Basically, only a person whose permanent residence is outside the EC may import a vehicle registered in a third country into Germany and use it without paying tax or duty. This is stipulated both in customs regulations and in vehicle tax law. The period of use of the vehicle is limited to six months. Possible exceptions from this six-month limit can be made, so that
- students from third countries and persons from third countries who work for a third-country company in Germany may use vehicles duty- and tax-free until the end of their stay,
- employees whose permanent residence is in a third country but whose workplace is in the EC ("commuters") may import and re-export vehicles for temporary use on a regular basis for an unlimited period.
In exceptional cases, EC citizens may import a vehicle officially registered in a third country for their own use in the customs territory of the EC and use it here temporarily if:
1. The vehicle is used occasionally on the instructions of the registered owner.
Condition: the registered owner must be staying in the EC at the time of use.
2. There is an emergency. The only way the person could return from a third country was by driving a foreign vehicle, since his/her own vehicle had broken down abroad.
Condition: re-export of the foreign vehicle within five days.
3. The person has re-entered the country in a hired vehicle belonging to a hire vehicle company registered in a third country.
Condition: re-export of the vehicle within five days (with the consent of the German customs authorities within eight days).
4. A company vehicle is used regularly for returning from the person's workplace in the third country to the place of residence in the EC, and there is proof of the foreign employer's authorization.
Remember to affix a nationality sticker to the vehicle and (if appropriate) the trailer that is registered in the third country before you enter Germany. This nationality sticker must be displayed in addition to the national vehicle license plates.