Driving in Germany

Importing a car into Germany

Importing a car into Germany


When moving to Germany, rather than buying a new car, you may want to ship your car from home. In order to do so your car will have to meet certain standards. In addition to these standard you will have to be able to provide the necessary documentation which may include the title of the car and for leased vehicles you will need a letter from the associated authorities stating that you are permitted to ship the car out of the country.


What needs to be done to your car before shipping it to Germany?

The following will need to pass a German technical inspection.

·         Headlights

·         emission

·          brakes

·          rust

·          tires



Do I have to pay duty?

Not necessarily. There are ways in which you may be exempt from paying duty when shipping your vehicle to Germany. Provided that you can supply proof that you have given up your residence in your home country due to your plans to move to Germany then you may be able to ship your vehicle duty free. Of course you will need to provide documentation that may include:

·         termination of rental contract

·         acceptance to a job in Germany

·         your German rental contract

In order to be applicable for duty free shipment of your car or other form of vehicle you are required to provide evidence that you are the sole owner of the vehicle and you have used the vehicle for at least 6 months prior to the date that you plan on having it shipped.


How much will the duty be on my car?

Provided the you are not exempt from paying duty on your vehicle, you will be required to pay 0% import duty in addition to the 5% value added tax. If your car or vehicle is vintage, the you will only be subjected to 7% duty.


Do I have to change my license plate?

If your stay in Germany will not exceed 2 months, you may be allowed to keep your home license plate as well as registration. You will, however, be required to have all applicable documents translated into the German language by a certified German translator.


When should I have my car shipped?

Rental cars in Germany are relatively expensive in comparison to the United States. As a result, you may want to consider having your car shipped to Germany so that it will arrive around the time that you will be in Germany. This may mean that you will need to rent a car for the rest of your stay in the United States. However, it will save you quite a bit of money.


Here are the websites of a few companies that ship from United States to Germany:

·         www.shipoverseas.com

·         http://www.schumachercargo.com

·         http://www.shipmyvehicle.com/

·         http://shippingtooverseas.com/

·         http://www.shipdei.com/



Use a company that has been shipping from the United States to Germany for some time and thus has adequate experience.[...]

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Buying a car in Germany

Buying a car in Germany


Buying a car is always exciting no matter where you are. Things however get stepped up a notch when your buying a car in Germany. When most people think about Germany the first thing that comes to mind is the autobahn. And with your new, chic means of transportation, you too will be able to tackle those roads and push your car to the limit in the areas of the Autobahn where there is no speed regulations. And of course there is the experience of going to the dealers and shopping around for something that fits your style and budget. Keep in mind that cars in Germany tend to be smaller than what you're probably used to if you call the United States home.


Now your first quest will be setting a budget for yourself. Will you go for a new car or a used car? Is there a certain brand that you just must have?


New cars can be pretty pricey, but if you do have the budget for it, then this is definitely the way to go. You will have a wider selection and know that in your price range there is little mileage on the car that you ultimately decide on. Another plus to buying a new car is that you don't have to worry about something malfunctioning or the dealers trying to hide some form of defect that the car has. Your car will have never been in an accident, it will have a history that is fresh and clean. And not to mention that new car smell, the scent of adventure. Another plus to buying a new car is being able to customize a bit. You'll have the option of choosing a car with a sunroof, you'll be able to select the colour, and of course you've got the chance to add cool accessories like TV’s. However, the reason why most people opt against getting a new car is of course the price and the fact that being able to bargain is a tad bit more difficult. With a new car you can expect to pay the price you see displayed, and additional costs come with additional features. Discounts may be applicable for buyers who pay cash, but know that the price of your new car still will not drop drastically.


With a used car price is the big factor. Buying a used car doesn't mean that you have to get something that hardly looks functional. In fact, one of the advantages of buying a used car over a new car is that you can opt for a nicer model and still pay less than what some new cars cost. You'll also be able to save on insurance as your rates will typically be lower with a used car.


Where to look?


There are many places one can find both used and new cars. There are the newspapers which carry listings, the internet, dealerships. Just be sure to be cautious when buying a car from a private owner.[...]

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Protecting and Preserving Germany's Environmental Zones

Environmental Vehicle Stickers

Germany has instituted three categories for environmental purposes in regards to all vehicles driven in Germany. All vehicles must have an official sticker on the car indicating which areas the vehicle may enter. This is direct response to protecting areas of Germany from pollution and in an effort to maintain air purity.


Environmental Zone History

The first environmental zones were established in Berlin, Cologne and Hannover in the year 2008. Since then other German cities and communities have joined in on the environmental zone practice — more are expected to follow suit. The zones were established after it was determined that many German cities didn't meet the air purity standards set by the European Union in 999.

There are three different categories:

·         Green: certifies that the vehicle is environmentally acceptable;

·         Yellow: for less acceptable vehicles

·         Red: for those vehicles still less acceptable.


Eventually the red and yellow stickers will be phased out requiring all vehicles to be environmentally acceptable. It is not mandatory that every vehicle have a sticker but the vehicle will not be allowed to enter any environmental zone regardless if the vehicle is eligible for a green sticker. The stickers are difficult to forge and would be destroyed in any attempt to remove them from the windshield.


Vehicle Requirements

Gasoline and diesel vehicles without catalytic converters are restricted from obtaining any of the three stickers and therefore not permitted in any environmental zones.



All gasoline-driven cars with catalytic converters will acquire a green sticker. Diesel vehicles present a greater pollution hazard and many will only be allowed to receive red  or yellow stickers. However, it is possible for top-of-the-line diesel vehicles to obtain a green sticker.


Foreign Vehicles

Vehicles with foreign plates are also expected to obtain an environmental zone sticker if traveling through Germany. This includes United States military forces stationed in Germany. Stickers can be obtained at vehicle registration offices and vehicle inspection stations for a €5 fee. The vehicle’s registration form will be required. It is possible to order one online but it is best to check with the local registration office first. It general, it is a good idea to seek an environmental sticker at least three weeks prior to the visit to Germany. However, a sticker is not required for foreign vehicles. As long as the vehicle stays on the major highways or more rural areas, a sticker is not necessary.


Cities with Established Environmental Zones

Below is a list of some of the cities that have previously initiated the zones:

·         Berlin

·         Hannover

·         Köln

·         Dortmund (Brackeler Straße)

·         Leonberg

·         Ludwigsburg

·         Mannheim

·         Ilsfeld

·         Schwäbisch-Gmünd

·         Reutlingen

·         Stuttgart

·         Pleidelsheim

·         Bochum

·         Bottrop

·         Tübingen

·         Dortmund

·         Essen

·         Duisburg

·         Frankfurt am Main

·         Mülheim an der Ruhr

·         Gelsenkirchen

·         München

·         Recklinghausen

·         Augsburg

·         Oberhausen

·         Bremen

·         Karlsruhe

·         Nürnberg

·         Pforzheim

·         Herrenberg

·         Ulm

·         Freiburg (Breisgau)

·         Heidelberg

·         Mühlacker

·         Dresden

·         Dresden

·         Bonn

·         Freiburg (Breisgau)

·         Wuppertal

·         Heidelberg

·         Pfinztal

·         Münster

·         Osnabrück


The following cities have not yet set a fixed date but plan zones:

·         Braunschweig

·         Dresden

·         Gera

·         Jena

·         Darmstadt

·         Kassel

·         Regensburg

·         Nürnberg

·         Magdeburg

·         Arnsbach

·         Ruhrgebiet-Großumweltzone

·         Arzberg

·         Aschersleben

·         Bernau

·         Brandenburg an der Havel

·         Bayreuth

·         Burgdorf

·         Castrop-Rauxel

·         Chemnitz

·         Burghausen

·         Cottbus

·         Erfurt

·         Erwitte

·         Eberswalde

·         Görlitz

·         Halle (Saale)

·         Frankfurt an der Oder

·         Hambach

·         Ingolstadt

·         Itzehoe

·         Kassel

·         Hamburg

·         Krefeld

·         Landshut

·         Lindau

·         Lahn-Dill

·         Ludwigshafen

·         Mainz

·         Mühlheim an der Ruhr

·         Nauen

·         Lutherstadt Wittenberg

·         Neuruppin

·         Neuss

·         Passau

·         Neuwied

·         Potsdam

·         Schwandor

·         Speyer

·         Rhein-Main

·         Trier

·         Weiden

·         Weimar

·         Worms

·         Wuppertal

·         Warstein

·         Würzburg


Environmental Zone Signs

Many areas are labeled with specific signs indicating the types of vehicles that may enter that particular zone. The signs indicate which stickers are allowed through beyond the sign. If the sticker on the vehicle is not indicated on the sign, the vehicle must be turned around immediately or risk being fined. Vehicles that are fined are subject to fines starting at €40, this amount can change and it is recommended checking with local authorities for current fine amounts.


To find continually updated list of current and planned environmental zones, please visit: Umwelt-Plakette. An excellent resource, available in English, with an extensive informational section regarding Environmental Zones may be found at TÜV NORD.[...]

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Driving in Germany

The Autobahn. It's the first thing most people think of when Germany and roads are brought into the same sentence. These highways with no speed limits, or rather, no speed regulations in certain zones. For people who are into fast driving, this is a dream come true. For others who like to know exactly how fast to go, and ensure that they stay a few notches under the speed limit, this may sound like your worst nightmare.  However, the Autobahn is great for more reasons than one. For those who like to push the limits a little, and go faster than they'd be able to in their native countries, the Autobahn allows them to safely enjoy accelerated driving. The Autobahn does have rules. It's not just a free for all zone where people drive as they please, some slow, some fast causing more chaos than manageable.


The rules of the Autobahn:

  • Truck drivers and those driving cars with a hanger attached are not allowed to go as fast as they want.

  • The soft shoulder is only for emergencies. If you are caught pulling off for an illegitimate reason, you can be fined.

  • There is no overtaking on the right. In the left lane, and only the left lane is designated to pass.

  • There is a penalty for not leaving the left lane when the car behind you is driving at a faster speed.

  • A safe distance needs to be left between your car and the car in front.

  • Dangerous overtaking is illegal.


Most people in Germany drive smaller cars. This takes the burden off trying to maneuver an SUV into the tight parking spots that are increasingly popular in the city. Another thing to take note of is the small roads, especially in comparison to roads in the United States. Two lane roads often turn into one lane roads due to parked cars. And yes, it is legal in some streets for cars to park on the side. This is another advantage of having a smaller car, you'll be able to pass more easily, without having to worry about smashing into a rear view mirror or two on your way around.


The roads in Germany are generally well maintained and allow for a smooth, safe drive from one destination to the next.


Things you need to know about driving in Germany:

  • You are allowed to drive with your American license for six months after your arrival date.

  • The majority of Germans drive manual rather than automatic.

  • You must have, at all times,  a first aid kit in your car as well as a reflective triangle.

  • Drinking and bike riding may cause you to lose your driver's license.

  • You are required, by law, to help anyone who may have been injured in an accident. Leaving the scene, and the injured person alone, without calling for help is punishable.



Enjoy the German roads and remember, fahr vorsichtig, drive safely. 


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German Traffic Violations and Fines

Driving in Germany can be a fun experience provided you take the proper precautions and stay on the right side of the law. Certainly some of the rules are going to be a little different from what you're used to and perhaps there will even be more rules. However, it's worth learning what is allowed and what is strictly prohibited before entering the wonderfully maintained German streets. Germans aren't typically crazy drivers, regardless of their luxury of having certain areas of the highways where they're allowed to go as fast as they please. Staying true to their strict, rule following culture, Germans tend to drive safely and follow all the rules. Getting a driver's license in Germany is a pretty hard and expensive task, as a result, the citizens would rather not break the rules and face the harsh consequences, and thus they tend to abide by what is right, for the most part.



What are the consequences for speeding?

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 0 kmph. Up to 5 euros fine.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 5kmph. Up to 25 euros fine.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 2 kmph. Up to 35 euros fine.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 25 kmph. Up to 80 euros fine. Point.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 30 kmph. Up to 00 euros fine. 3 Points. License suspension month for excessive speed within city limits.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 40 kmph. Up to 60 euros fine. 3 Points. License suspension month.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 50 kmph. Up to 200 euros fine. Up to 4 Points. License suspension 2 months for excessive speed within city limits.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 60 kmph. Up to 280 euros fine. 4 Points. License suspension 3 months for excessive speed within city limits.

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 70 kmph. Up to 480 euros fine. 4 Points. License suspension 3 months.


Other violations:

  • Hit and run.

  • Driving under the influence.

  • Obstructing the visibility of the license plate.

  • Unfastened seat-belts.

  • Not yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

  • Overtaking in at crosswalks

  • Texting/ Talking on a cellphone while driving (or riding a bike).

  • Not using a child seat for children under 50 cm tall.


The list above contains just a few of the traffic violations in Germany. The majority of traffic violations come with a heavy penalty. It's best to avoid having to pay these fees or gaining a point or two on your license, and possibly even losing it for a couple of months. Road safety is very important and isn't taken lightly by German law. Ensure that you have the proper knowledge you need in order to avoid and steer clear of any violations. Learn the road signs, the road rules, and the speed limits in designated areas.



When in doubt, check. Here is a link to the Drivers Handbook for Germany (in English): http://www.usareurpracticetest.com/germany/documents/manual.pdf[...]

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Obtaining German Drivers License

If you love to drive, then the experience of driving in Germany is one you won’t want to miss while you are there. The German autobahn is famous for sections where no speed limits exist, although this is not true for the entire length. The beautiful scenery in Germany is best enjoyed on long drives on the well-maintained roads.>

Americans will find that their existing license is valid for the first six months of their stay, after which one may apply for a six month extension. However, if you will be in Germany for longer than one year, you will need to obtain a German driver`s license. To see what the testing is like, visit www.osterberger.org/test.html.



For Americans, the process is fairly simple. Depending on the US state in which your license was issued, you may be able to simply exchange it for a German one. For other states, you may be required to take a written exam, with or without a driving test. Visit www.amcham.de/services/drivers-license/us-citizens-in-germany.html for details.In either case, you should obtain a driving manual immediately upon your arrival because the laws do differ substantially from what you are used to.[...]

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