When we PCSed to Hawaii, we didn’t ship a personal vehicle.
We sold both our cars since we needed a larger one for our growing family and we figured we’d only need one vehicle while living on base.
When we PCSed to Germany, we shipped our van at the latest possible moment.
The email said 20 June as the latest possible date for the arrival of my minivan in Germany.
We had waited as patiently as possible for almost a month, renting a car for Memorial Day weekend to find a house.
We prayed fervently and quickly purchased a second vehicle for Aaron to drive to and from work. It’s a 5-seater Audi A6 – and we crammed those kids in the back to go to church on base for a couple Sundays.
Of course the website for the POV shipment was down all month so we couldn’t check the status. Did the boat sink? When would I get my van?
Thursday afternoon, my husband emailed the contract carrier, asking for a status report.
Nothing all day Friday.
What’s the point of a due date if it just passes us by?
Saturday, we went to the library so I could use the wi-fi and the kids could get their weekly reading prizes.
When my husband checked his email, there was one alerting us about the arrival of our van. Sent at 5:30 on Friday.
It wouldn’t have mattered if we had received that email immediately. The offices were closed by 4 or 5 on Friday.
Monday morning, we were up bright and early (way early for me – 0600!) and headed out to begin the paperwork to get my van.
We proceeded to jump through all sorts of hoops in order to get my minivan. (We’re thankful it’s paid for. It’s a 2007 Dodge Caravan. We bought it new in Hawaii and it’s served us well. We pray it lasts through this tour here in Germany.)
Because it’s really my T.A.R.D.I.S., remember?
Three different buildings, luckily for us, they were all back to back to back. We were worried we’d have to drive all over base to get all the paperwork completed.
At the vehicle registration office, we had to show proof of ownership, the shipping documents, my military dependent ID, German USAREUR driver’s license. I expected them to ask for a pint of blood and rights to my firstborn. Forms were filled out and payment was made.
We were issued temporary license plates. We had to go to the shipment office to verify ownership and check it over for damage. One back taillight was chipped.
Then we had to drive to the next building over for vehicle inspection. We had heard horror stories of how picky they could be and would often fail vehicles for very minor cosmetic damage. I have a tiny chip in the windshield and the corner of the rear bumper has a little rust and dent. And that chipped tail light. We prayed.
They checked over the exterior, they drove it to check the brakes, lights, and horn. They viewed the undercarriage.
They informed us we had to remove all stickers (we still had an inspection sticker and base ID label from Hawaii) and to monitor that chip in the windshield. If it gets more than 1/2 inch, we have to replace the windshield.
They provided us with a razor blade, and we gladly scraped off those stickers in a hurry.
We passed. Whew!
On to the vehicle registration office (a different one beside the inspection building) to get our permanent license plates. We paid and then drove off to get our gasoline ration card.
At the Shoppette, we showed the registration to a clerk and received an Esso gas ration card (that only works for us in Germany) – it looks like a debit card and allows us to buy gasoline tax-free. We are allotted 400-600 ℓ each month. Each time we buy gas, we have to take this card from the pump into the Shoppette to pay with our ration card. Unleaded gas this week on base is about $3.92/gallon. Off base, it’s about E1.67/ℓ. We also can load the card with Euro to purchase at Esso stations throughout Europe for tax-free, but we still must remain under the ration amount.
The Vogelweh Shoppette has regular unleaded for about $3.92/g but the Ramstein Shoppette has only mid-grade and premium.
Guess where I get my gas?
So, we’re ready to roll now!
Now to become an expert in backing into tight parking spots and maneuvering my big American vehicle on these narrow German roads.