As a freight forwarder, our customers occasionally have to deal with the hassle of clearing US Customs. Customs clearance has to be obtained whether shipping containers or using the Roll on Roll off (RoRo) service.
It is much easier to clear US Customs vehicle inspections when using RoRo shipping because the customs agent just needs to look through the window to see what’s in the car. Sometimes they will look in the trunk, but it’s easy to inspect a car that is visually easy to inspect. What makes the process fast is that nothing is permitted to be in the car when shipping via RoRo. The trunk can only have the spare tire and jack. This is mandatory for all RoRo shipping lines.
Containers are much harder to inspect for customs agents when people are doing international car shipping. The one disadvantage is that containers can be withdrawn from the port if there is a suspicion of illegal goods being in the container, which costs the sender of the container money. You can learn more detail here about what happens when your car gets inspected by US Customs.
Roll on Roll off, if stopped by US customs for whatever reason, does not involve the sender in as heavy an expense and if at worst there is a delay, terminal handling charges for storage may occur at approximately $8.00 per day.
Containers are generally used if goods are loaded into vehicles or if there are only goods to be shipped. Containers are used when multiple vehicles, 3 or more, are required to be loaded. This is NOT always the cheapest option as if destination charges are taken into account, then roll on roll off shipping usually works out to be the cheaper option.