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Germany - Importing a Car

Importing a car to Germany is a worthwhile exercise for a number of reasons. Although there are many German car companies that do their design and manufacturing in Germany, the cars are much cheaper to buy in neighbouring countries. Plus, by importing the car you get to experience German bureaucracy at its best early on in your stay, which will condition you for all future bureaucratic encounters!

There is an additional first step in this process for cars imported from a non-EU country. (This additional step can be by-passed if you can prove that the car was at any time registered in Germany!)

Step 0
You must obtain a customs certificate for the car from the Hauptzollamt
Landsberger Str. 124
Munich
80339
Germany
Tel: + 49 (0) 89 5109 00
If you cannot prove that the car has been registered for a minimum of 6 months, it is considered 'new', and you'll have to pay import tax and value added tax.

The registration of an imported vehicle is not too different from registering a newly-bought car in Germany, although you need some additional items. These items are:

  • "Doppelkarte" which is proof of insurance from an insurance agency
  • your passport or residence permit  "Aufenthaltserlaubnis" for ID
  • International registration papers
  • Registration plates, or proof that registration was cancelled
    If the car is 'new' (tacometer reading of less than 6000km and first registered within the last 6 months) you need the original plus 2 photocopies of the receipt of purchase, and the completed tax declaration in duplicate
  • Customs certificate (if importing car from outside the EU)
    A certificate from an approved German inspector that the exhaust emissions conform to German standards
    If the date of the first registration is more than 3 years ago, the car must have a certificate from an approved German inspector that the car has passed a full inspection

This may not be all, as the registration centre also reserves the right to ask for other documents or for translations of them!

The registration centre is at
Eichstätterstr 2
Munich
80684
Germany
Tel: + 49 (0) 89 2333 6105
Fax: + 49 (0) 89 2333 6053
email: zulassung.kvr@muenchen.de

In case you don't have the time or the patience to go through this ordeal personally, you can authorize a proxy to do it.

You should check the above information with the national office of motor vehicles:
Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt
Fördestr. 16
Flensburg
24932
Germany
Tel: +49 (0) 461 3161 745/ + 49 (0) 461 3161 746/ + 49 (0) 461 3161 687
Fax: +49 (0) 461 3161 650/ + 49 (0) 461 3161 495. 
website: www.kba.de