So you need to get your car from one side of the ocean… to the other. Where do you even begin? We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to shipping your car overseas not only to give you a starting point but to ensure you don’t miss any steps. From start to finish, here is what it takes to send a car overseas.
Research Car Shippers
Most of the time, this process starts online. Make a list of possible companies you are interested in using, and begin checking their credentials and reading reviews. Some companies will offer reviews on their websites, but second party sites like Yelp can also provide valuable feedback that isn’t curated by the company.
Start to compare rates across companies to get a sense of whether they are more of a budget-rate company or high-end shipping. Do what you can with estimates they provide on their site to start.
Request and Compare Quotes
Based on the research you did for step one, call and request quotes from the shippers you’ve identified as the best options. When you get your quote or estimate, be sure to consider what each rate includes:
- Type of service quoted: is it port to port, or door to door delivery? This will typically mean a significant price difference, particularly if the port is a significant distance from the final destination.
- Will the company use shipping containers or roll on roll off (RORO)? Will your vehicle have a shared container, or have the entire space to itself? If you are looking for the best ways to transport your car, these questions matter – especially if you have any concerns about physical dings and dents to the vehicle.
- Destination Fees: every port requires destination fees, no matter what country. Your estimate should cover everything on the export side, including US customs clearance. Unloading fees and customs clearance at the destination port can vary widely, however — and if this isn’t included in the initial estimate, it can come as quite a shock. Be sure to ask!
- Insurance: what is included in the quote? Will the company assist you in securing additional insurance, if you want it? Rates can range between 1.5% to 2.5% of the vehicle’s value. Are you covered for total loss or just damage? When does the insurance start and end over the course of travel? Be sure you are clear!
Choose Your Preferred Shipping Method
For most people, the answer to this question is decided by whether time or cost is more important to you. If you need your car right away or by a certain date, then book a 20-foot container, provide the necessary paperwork and payment, and your vehicle will be on the next ship headed out. This is the most costly option, however, other than shipping by plane.
For a middle ground that costs less but is expedient, you may choose to send your car on a RORO ship where it will join other cars in the hull of a ship. It won’t be quite as fast as the above method but doesn’t require waiting for a full load of containers to depart.
Lastly, you could choose a consolidated shipping container. Your car will be loaded into a container with other vehicles bound for the same port, which sometimes may mean waiting until enough additional vehicles are ready to be shipped to fill the container. However? Your vehicle does get the added protection of traveling in an enclosed container, which may be an enticing benefit if time isn’t a huge factor in your decision.
Then? Select your shipping port, typically the place closest to your current home to the port closest to your future destination. This is especially important if your shipper will also be transporting your vehicle over land, since the further on land it needs to be shipped, the higher the cost. In some rare cases, such as shipping your vehicle to, say, Japan, it may be beneficial to ship it overland to California first since it’s a much shorter distance from the West Coast.
Do keep in mind that if your vehicle lands at the port of one country and needs to be transported across the border into another, this second leg of the trip will require additional logistics beyond typical port and customs fees, and will vary by country.
Choose a Shipper and Submit Your Documents
Straightforward: make sure you have your paperwork in order! A highly organized shipper will help you with this to prevent any last minute surprises on shipping day.
Inspect Your Vehicle’s Condition
Pro tips for shipping your car: do your own inspection report, and make sure you take photos. Be sure you have proper documentation to prove if there was any damage during the shipping of your vehicle to make it easy if you need to file an insurance claim. The shipping company will probably do their own (they should!), but two reports are better than one. Especially if you have the photos in your possession!
The cost of shipping a car overseas can range widely, but make sure you’re clear how much it will cost for your international car shipping before you wave bon voyage to your vehicle. Ask any and all questions you might have, and sending a vehicle overseas should go smoothly — so long as the ocean cooperates!