Moving Checklist December 20, 2019

Shipping a Car Overseas – Everything You Need to Know

Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

Whether you are moving for work or leisure, it is always convenient to have a car by your side. Renting one can be expensive if you do not have someone to split the cost, so many people go into the adventure called: shipping a car overseas. And trust us, it is an adventure indeed because whatever you have shipped so far, it is nothing like this.

Transportation Methods for Shipping a Car Overseas

Thinking about international moving by sea or by air? Shipping container sizes and storage terms are just some of the things you need to consider. Still, they can vary, so pay attention to three different types of international vehicle transportation.

Roll-On/Roll-Off Method, a.k.a. RORO

The cheapest way to send cars to the other part of the world is definitely the RORO method. But is it the best one? Roll-on/roll-off system means that cars will be driven onto the deck, and immobilized with clamps, straps, etc. However, cars will stay exposed to weather, without any cover or a container, so it might not be the safest way to do it.

International Air Freight

If you can afford it, shipping your car using international moving by air is probably the safest and fastest way of getting it across the water. No matter how expensive your precious car is, this is going to cost much more, but it can be worth it.

Vehicle Shipping Containers

By far, the most common way of shipping cars is to ship them in a container. It costs a bit more than RORO, but it is much safer. Safe and sound in a metal container, your car will slowly but surely, arrive at its destination intact.

If you go for the consolidated vehicle shipping, your four-wheeler will be placed in a container along with other cars with the same destination port. On the other hand, sole container shipping means that your machine will be put in a single container and will thus arrive much faster. However, this convenience comes at a considerable cost.

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Prepare the Vehicle for International Shipping Step by Step

There are no mandatory things you need to do, but we advise you to give your car a bit of tender loving care before you send it on the journey of its life.

  • Make sure you have removed all personal belongings
  • Drive it to an authorized service to check if everything is in good condition
  • Clean it on the inside, and wash the exterior
  • Check the tires and measure the pressure in them
  • Make sure that no more than ¼ of the tank is full
  • Make another copy of your keys, since you will have to leave one pair to the company
car going through a car wash
Time to shine

What Is Needed to Ship a Car Overseas?

Just like we have to have some essential documents to travel abroad, your car also needs to fulfill some requirements. So, here are a few things you should keep in mind and a couple of steps you have to take to ensure smooth transport.

transporting cars on a ship
All aboard!

Requested Documents for Overseas Transportation

You would need a certificate of origin if you bought your car brand new, a copy of your passport, certificate of car ownership, a bill of sale from the port, and a declaration form from the company.

Finding The Nearest Vehicle Loading Port

There are several ports in the US from where you can ship your car, and nowadays, most auto transporters offer to transport your machine from your home to the port.

Are you sending your vehicle to some of the best cities in Europe, or you are taking it back home to the US port from somewhere else? Make sure to check rates, because the closest company is not always the cheapest one.

Finding a Reliable Company

Do not be lazy and go for the first car transport company you found on Google, do proper research, and find the best one. There are plenty of companies that offer these services, and the prices can vary a lot.

How Long Are Cars Traveling?

If you need your vehicle at a certain place at a certain time, do not forget that this way of transportation can last for weeks. Approximately 30 to 40 days they spend only on the water, regardless if they are in a container or not. Transporting by air is faster, but pricier, so make sure you start the process on time.

Inspect Your Vehicle Before You Ship It

Depending on your car brand or type, fixing certain things and finding parts can be more expensive in auto services at your destination country. Check that out and change everything that is necessary before you send it across the seas.

Finding a Port In a New Country

The same as with your local companies, you have to find one in your new home country and check the deals. Unloading fees, customs, and other services can be quite expensive, so to avoid any unpleasant surprises, check all fees, and costs of transport. In some cases, these services are included in the initial estimate, but that is not the general rule.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Overseas?

The cost can depend on several factors, and it varies depending on where, how, and when you are planning to do it. Anyway, it is not cheap, so take some time and do the transport math. Here are the major factors that impact the costs:

  • Size and dimensions of the vehicle
  • Location of the car and location of the port
  • Destination port requirements
  • Type of transport: RORO, container or aircraft
  • Cost of various technical services
paying for the toll booth
Relocating a car can be pricey

Extra Tips for International Vehicle Transport

  • Take photos of every exterior detail, existing scratches, dents, etc. In case any damage occurs during transport, you will have proof.
  • Invest in an international car transport insurance, it will keep you calm while your car is rocking on the waves
  • If you cannot pick up your vehicle upon its arrival, inform the transport company about it, and designate another person to do it.
shipping containers
Transporting vehicles across the sea is apparently trending

To Ship or to Buy a New One?

At the end of the day, it is up to you. If it is a new car, you are emotionally attached to it, or it has sentimental value, then it is totally reasonable to ship it wherever you are going. We, people, are creatures of habit, and we tend to get attached to things, so it does not matter if it is old, scratched, bumped, or whatever, it is yours, and you have the right to keep it and ship it.

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