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Registration, Taxation and Insurance of foreign cars


Registering and Insuring a car

If you have lived abroad at least twelve months before your stay you may bring your car free of customs duties if you have used it abroad for at least six months. For stays of up to twelve months, a foreign car may continue to be registered in your home country. For longer stays or cars purchased in Germany, you will have to register your car at the Motor Vehicle Registration Office (`Kraftfahrzeug-Zulassungsstelle´) at your place of residence (concerning the licensing departments of the City of Karlsruhe or the Landkreis Karlsruhe please see adresses mentioned in the driver's license section of our website). Prior to the registration, the Technical Control Board (`Technischer Überwachungsverein – TÜV´) will have to check whether your car meets the requirements eligible for licensing in Germany, will test your car for defects impairing its safety and the emissions it extrudes.

To register your car make sure to bring the following documents:

  • Valid Passport or Identity Card
  • Cover-Note from a German Insurance Company (`Car Insurance´)
  • Depending on the country of origin, two customs clearance certificates
  • Statement from the Federal Motor Vehicle Office that no German car ownership certificate has been issued for this car
  • The certificate from the Technical Control Board
  • The car registration documents from your own country and the car´s number plates

Motor Vehicle Tax

As soon as your car is registered with the German authorities it will be subject to motor vehicle tax. The tax is due only when the tax office requests a payment. The amount of the tax depends on the cubic capacity of the car and the level of harmful substances it emits. It is payable for one year in advance. In the event of premature departure excessive amounts will be refunded. 

Car Insurance

For stays of up to one year you are not required to conclude a German car insurance if you possess an international `green insurance certificate´ or if your car is registered in one of the following countries: any EU member state, Greenland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican.

For stays exceeding 12 months, i.e. your car must be registered in Germany or if you buy a car in Germany, you will have to conclude at least a third-party liability insurance with a German insurance company. If appropriate, you should submit a no-claims-certificate from your insurance company at home to reduce your premiums. Be aware that insurance rates depend on the type of car you want to insure and the place of your residence.


Low emissions zones and stickers

 A number of cities in Germany have "low emissions zones". For the regulations regarding entry and the possible obligation to affix an "emission sticker" to your vehicle please have a look at our website under the heading transportation.