Customs helps guests ‘drive on’ in Germany

by Robert Szostek
U.S. Army Customs Agency-Europe Public Affairs

WIESBADEN, Germany — One advantage of being stationed in Germany is that friends and family can visit you and travel around Europe. But you must first receive customs approval if you want to lend them your USAREUR-plated vehicle for their excursions.

You don’t require the approval if any member of your household who has a USAREUR driver’s license is going to be in the vehicle while your guests drive.

“Just go to your local military customs office and our customer service personnel will fill out the application form,” said Fred Evans, chief of services, USAREUR Customs Executive Agency. If you want to have the paperwork ready before your relatives or friends arrive, you should bring along your vehicle registration and clear copies of their passports, stateside driver’s licenses and either an official German translation of their licenses or an international driver’s license. 

“International licenses should be issued by the American Automobile Association or National Automobile Club,” he added.  For visitors from countries other than the USA, please ask your customs office if an international driver’s license or translation is required. It is also wise to ensure that your automobile insurance covers your guests.

It is also important to note that your guests cannot be residents of Germany or plan to establish residency in Germany, they cannot be your dependents and must be 18 years old or older.

Your guests can use this exception to policy to drive a USAREUR-registered POV in Germany for up to 90 days within a six-month period.  The 90-day period begins on the day the visitor arrives in Germany or in the European Union.  The document must remain in the car when your guests use your vehicle independently, along with their passports, the vehicle registration, proof of insurance and their international driver’s licenses (or official translations of their licenses).

“Driving in Germany is a tax-free privilege for U.S. Forces personnel and their family members,” Evans explained, “which is why the customs authorization is required for guests.” He warned that this exception to policy does not allow your guests to buy gas at AAFES gas stations or use your AAFES fuel ration card.  Likewise, friends or family visiting Germany who rent a car may not use AAFES gas stations or fuel ration cards. 

Your guests can have a great time driving around Europe if you plan ahead. Call any military customs office to find out more or consult the customs web site at for more details on procedures and locations of customs offices.