Normally, servicemembers and Department of Defense civilians with permanent-change-of-station orders are entitled to ship one privately-owned vehicle at government expense from overseas locations.
However, many people nowadays have two vehicles and want to return home with both. If so, you will be paying for it out of your own pocket, said Robin Brown-Jones, Installation Management Command-Europe logistics division. Plus, she said, preparing your car beforehand and finalizing all requirements “is a must.”
Ms. Brown-Jones suggests the following tips to ensure your second U.S.-specification POV is readied for shipping:
Prior planning is a must. There are several private commercial shipping companies available. But due to the high volume of summer moves, you should contact the commercial shipping company as soon as you are certain that you will ship your second POV.
Get a free rate quotation. A PCS move can be costly. Knowing the cost of shipping a second POV, months before you move, allows planning a budget accordingly. The price is normally all-inclusive and includes inland transportation costs to a port, German and U.S. port charges, and customs fees.
Have proper documentation. Documentation normally needed to ship a POV from overseas includes: PCS orders, vehicle registration, military or DOD identification.
Ensure the vehicle is clean. All vehicles must meet U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection requirements prior to shipping – this is the law. Specifically, vehicles must be free of dirt, soil, plant life, animal life and other organic hazards. This means the exterior, interior, engine, engine compartment and radiator. The entire interior of the POV must be vacuumed, including the trunk area, and all personal effects must be removed from the vehicle, even air fresheners.
Drain the fuel tank. Ensure your vehicle has no more than a quarter tank of fuel at time of shipment.
Check your stickers. The POV must be a U.S.-spec vehicle and have both the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation stickers affixed.
The EPA stickers should be clearly visible in the engine area. It’s usually white with the word “catalyst” listed on the bottom.
The DOT sticker should be clearly visible in the door jam area. It is usually white with the vehicle identification number and the month and year of manufacture listed at the bottom.
If your vehicle is missing either of these stickers, you must prove the vehicle was registered stateside, or provide a letter from the manufacturer to verify the vehicle is U.S. manufactured and complies with U.S. requirements.
European-spec vehicles must be shipped through a stateside certified independent commercial importer. A list is available from the EPA.
“This, however, can be an expensive process because the vehicle must also conform to EPA and DOT safety requirements,” said Jeff Schott, IMCOM-Europe’s transportation office.
He added that it is important to remember that European-spec vehicles cannot be modified to U.S. standards while physically located overseas.