Importing your vehicle and household goods from overseas to Germany

Guide to importing your car (and other goods) from overseas to Germany

Vehicle Import Germany

If you’ve been living in Germany for a little while and you’re ready to make your move permanent and import your vehicle and household goods from overseas to Germany – or you’re preparing for an overseas move – you may be wondering what this process looks like.

In this guide, we will take a look at the basics about importing your vehicle and household goods to Germany from overseas. From taxes and VAT to required documentation and more, you’ll get all the details you need.

Importing Household Goods Into Germany

If you are a non-German citizen or a German citizen who has resided abroad for one year or more, you can bring your household goods into Germany duty-free.

You must have owned your household goods for at least 6 months before they are sent to Germany. You will need an EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) to use while working with European Union customs. If you are not established in the EU, you must obtain this number from German authorities.

In addition, all of your household goods and/or vehicles are subject to a Security Filing. German customs will provide your Destination Agent and the Inland Customs Authority with an “MRN number” which may be used to arrange a security inspection of your goods.

There are some items that are dutiable, and must be taxed but are allowed in limited quantities:

    • Tobacco products, up to 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g tobacco
    • 1 liter of spirits over 22% alcohol by volume, 2 liters of fortified wine, sparkling wine or still wine
    • Perfume (50g) or Eau de toilette (250ml)

Some items may not be imported into Germany for any reason:

    • Explosives, ammunition and other such controlled items
    • Drugs and psychotropic substances
    • Pornographic articles, video, publications, software etc.
    • Medicines
    • Radioactive materials of any kind
    • Meat and dried plants
    • Items of “historical value”

For more information, you can consult the website of the German customs here.

Required Documentation For Household Goods In Germany 

To qualify to bring in your household goods duty-free, there are a few requirements. You need to show proof that you have terminated your residence in another country (such as a sale of your home or termination of the lease agreement, or a letter from an employer showing your transfer to Germany).

You will also need to prove you have been living outside of Germany for at least 12 months, and to provide proof of establishing a new residence in Germany, such as a lease agreement as well as the so-called “Anmeldebestätigung” (official proof of registration). More details about the residence registration process here.

You’ll need some documents, too, such as:

    • A valid passport and visa for German entry
    • Your Air Waybill (AWB) or Bill of Lading (B/L)
    • A full packing list of items written either in German or English
    • Customs Registration Form 0350 (“Customs declaration of personal property”)
    • A letter of employment
    • A signed letter/customs declaration regarding your shipment

Importing Your Vehicle Into Germany

If you want to bring a vehicle into Germany, you are allowed to do so duty-free, providing that you meet a few basic requirements: your motor vehicle must be registered in your name as the sole owner. It must also have been personally used by you at your previous residence for at least 6 months before moving. This can be proven with a registration certificate from your local Department of Motor Vehicles or other such offices. Furthermore, your vehicle should get into Germany more or less at the same time as you do, and you have to keep it (usually) for personal use for at least one year after arriving in Germany.

You may be required to convert your vehicle to meet EU standards before it’s roadworthy, depending on your country of origin. If your vehicle doesn't have an EU-type approval, it must pass a test according to §21 StVZO from the Technical Inspection Organization (GTÜ - Gesellschaft für Technische Überwachung mbH) of your future place of residence in Germany before it can be registered. Search for your local GTÜ inspection office here. After the inspection, an approval certificate (TÜV certificate) will be issued if all tests were successful. The so-called TÜV needs to be re-done every 24 months.

In addition, you will have to pay a German Road Tax (Kraftfahrzeug Steuer or Kfz-Steu­er) in advance for one year at the port of entry. The so-called Kfz-Steu­er is a yearly tax that always needs to be paid one year in advance. Use this free calculator (in German) to know how much you will have to pay for the Road Tax.

Required Documentation For Vehicles In Germany 

To import your vehicle to Germany, you will need:

  • a copy of your passport (picture page)
  • a copy of your foreign registration certificate (proof of ownership - original registration paper from the origin country with a German certified translation)
  • [Vehicles from the US] a certificate of title or manufacturer's statement of origin
  • a purchase invoice (not a copy, but the original)
  • a proof of car insurance from the origin country (ask your insurance company)
  • an export permit
  • the license plates from the origin country (not needed for new cars).

For more information and to learn about other applicable requirements and restrictions, we recommend that you visit the Germany Customs website here.

Once you register yourself at your local Bürgeramt (Anmeldung process), you can then register your motor vehicle at your local Vehicle Registration Office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle). The cost of vehicle registration can vary from 10 to 40 Euros depending on the German State. Search for your local Vehicle Registration Office here.

Be aware that you cannot drive your motor vehicle on public roads until it has been approved. 

To register your motor vehicle in Germany, you will need:

Tips For Bringing Your Household Goods And Vehicle To Germany 

Ready to get started and bring your household goods to Germany? Here are a few tips you should follow to make the process easier for yourself.

    • Double-check for restricted items – Bringing restricted items into Germany can put you in a lot of legal trouble, and may prevent you from getting your household goods in a timely manner. Make sure you do not bring any restricted items like firearms, explosives, explicit items, and so on. Double-check with German customs if you’re not sure about a particular item.

Restricted Items

    • Pare down your possessions – The less you bring to Germany, the better. A smaller shipment of household items will cost less when you hire an international moving company to move you to Germany, and it will also take less time to process your stuff once your goods arrive. Bring only valuables, and don’t bring anything that can be easily replaced once you move to Germany.

Small shipment

    • Don’t bring a car that you’ve owned for less than 6 months – If you have not owned your car for at least 6 months, you’ll pay taxes of 12% of CIF (Cost, Freight and Insurance) + VAT of 16% of CIF including the duty. This can add up to thousands of dollars. If you have had your car for less than six months, you may want to sell it and purchase a new car in Germany – this will often be cheaper.

New car

    • Plan ahead as much as possible – A minimum of 3-6 months of planning before your move is recommended. This will give you more time to pack up your stuff, fill out the appropriate paperwork, work out your residence permits, find a home or apartment to rent (search here), and more.

Plan Ahead.gif

Know What To Expect When Bringing Your Household Goods And Vehicle To Germany 

As long as you meet the stated requirements, you can bring your stuff to Germany free of duties and taxes. So take another look at the information above to start planning your move – and remember to contact German customs (Zollamt) directly if you have any other questions.

Thanks to Jason Mueller for this article about Importing your vehicle and household goods from overseas to Germany. 



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