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International Relocation for Expats in Germany

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: September 2014

Moving to another country can be burdensome, especially if you are managing the whole process on your own. You will quickly find yourself with a near-endless to do list: apply for a visa, obtain a work permit, look for work, find accommodation, move belongings to your new home... To make things go as smoothly as possible, it is essential to be well organised. Our Expat Briefing articles provide helpful guidelines in this respect. Unless you are undergoing an intra-company transfer, you could consider consulting a specialised relocation company to help ease the moving process.


Relocation companies

In recent years, relocation companies have become very popular with expats moving to international destinations. Most of these companies do a lot more than merely arrange the removal of your belongings. They can also make visa applications and find accommodation, utility companies and schools, help to negotiate German bureaucracy, advise how best to settle into your new environment and many other things. Another advantage of using a relocation company is that it will ensure that your relocation meets all rules and regulations in the destination country.

You can look for a good relocation company either in your home country or for one in Germany. It is best to take some time to shop around, getting quotes from different relocation companies, as prices may vary significantly, partly depending on which services are included. It is also worth checking whether the company is registered with the Federation of International Furniture Removers, FIDI.

Some companies that offer relocation services to Germany are:


Moving your belongings

If you are not planning to use a relocation company, you should consider how best to move your belongings to Germany. Most airlines will only allow one free piece of luggage when travelling into the country. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only feasible for small items, as heavy parcels tend to have high price tags. Hence, neither of these methods is worthwhile, except perhaps for a handful of items you cannot do without.

Instead, if you are not travelling far, moving to Germany by car or may be a comfortable and budget-friendly option. Hiring a van is also likely to be economical. With more than a vanful of belongings, it is usually better to choose one of the specialist removal companies, who can also move your pets and vehicles. It is highly advisable to take out independent insurance, and often a good idea to make an inventory. Most of the above-mentioned relocation companies offer removal services. Other specialist removal companies include:

Be aware that the further you are moving, the more likely there is to be a delay in your possessions arriving at their destination. Note that if you are an EU citizen moving to Germany, you are free to take unlimited personal and household items without paying any import taxes or duties. Otherwise, what you are permitted to move may be restricted or subject to duties and taxes. For information on how to move to Germany with your family and pets, see Relocation with Families and Pets for Expats in Germany.


Importing your vehicle

EU citizens are permitted to bring their car or motorcycle into Germany without paying VAT (Mehrwertsteuer or MWT in German), providing that it is a used vehicle they have owned for at least 6 months and that they have already paid VAT on it in their home country. EU citizens importing a new vehicle must pay VAT at the standard rate (19%.)

All non-EU citizens are liable for VAT and may also have to pay 10% import duty. However, if you can prove that you are intending to take up residence in Germany and have not lived in the country for 12 months, you may be exempted from the import duty.

Additionally, to be exempt from duty, you must also provide proof that your vehicle has been registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registration is a requirement for all vehicles that are imported into Germany. Imported cars must also undergo technical inspection, which may result in the modification of headlights, brakes, emissions etc. For more information on driving in Germany, see Driving and Public Transport.


Arriving in Germany

After successfully relocating to Germany, you will have to take care of several administrative matters, such as opening a bank account, registering with a doctor and registering your address in your town of residence. To find out more, have a look at other sections of the Expat Briefing site and consult the relevant Immigration Authority for your state.



Moving to Germany

If you are considering moving to Germany or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated German section including; details of immigration and visas, German forums, German event listings and service providers in Germany.


Living in Germany

From your safety to shoppingliving in Germany can yield great benefits as well as occasional drawbacks.  Find your feet and stay abreast of the latest developments affecting expats in Germany with relevant news and up-to-date information.


Working in Germany

Working in Germany can be rewarding as well as stressful, if you don't plan ahead and fulfill any legal requirements. Find out about visas and passports, owning and operating a company in Germany, and general German culture of the labour market.



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