CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
In so many ways, a car means freedom! It’s one of those things you tend to take for granted until you find yourself without. When we got to Germany, we rushed to buy a car since we didn’t ship one. We ended up buying a new car. Our decision was based on a few criteria:
If you choose, you can register a new car for three years. If your car is 10 years or older, it can only be registered for one year. A car between 2 and 9 years old can be registered for two years. We liked the idea of doing going through this process once for our entire three-year tour instead of repeating it again later.
Since we have done back-to-back overseas tours, we didn’t own any cars. We didn’t have one being shipped; we didn’t have any in storage. The idea of getting a German-made car here, that hopefully will last to be shipped to our next duty station, sounds good to us. As long as your car is made to American specs, you will be able to ship it and then drive it back in the States.
I’m no car expert (at all!), but the prices that are available here to military members on a good German-made car are very competitive and hopefully a good value.
So we decided to buy a new car here from Pentagon Car Sales near Vogelweh and Kaiserslautern. We imagined that if we bought a car off the lot, we would be able to quickly drive it off the lot. Well, not so fast! Even though the car was here, it still needed to get through the customs process. The dealership took care of it for us, but it still took about two weeks before the car was available to drive home – or to TLA, as it is!
While they were working on customs, it was our responsibility to get car insurance. Be prepared! German law requires a high amount of coverage – much higher than the minimums in the United States. We decided to get ours through Geico and stopped at the office next to Pentagon Car Sales. If you have an insurance company in the States you may want to contact them and see if they can handle German car insurance as well.
As soon as the car had cleared customs, the dealership called us and emailed the bill of sale. We needed this document and insurance to register the car and get license plates. Some insurance companies (USAA or Volkswohlbund/Miroscon) are able to interface with the licensing department and they could look on a computer program and see that we were covered. If your company does not do this, you will need to bring a green insurance card to the registration.
Car registration for the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC) is in building 2806 at the Kapaun Air Station (Kapaun, as well as the Pulaski Barracks, are located with Vogelweh). It took us just over an hour, including wait time, to get our car registered and receive our license plates. Registration costs $30 for each year of registration. This could be paid by credit card or check, but not by cash.
We took our new, long plates over the car dealership. They mounted the plates for us. The registration and insurance papers went in the glove box, and after some quick instruction on our new car, we were off! With a mixture of fear and excitement of this new freedom I was driving away!
There are many car dealerships specializing in military new car sales, but we bought ours at Pentagon Car Sales in Kaiserslautern from Amy Homan.
We walked next door and bought car insurance from Geico. Andreas helped us here.
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mon – Fri
Closed on German Holidays, July 4th, and Thanksgiving
Car registration for the KMC is done on Kapaun Air Station :
Kapaun is a small section adjacent to Vogelweh. Vehicle Registration is on Sixth Ave.
Monday – Friday: 0700 – 1545
Last duty day of the month 0700-1100