Summer Moves: Shipping a Second Car

Like their stateside counterparts, many Americans living in Germany are
two-car families. Those planning to ship both vehicles during the
summer PCS season should begin planning now to ensure smooth transport
of their cars and motorcycles.

While most servicemembers or Department of Defense civilians with PCS
orders can ship one vehicle at government expense from an overseas duty
location, shipping a second vehicle is an out of pocket expense. So,
the first step is determining shipment cost and whether that expense
fits your budget.  
Due to the high volume of summer moves, you should begin researching
vehicle shipment costs and options as soon as you receive PCS orders.

Like buying a car, the first step is finding the best price. That part
is free. There are several commercial shipping companies from which to
choose. Get a free rate quotation from more than one company. The
quoted price normally covers inland transport to the port, German and
U.S. port charges and customs fees. A PCS move can be costly. 
Knowing the cost of shipping a second POV months before you move will
allow you to plan your budget accordingly.  

If the shipping price is acceptable, the second step is gathering
proper documents. You’ll need a copy of your PCS orders, vehicle
registration, military ID card or other valid identification

The third step involves a trip to the car wash. In order to ship your
vehicle, it must meet USDA inspection standards. That means the
motorcycle or auto must be free of dirt, soil, plant and animal life.
This includes the interior, exterior, engine, engine compartment and
radiator. The interior must be vacuumed, including the trunk area. All
personal effects must be removed, including air fresheners. If your
vehicle does not meet these standards it will not be shipped.

Make sure your vehicle has no more than ¼ tank of fuel at time of shipment.

Now that your vehicle is clean, check its stickers. It must be a U.S.
specification vehicle and have both the EPA and Department of
Transportation stickers affixed.

The EPA sticker should clearly be 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 jamb area. It is usually
white and has the vehicle identification number and the month/year of
manufacture listed on the bottom.

If the vehicle is missing either of these stickers – which sometimes
happens during body work, repainting, or customization – you’ll need to
obtain a letter from the manufacturer, EPA or DOT to verify the vehicle
was manufactured in the U.S. to comply with applicable U.S. standards.
This normally takes a couple of weeks, so don’t wait. The number for
EPA is (734) 214-4676, and DOT can be reached at (202) 366-5291/1024.

U.S. and European vehicles often don’t meet the same specifications for
items like windshields, lights and emissions. If your vehicle is
Euro-spec, it must be shipped through a certified independent
commercial importer in the U.S. A list is available from the EPA.

Having your European vehicle modified to meet EPA and DOT standards can
be an expensive process. It is important to note that European
specification vehicles cannot be modified to U.S. standards while
physically located in a European country.  Many European companies
claim that they can convert Euro-spec vehicles to U.S. specifications
while your vehicle is still in Europe. These claims are false.
(Courtesy of the U.S. Army Installation Management Agency, Europe)