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If you want to travel to the USA or Canada by car, you should not only take care of obtaining visas and the International Vehicle Registration Document in good time. What you need to know about shipping, registration, insurance and customs regulations.
Overview of traveling with you...r own vehicle through the USA and Canada
Maximum length of stay
Information on shipping, registration and insurance
Good to know: Taking your own vehicle to the U.S. and/or Canada is only worthwhile in most cases if you plan to stay at least three months.
It is essential that you contact a vehicle shipping company in good time. You can find appropriate contacts on the Internet, for example. Since the cost of shipping varies considerably, it is advisable to obtain several quotes.
Always inquire about the price including all port, demurrage and other ancillary costs, as these make up a considerable part of the total shipping costs. Also, don't forget to take out transportation insurance, which is usually available through the freight forwarder. You should also factor in that your vehicle will be on the road for ten to 14 days to the East Coast and about four weeks to the West Coast.
It is best to leave the handling of the complex entry or customs formalities to the forwarder. Please also note that security checks at US ports have been drastically tightened. In the U.S., in addition to customs documents (HS-7 Declaration Form), an additional permit for temporary duty-free entry of the vehicle is required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)*. Therefore, be sure to clarify all details of the shipment and for the temporary importation of the vehicle with the carrier. To complete the formalities at the port, the following documents must usually be presented:
- valid German passport
- Registration certificate part I (vehicle registration document)
- possibly an international vehicle registration document
- the freight documents
The regular German registration must remain valid. Temporary license plates are not advisable in any case, because they can lead to big problems when entering the country. In addition to the German registration certificate Part I (Fahrzeugschein), the International Registration Certificate should be carried, which can be issued by the Road Traffic Office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle) in Germany. In general, border formalities are less complicated if the vehicle is registered to the traveler himself. If the vehicle owner does not take part in the trip, he should hand over a so-called user power of attorney to the traveler(s). For ADAC members, the power of attorney is issued and confirmed at any ADAC office.
The insurance for your vehicle must not be cancelled, otherwise the registration would also end. However, it may be possible to continue it on a dormant basis. Ask your German car insurer whether your insurance contract can remain in force without you having to pay insurance premiums for the time outside Europe. Please note that such arrangements are usually only granted to long-time customers and only as a gesture of goodwill on the part of the insurance company. As a rule, premium reimbursement can only be made after the trip upon presentation of the relevant travel confirmations.
The German car insurance is not valid in the USA! In any case, a third party liability insurance must be taken out with an American insurance company. All persons who are expected to drive the vehicle brought along must be named in the insurance policy. The age of the youngest driver determines the amount of the premium. Drivers under 25 will either not get insurance at all or only if they pay a high premium surcharge. Drivers over 65 should be able to provide a health certificate.
The minimum coverage amounts are very low, so it is advisable to take out additional liability. Partial and comprehensive insurance is also possible, but very expensive.