Registering an import vehicle – the way to german registration

Not every car is available on the domestic vehicle market. A classic car enthusiast finds the long desired piece of jewelry for example in the USA. Another may be tempted by a brand-new, beautiful re-import from spain with a phenomenal price reduction compared to the german list price? or a particularly interesting model is not sold in this country? Before the good thing can finally be driven on domestic roads, various formalities and sometimes even vehicle checks and conversions have to be completed between import and registration. We have compiled the most important information on this multifaceted topic and explain how the registration import vehicle works.

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Many a gem can only be imported from abroad.
Image: © gunter kramer
picture: manhattan in new york (USA)

Registering an import car – what is 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 where the applicant has his or her main place of residence is the one 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 trigger any customs formalities, imports from non-EU countries require a declaration at the customs office.

The EC certificate of conformity simplifies the import registration process

With an EEC certificate of conformity for
import vehicles do not require a certificate of conformity for vehicle registration.
Image: © vehicle service portal

The also 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 complies with 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 entered in the vehicle documents if you want to use a vehicle built in the import car registration. The original coc-paper must be presented to the registration authority.

The EEC certificate of conformity has been mandatory since 2000 and is now supplied with a new EU vehicle.

The registration of a used vehicle from another EU country or. European Economic Area (EEA) is easier than outside these countries. 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 states (european free trade association):
iceland (IS), liechtenstein (LI), norway (NO) and switzerland (CH)

What to do if no coc papers are available?

Vehicles from EU countries – registration EU vehicle

Vehicles built in the european community are almost always delivered 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 to a test center for individual acceptance.

Vehicles from non-EU countries – import vehicle declaration

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

import vehicles from a non-EU country require
always a full certificate.
picture: © gunter kramer
admission: st. Kitts (Caribbean)

If a car has not previously been registered in the EU, it generally does not have EU type approval. If you want to register such an import vehicle, you can have a full technical report prepared by a testing center (TuV, KuS, GTu or DEKRA) in accordance with §21 of the road traffic licensing regulations.

If the vehicle meets the requirements for a import registration, does it receive the operating license in the form of a individual approval (individual operating license). The certificate contains the technical description required for the subsequent issuance of the registration certificate Part I and Part II.

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

applies to the registration import vehicle the regulations of the german road traffic act. According to local 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. A valid main inspection (HU) must also be provided for the registration of imported vehicles. This certificate is not required for new EU vehicles up to 3 years old, as it is for new German vehicles.

How does the import vehicle get to an inspection 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 a German license plate
you can drive your vehicle to the test center with your operating license.
Image: © gunter kramer

Before a import-vehicle-registration a visit to a vehicle inspection center is often scheduled so that the main inspection can be carried out and a full expert opinion can be drawn up if necessary. But how can you take your vehicle to the TuV, DEKRA, GTu or KuS if it 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. Vehicles that are roadworthy and do not have a valid main inspection or an operating permit 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 import 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 sales tax were paid in accordance with § 6 FZV.

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

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

exception: as collectibles Classified classic cars can be imported duty-free and with a sales tax of 7 percent.

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

Do you have to pay (re)import tax or VAT for an EU new car?. value added tax must be paid?

The purchase price of a new car in another EU country is often significantly lower than the price that would have to be paid for the same model in Germany. Apart from a more favorable net price, the national sales tax is a major factor. It is higher almost everywhere than in germany. If you buy a car 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: under 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 clock.

This rule applies if the vehicle is engine-powered and has a displacement of more than 48 cubic centimeters or a power output of more than 7.2 kw.

If one of these two conditions applies to a purchase in another EU country, the seller does not have to charge sales tax. Behind this is the principle, valid throughout the european union, that new vehicles are to be charged with the sales tax of the country of destination.

When registering 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 submit 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 needed for import vehicle registration?

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

When the vehicle is registered, the registration certificates are issued if only the foreign vehicle documents are available.
Image: © vehicle service portal

Most of the documents used for registration of an import vehicle are the same as for a standard permit:

Personal documents relating to the vehicle owner:

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

Company documents (for companies and businesses only):

  • Extract from commercial or partnership register
  • business registration

Association documents (for associations only):

  • Extract from the register of associations

Documents for the tax office and customs:

  • SEPA-mandate for the collection of the car tax (mostly available as download on the homepage of the registration office)
    good to know: if there is a tax debt, the registration of a vehicle can be refused.

Documents for vehicle insurance:

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

Vehicle documents and proof of ownership:

  • Complete foreign registration certificate
  • proof of title (proof of ownership) – purchase contract or invoice, made out in your own name
  • Possibly confirmation of 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)

For registration of a car (new or used) from EU member state or EFTA country

  • Proof of operating permit (coc-papier/EG certificate of conformity, entry of the EG type approval in the foreign registration certificate or expert opinion according to §21 stvzo of the officially recognized expert for obtaining the operating permit)
  • Current HU-report, if the main inspection (acc. to. §29 stvzo) was already due after the first registration of the vehicle
  • proof of a valid safety inspection (SP-inspection protocol) (only for commercial vehicles)
  • Declaration for sales tax purposes if less than 6 months have elapsed since the vehicle was first registered or if no 6.000 kilometers were driven with it (see above).

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

  • Proof of type approval (full certificate in accordance with §21 of the Road Traffic Regulations) or individual approval in accordance with § 13 of the EG-FGV
  • Current main inspection report
  • For commercial vehicles, proof of a valid safety test (SP test certificate)
  • Proof of customs clearance of the vehicle (clearance certificate from customs)

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

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

Vehicles imported from EU countries must usually
not be demonstrated, because for this usually
the ec certificates of conformity are available.
Image: © gunter kramer
RECORDING: klaipėda (lithuania)

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

Excerpt: the vehicle must be identified by the registration authority before the registration certificate part II is issued according to § 12 paragraph 1 clause 3 and before the vehicle is registered.

registration of import vehicles – new vehicles must be presented for registration?

The decision on the demonstration of new cars lies with the respective registration office.
The holder should clarify this in advance. So he can organize a vehicle trailer for transport or a short-term license plate and present the car to the office to match the chassis number (VIN).

As a rule, brand new vehicles that have not yet been registered only have to be presented in exceptional cases – namely, if a special license plate format has to be assigned due to the type of construction, which can be seen neither in the coc papers nor in the report of the officially recognized expert.

registering an import vehicle – is there an obligation to present used vehicles at the time of registration??

As a rule, a used vehicle is always subject to compulsory demonstration if no EEC certificate of conformity is present. Vehicles from non-EU countries must always be presented at the registration office to check the VIN (vehicle identification number, formerly also called chassis number). It is advisable to clarify the need with the office before registration.

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

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

Vehicles without EU type approval or. Operating license,
must be modified so that they can be registered
according to §21 stvzo.
Image: © gunter kramer

vehicles produced for markets outside the eu may have to be modified to meet german standards prior to 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 the european standard. Mostly it is about lighting, exhaust behavior, engine noise or about information like 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 motor vehicle workshop and modified there in accordance with german regulations.

How to get the desired license plate for the 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 will be assigned during the registration of the import vehicle.

Import vehicle registration – what is the cost of registration?

There are no uniform nationwide regulations for the fees incurred when registering an import vehicle; they can vary from authority to authority. in general, the costs range from 27,50 euro to 70,30 euro, depending on whether additional formalities (z.B. Copies etc.) incurred on the spot. In addition, there may be costs for desired license plates.

Costs of 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 license – ca. 39,50 euro
  • license plate reservation – 2,60 euro
  • Allocation of a license plate – 10,20 euro

Is the online registration possible for import vehicles?

not all formalities of registration for imported cars can be done digitally yet. Prerequisite for an online registration are german registration certificates, which are issued after the 01. January 2015 were spent. 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 you register an EU-vehicle, a vehicle registration might be possible, if it is a re-import with german vehicle papers. In all other cases, documents for customs and tax, as well as the certificate according to §21 stvzo must be presented and the vehicle presented to the authorities.

When is an environmental sticker needed for the import vehicle??

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

All other vehicles need a new sticker with imprint of the license plate. you can get a new environmental sticker partly at the registration offices, at some garages and mostly at car inspection offices.

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

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Christina Cherry
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