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Importing a car to Germany

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Hi everybody! I'm thinking of importing my car from the US to Germany. Anybody has some experience on this? What are the cost? And how much do I pay in customs and taxes? Thanks for your help, Quenting

  • Go to angie del mundo's profile

    posted by  in Germany forum 

    at Emilia: Thank you for all the information that you provided. I have been looking for an answer for this question. You're awesome

  • Emilia Gomez

    posted by  in Germany forum 

    Just read this very interesting article about the new "Umweltplakette" - if you intend to import a car to Germany make sure it meets environmental standards (which is probably not the case for most American cars ;o):

    German cities, under a law passed in 2006, are acquiring environmental zones (Umweltzonen); areas into which you can't drive your car unless it bears a windshield sticker certifying that it has an acceptable emission level.

    There are three different stickers: a green one certifying that the vehicle is environmentally acceptable; a yellow one for less acceptable vehicles and a red one for those that are still less acceptable. Yellow and red stickers will eventually be phased out, after which all vehicles permitted in the environmental zones will need a green sticker.

    Gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles without catalytic converters will be unable to get any kind of a sticker and will not be permitted in the environmental zones. All gasoline-powered cars with catalytic converters will get a green sticker. So will the best of the diesel-powered vehicles. Diesels, however, present a greater pollution hazard, and many will only get yellow or red stickers. Foreign plated cars, and those of the US forces in Europe, are also required to have the stickers.

  • Liliane M

    posted by  in Germany forum 

    Ths costs of converting a US spec. car to German TUV standards would be cost prohibitive. Add to this the cost to get it here and the cost for more gas as US cars are not as fuel efficient. The people who do have US spec cars here, have them for a reason. They are either US Military/Govt. who have access to the super cheap gas vouchers/service or Germans with lots of $$ to maintain the car.

  • Emilia Gomez

    posted by  in Germany forum 

    Hi Quentin,this info is for people importing car from Canada to Germany, but I guess it's pretty much the same for importing a car from the US to Germany:

    a. Export Permit

    A permit is not necessary for the export of motor vehicles manufactured in Canada or in other countries.

    The export of motor vehicles manufactured in the US is controlled under item 5400 of the Export Control List. However, there would be no need to obtain an individual export permit nor would there be a requirement for prior written authorization before exporting to Germany.

    The goods may be exported under the authority of General Export Permit (GEP) 12 to Germany. To use this GEP, it may simply be written "GEP-12" in the appropriate box of the Canada Customs' export declaration (B-13) form.

    b. Customs Tariffs and Import Duties

    A motor vehicle is subject to import duties (Zoll) and import value added tax (EinfuhrUmsatzteur / EUST) either when crossing the German border or at a later date (for example, following the expiry of the car's original Canadian registration).

    Note. Vehicles imported for private use for a maximum of 6 months are exempt from taxation under certain conditions.

    The vehicle must be registered outside the EU while visiting Germany. However, there is a time limit of 6 months (with or without interruptions) within any given 12 month period. Lending or renting out the vehicle or giving it away for whatever reason to a citizen of an EC member country is prohibited.

    Note: Automobiles which are considered household goods are also duty and tax free when moving to Germany to establish residence, if the following criteria apply;

    * The vehicle has been in possession of the individual moving to Germany and was registered abroad at least 6 months prior to arrival in Germany,
    * Proof of residency outside the EU for 12 months before moving is provided,
    * The vehicle is intended for personal use only,
    * The individual registers a residence in Germany,
    * The vehicle must be immediately registered with the Local Motor Vehicle Branch (see Section 3.c. Registration Procedure),
    * The vehicle must not be sold, lent, rented or pawned for one year after import

    After payment of all duties and taxes a customs receipt or clearance certificate (Zollquittung) or otherwise a permit of customs exemption (Unbedenklichkeitsbe-scheinigung) is usually issued.

    Remember: This document will be needed to register the vehicle (see Section 3.c Registration Procedure).

    The following tariff and tax rates are charged equally for every kind of imported motor vehicle:

    Import duty: 10 % based on the purchase price + freight costs to the place of destination in Germany +freight insurance.

    Value Added Tax (EUST): 15 % based on the purchase price + freight costs + import duty,

    7% for vintage cars and collector's vehicles under certain circumstances.

    It is standard procedure to present a recent dealer's invoice to declare the market value of the vehicle. However, if this is not fair market value, customs officials can determine the value by referring, to a dealer's car-buying guide ("Schwacke Liste") or demand a certified appraisal ( Wertgutachten).

    Note: We recommend that private importers, who do not have a recent invoice of their vehicle or who ship an uncommon type of car, have their car appraised before declaring the value. This should avoid lengthy discussions afterwards.

    If necessary, appraisals can be arranged in Germany. Local branches of the DEKRA organization (see the Appendix) offer such services and staff certified experts. For a fee, some shipping agencies complete clearance and customs formalities on your behalf.

    For further questions contact German Customs directly (see the Appendix).

    c. Tax Reimbursement in Canada

    Federal Sales Tax Refund of GST and PST

    A reimbursement of the Goods and Services Tax (GST 7%) can be obtained from Revenue Canada on following conditions:

    * The buyer is not Canadian
    * The vehicle will be exported within sixty days of purchase and prior use in Canada
    * The dealer's bill of sale is attached
    * An Export Declaration Form stamped by Canadian Customs at the port of exit (in some cases the freight forwarders bill of lading will suffice).

    A Reimbursement of the Provincial Sales Tax (PST up to 12.5% depending on the Province) is generally possible. For Ontario, the following conditions have to be met:

    * The vehicle will be exported within thirty days of purchase
    * The application will made within four years

    For further information on this subject, please contact Canadian Customs officials.


    This paragraph summarizes the legal procedures and prerequisites of bringing a motor vehicle into Germany. If this area does not apply to you, please continue with Part II.

    Note: Foreigners staying temporarily are allowed to drive their imported motor vehicles with their home license plates and registrations in Germany for a period of up to 12 months, as long as the registration does not expire. A registration document with a German translation is required. The use of the vehicle is duty and tax free for 6 months only. (see Section 2 b Customs, Tariffs and lmport Taxes).

    Reasons for obtaining a German registration:

    * The car was bought in Germany
    * You plan to stay longer than 12 months
    * Your home registration has expired

    a. General Operating License (Allgemeine Betriebserlaubnis)

    Motor vehicles can only be registered if they are officially licensed by the Federal Motor Vehicle Authority (Kraftfahrtbundesamt / KBA).

    Each motor vehicle is subject to a general inspection including a safety and emissions test. After successful completion an operation permit (Allgemeine Betriebserlaubnis) is granted. Normally, the manufacturer or importer initiates the procedure for a certain model line. This inspection ensures that the performance of the vehicle meets with German regulations for technical, environmental, and safety standards. The KBA issues a title (Kfz-Brief) for every vehicle, listing all its technical features. The title is automatically issued by the car manufacturer or importer.

    A certified expert (Kfz-Sachverständiger) is also permitted to issue the title after carrying out a technical inspection (see Section 3.b. Technical Inspection). This is usually necessary when the technical data of used cars have changed.

    Note; Don't add any modifications or special features to licensed motor vehicles without consulting a certified German expert; otherwise you might lose the operating license, as well as the insurance coverage. Furthermore, you may have difficulties registering a car which has not previously been registered.

    Foreign vehicles imported on private initiative usually do not have the required German title. This must be obtained at the beginning of the registration procedure (see Section 3.b. Technical Inspection) at the Local Motor Vehicle Branch (KfzZulassungsstelle). The title has to be issued with the car's technical data by a certified expert.

    Note: It is the sole responsibility of the owner or otherwise legitimated person to supply all the required technical data of the imported motor vehicle if a general operating permit for the vehicle has not previously been granted.

    Very few American cars and only some Japanese models are popular in Germany. These cars have already passed the general vehicle inspection and have been granted a general operating permit.

    To meet the German motor vehicle standards several modifications to the imported car will be necessary. Be aware of costs for required modifications (see Section 3 b Technical Inspection)!

    Note: The date of the vehicle's first registration determines the applicable legal standard. That date must be supplied by the applicant.

    Note: To avoid the time-consuming and expensive procedure of gathering the technical features of your car through a general inspection, contact the manufacturer or importer of your car prior to the shipping date for information on the VIN (vehicle identification number), year of manufacture, type, and technical data such as:

    * Engine type ~ displacement,
    * Power (if available DIN hp / kW) at rpm,
    * Maximum speed,
    * Emissions results,
    * Admissible wheel and tire sizes,
    * Admissible gross front / rear axle weight.

    Note: If the vehicle does not have any other valid plates, special license plates can be obtained to drive the vehicle to the place of inspection. Ask for "red license plates" (rote Kennzeichen) at the Local Motor Vehicle Branch.

    b. Technical Inspection

    Technical Inspections (Fahrzeug-Hauptuntersuchung, common "TUV") through a certified expert are required by law for each vehicle, The TUV and DEKRA organizations maintain local test centres in most German towns and cities, where they perform the necessary inspections. Costs are approximately DM 65 per car. Addresses are listed in the telephone directory. Many gas stations and car repair shops also offer this service for a reasonable fee.

    The car's mechanical condition and fittings are checked to comply with the data in the certificate (see Section 3 a General Operating License). The vehicle is also checked for its roadworthiness and compliance with safety standards. e.g. brakes, lights, rust perforation of the chassis, shock absorber, and tire condition.

    After any major changes, the vehicle is checked to determine whether the modifications influence the handling or operating characteristics of the car. This will determine whether the operating permit may be kept (see Section 3 a. General Operating License).

    A little round sticker (TÜV-Plakette) affixed to the rear license plate by the test centre and a certificate are proof of a successful inspection and bear an expiry date.

    The certificate for cars and motorcycles expires two years after the inspection and it is the sole responsibility of the owner to renew it. Special regulations exist for trucks and buses.

    Note: Pay special attention to the renewal date, as one may be fined for exceeding it.

    A yearly emissions check (Abgassonderuntersuchung / ASU) is also required for gasoline powered cars. At the moment, there is no comparable ruling for diesel powered vehicles, but one is expected to come into force soon.

    Both certificates are required at the time of registration of a motor vehicle. Therefore imported cars usually pass the technical inspection together with the above mentioned general inspection, when such is required.

    Note: To avoid high expenses and disappointment contact a German certified expert prior to the shipping date for the requirements of your car.

    "TÜV Rheinland of North America'' (see the Appendix) will supply the newest technical requirements for each car model available on the US or Canadian market, for a fee of U.S.$ 30 (payable by cheque in advance).

    c. Registration Procedure (Zulassung)

    The registration of each motor vehicle has to be applied for at the Local Motor Vehicle Branch (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle) in the town of residence of the owner or legitimated person.

    In the countryside, the Motor Vehicle Branch is usually a department of the county authorities, in cities it is a department of the community authorities.

    The following documents are required:

    * Proof of identity and residence e.g. passport and residence registration receipt. Only residents and resident companies may register a car, either by themselves or through an authorized representative, who must submit a letter of attorney,
    * Customs clearance certificate (Zollbescheinigung) stating payment of or exemption of relevant taxes and duties (see Section 2.b Customs Tariffs and Import Taxes),
    * Proof of ownership, e.g. through a bill of sale or commercial invoice,
    * Proof of liability insurance coverage through presentation of the so-called insurance doublecard (Versicherungsdoppelkarte, see Section 3.d. Insurance Coverage),
    * Export permit required for the export of all new and used Canadian and U.S. made vehicles from Canada (see Section 2.a. Export Permit),
    * Motor vehicle documents, these are.

    The title (Kfz-Brief), if one has been issued before. Otherwise a blank title will be issued which must be completed by a certified expert (see Sections 3.a. General 0perating License & 3.b. Technical Inspection)

    The technical inspection and the emissions test certificates, if such were completed. Otherwise you will be instructed as to how and where to get them (see Section 3.b. Technical Inspection).

    A fee of approximately DM 30 - DM 60 must be paid in cash.

    Note: German authorities do not accept credit cards.

    German license plates (front and rear) have to be purchased. The clerk will advise you where to obtain them. The costs vary between about DM 35 and DM 50, depending on the required size of the plates.

    After presenting the receipts of payment, the registration certificate (Kfz-Schein) will be issued and three round stickers will be affixed to the license plates. These show the validity of the vehicle registration, the passing of the last technical inspection (on the rear plate) and the passing of the emissions test (on the front plate). Be prepared to put the plates on before leaving.

    Note: By German law, you are required to carry the registration certificate, the emissions test certificate, and your driver's license with you while driving your vehicle.

    Do not worry about the apparent length of this procedure. Normally, it does not take too much of your time, if you have collected all the above mentioned documents before approaching the Motor Vehicle Branch.

    d. Insurance Coverage

    Germany's automobile insurance system is strictly regulated by law and supervised by federal state authorities.

    A liability insurance for third-party damages is compulsory for each motor vehicle to cover the risks of self-caused accidents (Haftpflichtversicherung).

    In addition, two kinds of property damage insurance are available:

    * A partially comprehensive insurance (Teil-Kaskoversicherung), ask insurance company in Germany for details
    * A fully comprehensive insurance (Voll-Kaskoversicherung), ask insurance company in Germany for details

    Also, a special passenger insurance coverage is usually offered.

    Rates are based on the policy-years an individual has driven accident free, and are treated equally by all insurers.

    The property damage insurance and, starting from July 1, 1996, also the liability insurance are linked to a vehicle classification system based on damage or theft hazard and average repair costs. The rates are subject to annual changes.

    Before July 1, 1996, the liability insurance was linked to a classification system based on the amount of horsepower. In the same way that additional vehicle power and high repair costs increased the rate, longer intervals without any self-caused accidents lowered it.

    Most of the insurance companies are expected to adapt the new rate system for the liability insurance starting from January 1, 1997. Former insurance contracts can be adjusted to the new rates (which is not recommendable for old cars, cars with diesel engines or off-road vehicles).

    Note: We recommend you bring a letter (along with a German translation) from your insurance company stating how many years you have driven accident free, as this may give you better rates. While it cannot be guaranteed that the German insurer will recognize your accident free years, it is nevertheless worth trying.

    For further information contact the German Car Insurer, the Association of Liability, Accident and Car Insurers {HUK-Verband) or the German Automobile Club ADAC (see the Appendix).

    e. Motor Vehicle Tax

    Every motor vehicle registered in Germany is automatically subject to a special motor vehicle tax (Kfz-Steuer). The first payment must be paid soon after registering the vehicle (Kfz-Steuerbescheid).

    The yearly rates are high compared to other countries. They are grouped between approx. DM 11.00 and DM 30.00 for every 100 cc of cylinders. A different calculation is used for trucks depending on the size of its loading surface.

    Rates differ depending on certain engine specifications, such as whether the car is equipped with a catalytic converter or whether it is gasoline or diesel powered. For example, the rate is DM 11.80 for a car with U.S. standard catalytic converter and DM 28.40 for a new car without any emissions reducing devices. For diesel engines the rates are even higher. For a 3.0 litre gasoline engine the payable tax would be 30 times DM 11.80, giving a total of` DM 354.00 per year.

    Recently, political discussion has surfaced calling for a reorganization of the rate categories. It has been suggested to classify only according to a car's effects on the environment.


    Helpful Addresses :

    1. Export Permits

    External Affairs & International Trade Canada
    Export Permits
    Lester B. Pearson Building
    125 Sussex Drive Ottawa,
    Ontario, Canada K1A 0G2
    Phone (613) 996-2387
    Fax: (613) 952-3904

    2. Federal Motor Vehicle Authority

    Kraftfahrt - Bundesamt
    Foerdestrasse 16
    D - 24944 Flensburg
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone; 011-49-461-31-6-O
    Fax; 011-49-461-316-1495 or 1650

    3. Technical Requirements and Vehicle Inspection Appraisals

    a) TÜV - Rheinland of North America, Inc
    32553 Schoolcraft Road
    Livonia, Michigan 48150
    Phone; (313) 261 - 8881
    Fax; (313) 261 - 8929

    b) DEKRA AG
    Schulze - Delitzsch - Strasse 49
    D - 70565 Stuttgart
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone: 01149-711-7861-0
    Fax: 01149-711-7861-240

    4. Association of Liability Accident and Car Insurers

    HUK - Verband
    Glockengiesserwall 1
    D - 20095 Hamburg
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone 011 49 - 40 - 32 10 70
    Fax 011 49 - 40 - 32 10 72 - 00

    5. Customs

    a) Revenue Canada - Customs & Excise
    Travellers Directorate 5th Floor,
    Connaught Building,
    Ottawa, Ontario,
    Canada K1A 0L5
    Phone (613) 954 - 7125
    Fax (613) 996 - 5822

    b) Oberfinanzdirektion Berlin
    Kurfürstendamm 193-194
    10707 Berlin
    Federal Republic of Germany
    P.O.Box 15 09 60
    10671 Berlin
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone: 011 49-30-88070
    Fax; 01149-30-882-4089

    c) Oberfinanzdirektion Hamburg
    Rodingsmarkt 2
    D - 20459 Hamburg
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone; 011 49-40-3706-0
    Fax; 011 49-40-3706-2547

    6. Car Importer's Association

    Verband der Importeure von Kraftfahrzeugen e.V. (VDIK)
    Kirdorfer Str. 21
    D - 61350 Bad Homburg
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone 011 49 - 6172 - 840 40
    Fax. 011 49 - 6172 - 842 253

    7. Car Clubs

    a) Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobilclub (ADAC)
    Am Westpark 8
    D - 81373 München
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone- 011 49-89-76-76-0
    Fax: 011 49-89-7676-2500

    b) Automobilclub von Deutschland (AVD)
    Lyoner Strasse 16
    D - 60528 Frankfurt am Main
    Federal Republic of Germany
    Phone: 011 49-69-660-60
    Fax: 011 49-69-660-62-10

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