
• PPCIG (Personal Property Consignment Instruction Guide) requirements not checked
The omission of any items listed can result in the POV not being accepted at the VPC.
To expedite the international shipping process to any destination, ensure that you have taken care of the following:
- No personal items not installed in the vehicle, including tools (one jack and tire iron is permitted, along with a spare tire or two snow tires)
- No tailgate covers, bras, or netting.
- Roof racks must be factory installed
- Any added speakers must be bolted down
- Remove seat covers and any decorations
- Remove license plates (recommended)
- Provide keys, including trunk (all areas of the vehicle are subject to inspection during shipping)
- Disengage alarm system
What else do I need to know about shipping a POV to Germany?
There are other specific requirements for vehicles going into Germany, and you want to be prepared for them. Germany has strict inspection requirements for all cars, and you should be aware of these items that will be carefully reviewed for your POV since they are frequently the cause of inspection failure.
- Tires: When inspected, tires must have at least 1.6mm tread over the tire's entire surface. No “retreads” are allowed. If snow tires are needed, they must be on the drive wheels. Snow tires are required if the vehicle is inspected during the winter months. It is not permissible to mix conventional and radial tires on a vehicle.
- Exhaust System: No rusted or leaking exhaust system components allowed. Exhaust systems with cutouts, fiberglass packed, or straight through exhaust systems are not allowed.
- Brakes: Brakes must have similar wear among wheels (variance of 20% allowed), and the hand brake must hold the vehicle on an incline.
- Wheel Alignment: Wheels must be capable of turning left and right without jamming or rubbing any part of the vehicle; tie rod steering arm assemblies must not be damaged.
- Lights: All lights must function.
- Exterior Condition: Missing fenders, broken windows, extensive body damage, rust, or oil leaks are not allowed.
- Horns: POVs must be equipped with a working horn.
The inspection will also include an examination of seatbelts, turn indicators and rear and side-view mirrors.
Service members should be aware that insurance costs in Germany are high, and that this cost is borne by the individual, and the family, if applicable. Only insurance companies approved by the German Government are authorized to issue a 29a (proof of German minimum third party liability insurance) to register a POV in the U.S. Forces system in Germany. U.S. service personnel stationed in Germany often find that the costs of repairing and maintaining their vehicles are higher than expected.
Germany has strict environmental laws, and vehicles driven in certain areas must display stickers that comply with relevant Umweltzonen (Environmental Zone) requirements. Your import, whether registered locally or still bearing plates from the U.S., must display the appropriate sticker or risk the imposition of a fine if traveling in a restricted environmental zone. For diesel vehicles, the regulations are complex and continually changing, depending on locality. Make sure to get the most current information before shipping a POV to avoid obstacles and delays.
Also, German law requires specific snow tires during the winter, although if your vehicle is inspected out of season, you can pass without the winter tires. Your POV should never display any U.S. affiliated stickers or decals, including sports teams, Armed Forces, or patriotic themes. License plate frames or stickers that reference U.S. locations are also not advised. Window tinting is not allowed in Germany, and your POV will not be permitted if it has sustained significant body damage.
To register and operate a POV in Germany, you must get a USAREUR (stands for U.S. Army Europe) license. To do so requires passing a difficult test on European driving rules, requirements, and road signs. The good news is that you can save time by taking the test online (both servicemembers and dependents) before you report for duty. Since the test is known to be difficult, study up, and mark this off your to-do list before you leave home. One less thing standing between you and the Autobahn!
What if I need to ship a second POV?
If you are considering shipping a second POV, at your own expense, keep in mind any motor vehicle imported to Germany from outside the E.U. is subject to both a 10% import duty and a 19% value-added tax (VAT). That adds up to 30 percent of the car's value, a hefty price to pay. For that second car, you would also be responsible for the registration fees if you stay for more than 12 months. Since you will be arranging and paying for the shipping of the second vehicle yourself, you may want to compare shipping options, if the cost is a concern.
Options for shipping your car are Roll On/Roll Off (Ro/Ro), Shared Container, and Full Container.
In a Ro/Ro transit, the vehicles are driven onto a vessel with a huge cargo area that is essentially a parking lot on board. The departures may happen frequently, and the only costs involved other than shipping are port charges and customs.
Shared container involves multiple vehicles loaded into a shared container. There are more fees-- terminal handling charge, a trucking charge, unloading charges for when the vehicle reaches a bonded warehouse, and customs clearance charges. The time involved is generally longer as well, because the container must be filled up.
Full container means one vehicle per container, which is generally the costliest, but also the most secure and fastest means of transport.
Depending on the origin, destination, and method selected, as well as the weight of the vehicle, it can cost between $900 and $4000 to export a car to Germany from the U.S. The amount of time involved can be anywhere from three to twelve weeks.
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.