Importing a car into Germany

When moving to Germany, rather than buying a new car, you may want to ship your car from home. In order to do so your car will have to meet certain standards. In addition to these standard you will have to be able to provide the necessary documentation which may include the title of the car and for leased vehicles you will need a letter from the associated authorities stating that you are permitted to ship the car out of the country.

What needs to be done to your car before shipping it to Germany?

The following will need to pass a German technical inspection.

·         Headlights

·         emission

·          brakes

·          rust

·          tires

Do I have to pay duty?

Not necessarily. There are ways in which you may be exempt from paying duty when shipping your vehicle to Germany. Provided that you can supply proof that you have given up your residence in your home country due to your plans to move to Germany then you may be able to ship your vehicle duty free. Of course you will need to provide documentation that may include:

·         termination of rental contract

·         acceptance to a job in Germany

·         your German rental contract

In order to be applicable for duty free shipment of your car or other form of vehicle you are required to provide evidence that you are the sole owner of the vehicle and you have used the vehicle for at least 6 months prior to the date that you plan on having it shipped.

How much will the duty be on my car?

Provided the you are not exempt from paying duty on your vehicle, you will be required to pay 0% import duty in addition to the 5% value added tax. If your car or vehicle is vintage, the you will only be subjected to 7% duty.

Do I have to change my license plate?

If your stay in Germany will not exceed 2 months, you may be allowed to keep your home license plate as well as registration. You will, however, be required to have all applicable documents translated into the German language by a certified German translator.

When should I have my car shipped?

Rental cars in Germany are relatively expensive in comparison to the United States. As a result, you may want to consider having your car shipped to Germany so that it will arrive around the time that you will be in Germany. This may mean that you will need to rent a car for the rest of your stay in the United States. However, it will save you quite a bit of money.

Here are the websites of a few companies that ship from United States to Germany:







Use a company that has been shipping from the United States to Germany for some time and thus has adequate experience.


Saskia Petz

Tanja Traut

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