Picture this: You're PCSing to Germany and before you know it you're cruising on the Autobahn in your 350-horsepower Porsche 997. Or, you've just finished your 12-month stint in Afghanistan and when you get back stateside, your brand new BMW is waiting for its first joyride. These aren't just fantasies, but a reality for many service members who are serving or have served outside of the United States.
You, too, can purchase your dream ride by taking advantage of one of many overseas military car sales programs that offer you discount prices and special benefits.
Before you dive right in and begin to daydream about cruising down the highway in your new set of wheels, it's a good idea to become familiar with the main benefits and basics of buying a vehicle through a military sales program.
Each company might offer slightly different benefits, but there are some basic things to know to help you get started.
Military sales programs are open to U.S. service personnel — active duty military, civil service or contractors — on PCS or TDY orders outside of the United States. In some instances you might have to be on TDY orders for at least 30 to 60 consecutive days to qualify.
One of the main benefits of buying a car through a military sales program is that there is no haggling over the price. The price is fixed, so what you see is what you pay. This also means that there won't be a slick car salesman hovering over you at the show room. Purchasing your car can actually be an enjoyable experience.
Custom ordering your car is also an option. You can either pick it up at the dealer or have it shipped back stateside. As soon as you get your PCS orders you can begin the process of ordering your car so that way it'll be ready for you when you move overseas. You're going to want to make your order at least six months in advance. If you order the vehicle right before you PCS, then you might have to wait some months before it is ready for pick up.
If you are on an extended TDY, you can have the option of ordering the car and having it shipped directly to the US.
Your vehicle purchase is tax-free while you are overseas provided you complete all necessary applications at the time of purchase. The auto dealer's staff should be able to assist you with all of the necessary paperwork.
If your deployment is longer that 140 days, you won't have to pay import duty on the vehicle when returning to the United States, as long as you have a preregistration on the vehicle and some miles to show usage before entry. Some states might charge you a sales tax.
You have a variety of options when it comes to delivery. For those stationed in Europe, a trip to the factory to get the car fresh off the floor is a popular option. Some dealers might even throw in additional amenities such as a night in a 5-star hotel.
If you're downrange, then you can arrange to have your vehicle shipped stateside and delivered to the nearest participating dealer. The price of shipping is usually included in the purchase price, and all vehicles are built to U.S. specifications and import requirements.
Another great benefit of buying your car overseas is that there are multiple military sales programs to choose from. Here is a list of a few of the major ones.
AAFES, through its Exchange New Car Sales and the Military Advantage Program, offers military members serving outside of the 50 United States the ability to purchase a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Ford, Lincoln or Harley-Davidson with special discounts, rebates and consumer protections. It's the only on-base, factory authorized distribution of American made vehicles, and every vehicle must be sold at a discounted price.
All BMWs are priced with a military discount. You can either custom order your vehicle to your specifications or choose from over 300 cars in stock for same day delivery. Each purchase includes free stateside maintenance for 4 years/50,000 miles, and when you are ready to ship your vehicle back to the States the cost is already taken care of.
Cars International is the only military sales program that sells Porsche. They also sell BMW and MINI, and their showroom is located in Stuttgart — home of Porsche — near the main entrance of Patch Barracks. To qualify for the Porsche Tax Free Military Car Sales Program you must be stationed in Germany or TDY (for at least one day). Cars are built to U.S. specifications in Stuttgart, Leipzig or Finland, and also to accommodate individual specifications such as the color and interior.