Finding, Purchasing, Shipping, and Importing
When I first realized I wanted to buy a truck overseas and then import it I had a small heart attack. I tried to find all the info I needed online, I searched forums and random websites but they were always so vague. But then again the only way was to jump right on in and figure it out as I went!
So see the other article about picking which truck to buy, free importation fees come into play now! And you also know the truck has to be 25 years old to the month or don’t import it.
Finding the Truck
There are many different options when using the internet. I used Autoline-Market, Hommeles, Mascus, but Mobile.de seemed to be the most helpful and had the most options. I don’t speak German so I just wrote my inquiries in English and people seemed to understand what I was asking.
I ended up finding my truck at Fischer GmbH. Their site is not super user friendly but I did all of my business through Peter Fisher, who speaks pretty good English and even haggled on the price. They were able to set up shipping and all export paperwork, they even transported the truck to the port.
Paying for the Truck
So I wish I knew this before I wired all my money to Germany. I walked into my local (insert name of bank here) and asked them about International Wire Transfers, they told me there was a $45 fee and that’s it.
Now for the things they don’t tell you. New US Banking rules make it so there is a “cooling off period” for international transfers. This means depending on which country you are sending money to they will wait X amount of hours for you to change your mind, it can range from 1 to 6 hours. Germany and most of the EU is about 2 hours I think. Anyway, my bank would not start the process after 1500 hours (3pm) because the cooling off period plus if the wire is not fully processed and sent before 1700 hours Eastern Time the bank wipes the wire from its system and you have to start all over again. I would recommend completing your transfer first thing in the morning.
Bank employees will tell you they send the money at whatever the currency is trading at, false! I did not know this until the money was sent. The bank tacks on a % without telling you. For example, when I sent my money the EURO was trading at 1.07, my money was sent at 1.17. So they tacked on 10% those bastards! So make make sure you shop around for the best rate! This also made me think about how to get money while traveling overseas, but I will have to worry about that later.
Shipping the Truck
First you have to figure out how you are going to ship it. Will it fit into a container? If not you will have to RoRo(roll on, roll off) it. If you plan on RoRoing it there are a few ports that specialize in RoRo shipments. Baltimore, MD, Galveston, TX, and Hueneme, CA. The biggest RoRo port in Germany is Bremerhaven. You seem to be able to get better rates if you use these ports.
Either you can ship it to the nearest port and pick it up in person or you can get quotes from ports all over the country and pay someone to haul it to you. I couldn’t find a good price to have a company pick it up and bring it to me but I have heard it can be cheaper to ship it to the East Coast and then ship it over to wherever. My quote from LA to AZ was $950, so yeah I’ll just go pick it up myself.
If the company you bought the truck from can quote you for shipping go that way, less headache. Trying to organize export from a different country while you live in a different county is a little much for me right now. Funny enough I shopped around to see if I could get better pricing but I couldn’t. In the end I paid 3,400 EUROs to have the truck shipped from Bremerhaven, Germany to Port Hueneme, California. That price included all export fees and crap. The closest quote I could get was 3,900USD and it was shipped to Galveston, Texas.
If you are brave enough you can do it by yourself. I am not yet so brave so I found a customs broker to handle all the paperwork. When the truck gets onto the boat you can start shopping for importers. Make sure you get the following from your seller.
– Vehicle registration certificate, or certificate of title.
– Commercial invoice/ Bill of Sale, identifying the shipper / consignee, vehicle detail (year, make, model, VIN/ engine number), and value
– The original Bill Of Lading (super important, get this as soon as you can from the seller)
I used Bennet Johnson from PackAir located in Los Angeles. I have no affiliation, he was just extremely helpful and held my hand through the process. It only cost $500 to get the truck imported correctly, worth the money if you ask me. If something goes wrong it will cost tons of money while you try and sort out the problem.
Once you have a broker who is handling all the paperwork you can take a breath. Customs takes a look at your truck (sometimes) and then there is an EPA inspection, I think they look for dirt or something your truck might have tracked into the country. Side note, make sure your seller pressure washes the truck and its underside really well. There can’t be any dirt or junk on it when it arrives to the US. If it does and they find it, well the government makes you clean it and I hear it is very expensive.
The importer will send you all the documents you need to pick the truck up. It should be that simple. But be aware there are a ton of hidden fees. There are Panama Canal fees, and delivery fees, and of course there are fees to be escorted from the port to your truck. So plan on spending a few hundred bucks once the truck arrives.
Once the truck gets here it will take 24-48 hours (business day hours) to unload the truck, another 24-48 for the truck to get through all the inspections and whatnot. Then you can pick the truck up. Normally you have 7 business days of free storage to pick up the truck before they start charging you. How much? I don’t know because I need to stop pouring money into this truck and I am going to pick it up while it is still free. Ill find out for you though.
Show up and pay some union guy to walk you 100 feet to your truck, hope it starts and drive away!