How to Ship a Car Overseas: All You Need to Know


Some customers may decide to move abroad for different reasons: a dream job, a chance to study abroad, love, family, retirement, etc. Moving to a different country can be extremely stressful. There are many steps to take to move internationally including moving your personal items, finding a place to live, and adjusting to a new culture. Some customers prefer moving their personal vehicles with them too, creating another step – arranging the safe overseas transport of their car.

Shipping a vehicle internationally is a complex process that requires good planning and meticulous execution. Overseas moves usually involve a few parties that need to be on the same page if you want a smooth move. Generally, the process goes like this: Your car will be loaded in a truck and unloaded at a port or airport where it will be once again loaded onto a cargo ship or a plane for the next phase of its trip. When it arrives at its destination country, it will go through clearance at the port or airport and loaded onto another truck that will take it to its final address.

Shipping a car overseas vs. buying a new car at the new place

How to find the best international car shipping companies

How much does it cost to ship your car overseas?

What documents will you need to ship your vehicle overseas?

Types of international car shipping methods

How to prepare your car for overseas shipping

Ship your car overseas or buy a new one in the new country?

If you are moving to another country, there is the question of whether you should request a port-to-port shipping service or just buy a new car once you settle at your new home. You need to weigh in the pros and cons of each option and analyze the specific details.

  • Sentimental value - are you emotionally involved with your car? If yes, how much? Is your car a family legacy? Is your car a specific make or model that you cannot buy at your new place?

  • Time – are you planning to sell your car before the move date? Selling your auto short notice, you may end up with a dissatisfying deal. Will you have enough time and funds to go for car hunting?

  • Shipping cost - if your car is a new model, it might be worth shipping along with your belongings. The cheapest car shipping rates starts at about $800. The cost of shipping a car overseas starts at about $800 and may reach $5,500 depending on a number of factors. You scout for some local car selling sites to see what the local marketplace offers and how are the prices there.

  • Storage - do you have a place where you can store your car while you are overseas if it is not a permanent move? Is it cost-effective in your area to store your car temporarily? Also, if you have a good friend or a relative who can take care of your car until you are back, then it may be worth it to let them take care of it until you come back.

  • Car maintenance costs – If you are driving a supercar or some expensive auto, be aware that it may cost you much more to handle repairs at your new location. Be mindful that replacement parts for a car manufactured in the United States may be much pricey and hard to find.

  • Duration of your overseas stay – Last but not least, it is important to know the duration of your stay overseas. If you decide that you are staying in the new country for a long time, then it might make sense to take your vehicle with you.

How to find the best international car shipping company

When your car is being shipped overseas, it first starts its trip at one of the major U.S. ports. You need a reliable and trustworthy car shipping company that provides port-to-port shipping service. Whereas, if you are moving cross-country, you have the option to drive your car by yourself, in the situation of an overseas move, you need a professional auto transporter. Here is how to find one:

  1. Ask for a quote for car shipping.

  2. Make sure the company is licensed with US Department of Transportation.

  3. Inquire if your auto transporter has enough experience with customs clearance.

  4. Read reviews and online testimonials.

  5. Be prepared to handle a lot of paperwork.

  6. Follow car shipping company instructions to prepare your vehicle for its overseas move.

How much does it cost to ship a car overseas?

How much does it cost to ship a car overseas?

Naturally, you want to know much overseas shipping may cost you in order to plan your budget. Sometimes, it may be more economical to buy a car in your new home city. Generally, there are some basic factors that affect your car shipping price:

Distance from your home to the nearest seaport

The price to have your car shipped to a sea terminal and from a sea terminal to your new home city will depend on your specific location. It can cost you from a few hundred dollars up to $1.200. Keep in mind that large or oversized cars will cost more than shipping a conventional vehicle.

The U.S. ports of entries are as it follows: Los Angeles and San Francisco (California), Miami and Jacksonville (Florida), New York City (New York), Norfolk (Virginia), Charleston (South Carolina), Wilmington (Delaware) and Baltimore (Maryland).

Distance to the destination country

One of the main factors that will greatly affect your international car shipping cost is the distance to the foreign country. In general, international car shipping rates start at around $800 and can reach $5,500, or even more. As a rule of thumb, the greater the distance is, the higher the shipping cost is. For example, shipping a car from the United States to Europe starts around $800 for a conventional sedan. ,Shipping a car from the U.S. to Australia can cost around $3,000.

Overseas destination taxes and charges

When you plan your car shipping budget, take into consideration import duties and customs taxes, along with the delivery fees in the destination country. An experienced auto transporter that has executed many port-to-port shipping jobs, knows terminal rules and will inform you about the process in advance.

International car shipping insurance

Most overseas shipping providers are by law obliged to hold a valid insurance. Upon authorizing ocean transport intermediaries, the FMC requires providers to prove that they can provide adequate protection. Still, if you are driving a supercar or a very expensive car, you may need to pay for extra insurance coverage. International insurance usually accounts for around 1.5% - 2.5% of the estimated value of the vehicle.

  • Size, weight, and condition of your car

As you know, the size and the weight of your vehicle will affect the international car shipping cost. Moreover, if your car is non-operational, you will be charged extra for the loading and unloading, as additional equipment and human labor will be required.

International car shipping insurance

What documents will you need to ship your car overseas?

Shipping a car overseas requires dealing with a lot of paperwork. That is why your auto transporter should be experienced in executing port-to-port shipping services.

When it comes to shipping a car abroad, you will have to prepare:

  • The original Title of your car and two copies of the original documents that have been validated by a notary;

  • The Bill of Sale;

  • A Shipper Export Declaration;

  • A Declaration of Dangerous Goods;

  • A copy of your U.S. passport.

Keep in mind that different ports have some specific rules that may only apply to that particular port. Also, different ports in different countries may be handling the clearance process as per local policies and regulations. To speed up the overseas shipping process, talk with your company or the ports to ensure that you will be able to present the required papers upon request.

Types of overseas car shipping methods

There are two main car shipping methods in overseas transport: Roll On, Roll Off (RORO) and Shipping Containers.   

Roll On, Roll Off (RORO)

This is the cheapest method used to ship a car overseas. Your auto is driven onto a ship as if the deck of the vessel were a parking lot. Then, your car is secured and fixed with the help of straps, clamps, and other specialized equipment. No personal belongings should be left in your car for safety reasons. Moreover, you should avoid additional customs surcharges and penalties during clearance. Nevertheless, if your car is not in good condition and is not operable, you may face extra fees for handling. Some ports do not allow vehicles that are not operable.

RORO may be the cheapest method to ship a car overseas, but your car will be in the open and exposed to the weather elements.

Shipping Containers

Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are the most widespread method of transporting cars overseas. It costs more than the Roll On, Roll Off shipping method and it provides much greater safety and protection. Your car will be 100% protected as it will be securely fixed inside a metal container until the entire ocean journey is over.

To cut the overseas shipping costs, you can opt for a shared container and transport your vehicle with some other cars. Ask your overseas auto transporter whether they can arrange a 40ft shared container in order to lower overseas shipping costs.


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