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I will be spending about 3 months (at least) in Berlin, Germany, primarly to look for some business oportunities or maybe a job. I am aware of the nearly perfect transportation services Berlin offers (S-bahn, U-bahn and buses). I am considering bringing my car with me, however it will cost me about 5 times the money for the trip than what I would spend for an airplane ticket (about 200 for airplane, about 1000-1200 for car trip).

Has anyone experience with living in Berlin? Given the fact that I don't yet know exactly where I will be staying, and where I will be needing to be going on a daily basis for my work, how much benefit would I gain from having a car there? Or maybe it's not worth it?

P.S. the car is new and complies with the latest European emission standards.

  • 4
    This is an immigration, not a travel question, imo. – victoriah Jan 8 '12 at 21:26
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    Not sure whether this is immigration. Because a Schengen visa allows staying up to 90 days, it might be useful for travellers too. – Ankur Banerjee Jan 8 '12 at 22:03
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    I don't imagine many people from outside the EU would be driving that far (imo). In any case usage of a car on a daily basis from an everyday living perspective is not something that's a concern of travellers. – victoriah Jan 8 '12 at 22:36
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    Hmm for me it's hard to call. It feels like an immigration question in spirit but I myself would expect car ownership questions totally relevant for long trips to the US, Canada, or Australia even though I would never consider buying or importing a car for a trip to Europe. – hippietrail Jan 9 '12 at 5:23
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    After now being for 6 months in Berlin I can say: a car is not necessary. If you need one for the weekend, it's cheaper to rent one that to maintain your own. – Spiros Sep 19 '12 at 21:06
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Having a car in Berlin is more hassle than a convenience, just because of the parking situation, and the money you spend on parking meters. Driving in Berlin is also not exactly fun with the traffic congestion, or much faster than the bus or subway either. Leave your car at home, save the money and then decide after 3 months if you really need a car in berlin.

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Leave the car at home.

As you say, Berlin has "nearly perfect" public transportation coverage. If you find that you want a car for an errand or for a road trip, rent one. In addition to traditional car rental businesses, there are many short-term "car sharing" programs (similar to Zipcar in the US). Taking a taxi is another option.

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1 You don’t need a car for most personal local transportation

I'm a resident of Berlin since birth (some 25–30 years ago) and I never owned a car. Imho the transportation system is perfectly sufficient under most circumstances. The exceptions are according to my experience:

  • You need to transport heavy or unwieldy objects on a regular basis.

  • You need to ride often on weekday nights between 1:00 and 4:30 a.m. from or to a location far off from a night or metro line (so near or in the outskirts).

Add a bicycle to the mix and you can mostly circumvent the latter restriction and make many connections faster that require you to change many times during few stops.

Monthly¹ tickets (“VBB-Umweltkarte”) for adults ineligible for discounts are currently 81 € and transferable to other people.

2 You need a permit to enter the city with your car

Since 2008 all cars entering the inner city of Berlin (and some other German cities) require an environmental zone permit in order to avoid to face a fine. Permits are issued based on the vehicle type, fuel type, and exhaust fume emissions. You can apply for a permit in Germany, in your home country or per mail. For more info visit this link.


¹ “monthly” isn't restricted to one calendar month; a monthly ticket is valid from the 17th of one month until and including the 16th of the next month.

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Just a little side note here: Berlin has at least two major companies which offer car sharing at reasonable prices. Parking is included in all parking zones. So if you really need a car you can get one very fast.

As of 2017 there are for example car2go or drive-now. Registration is simple and includes only a small one time fee, further fees will be raised by use, usually time based. As a thumb of rule for one driver alone it is more expensive then public transport but with 3 people it becomes equal. A driver license scan has to be sent for registration but who ever considered driving his own car in a foreign country should also be able to register there.

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You probably won't need to use car every day, but, depending on your preferences and lifestyle, you may want to have a car for weekend trips.

If you don't like driving, leave it.

If you like driving, compare how much would it be for you to move car versus how much would it be to rent similar car in Germany. Driving in Germany is fun, and there's a lot of places to travel to.

If you decide to bring it, you'll need to figure out what's the maximum amount of time you could use it without re-registration. Depending on your nationality and how long do you plan to stay, it may be better to sell your car in your come city/country and buy another one in Germany.

  • Buying a used car in Germany is as complicated as in every other country and very difficult if you don't know the dealer. Further more there is a lot of regulation to follow like TÜV and insurance. – Thomas Aug 6 '17 at 10:46
  • You say "difficult" and "as in every other country". Buying a car takes around 30 minutes in Ireland, so you might want to be more specific about process of buying a car in Germany. – rvs Aug 7 '17 at 12:30

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