Import vehicle registration – the way to german registration

Not every car is available on the domestic vehicle market. A classic car enthusiast finds the long-awaited gem, for example, in the U.S. For another, a brand new, pretty re-import from Spain may tempt you with a phenomenal discount compared to the German list price? Or is a particularly interesting model not distributed in this country? Before the car can finally be driven on domestic roads, various formalities have to be completed between importation and registration, and in some cases even vehicle checks and conversions have to be carried out. We have compiled the most important information on this complex subject and explain how the Import vehicle registration Works.

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An old Ford pickup truck on the streets of New York Manhattan

Many a piece of jewelry can only be imported from abroad.
Picture: © Gunter Kramer
Picture: Manhattan in New York (USA)

Registering an import car – what’s different from a standard registration??

Whether it’s a classic car from the U.S. or a new car from an EU country, the registration office in which the applicant has his or her primary residence is responsible. In principle, any vehicle may be imported into Germany. However, it must comply with European registration regulations and, if necessary, be modified accordingly. While intra-Community imports and exports do not require customs formalities, imports from non-EU countries do require a declaration at the customs office.

The EC certificate of conformity simplifies the import registration process

Registration certificate part 1 and part 2 and the EC certificate of conformity to the vehicle documents

With an EEC certificate of conformity for
Import vehicles eliminate the need for expert opinions for vehicle registration.
Image: © Automotive Service Portal

The also called CoC (short for Certificate of Conformity) mentioned EC certificate of conformity (EC = European Community) or EEC Certificate of Conformity (EEC = European Economic Community) confirms that a motor vehicle meets EU standards. It is issued by the manufacturer and documents all technical elements and data of a vehicle, including a detailed list of CO2 and pollutant values. As an EC type-approval, it must be registered in the vehicle documents if one wants a Import car permit. The original CoC paper must be presented to the licensing authority.

The EEC certificate of conformity has been compulsory since 2000 and has since been supplied with a new EU car.

The registration of a used vehicle from a non-EU country resp. European Economic Area (EEA) is easier than outside these states. The EEA consists of the states of the European Union and EFTA (excluding Switzerland).

EU countries:
Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Finland (FI), France (FR), Greece (GR), Ireland (IE), Italy (IT), Croatia (HR), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Malta (MT), Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Sweden (SE), Slovakia (SK), Slovenia (SI), Spain (ES)

EFTA countries (European Free Trade Association):
Iceland (IS), Liechtenstein (LI), Norway (NO) and Switzerland (CH)

What to do if no chain of custody papers are available?

vehicles from EU countries – registration EU vehicle

Vehicles built in the European Community are almost always supplied with EU type approval. Duplicates of missing original documents are available from the manufacturer for a fee. Alternatively, the import vehicle can be presented to an officially recognized expert or at a test center for individual approval.

Vehicles from non-EU countries – register import vehicle

A Nissan passenger car with a black license plate and white lettering PA 9976

Import vehicles from a non-EU country require
always a full appraisal.
Image: © Guenter Kramer
Record: St. Kitts (Caribbean)

If a car was not previously registered in the EU, it usually does not have EU type approval either. If you want to register such an imported vehicle, you can have a full technical report prepared by a test center (TuV, KuS, GTu or DEKRA) in accordance with §21 of the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations.

If the vehicle meets the requirements for Import registration, it receives the operating permit in the form of a Individual approval (individual operating permit). The certificate contains the technical description required for the subsequent issue of the registration certificate Part I and Part II.

When is a general inspection required for import vehicle registration??

In the case of approval, the following apply to the Import vehicle the regulations of the German Road Traffic Act. Under German law, motor vehicles must undergo a general inspection, including a check of the engine management/exhaust gas purification system, no later than 36 months after initial registration. Vehicles must also have proof of a valid general inspection (HU) for import vehicle registration. For EU new cars up to 3 years old, this proof is not required, as well as for new German cars.

How to get the import vehicle to a testing station without registration?

An Opel Vectra with a short-term license plate number A 045984

With the short-term license plate, vehicles can be registered without
operating permit to be driven to the test center.
Image: © Gunter Kramer

Before a Import vehicle registration A visit to a vehicle inspection station is often on the agenda, so that the main inspection can be made and possibly a full appraisal can be drawn up. But how to get the vehicle to the TuV, DEKRA, GTu or KuS if the vehicle is not yet registered in Germany?? Not every owner of an import vehicle has a vehicle trailer. The solution is simple and affordable – registration with a short-term license plate. Without a valid general inspection or with a missing operating permit, vehicles that are safe to drive may be driven to the inspection station and to a specialist workshop with the short-term registration.

When is the clearance certificate from customs required for the registration of an imported vehicle??

The customs office of the first EU country in which the vehicle arrives in the Community is responsible for the customs declaration of a vehicle from a non-EU country. If the car arrives by ship on the European mainland, the customs clearance can take place directly. Alternatively, there is an import receipt or transit bill for declaration at German customs. For subsequent registration in Germany, the customs office must issue a customs clearance certificate. It serves as proof that the importation was carried out correctly – i.e. that import duty and import VAT were paid in accordance with § 6 FZV.

Calculation of the import duty for passenger cars:
10 percent of the total value before customs clearance (= vehicle value + packaging/transport costs)

Calculation of the import sales tax (equivalent to the current value added tax):
19 percent of the total value after customs (import duty + vehicle value + packaging/transport costs)

Exception: as Collector’s items classified classic cars can be imported duty-free and with a sales tax of 7 percent.

Vehicles manufactured in an EU or EFTA country and imported directly into Germany are exempt from customs duty. Proof of origin must be provided for this purpose.

Must be paid for an EU new car (Re)import tax or. Value added tax must be paid?

The purchase price of a new car in another EU country is often significantly lower than the price of the same model in Germany. Apart from a more favorable net price, the national value-added tax is of importance. It is almost everywhere higher than in Germany. If you buy a vehicle privately in another EU country, you only pay the net price there. For a new car, the sales tax of 19 percent applicable in Germany (2020 partly only 16 percent wg. COVID-19) to be paid to the tax office.

Good to know: according to current EU law a car is considered a new car,

  • if the initial registration was less than six months ago at the time of purchase, or
  • if there are less than 6.000 kilometers on the speedometer.

This regulation applies if the vehicle is motor-driven and has a cubic capacity of more than 48 cubic centimeters or a power of more than 7.2 kW.

If one of these two conditions applies when buying in another EU country, the seller does not have to charge sales tax. Behind this is the principle, which applies throughout the European Union, that new vehicles are to be charged with the sales tax of the country of destination.

When registering for an EU vehicle, the “Notification for VAT purposes of the intra-Community acquisition of a new motor vehicle” must be submitted. Most registration offices offer the corresponding form for downloading. If you register a new car purchased outside Germany in the EU, you must present this declaration to the authorities within 10 days, otherwise Part I and Part II of the registration certificate will not be issued to you.

What documents are required for import vehicle registration?

Registration documents - EC certificates of conformity, registration certificates and receipt for paid vehicle registration

During vehicle registration, the registration certificates are issued when only the foreign vehicle documents are available.
Image: © Vehicle Service Portal

Most documents required for Import vehicle registration are required are the same as for an ordinary standard registration:

Personal documentation on the vehicle owner:

  • Valid identity card or passport with registration certificate (or officially certified copy)
  • In case of representation: written power of attorney, copy of the power of attorney’s identity card and identity card of the authorized person
  • Confirmation of the legal guardian or guardian ID, if the vehicle is to be registered to a minor or a person under care

Company documents (only for companies and enterprises):

  • Extract from commercial or partnership register
  • Business registration

Association documents (only for associations):

  • Association register excerpt

Documents for the tax office and customs:

  • SEPA mandate for collection of vehicle tax (usually available as a download on the homepage of the registration office)
    Good to know: If a tax debt exists, the registration of a vehicle can be refused.

Motor vehicle insurance documents:

  • eVB number (electronic insurance confirmation) as proof of a concluded motor vehicle liability insurance policy (formerly insurance double card)

Vehicle documents and proof of ownership:

  • Complete foreign registration certificate
  • Proof of authorization to dispose of the vehicle (proof of ownership) – purchase contract or invoice, issued in own name
  • Possibly confirmation from the dealer or manufacturer that it is a new vehicle
  • Foreign license plates, if the vehicle is still registered
  • at some offices the confirmation of the vehicle identification number (VIN)

When registering a car (new or used) from an EU member state or EFTA country

  • Proof of operating permit (CoC paper/EC certificate of conformity, entry of EC type approval in the foreign registration certificate or expert opinion in accordance with §21 StVZO from the officially recognized expert for obtaining operating permit)
  • Current HU-report, if the main inspection (acc. to. §29 StVZO) was already due after the initial registration of the vehicle
  • Proof of a valid safety inspection (SP inspection report) (only for commercial vehicles)
  • Declaration for sales tax purposes, if less than 6 months have passed since the initial registration of the vehicle, or if no 6.000 kilometers have been driven with it (see above).

For registration Import vehicle (new or used) from a non-EU country

  • Proof of operating permit (full certificate in accordance with §21 of the German Road Traffic Act) or individual approval in accordance with § 13 of the EC General Vehicle Licensing Regulations (EG-FGV)
  • Current main inspection report
  • In the case of commercial vehicles, proof of a valid safety inspection (SP inspection report)
  • Proof that the vehicle has been cleared through customs (clearance certificate from customs)

When must an import vehicle be presented at the registration office?

A black Mercedes sedan with a Lithuanian license plate number KRH 001

imported vehicles from EU countries usually have to be
not be presented, as this usually requires
the EC certificates of conformity are available.
Image: © Gunter Kramer
Record: Klaipėda (Lithuania)

If a registration certificate part 2 (vehicle title) has not yet been issued for the vehicle, it must be registered according to § 6 para. 8 of the FZV to be presented at the road traffic office for identification before registration.

Excerpt: The vehicle must be identified by the registration authority before the registration certificate Part II is issued in accordance with § 12 Paragraph 1 Sentence 3 and before it is registered.

Import vehicle registration – Do new cars have to be presented at the time of registration?

The decision about the presentation of new cars is up to the respective registration office.
The owner should clarify this in advance. Thus, he can organize a vehicle trailer for transport or a short-term license plate and present the car to the office for matching the chassis number (VIN).

As a rule, brand-new vehicles that have not yet been registered must be presented only in exceptional cases – namely, when a special license plate format must be assigned due to the design, which is not evident from either the chain of custody documents or the report of the officially recognized expert.

Import vehicle registration – Is there a demonstration requirement for used vehicles at registration?

As a rule, a used vehicle is always subject to a demonstration requirement if no EEC certificate of conformity is available. Vehicles from non-EU countries must always be presented to the registration authority for matching of the VIN (vehicle identification number formerly also called chassis number). It is recommended to clarify the necessity with the office before admission.

What happens if the imported vehicle does not comply with German/European registration regulations?

Exterior view of a car repair shop. Two cars are parked in front of it

vehicles without EU type approval or. Operating license,
must be converted so that they can be approved
according to §21 StVZO get.
Picture: © Gunter Kramer

Vehicles produced for markets outside the EU may have to be modified to meet German standards before registration. This applies almost always (but by no means only) to vehicles from the USA, many of whose components and data do not comply with European standards. Mostly it is a question of lighting, exhaust behavior, engine noise or information such as the permissible trailer load or the correct tires.

With a trailer or with its own engine power together with a short-term license plate registration, the vehicle can be taken to a garage and converted there according to the German regulations.

How to get the desired license plate for import registration?

As for a regular motor vehicle registration, for the registration of imported vehicles, a special license plate can be reserved in advance with the competent authority. This license plate is assigned during the registration of the import vehicle.

Import vehicle registration – What does the registration cost?

There is no uniform nationwide regulation for the fees incurred when registering an import vehicle; they can vary from authority to authority. In general, the cost ranges from 27.50 euros to 70.30 euros, depending on whether additional formalities are required (e.g.B. Copies etc.) is required on site. In addition, there may be costs for optional license plates.

Costs for import vehicle registration:

  • registration of an import vehicle – ca. 27,00 Euro
  • Registration fee of the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt – up to 3,80 Euro
  • Seal fees for the license plates – 0,30 Euro per seal
  • Issue of the operating permit – ca. 39,50
  • reservation of license plates – 2.60 euros
  • Allocation of a personal license plate – 10,20 Euro

Is online registration possible for imported vehicles?

Not all registration formalities for imported cars can yet take place digitally. Prerequisite for an online registration are German registration certificates, which must be issued after 01. January 2015 were issued. On the registration certificate part I (vehicle registration certificate) and the registration certificate part II (vehicle title) are the hidden security codes, which have to be transmitted for the internet-based vehicle registration. If an EU vehicle is registered, it might be possible to register the vehicle if it is a re-import with German vehicle documents. In all other cases, documents for customs and tax, as well as the expert opinion in accordance with §21 StVZO must be submitted and the vehicle presented to the authorities.

When is an environmental sticker needed for the import vehicle?

If the owner of the import vehicle wants to drive in cities and regions with environmental zones, an environmental badge matching the new license plate is required. The fine dust sticker is not required for classic cars with an H license plate, as these are allowed to enter environmental zones without the sticker.

All other vehicles need a new sticker with imprint of the license plate. A new environmental badge can be obtained in some cases at the registration offices, at some garages and mostly at vehicle inspection stations.

Fine dust stickers can also be ordered inexpensively online. Within 1-2 days they will be delivered by mail.

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