Car Import Germany - Guide

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5 Frequently asked questions about car import Germany

Would you like to import a vehicle from Switzerland to Germany? With the help of our “Auto Import Germany” checklist, this is no problem. These instructions will guide you through the import process and explain the individual points clearly. We address all the steps that need to be taken, from purchase and customs clearance to registration. With the help of this guide, you will not only learn about the individual processes, but we also have some tips on how you can save money.

Go directly to the Tax calculator car import to Germany

Buying a vehicle abroad (preparation for importing a car in Germany)

There are a few things to bear in mind when buying a vehicle abroad. If you are flexible here and use the right tricks, you can save money later on. Some offers may seem lucrative at first glance, but on closer inspection you can import an even better car for less money.

Choice of vehicle / cost comparison

There are now many platforms on the Internet where you can find attractive offers for a vehicle. Two platforms for used and new vehicles are and, for example, if you want to buy the vehicle in Switzerland. If the desired vehicle is not available in Germany, it can sometimes be worth looking abroad. There you may find the exact vehicle model that is not or no longer available on the market in Germany.

At first glance, some of the vehicles are cheaper in Switzerland than in Germany, as they are not in demand on the local market. Unfortunately, the purchase price alone is not enough. Please bear in mind that approx. 30% import duties are added to the purchase price. This is made up of 19% VAT and 10% customs duties. However, customs duties are also taxed again, so that approx. 30% is a good guideline. In addition, there are costs for the TÜV inspection, the environmental sticker, the (repeated) journey, transportation and, if necessary, export license plates. If you add all this up, the offer unfortunately no longer looks quite as rosy as initially thought.

Seller’s choice / VAT refund

Thousands of offers are waiting for you on online car platforms. But which seller and which offer should you choose? Does it really matter if the car is sold by a dealer or can it also be sold by a trustworthy private individual?

Yes, depending on the individual case, it can certainly play a role, because you can save money here. Relatively young, used vehicles in particular are often sold by dealers who are liable for VAT. These are, for example, demonstration vehicles, rental vehicles, leasing returns, company cars, etc. If you see in the vehicle advertisement that the “VAT can be shown” or the offer “incl. VAT”, you will be asked to pay the VAT. 7.7% VAT”, then you can get the Swiss VAT refunded later.

So if you were to buy a car for CHF 10,500 from a private individual, you would not receive a tax refund, as you have not paid any Swiss tax. If you were to buy the same car from a VAT-registered dealer for CHF 10,770, you would be refunded CHF 770. So even though the car is more expensive at first glance, you’ll be cheaper overall. Please note, however, that you will not receive a VAT refund from retailers who do not charge VAT. This is due to the fact that this is a special case (not taxable).

Exporting the vehicle (importing a car from Switzerland)

There are a few things to consider when preparing for the transfer. You should take a close look here so that you don’t have any problems later during customs clearance or in the event of a police check.

Preparation of the Swiss export declaration (e-dec)

Before you can import the vehicle purchased in Switzerland to Germany, you must first export it from Switzerland. An electronic export declaration must be created for this purpose. We can create these for you. Once export clearance has been granted by the customs office, the vehicle may be exported from Switzerland.

Export license plates and insurance

If the vehicle is to be transported on its own wheels, it must be provided with a license plate. However, it is not permitted to use a German license plate. It must therefore be a special Swiss export license plate. You can obtain this against payment directly from the cantonal road traffic office in Switzerland at the place where the vehicle was sold. Insurance must also be taken out in advance. This means that you and other road users are adequately protected in the event of an accident. The cost of the export license plate is around CHF 250-350, depending on the canton and insurance company.

Alternatively, the vehicle can also be transferred with the seller’s regular Swiss license plate as long as the driver is covered by insurance.

Another alternative is to transport the vehicle without license plates and insurance, e.g. on a trailer or on a car transporter. If you would like a quote for this, please contact us.

COC / EC Certificate of Conformity

When purchasing the vehicle, you should normally receive the original COC paper from the dealer. COC stands for Certificate of Conformity = EC Certificate of Conformity. You will need this document later in order to register the vehicle in Germany. If the document is no longer available, you can order it directly from the manufacturer. Alternatively, it is sometimes also possible to redeem the vehicle without a COC. However, other documents and information are required for this. You can find out more about this directly from the registration office responsible for you in Germany.

Importing the vehicle (car import Germany)

When importing the vehicle, you will incur the costs of import duties on the one hand and the costs of the customs agent’s services on the other. We have compiled the formula for you below.

Import duty calculation – Car import Germany costs calculator

Depending on the vehicle, customs duties may apply initially. These usually amount to 10% of the purchase price of the vehicle. The customs duties are then taxed at 19% German VAT. The fictitious freight costs are also taxed with VAT. For example, it is assumed that you (e.g. even if you transport the vehicle yourself) had at least approx. 50-150 EUR transportation costs.

In addition to customs duties, 19% import sales tax is added to the vehicle value or purchase price. A vehicle price of CHF 11,000 = the equivalent of approx. EUR 10,225 would therefore incur customs duties of EUR 1022.50.

A further 19% VAT is then charged on the customs duties and on the notional freight costs as well as on the vehicle value. At the above value, this would therefore be EUR 1,022.50 customs duties + EUR 150 notional freight costs + EUR 10,225 vehicle value = EUR 11,397.50 at 19% VAT = EUR 2165.53. The total import duties would therefore be EUR 1022.50 customs duties + EUR 2165.53 VAT = EUR 3188.03

Here is another calculation example: The purchase price of a vehicle is CHF 22,000. Converted into EUR, this would be approximately EUR 20,450. Of which 10% customs duties = EUR 2,045 + notional freight costs EUR 150, resulting in a VAT value of = EUR 22,645. Plus 19% VAT on the VAT value of EUR 22,645 = EUR 4,302.55. The total import duties are therefore EUR 4,302.55 VAT + EUR 2045 customs duties = EUR 6347.55.

Import customs clearance

We will gladly take care of import customs clearance for you. We use special customs software for this, which is directly linked to the customs system.

Registration of the vehicle

Before you can register / redeem the vehicle, you must have paid the import duties. You can then make an appointment with the TÜV and the registration office. You must then present the clearance certificate that we have issued for you with the import customs clearance.

TÜV after car import Germany

In order to be able to register the vehicle in Germany, you must always have a complete acceptance test carried out by the TÜV. Once the vehicle is roadworthy, you will receive the new license plates.

Frequently asked questions about car import Germany

We have listed and answered the most frequently asked questions below. If you have any questions, you can also contact us at any time. We will then be happy to discuss your individual case.

What documents are required for importing a car to Germany?

So that we can prepare the customs documents for your vehicle, we need as much information as possible in advance by e-mail. These are, on the one hand, documents relating to the vehicle itself + the purchase or vehicle value and, on the other hand, information on the transfer. Please send us with your request, if already available:

  • Scan of the Swiss “vehicle registration document”
  • Scan of the invoice or purchase contract
  • if available: Confirmation of payment / receipt
  • if available: Valuation report, e.g. EUROTAX vehicle valuation
  • if available: List of defects of the vehicle

In addition, we need to know when you expect to cross the border, which border you want to cross and which license plate number the vehicle will have for the transfer, if you already know this. Depending on whether you can prove the origin of the vehicle or not, we also need a manufacturer’s declaration of preferential origin or the original import customs receipt (“assessment decision”). More on this under point 5.8: My vehicle was manufactured in the EU, do I still have to pay customs duties?

What does customs clearance cost for importing a car to Germany?

In addition to the above-mentioned import duties and the costs for transportation, registration, the environmental sticker, TÜV approval and travel, there are also costs for customs clearance services. If we are allowed to import your vehicle from Switzerland to Germany, we usually charge 235 EUR / 250 CHF. This is made up of the costs for the Swiss export and for the German import customs clearance (including the preparation of the clearance certificate).

If you import several vehicles at the same time or on a regular basis, we can accommodate you in terms of price.

Can I also give my car away to Germany?

You can also give your car away to Germany. In such a case, however, electronic customs clearance is still required. In this case, instead of the vehicle purchase price, the current value of the vehicle is subject to duty and tax. For this purpose, we recommend that you prepare a so-called EUROTAX valuation. You can create these yourself online for CHF 11(to create). The EUROTAX valuation is recognized by customs as a valuation report, provided that the information contained therein is true. In addition, it is advisable to draw up a list of actual defects in the vehicle. This means that the vehicle value can still be adjusted downwards.

What is the procedure for preparing customs documents for importing a car into Germany?

As a rule, our customers send us the documents available to them in advance by e-mail for further review. As much and as precise information as possible should already be provided in order to avoid delays during time-critical transfers. Once the documents have been checked and are complete + compliant, we will coordinate the next steps with you and confirm the order. You will then receive the customs documents to print out yourself or you will receive the address of our handling partner at the border of your choice. You can then collect the documents there in printed form. We also always send step-by-step instructions for the border procedure by e-mail.

How long does the on-site processing take and what is the procedure?

Depending on whether you want to print out the documents yourself or pick them up at the border, the time required will vary by a few minutes. However, depending on how busy the customs office is that day, you should usually be able to complete the entire customs clearance process within 10-20 minutes. You will receive the exact procedure as step-by-step instructions by e-mail once the documents have been completed. The procedure in brief is as follows:

  • Bring original documents (vehicle registration document etc.)
  • Parking at the agreed limit (truck parking lot)
  • if necessary, collect documents from our office on foot
  • Export of the vehicle (Swiss customs office)
  • Import of the vehicle (German customs office)
  • Payment of import duties (cash desk)
  • Border crossing (truck lock)

When do I have to pay the import duties and the service?

Import duties must always be paid directly to German customs at the time of crossing the border. You can also pay by card up to a tax amount of EUR 2,000. Otherwise, payment is only possible in cash (in EUR).

You can pay the costs for customs clearance by us by bank transfer to our German bank account within one week of the invoice being issued (i.e. after customs clearance has been completed).

How much lead time is required to create the documents?

Depending on how complex your case is, it can be completed within approx. 1-2 hours. However, it would be better to send us the documents as early as possible. This gives us enough time together to request any additional documents, for example to save on customs duties. You can also save yourself waiting times at the border. Ideally, we would need all documents approx. 1 week in advance to enable smooth and fast customs clearance at the border.

My vehicle was manufactured in the EU. Do I still have to pay customs duties?

In order for a vehicle manufactured in the EU to be re-exported duty-free to Germany or another EU country, certain proof of preferential origin is required. A movement certificate EUR.1 can then be issued by us.

When exporting the car, the EUR.1 must be certified at a competent Swiss customs office of export within the opening hours.

In order for the movement certificate to be authenticated, the vehicle must already have been imported into Switzerland from the EU with a proof of origin. Therefore, a confirmation must be requested from the Swiss general importer stating that the vehicle has already been imported into Switzerland as a preferential originating good. If it is a second-hand vehicle (a used car), the origin can also be proven with a manufacturer’s declaration from the EU manufacturer’s plant.

In addition, an export declaration must be drawn up for the exported vehicle and a copy of the vehicle registration document must be submitted to the customs office of export.

If you have any questions about this, we can send you a sample of a valid manufacturer’s certificate from a previous case. Please note, however, that the following vehicle manufacturers no longer issue supplier’s declarations for used passenger cars:

  • Volkswagen (does not issue certificates or only to its own PartnerCenters)
  • Porsche (no longer issues certificates)
  • Audi (generally no longer issues certificates)
  • Mercedes-Benz (only creates documents for passenger cars that are not older than 5 years)

Other vehicle brands would have to be checked individually.

I have inherited a vehicle from Switzerland, what do I have to do?

If you have inherited a vehicle from Switzerland, special documentation is required. The import can then take place completely duty-free. This means that only the costs for the customs clearance service would be incurred. In some cases, it is also possible to submit the documents later if they are not yet available. A security would then first have to be deposited with German customs in the amount of any duties that may be incurred.

For import duty exemption, we need the following documents in addition to the vehicle documents:

  • Will, if available (must be signed in the original)
  • List of the entire estate to be transferred, incl. Information on weight, number of packages and value
  • Value appraisal of the vehicle (so-called EUROTAX valuation)
  • Certificate of inheritance, if this is already available

What should I do if I want to import my own car from Switzerland to Germany?

If you want to transfer your own vehicle from Switzerland to Germany, you first need to decide why you want to export the vehicle from Switzerland to Germany:

  • Are you planning to emigrate from Switzerland to Germany or return to Germany?
  • Are you still resident in Switzerland or have you owned the vehicle for less than 6 months?

If you have owned the vehicle for more than 6 months at the time of the move and you are listed on the vehicle registration document, it may be possible to import the vehicle into Germany completely duty-free. In such a case, however, you would also have to officially deregister your Swiss residence and register your residence in Germany. Otherwise the “normal” import duties would be due: 10% customs duties and 19% VAT.

I would like to import a Swiss vehicle to Germany that is already in Switzerland, how does that work?

According to Article 79 UCC (Union Customs Code), the vehicle should have been cleared through customs before it was brought to Germany if the sale was planned. Even if the vehicle owner spontaneously receives a good offer for the purchase of the vehicle afterwards, this does not exempt them from the obligation to clear customs beforehand. In such a case, you would have to clarify individually with the customs office responsible for the place where the vehicle is currently located in Germany whether customs clearance is possible. In the worst case, the vehicle would have to be taken back to the border. The normal export and import process would then have to be followed. If we receive approval from the German inland customs office that the import will be accepted, we will be happy to handle the import customs clearance for you.

What procedure should I follow if I want to have a Swiss vehicle repaired in Germany and then bring it back to Switzerland?

In this case, the active finishing process must be used. Please contact us, as the costs and the procedure depend on the individual case.

We are a German company and would like to import a vehicle from Switzerland. Are there any special features to consider?

In addition to the above-mentioned procedure, your company must have a so-called EORI number. This is a number that you must apply for once so that you are registered in the German customs and European Union system. We will be happy to support you in applying for an EORI number.

What should I do if I want to import a vehicle from Switzerland to an EU country that does not border Switzerland, e.g. the Czech Republic, Spain, etc.?

If you want to import a vehicle into an EU country that does not border Switzerland, there are two options:

  • Export from Switzerland and import customs clearance into the EU via Germany, therefore 10% customs duties and 19% German VAT apply. Costs = 235 EUR / 250 CHF + approx. 30% tax. Registration is possible in the EU country with the German tax assessment.
  • Preparation of the Swiss export and a T1 transit document to the country of destination. A local customs agency carries out import customs clearance there, see also point 5.18 of this article. Costs = 140 EUR / 150 CHF + at least 32% duties + costs for the foreign customs agency approx. 100 EUR + deposit of a cash security with us for 30% of the vehicle value.

Would you like to talk to us about your individual case? Please feel free to call us or send us an e-mail: to the contact details

How does the car import from Switzerland to Austria work?

Importing cars from Switzerland to Austria works in a similar way to importing cars to Germany. However, instead of 10% customs duties and 19% VAT, 10% customs duties and 20% Austrian VAT will be charged. We will be happy to prepare the Swiss export declaration for you and carry out the Austrian import customs clearance. The costs for the customs clearance service are the same as the costs for importing into Germany.

How much does it cost to import a car from Switzerland to Italy and how should I proceed?

Would you like to export a vehicle from Switzerland to Italy? In addition to the regular information and documents, we need the recipient’s personal tax number in Italy, the so-called “Codice Fiscale”, so that we can carry out customs clearance. We also need a written power of attorney from the Italian buyer on a form. Finally, customs would like a scan of the buyer’s identity card. Since we have to prepare additional documents (T1 document) when importing to Italy and the overall effort is greater (approval by the Italian customs office), the total clearance costs are EUR 250 or CHF 275. In addition, there are the Italian import duties: 10% customs duties and 22% VAT. If you have any questions, please contact us so that we can discuss further details with you.

Can I declare the car import from Switzerland to France myself?

In some cases, it is possible to import the vehicle to France completely independently. The customs office at the Basel – St. Louis border, for example, has installed special terminals for this purpose so that you can carry out import customs clearance yourself. The Basel St Louis customs office can provide you with more information on this by telephone: +41 58 469 65 00

I intend to export a vehicle from Switzerland to a non-EU country, e.g. Serbia, North Macedonia, etc. How do I do this? – How does that work?

In such a case, a Swiss export declaration and a T1 transit document must be issued for the vehicle. This means that the vehicle can travel duty-free in transit through the individual countries to the country of destination or to the EU’s external border. If necessary, a customs agency at the external EU border must create a T1 connection. In the country of destination, a local customs agency carries out the import customs clearance.

So that we can create the export and the T1, we need the following information in addition to the information and documents mentioned above in this article, which we also need for car import Germany:

  • Customs office of exit from Switzerland
  • Description of the route incl. Specification of the means of transportation
  • License plate number of the means of transport or vehicle
  • Customs office of destination at the EU external border
  • Country of destination + address of the recipient in the country of destination

The cost of preparing the transit document is EUR 140 / CHF 150. In addition, there are the costs of the foreign customs agency at the local customs office of destination, which you must commission yourself. Furthermore, the import duties of the respective country of destination apply. Please understand that we can only issue T1 Transit documents for private customers if we receive a security deposit of 30% of the vehicle value. This is due to the fact that we ourselves have also deposited a guarantee with Swiss customs. If the T1 document is not properly cleared at the customs office of destination, the regular import duties plus a customs fine will apply. However, if the customs clearance has been carried out by the local customs agent, the security will be returned to you.

What happens now?

After reading this page, you will be better prepared to decide whether importing a vehicle from abroad is worthwhile for you and what you need to look out for. If you have decided on a vehicle and made the purchase, you are welcome to contact us afterwards. We wish you every success with your vehicle purchase.

What our customers say about our customs clearance and car transportation services (reviews of the location in Thayngen):

“Import of a mini caravan from Germany to Switzerland. The customs formalities went smoothly and quickly. The communication via e-mail and telephone also worked really well. Thank you very much”

  • Steve C.

I exported my car from Switzerland to Germany with PureProgress and received great support from the friendly staff at PureProgress. The answers came quickly, including detailed instructions for customs clearance. The documents were professionally prepared, making the journey through customs a breeze. I can recommend the company without reservation.

  • Corinna J.