How to Ship a Car From Germany to the United States

by Nicole Schmoll
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freighter's sunset image by John Sfondilias from

Shipping a car from Germany to the United States is a simple process that involves selecting a shipper to transport your vehicle to America and ensuring that your car meets United States safety standards. The carrier you select loads your car into a 20- or 40-foot container at a port in Germany. You may also select to have your car rolled onto a ship and secured on an internal car deck in the hull of the freighter.

Step 1

Verify that your car meets U.S. safety, bumper and emission standards, especially if it was manufactured and purchased in Germany. According to the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, any vehicles not meeting U.S. safety, bumper and emission requirements must be brought into compliance, exported back to Germany or destroyed. Save yourself time and money by making sure your vehicle is compliant before it is prepared for transportation to the United States.

Step 2

Make arrangements with a shipper or carrier to transport your vehicle from Germany to the United States. A number of professional shippers will collect and secure your car for transport by freighter to the United States. In order to clear customs and collect your vehicle in the United States, you will need to retain the shipper or carrier's original bill of lading, bill of sale, foreign registration and any other documents covering the vehicle.

Step 3

Clean the undercarriage of your vehicle before releasing it to the shipper or carrier you have selected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that imported cars be free of foreign soil, so have your car steam-sprayed or thoroughly cleansed before transporting it into the United States.

Step 4

Clean the inside of your car of all personal belongings. Many shipping companies will not accept your vehicle if it contains personal items, so clean the inside of your car thoroughly before releasing it to the shipper or carrier. Doing this will also protect you from loss due to theft.

Step 5

Be prepared to pay the appropriate duty on your vehicle upon picking it up in the United States. Unless you are a U.S. citizen employed abroad, a government employee returning from a tour of duty or voluntary leave, or a member of the military returning from service overseas, you may need to pay a 2.5-percent tax on autos.

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