Import Car from USA to Germany

Importing a Car from the USA to Germany

Importing a Car from the USA to Germany? Car imports from the USA to Germany start at a cost of $650 USD with an estimated turnaround time of 4 – 6 weeks, depending on make and model of the vehicle, the nearest departure port in the United States, and your final destination in Germany. Below, our 2020 guide will explore everything you need to know about importing cars from the USA to Germany.

Car Shipping from Germany to USA
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from the USA to Germany?

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Los Angeles | International
+1 (310) 639-7725

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+1 (786) 708-0215

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Want more information on car import services to Germany from the USA?

Read on below for our US to Germany Import Shipping Checklist, Vehicle Import Options, US to Germany Car Import Costs & Time Frame, US to Germany Vehicle Import Options, Ports Served in the US & Germany, and other details on how to Import Car from USA to Germany.


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US to Germany Vehicle Import Checklist

Here’s a rough breakdown of the process you’ll need to go through to import your vehicle to Germany.
  • After you’ve determined that your vehicle is eligible and selected an import option, gather all necessary vehicle documentation, including:

    • Sales Contract / Bill of Sale

    • Car Registration

  • Understand the costs of importing a vehicle, including:

    • Freight and insurance charges when importing your vehicle

    • Wharf, transport, storage and delivery charges after your vehicle arrives

    • Duties, taxes and fees

    • Cleaning the undercarriage of foreign soil

    • Registration and insurance requirements in the relevant German State or Territory

    • Other charges such as import processing, customs brokers’, and logistics service provider charges

  • Select an international car import company and preferred shipping method to transport your vehicle from the United States to Germany

  • Determine your vehicle’s departure and destination ports

  • Confirm the vehicle is clean and free of foreign soil

More information on the process of importing a vehicle to Germany can be found here.

Vehicle Import Options

As you engage in the vehicle import process, some of the most important questions to consider include:

  • Do you plan to import the motor vehicle permanently or is it just a temporary move?
  • Have you have been the owner of the car for at least 6 months?
  • Are you importing the motor vehicle for a holiday trip, or are you a resident?
  • Are you moving to Germany and was the motor vehicle registered in your name at least six months before you plan to ship it?
  • Do you plan to permanently bring the car to Germany?

These questions and more will determine whether your car is eligible for import to Germany. Your actual tax rate is based on these details.

You should never assume your car shipping scenario is the same as someone else’s. Some vehicles such as used cars may have eligibility requirements that differ from those for newer vehicles for import into Germany. To obtain an estimate of the cost to import a car to Germany, fill out our free quick quote form.

Vehicle Import Approval

Upon arrival of your vehicle import to Germany, the vehicle must be declared in Customs.

You’ll need the following documentation:

  • Sales Contract / Bill of Sale
  • Registration certificate or any equivalent official document
  • The invoice, if there has been a sale

Things to Consider

  • Clients wishing to ship a vehicle to Germany need to comply with the German government’s legal and technical regulations.
  • Once your vehicle has satisfied all the necessary conditions, you will be issued a certificate by a government body authorizing you to send your vehicle to Germany.

US to Germany Car Import Costs & Time Frame

Using a baseline of a compact car being imported using the roll-on/roll-off method from the Port of Los Angeles to the Port of Bremerhaven, our estimate to Import Car from USA to Germany starts at a cost of $650 USD, with an estimated turnaround time of 4 to 6 weeks.

However, the cost to import a car to Germany can vary according to factors such as the model and make of your vehicle, your current location, the nearest departure port in the USA, your transport method of choice, availability of your chosen services and your final destination. Additionally, you’ll need to consider costs such as storage, cleaning, other vendor fees, and German taxes & duties.

Taxes & Duties for German Car Imports

Prior to importing a vehicle from US to Germany, verify your vehicle’s specifications and compliance with German requirements. The USA is not one of the member countries of the European Union, and anyone from countries outside the EU who wants to ship a car to Germany as a destination country needs to pay certain import duties and taxes.

If you are importing a vehicle younger than 30 years to Germany from the USA, your car will be subject to local customs duties as well as a value-added tax or VAT of 19 levied by the German government. There is an exception on the import duties in case your vehicle is in original shape and older than 30 years; your vehicle can then be considered as an old-timer. Please note that it will be the customs officers’ decision to waive the import duties, we have no way to influence their decision.

However, in certain circumstances you might be able to gain exemption from paying customs duties and taxes.

  • For instance, those who are shipping their vehicle over for a holiday or intend to travel through Germany to another destination need only pay a deposit. Once the vehicle has exited Germany or is registered in another country, you will receive a refund. Temporary stays are limited to a duration of 12 months.
  • US citizens moving overseas who want to ship a vehicle to Germany can opt to import their cars as part of their personal belongings so long as they are the owner of the vehicle and have registered the vehicle on their name for at least six months before shipping it. In this case, you will not have to pay VAT tax or duties.
  • If you are a citizen of the EU and have resided in the USA for over one year and have owned the vehicle you wish to ship for longer than 6 months, you will be allotted a tax-free import that can only be used once.

The amount of taxes and import duties payable when shipping a car to Germany from the US will vary and depends on the details of your shipment. To obtain an estimate of the cost to import a car to Germany, fill out our free quick quote form.

US to Germany Vehicle Import Options

Import Car from USA to Germany can be performed using a shared container, a sole container or a roll-on/roll-off service.


Roll-On/Roll-Off – Vehicles are loaded into a vessel containing a large cargo area that resembles a big parking garage. This option tends to be more affordable as other than shipping charges, the only charges that need to be paid are port charges and customs clearance charges.

Transits tend to be faster than with the shared container service as the containers depart on a weekly basis.


Shared Container Service – A single container will be used to transport multiple vehicles. More fees are involved than with the roll-on/roll-off shipping method as the container will have to be processed; however, these fees are divided between the multiple vehicle owners using the container. These fees include a terminal handling charge, a trucking charge, unloading charges for when the vehicle reaches a bonded warehouse, and customs clearance charges.

One downside of this method is that shipping is only possible when there are enough vehicles to fill up the container, so there might be a wait if the requisite number has not been reached.


Full Container Load – This resembles the shared container service, except that each container is limited to one vehicle. Fees, which match those that must be paid for the shared container service, are similar except that they are not divided between several clients.

Container loading offers a very high level of security. Upon receipt of the vehicle, photographs will be taken of the vehicle itself and the loading process, and the container door will be locked. The vehicle will not be accessible by anyone until arrival at the final destination when the container is opened by one of our agents. Photographs will once again be taken to document the unloading process. As the vehicle remains completely secure throughout the entire process, items can also be loaded into the vehicle and transported along with it; however, it is advisable to pack and load all items securely as we will not be liable for any loss or damage.

This shipping method tends to be faster as there are weekly departures, more than are possible with the roll-on/roll-off service.

We use only a steel loading system for added protection against loss and damage, unlike other companies who use wood ramps.

Additional Services


Sourcing Vehicles – Vehicle owners wishing to sell their cars can benefit from our comprehensive list of car buyers, who source for and buy vehicles for clients located overseas for an additional fee or commission.


Other Services – Some of the auto transport services we offer in overseas territories include domestic pickup, vehicle import assistance, tracking of your shipment, customs clearance in the USA and a full vehicle inspection report.

Ports Served in the US and Germany

Departure Ports – United States

The location your vehicle will depart from depends on the method of car transport to Germany, where your vehicle is located, your budget and which services the nearest port offers. We have multiple departure locations in the USA, including Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami, Savannah and more.

Destination Ports – Germany

Here are the Germany entry ports where your vehicle can be imported.

  • Antwerp
  • Rotterdam
  • Bremerhaven

Cleaning Your Vehicle’s Undercarriage

Before importing your vehicle to Germany, the undercarriage must be cleaned and free of foreign soil to prevent the introduction of invasive plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms. This can be accomplished through steam cleaning or other thorough cleaning methods. CFR Rinkens can assist with finding an appropriate cleaner to help ensure you comply with this requirement. We do not recommend washing the interior of the vehicle as it can cause mold during transport. Vacuuming the interior is usually more than sufficient.

Plating Your Vehicle in Germany

Motor vehicles shipped to Germany must be registered to operate on German roads. All motor vehicles shipped to Germany must pass a safety inspection (German TÜV) before they can be registered in Germany.

In case any homologation/conversion processes need to be done to the car to get it TÜV ready we can liaise you to our partner who is sitting right in the warehouse in Bremen. This way the car doesn’t need to be transported to another location as all can be done “in-house.” With offices in both Berlin and Bremen, Germany CFR Rinkens can assist with vehicle inspections and other arrangements for car shipping from USA to Germany services.

To obtain an estimate of the cost for importing cars from USA to Germany and other services, fill out our free quick quote form.

Other Germany/US Shipping Options