Your Guide on Shipping Car to Germany From the USA

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You’re preparing to make the move to Germany from the United States. That means you have a lot on your plate right now. There are visa issues to consider, and you’re trying to find a place to live. You also need to move all of your things to a new country, which is a stressful experience.

Perhaps your car is one of those things.

If that’s the case, you need to know what’s involved in shipping car to Germany. That involves understanding some specific requirements for entry, as well as figuring out the cost to ship car to Germany.

That’s where this article can help you.

Here, we present a full guide to shipping a car from U.S. to Germany so you know what documents you need and how much you’re likely to pay.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Move

Before you start looking into services that offer car transport to Germany, you need to answer some important questions. The answers to these questions influence several aspects of your move, such as the amount of tax you pay when shipping your car to Germany.

Question No. 1 – Are You Moving Temporarily or Permanently?

The answer to this question affects several issues, including how long your car can stay in Germany and the amount of tax you pay. If you’re a temporary mover, such as a student or somebody who’s visiting Germany on an extended vacation, you can keep your car in the country for up to six months. You’ll also have to pay a deposit to have the car in Germany, though this is paid back to you when the vehicle is returned to the United States.

If you’re moving to Germany permanently, you have duty and import taxes to consider. You may be able to ship car from USA to Germany without these taxes, in some circumstances. This requires you to fill out a lot of paperwork but could save you hundreds of dollars when shipping vehicles to Germany.

Regardless of whether you’re making a temporary or permanent move, you must have proof of insurance and a vehicle registration document translated into German. We’ll cover the specific documents you need later.

Question No. 2 – Have You Owned the Vehicle for Less Than Six Months?

It costs more to ship a new vehicle to Germany than it does to ship an old one. If your car was brand-new when you bought it, and you’ve owned it for less than six months, you may want to wait until the car gets a little older before you send it to Germany.

The Documents You Need for Car Transport to Germany

The Documents You Need for Car Transport to GermanyYou have to present a wide range of documents to the German authorities when moving to the country permanently. These documents are intended to prove your ownership of the vehicle and demonstrate that it hasn’t been registered in Germany previously.

Temporary movers also have to present some documents, though they have fewer requirements to meet because they don’t need to register their vehicles in Germany.

Documents Temporary Residents Must Have

  • A registration certificate
  • Bill of sale or a sales contract to demonstrate ownership
  • The invoice related to your purchase

Note that you may need to get these documents translated into German.

Documents Permanent Residents Must Have

  • A passport or similar recognized form of identification
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • An export permit
  • Proof of your official address registration to demonstrate you have somewhere to live
  • All customs clearance papers from both the United States and Germany
  • Proof of insurance
  • The vehicle’s original registration papers
  • A certificate from the German Federal Motor Vehicle Registry that shows your car hasn’t been registered in Germany before
  • Documents to show the car has passed the following tests:
    • Safety
    • Roadworthiness
    • Emissions

Again, you may need to get these documents translated into German before they’re accepted.

Your Vehicle Shipping Options

Assuming you have all of your documentation in order, your next step is to figure out how you’re going to get your car to Germany. You have several options, with your choice affecting the car shipping USA to Germany cost.

Roll-On, Roll-Off (RoRo)

RoRo shipping involves using a special type of freight ship that vehicles can drive directly on or off. These ships usually have a large entry point at their base, with a ramp providing access to the port. RoRo ships are common because they make the shipping process cheaper. Instead of using a crane to load vehicles onto the ship, the carrier can drive them on and off directly.

This ease of shipping benefits you as a customer. The lower costs are passed on to you. Plus, you don’t have to spend hours waiting for your car to be unloaded via a crane once it reaches its destination. It’s simply driven off the ship and handed over to you. The only drawback of RoRo shipping is that the vehicles aren’t crated. Instead, they’re secured to the ship’s deck using harnesses. This should not be a problem as long as the harnesses hold up. But if a harness breaks or comes loose, the vehicle may move around on deck, causing damage to itself and other vehicles.

Air Freight Shipping

Air freight shipping is the most expensive form of car transport to Germany. Your vehicle is secured in a unit load device (ULD), which is essentially a large crate designed to protect the car against scrapes and scratches while it’s in transit. The ULD is then loaded onto a freight plane and flown to Germany.

Speed and safety are the two major benefits of air freight shipping. Your car will arrive in Germany much faster than it would if it’s transported via sea. Combine that with the use of a ULD to protect the vehicle and you have a secure shipping method. Those benefits come at a cost, though. As a result, this shipping method is best left for valuable vehicles, such as classic cars or expensive sports cars.

Container Shipping

Think of container shipping as the middle ground between RoRo and air freight shipping. Similar to RoRo shipping, your car is loaded onto a seafaring vessel that sails to Germany. Instead of being driven onto a specialized deck, your car is loaded into a ULD, which is lifted onto the ship using a crane.

Container shipping costs more than RoRo shipping, though you’ll spend less than you would with the air freight option. The additional cost compared to RoRo shipping may be outweighed by the fact that there are more container shipping ports in Germany than there are RoRo ports. You may be able to ship your car closer to your final destination with container shipping than you would with RoRo. Furthermore, you can store other items besides your car in a container, making container shipping a better choice than RoRo shipping if you want to move everything you own to Germany in one voyage.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car to Germany?

It’s difficult to provide a general car shipping USA-Germany kosten (that’s German for cost!) because several factors determine how much you’ll pay. The type of shipping method you use is the largest of these factors. As previously mentioned, RoRo shipping is usually the cheapest, followed by container shipping, and then air freight.

Other factors include the make and model of your car, as this may affect the taxes you pay and impact the price a carrier charges. Large and heavy cars generally cost more to ship than compact and lightweight vehicles because they take up more space and create a bigger fuel burden.

The Average Cost to Ship a Car to Germany

Assuming you use RoRo or container shipping to transport your car to Germany, you can expect the cost to fall somewhere in the $900 to $1,300 range. Note that this price is for the port-to-port shipping costs only. It doesn’t cover any costs you incur when dropping off or collecting your car. It also doesn’t include the taxes, which we’ll cover in a moment.

Your car shipping USA to Germany price increases substantially if you choose air freight. Expect to pay anywhere between $3,000 and $15,000 for air freight, with the price varying so widely because of several factors. Vehicle size is the most important of these factors. Large and heavy vehicles take up more space, which limits the number of cars an air freight service can transport simultaneously. You’ll pay more when shipping a larger vehicle. Air freight providers may also charge at the higher end of the price spectrum when transporting your vehicle during winter, as rough weather conditions create additional flying challenges. Additionally, the length of your flight route impacts the price you pay.

Taxes for Shipping Vehicles to Germany From the United States

Any vehicle imported into Germany from the United States, or any other country outside the European Union (EU), is subject to a 10% import duty based on the vehicle’s value. Furthermore, you have to pay a 19% value-added tax, called an import turnover tax, on the vehicle.

The combination of these taxes can add thousands of dollars to the cost of shipping a car to Germany. For example, let’s say your vehicle is worth $30,000. That means you’ll pay a $3,000 import duty, in addition to $5,700 in import turnover tax.

The good news is that you may be able to avoid both taxes if you’re moving to Germany permanently. This assumes you meet the following conditions.

  • You’ve relinquished residency in the United States
  • You’re moving to Germany to live in the country as a permanent resident
  • Your vehicle is registered to you
  • You’re not going to sell or export your vehicle within the first 12 months of its arrival in Germany
  • You’ve lived outside Germany for at least 12 consecutive months before arriving in the country

We touched on the length of your vehicle ownership earlier in the article. If you’re an EU resident who has lived in the United States for more than 12 months, your car’s age affects whether you pay taxes for importing it. If you’ve owned the vehicle for more than six months, you receive a tax-free import allowance. Note that this allowance is only usable once. If you wish to import multiple cars, you have to pay import taxes and VAT on the additional vehicles.

Those living in Germany temporarily don’t have to worry about paying these taxes because they don’t have to register their vehicles in the country. Instead, you pay a cash deposit to import the vehicle, which is returned to you when the vehicle is shipped back to the United States.

How Much Does It Cost to Import a Car From Germany?

You’ll need to import your car back to the United States if you’re moving to Germany temporarily. The average costs mentioned above apply for the reverse journey, meaning you’ll pay anywhere between $900 and $30,000, depending on the method of shipping and your vehicle’s size.

You can also expect to pay destination handling charges, which range from $215 to $275. Plus, you’ll pay a 3% import tax if you bought the vehicle in Germany to drive permanently in the United States. Such vehicles need to meet the United States’ guidelines for vehicle safety, emissions, and roadworthiness.

How Long Does Shipping Car to Germany Take?

The time required to ship a car to Germany depends on the departure and arrival ports used. If you’re shipping your vehicle from a city on the East Coast, such as New York, it takes between 12 and 19 days to arrive in Germany. This assumes you’re using RoRo or container shipping. The time required is between one and two days for air freight shipping.

Times increase significantly when shipping from the West Coast. Expect to wait between 27 and 31 days with RoRo and container shipping, though air freight still comes in at one or two days. Remember, you must factor in the time required to transport your vehicle to a port. If you live in a landlocked state, it may take several days to ship your vehicle to a port, after which, you apply the overseas shipping times.

Shipping Car to GermanyAre You Ready to Make Your Move?

There’s no escaping the fact that shipping vehicles to Germany can be a costly endeavor. Though the price for shipping itself is manageable, the extensive taxes charged may cost you thousands of dollars. Of course, you can eliminate those taxes from the equation if you meet the conditions for permanent residency described in this article.

Your mode of shipping also has a drastic effect on the cost, with air freight costing thousands of dollars more than RoRo or container shipping.

Assuming you wish to go ahead, you need to work with an overseas vehicle shipping company you can rely on. Ship Vehicles specializes in transporting vehicles from the United States to Germany. We can help you choose the appropriate shipping method, prepare your car for its voyage, and handle all of the paperwork involved in the process. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call at (888) 231-0113 or get in touch with our team online.