Requirements for Shipping Cars from the US to Germany

What You Need to Know Before Shipping Your Vehicle to Germany

Port of Germany in Hamburg for shipping cars from US to Germany

When you’re ready to prepare for shipping your car from the US to Germany, Trans Global Auto Logistics is here to help. With over three decades of shipping experience, we provide a resource for you to better understand the shipping requirements for transporting your vehicle(s) overseas. For more information or rates, please complete the online quote form and you’ll hear from one of our shipping specialists within 2 business days.

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US Documentation Export Requirements for Shipping Cars from Shipping Cars from US to Germany

  1. U.S. Military Service Members:
    1. Original Title or Original notarized Lien Letter with copy of title
    2. PCS Orders
    3. Passport or EIN
  2. Non-Military:
    1. Original Title
    2. Copy of Bill of Sale
    3. Passport or EIN

German Documentation Import Requirements for Vehicles

  1. U.S. Military Service Members or Contractors with SOFA Status:
    • AE-Form 550 from Military Customs Office
    • AE-Form 190-1AA from Military Vehicle Registration Office and temp Plates

Please note that you will have to physically take these documents to the German port or closest German customs house to have stamped by customs for them to release your vehicle to you.

  1. Non-Military:
    • Temporary Imports
      • Original Vehicle Title
      • Copy of US Vehicle Registration
      • Proof of International Liability Insurance (to be obtained through TourInsure)
    • Importing as Moving Goods – Moving to Germany or Returning German Citizen
      • Must have owned vehicle for at least 6 months and lived outside of Germany for at least 12 months
      • Copy of Your Car’s US Title
      • US Vehicle Registration (for entire duration since purchase)
      • Copy of Bill of Sale
      • Copy of Your Passport
      • Proof of employment detailing the timeframe and reason for the US-Stay or if US Resident, reason for relocation to Germany
      • Copy of Resident Registration in Germany (Einwohnermeldeamt)
      • Confirmation of Liability Insurance Cancellation or De-Registration
    • Proof of Purchase by European Citizen (Vehicle Less Than 30 Years Old)
      • Copy of Vehicle Title
      • Copy of Bill of Sale
        • Must list the full name and address of Seller and BuyerCopy of Bill of Sale

German Duties/Taxes Due:

Below are general guidelines on German Duties and Taxes for shipping your car from the US to Germany.

Please note you must pay any VAT and Duty before your vehicle will be released by German customs.

  1. U.S. Military Service Members
    • No Taxes or Duties apply
  2. Temporary Imports—You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in Germany if all of the following apply:
    • You’re visiting and do not plan to live here
    • The vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country
    • You only use the vehicle for up to 6 months in Germany
    • A security deposit of 10% + 19% of the vehicle value plus shipping charges will be collected
        • This is refunded only once the car leaves the EU again.
        • There may be options to avoid paying the security deposit. Please let us know prior to shipping if this will be a temporary import.

For more information on Temporary Imports and up-to-date resources, please visit the customs website for Germany at zoll.de.

  1. Vehicle as Moving Goods – Must have owned the vehicle for at least 6 months and lived outside of Germany for at least 12 months
    • Duty – 0%
    • VAT – 0%
  2. Vehicle purchased by European Citizen – Vehicle less than 30 years old
    • Duty – 10%
    • VAT – 19%
  3. Vehicle purchased by European Citizen – Vehicle over 30 years old and in original condition
    • Duty – 0%
    • VAT – 7%

US to Germany Car Shipping Cost and Transit Timelines

The cost and transit time frame of your vehicle may vary greatly depending on where your vehicle is located in the US.

  • Generally speaking, if your vehicle is located on the East Coast of the USA, then transit time is about 15 days and 30 days from the West Coast.
  • Be sure to consider additional days for clearing customs and vessel loading/unloading.
  • Expect your shipping process to take about 30-45 days from the US East Coast and 45-60 days from the West Coast.

To determine your cost, please submit a free no obligation online quote.

Germany Vehicle Import Approval

German customs do not require an Import Approval prior to shipping your vehicle, but we suggest you contact German registration office to confirm your vehicle meets German emissions standards and specifications. These modifications can be costly, and so it’s good to know the cost involved before you ship your vehicle.

Germany Vehicle Registration

You must register any vehicle you bring into Germany permanently.

  1. U.S. Military Service Members
    1. Previous Vehicle Registration or Title
    2. Proof of German Insurance
    3. Must pass a safety inspection before vehicle can be registered but will not have to convert vehicle to German Specs
  2. Non-Military
    1. Vehicle will have to be converted to Euro Specs before you can register and drive the vehicle in Europe.

If your stay in Germany is less than 12 months, then you can drive your imported vehicle with your home license plates and registration. A registration document with a German translation is required and proof of insurance. You may also be required to undergo a technical inspection to ensure the vehicle’s roadworthiness.

Ports Serviced in the US and Germany

  • USA Departure Ports — Trans Global has service from all U.S. Ports, including: New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Galveston, Los Angeles, and more.
  • German Arrival Ports — The most popular German entry ports are Bremerhaven and Hamburg.
  • From any of the above destination ports, your car can be delivered to your door anywhere in Germany.— A few common destinations after shipping your car from the US to Germany are:
    • Cologne
    • Dusseldorf
    • Frankfurt
    • Heinsberg
    • Grafenwoehr
    • Heidelberg
    • Kaiserslautern
    • Mannheim
    • Munich
    • Ramstein
    • Schweinfurt
    • Spangdahlem
    • Stuttgart
    • Ansbach
    • Wiesbaden
    • Boeblingen
    • Vilseck
  • Please note that when door delivery is requested, the vehicle will be delivered to the closest customs house. You will then be required to pick up the vehicle and present the required customs clearance documentation before your vehicle can be released to you.

Vehicle Transport Options for Shipping Cars from the US to Germany

Trans Global offers several shipping methods to our customers. Which one best works for you will be determined by several factors including where the vehicle is located in the USA, where in Germany you want it shipped to, how quickly you need your vehicle in Germany, the age and value of the vehicle, and cost.

1. Roll On/Roll Off (RORO)—These vessels are basically large parking garages on the water. Your vehicle is driven into the belly of the ship via a large ramp and secured to the deck, protected from the outside elements.

PROS

  • RORO offers very competitive rates
  • RORO sometimes has a quicker transit time than container

CONS

  • Vehicles must be in good running condition which is not always the case with classic cars which is why we suggest classic cars ship in containers
  • You are not allowed to store any items in the vehicles. Anything found in the vehicles is disposed of by the receiving terminal

2. Shared Container Shipping—Your vehicle is shipped together with other vehicles in a container. Fees are shared between all parties using the container during shipment, such as terminal handling charges, loading/unloading, and container trucking at the terminals.

PROS:

  • Poor running or non-running vehicles are be shipped in containers
  • Personal items can be stored in the vehicle

CONS:

  • Your transit timeline may be longer than it would be with RORO since the container can only depart once it has a full load

3. Dedicated Container Shipping—Dedicated container shipping is typically used if the customer needs their vehicle faster, or if the destination is a location where we do not offer container consolidation services. This is similar to the Shared Container method except that your vehicle is the only one in the container.

PROS:

  • Offers the fastest service besides air freight
  • You can store items in the vehicle

CONS:

  • Higher cost than RORO and Shared Container Shipping

4. Air Freight—Airfreight is one of the most expensive shipping options, which makes it less utilized in the market, generally. This method is used for high-end collector vehicles or time sensitive shipments.

PROS:

  • Quickest service available

CONS

  • Most expensive shipping option

Preparing Your Vehicle for Shipment

Prior to shipping your vehicle to Germany, it’s important you take the following actions to avoid additional fees or being turned away by the terminals.

  • Clean your vehicle inside and out, including its undercarriage
    • Vehicle must be clean of foreign soil or invasive plants and animals
  • Check that you have less than a quarter tank of fuel
  • Remove all Non-Factory installed items (applies for RORO shipments only)
  • Remove license plates
  • After-market alarm system must be disengaged prior to shipment when possible

Additional Services for Shipping Your Car from the US to Germany

Trans Global Auto Logistics offers the below additional services:

  • Inland Transport within the USA and Germany – Trans Global is able to arrange road transport anywhere in the USA to the terminal and also to any city within Germany.
  • Marine Insurance – Per the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) liability is limited to $500 per shipment when shipping your car from the US to Germany. We strongly recommend Marine Insurance to ensure your vehicle is covered in the event of damage or loss. All shipping quotes given by Trans Global will list the cost of this optional service.
  • 3rd party vehicle purchase inspections – For those looking to purchase a vehicle online from the USA and want peace of mind knowing the vehicle is as advertised
  • Escrow Service – For customers who are not comfortable with transferring funds directly to an online seller in the USA, or when a seller isn’t okay with providing banking details overseas, we offer our Escrow service to act as a liaison between the buyer and the seller.
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