John Emerson flew into Berlin on Thursday afternoon with his wife Kimberley and three teenage daughters, the US embassy said.
He is scheduled to start his official duties on August 26, taking over from previous ambassador Philip Murphy at a time when German public confidence in the US government has been damaged by the NSA spying scandal.
But before arriving the 59-year-old made the video in which he tries out what he described as "pretty basic" German and introduces himself with photos of his past trips to the country, a history of his political career and his love of sport and culture.
In his arrival speech on Thursday he said: “Like so many Americans, Kimberly and I have German roots. The entire Emerson family is looking forward to discovering the history and beauty of this country – the country of our grandparents and our great-grandparents.”
He admitted that his German was “pretty basic” but said he would be working to improve it.
Ambassador-designate Emerson added: “I will commit myself to furthering and strengthening that relationship with Germany. Today, we stand at the forefront of enormous opportunities."
The family, who were previously living in Los Angeles, said in the statement that they were “looking forward to sharing our beautiful California with Berliners and with people all around this wonderful country.”
Originally from the New York suburbs, Emerson has a background in finance having been president of investment firm Capital Group Private Client Services since 1997.
He also served on President Clinton's senior staff from 1993 to 1997. Before that he was the Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Attorney.