Vehicle Shipping
Car Import & Car Export to and from Germany



Shipping a car from Germany to the USA and vice versa sounds complicated and difficult, but that has not to be the case. In the following article, you will find information about how to ship your car from or to Germany. With our configurator, you can ship your car via ship, truck, rail and sea freight! Freightfinders compiled a check list for you with information about what you will need for shipping a car from or to Germany.


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Please use our freight calculator to find favourable prices for your car transport



Car Import and Car Export to/from Germany – Check list:


Collect your documents:


Car Shipping from Germany

  • Cover your vehicle Insurance
  • Apply for an Export Licence Plate - You will need both to be able to apply for an Export Declaration at the customs
  • Apply for an International Automobile Registration Certificate
  • For company cars, you will additionally need a Trade Register Excerpt/Business Registration


Car Shipping to Germany:

  • You will need the same/adjusted documents you needed to import cars from Germany
  • If the car is a new purchase, you will need a Certificate of Origin and a Certificate of Conformity
    • Under obligation to pay:
    • 10% duty - not required within the EU
    • 19% VAT (relocations excluded)


In General:

  • MOT test (German TÜV certificate), as well as paying the vehicle tax are obligatory
  • Find a sea freight forwarder
  • Loading type:
    • FCL Container - protect your car by using a FCL container for only your cargo
    • LCL Container - save costs by sharing a LCL container
    • Roro Ship – fast and favourable transports
  • Container size:
    • Usually, a 20ft. container is sufficient
  • Transport:
    • Port to Port - The car will be shipped only from port to port
    • Door to Door - Transport by forwarder directly to your door
  • Recommendation: Cover a transport insurance


For more details, please read further.


Shipping Cars in a Container

Advantages of Container Shipping

Shipping cars in a container has many advantages. The weather can be very unpredictable at sea. Hence, it makes sense to protect your car in a container. The vehicle should not only be protected by the weather, but also from theft. This can easily, and best be managed in a container. Moreover, you can save money by sharing a container for the transport of your vehicle. However, you should inform yourself about the exact measurements to be able to enjoy the advantages of this type of transport.


Container Types and Prices

There are various types of containers for various possibilities of transport. If you wish to i.e. import a very valuable car, you can use a FCL container, which ensures a saver transport, as your vehicle is protected from extraneous influences. To save expenses, you can share LCL containers with other customers, which means, that your car will be transported in a container with other vehicles.


Shipping Cars on a RoRo Ship

“Roll on – roll off” ships are used for movable goods and can be accessed on ramps. These ships are suitable for cars, trucks and even trains. As the height of the deck is variable, every kind of vehicle can be transported on roro-ships. Another advantage is that the handling time, which means the unloading and loading time, is much shorter than it is with other shipping types, which makes the overall transport quicker. The handling is also very gentle to the vehicles.
A disadvantage is that the cars are standing on the loading areas, which can, in the worst case, cause damage to your vehicle. Moreover, there are less routes and lower frequencies for roro transports. Still, the it can end up being very favourable to use this type, as the costs for it are usually low.


Car Import and Car Export Germany

Car Shipping from Germany

Car shipping from Germany includes applying for and needing many documents. First, you will need to cover a vehicle insurance as this is obligatory for the transport. This can also be a temporary insurance, for which you will get three or four yellow and one green insurance card. Next, you will need to apply for an Export Licence Plate.
Customs will need both, to make the Export Declaration, which is needed for exporting a car from Germany. An International Automobile Registration Certificate is also mandatory. Also, exporting a company car from Germany requires a Trade Register Excerpt or a Business Registration.


Car Shipping: Germany to USA

The import of cars from Germany has some further legal requirements, which have to be fulfilled. You might have to get an EPA Standard form 3520-1 of the American environment department (Environmental Protection Agency – EPA). This does not apply, if the car is an antique one and older than 21 years.
Furthermore, you will have to get the DOT HS-7 form of the United States Department of Transport (DOT). Additionally, importing cars from Germany to the USA requires also, that the underbody of the vehicle is cleaned thoroughly i.e. with a steam blaster. This should prevent the contamination of the environment for example through foreign pests. Non-residents of the US do not have to pay tax for shipping a car from Germany to the USA, if they will not be staying longer than one year.


Car Shipping to Germany

Shipping a car to Germany works similar to shipping a car from Germany. You will need the same or at least adjusted documents. A (temporary) car insurance, an Export Licence Plate, an Exports Declaration and an International Automobile Registration Certificate. These are all mandatory for shipping vehicles to Germany.
Furthermore, be sure to make a MOT test (German TÜV certificate), as well as paying the vehicle tax, as this is obligatory for shipping a car to Germany.


Car Shipping: USA to Germany

Additionally to the documents for shipping a car to Germany, you will need the Certificate of Origin and the Certificate of Conformity. This only applies, if the car has been purchased in the US. Shipping a car from the USA to Germany requires the payment of 10% duty and additionally 19% VA. This is only relevant, if the car is a new purchase. That means, if you want to relocate a car, these costs do not have to be paid, provided that the car was licensed under your US plates for at least half a year and that you were living in the US for at least one year.


How Much Does Car Shipping to/from Germany Cost?

Prices depend on the extent of the order. Costs for customs and administration are the ones that are similar and always occur, when importing a car from Germany to the USA and vice versa. There, the most significant difference is, if you are relocating your car or not. Other indispensable costs are the ones for the MOT test (TÜV). In Germany, your car must be certified with MOT (TÜV). This can be provided for 9-15 day, or 1-12 months, which leads to varying prices.

Sea freight prices can vary - Use the configurator on the top of the page and get information about the current shipping costs


Procedure of Shipping a Car

The car should be brought to the port three days beforehand of the departure of the ship. This can be done by yourself or a forwarding agency. Latter facilitates the organisation of transport, as the forwarders adjust to the shipping schedules. If you want to bring your car to the port yourself, please be sure to sign the required freight documents at the forwarders agency, for which you will get a Pier Delivery Report. You will need this document to transport the car directly to the sea terminal.
During the shipping, the forwarder takes care of everything. If you hired a forwarder to bring the car directly to the requested destination, the organisation of shipping the car to or from Germany is all set. If you want to keep your expenses low, you might consider, picking up the car by yourself.


Container Insurance

We recommend you, to cover insurance for the car container. As the freight forwarders’ liability is limited, the customer often has to pay for any damage occurring. This applies not only to one’s cargo, but also to the container or the ship itself. To save costs, it is worth to pay a relatively low price for insurance that cover these possibilities.

Here on our platform, you can find suitable insurances for your shipment.