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Taking our car with us to Europe for 3 months

Taking our car with us to Europe for 3 months

Old Jul 6, 20, 3:33 pm
  #1  
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Taking our car with us to Europe for 3 months

Next year my husband and I want to travel to Europe for 3 months and we would like to ship our car so that we could use it there. We've been renting a car several times for several long-ish periods of time and each time just the rent cost us an arm and a leg. One day on average cost us $90, not including fuel. My husband is very tall and he won't fit in just any car. It has to have a good amount of headroom, and those "bigger" cars cost a lot to rent in Europe. Plus cars with an automatic transmission cost more, and neither of us know how to drive a car with a manual transmission.

The car in question is a 2013 Land Rover LR2. We really want to have this car with us in Europe because it does very well in the mountains (we like to travel in Austria and Switzerland the most), and it isn't very big but is "tall" enough for my husband. It is paid off and we have a title for it. We bought it here in the US and it is made for the US market. Does anyone know if driving a car that is made for the US market could possibly be an issue in Europe if you only travel up to 90 days with it? We will not be registering it in Europe and after 90 days we'll take it back home.

I checked one car shipping company and it looks like we can ship our car from a port in a town near where we live to Bremerhaven, Germany. We want to have our own car so that we wouldn't have to worry about every potential scratch and huge repair bills. We want to have peace of mind, that's why we want to try and take our car along to Europe. We really don't want to rent or lease a car for 3 months.

The average cost of shipping a car round-trip is around $1,800 or so. If I compare this price to the rental cost we've paid in Europe, it is equivalent to 20 days of rent. And we'll be using it for 90 days, which would save us a lot of money. Overall, I just want to have a peace of mind, flexibility, freedom, and not to have to worry about scratching and denting a rental car, and also not to have to depend on the trains (been there, and the worst part is all those railway strikes that suck joy out of your trip!). We've traveled with Eurail passes for the past 20 years and now we want to try to travel with our own car.

I can't find clear information about the car insurance for your own US car being used overseas. All I can find is an insurance for a rental car. I'm sure there are people out there who took their cars overseas for car shows or travel, so perhaps someone can chip in on how the car insurance in Europe worked for them. Were you able to use your own US insurance and/or just pay more in order to have coverage in Europe? Or did you have to buy a separate car insurance for your trip? I've called our insurance company and they said they don't offer any coverage in Europe. Has anyone had any experience with insuring their car that they have shipped to Europe for a short time to travel with? Not for moving to Europe (relocating), which requires you to register your car and get the local license plates. Just travel, or a car show, or a short visit. I'm a European but I've never had my own car when I lived in Europe many years ago, so I don't know anything about insurance and other stuff.

Also, did anyone face any problems when driving their US car in Europe? For example, maybe you had to buy a permit to use a certain country's highways/autobahn. Or your headlights were not up to the EU standards. Or you had to have that oval sticker on the back of your car with the "USA" on it (not sure if they're mandatory for the US cars). Or maybe you had some other issue related to your US car?

We're planning to take our car back when we return to the US. We only want to use it for those 3 months and not to have to rely on trains and rental cars. This is not about importing a car, it's just to travel with it and for personal use.

Hope someone has had some experience with taking their car overseas and can answer at least some of my questions. Thank you in advance!
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Old Jul 6, 20, 8:34 pm
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I’d just buy something there and sell it again and avoid the wear and tear and shipping delays on your current vehicle.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 9:14 pm
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I would look very hard to confirm the true total cost of doing this. I fully understand why you want to do this, and I think the LR2 is a good compromise on size. I’m a Land Rover fanatic and still have my LR3 purchased new.

Still, your insurance needs to be looked at, as well as time limits with registration as well. It took me double digit hours researching on shipping my large full-size pickup truck to Hawaii, and somehow I still missed a few things. Plus I spent double what you quoted just for one way. I didn’t find this info on FT, but exhausting research on my own. I’m pretty sure I drank heavily the night I finally completed everything for Hawaii just a couple of weeks pre COVID shut everything down, but that is a blur.😉

Back in my car sales days I sold a few American vehicles to a company in Germany, but the buyer handled all the shipping details so I can’t help.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 9:31 pm
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Assuming you are looking at a shared container (at that price I think that is a given) just take note of how long it takes each way... 30-40 days "on the water" time is what is quoted..plus preparation and reception.... You will be without your vehicle for at least a month either end of the trip...... From what I've learned you CAN drive a US plated car in Europe for up to 6 months without needing any sort of European registration...so that's a plus. Insurance?, I have no idea.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 9:41 pm
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https://community.ricksteves.com/tra...-car-in-europe
I thought this subject interesting. So I did a little digging and came across this on the Rick Steves community blog.
​​​​​It's from 2011 and has a lot of information you probably already know, but it carries a link to a Geico page that might be helpful to you.
Good Luck!
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Old Jul 6, 20, 11:50 pm
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Buy a car there. Seriously - this is the least hassle way.

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
One day on average cost us $90, not including fuel.
OP - would you please enlighten us that have you ever rented a car that fuel, specifically gasoline/petrol, has been included? I only have 1 ever experience that fuel was included as a promotion. But that time it was a Honda Civic CNG, not a gasoline/petrol car.

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
Does anyone know if driving a car that is made for the US market could possibly be an issue in Europe if you only travel up to 90 days with it?
Which state was this car made for?

If your car follows California emission standards, then it should not be an issue. But if you car follows Federal emission standards, then it may be an issue.

AFAIK - Euro standards (depending on the year of manufacturing) is higher than Federal but lower than California.

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
We will not be registering it in Europe and after 90 days we'll take it back home.
I honestly don't know how you can drive a car in Europe without proper registration, driver licenses, as well as insurance. Europe is no Canada, which does not recognize the U.S. registration.

(Please excuse me if I am wrong about this.)

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
I can't find clear information about the car insurance for your own US car being used overseas.
Although varies by carriers, generally your auto insurance will continue to provide the necessary coverage for Canada only with prior notice. Mexico is mostly an excluded country for coverage, i.e. at your own risks.

Elsewhere? Obviously not.

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
I'm sure there are people out there who took their cars overseas for car shows or travel, so perhaps someone can chip in on how the car insurance in Europe worked for them.
Cars used for car shows do not carry auto insurance because they are not designed to be driven. Instead, they are insured by commercial property insurance as a show car. In case they have to be driven, the manufacturer/dealer can use their specialized plates. These plates are not car-specific and can be used by any cars displaying the plates.

I don't know the situation about travel in this case.

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
Were you able to use your own US insurance and/or just pay more in order to have coverage in Europe?
No.

Originally Posted by RaspberryLatte View Post
Or did you have to buy a separate car insurance for your trip?
Not that way. AFAICT - European registrations tier with the insurance.
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Last edited by garykung; Jul 7, 20 at 12:24 am
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Old Jul 7, 20, 12:04 am
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Rental cost of $90 per day, not including fuel, is to me very high. Returning to the place/country of hire is almost cheaper than one way hires

From a simple google search
In France you have short term leases of new cars. Seems to a be quirk of the French tax laws. I know friends who have done this: told me was easy
https://europeforvisitors.com/europe...ar_leasing.htm

It will cost a lot more than US$900 one way/US$1800 return USA--EU, after all the addon's are included. The headline freight rate is just the start
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jul 7, 20 at 12:10 am
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Old Jul 7, 20, 12:10 am
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Shipping a car like that will cost at least $2,000 and take six weeks each way. You will also have a fair amount of paperwork to do which a good agent can handle for you, but at a cost. You will also need to consider insurance and country-specific restrictions. It really is more hassle than it is worth.
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Old Jul 7, 20, 12:59 am
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No way. You'll also need to change out things like taillights and blinker covers since Europe uses different colors. On a LR that won't be cheap

The shipping cost is the least of your worries. Not to mention that it'll take a good month to get there and possible sit in port for who knows how long before it's released. It's possible they'll also ask you to pay VAT.

I have a friend that bought a car in Miami and had it shipped to Budapest but had to pick it up at the port in Germany. It got there two weeks later than it was scheduled to arrive and the paperwork was a pain.

This is an absolutely insane idea.

Last edited by Jesperss; Jul 7, 20 at 1:06 am
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Old Jul 7, 20, 1:19 am
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I would also like to echo that it looks like more trouble that it's worth. First of all, realize that the EU does not regulate car registration, thus what would work in Germany or the Netherlands (two very loosely regulated countries with regards to cars) would not work in France or Italy. Your best bet is probably a forum or group where US troops in Europe are active, they have the most experience in bringing over cars from the US.

Also buying a car in Europe in general is not the same as in the US, it's very rare that you'd be able to just go to a lot, buy a car, and drive off. Again, I think the Netherlands are probably the place to try this, but I'm not in the know.

What I can recommend is the Peugeot long term lease. My parents in law use it regularly whenever they come to Europe from NZ and never had a problem.

If you're in the market for a new car, it might be an option to buy a new Volvo or BMW, pick it up from the factory, drive it around for your holiday and then have it shipped over, it's all included in the price.
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Old Jul 7, 20, 1:48 am
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Originally Posted by malmostoso View Post
I would also like to echo that it looks like more trouble that it's worth. First of all, realize that the EU does not regulate car registration, thus what would work in Germany or the Netherlands (two very loosely regulated countries with regards to cars) would not work in France or Italy. Your best bet is probably a forum or group where US troops in Europe are active, they have the most experience in bringing over cars from the US.
Having lived in Cambridge with several US service members living in my building: their cars didn't seem to be reregistered. I don't know whether that's a result of them not being there for long enough to need it, some exemption for service members/being attached to a base treated as American soil or some entirely different factor though.
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Old Jul 7, 20, 1:49 am
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Originally Posted by malmostoso View Post
If you're in the market for a new car, it might be an option to buy a new Volvo or BMW, pick it up from the factory, drive it around for your holiday and then have it shipped over, it's all included in the price.
BMW euro delivery is also available for new car leases. It would be more than a 3 month lease/rental in the EU, but OP would have another 21 months of time in the USA with the car upon its delivery to the states.

It doesn't sound like the right option, but I did want to mention it just in case.
​​​​​
I'd probably spend time looking into what sort of long term rates can be negotiated, or see what various corporate rates are available - Costco, AAA, etc. Breaking it into 30 day rentals might mean qualifying for credit card insurance coverage instead of the expensive agency ones, that's another saving.

Last edited by Gig103; Jul 7, 20 at 1:54 am
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Old Jul 7, 20, 2:11 am
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I think your numbers are way off.

With the current situation shipping prices between Europe and the US have gone up. In addition, the price you quoted is one way, without handling or an agent performing the paperwork. You're looking at costs in excess of 5'000 USD to ship it both ways - and that's assuming you find a ship going from your home port to Bremerhaven. Then you'll need to import your car, pay all the duties and fees (only some of which you'll get back once you export it again).

On top of everything your car will be gone quite a while (approx. 1 week each side in the harbor and 2-4 weeks in Transit, for a total of at least 4 weeks each way).

Without any discounts, Europcar is offering an E-Class Mercedes with most of the options (0 deductible, 2nd driver,…) for ~6000 Euros. Shopping around a bit I’m sure you can find a car that fulfills your requirements for much less.
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Old Jul 7, 20, 3:04 am
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Agree that this is an insane idea. The registration requirements for short-term stays are not as bad as fully importing a car to stay in Europe, but it is not pain-free. The biggest hassle will be the three months total that you will not have use of the car because it is in port/at sea. The amount of planning you'll need to do also does not make this remotely attractive. Many of the big rental agencies (Sixt, for example) have longer-term rental options which are a far better deal on your wallet and brain.

Source: I imported a car from the US to Germany two years ago. I had a top agent helping me and it still took a lot of time and phone calls.
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Old Jul 7, 20, 6:39 am
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A few notes:
most Countries here ( Germany, Austria, maybe all EU countries ) allowing you as an NON-EU resident to use your car here for up to 6 months. After that import certification would ne needed.
You will have to prove the you're insured! Are you an AAA member?
Shipping times are much lower as quoted here, from the east coast to europe 10-14 days maximum, a lot longer from the west coast. The $ 1800 shipping quote was roughly correct - before Corona. Because of the higher demand prices for container went up.
You can save lot by using an specialist for car shipping, they find you empty spots on roll-on roll-off Car Transporter ships but then you are bound to their sailing times/frequencies. If you're using an container you will have nearly dayli departures.
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