German Efficiency? I Think Not!!

Has anyone had the pleasure (he says tongue in cheek) of registering a car or other vehicle, either one they have imported into Germany or one they bought here?

When I lived in Essen, the local and regional public transport meant that owning a car was totally unnecessary, and it was cheap by virtue of the Bahncard rail discount subscription and also I had a subsidised season ticket from work.

However, my impending change in circumstances means that whilst I will be living in Germany rather than Kuwait for much of the year, I will still be several hours drive from where I regard home, namely Zell. An added complication is my partner lives near Osnabruck and the thought of spending hours every weekend on endless train and bus journeys has prompted me to invest in a car.

So, I am now the proud owner of a nice convertible which will be perfect for summer jaunts around the region. However, I now have the challenge of getting it registered. As I will be living in Hamburg for most of the time, I will be registering it there. I have the appointment to do that in just over a week’s time, and so I am now looking at what I need to do in the meantime – arrange insurance, get the registration and some other papers from the previous owner, fill in a Direct Debit form for the tax, a Power of Attorney because the previous owner will not be present when I do the transfer (although he reckons I may not need it, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance), plus I also need to take the existing registration plates with me which is weird given I am going to the same registration office the car is currently registered at.

It all sounds straightforward I suppose, but then I remember how things are done in the UK and I makes me realise just how bent the Germans are on the dreaded bureaucracy and how that does not square in with most people’s stereotypes of the place. Back home, once you have bought a vehicle, the original owner sends off one part of the registration document (usually referred to as the “log book”) and the buyer the other part. A couple of weeks later, the buyer receives a nice new log book through the post. No inconvenient visits to government departments or any of that nonsense. In fact, there are so many other official things we can do in the UK which in Germany involves a physical paper chase. Fine if you are not working during the day and have unlimited patience, but not good for the rest of us.

And I must be a glutton for punishment. When I first moved to Germany from Kuwait four years ago I brought my beloved Harley Davidson with me. I sensibly chose the shipping company’s “door to door” service, so the bike along with my furniture was delivered to my house with hardly any hassles. However, as I was not (and sadly still not) a holder of an EU motorbike licence, I have not been able to ride it. Therefore, my beautiful machine has been sitting in my garage unregistered since it arrived on the back of a truck. My grand plan is to do my bike test and get the licence in Hamburg next spring ready for a bit of biking around the Mosel, something which the region is famous for. But of course, that means I will soon be faced with getting the bike tested and registered. I am not expecting that to be easy, and I would love to hear from anyone who already risen to the same challenge previously.

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