When shipping vehicles overseas, especially when shipping motor cars, there are two most frequently used options: RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) and Container Shipping. There are a number of differences between these two shipping methods; one of the differences that determine the choice between RoRo and Container Shipping is the cost.

If you compare the prices offered by most Roll-on/Roll-off shipping companies and container shipping companies, you’ll notice that RoRo is less expensive.

Before we delve into the differences in cost, let’s take a brief look at some of the other differences between RoRo and Container Shipping.

RoRo vs. Container Shipping: Basic differences

Most shipping companies providing Roll-on/Roll-off shipping also provide Container Shipping and vice versa. To ship the car with RoRo, the car needs to be in running condition because it has to be driven onto the ship and also off it. With container shipping, the car is stored in an open or closed container which is placed onto the ship. The car doesn’t have to be in running condition to be shipped via container.

No personal belongings with RoRo

With RoRo shipping, the car owner is not allowed to ship their personal belongings along with the car. By contrast, container shipping allows for spare tires and other items to be shipped along with the car. Depending on the size of the container, the customer can also ship their furniture along with the vehicle.

Fixed arrival and departure dates

RoRo shipping also guarantees reliable departure and arrival dates, which is not the case with container shipping. All things considered, RoRo is a better option if you meet the following criteria:

  • you need your vehicle to arrive faster
  • your vehicle is in running condition
  • you aren’t shipping personal items with the vehicles.

RoRo vs. Container Shipping: Difference in costs

As mentioned earlier, RoRo shipping is typically the least expensive shipping method, even when compared with different container shipping methods. For example, it’s $850 to ship a standard size vehicle from the USA to Belgium via RoRo, while the cost of container shipping ranges from $900 to $2000.

Let’s take a look at what determines the difference in shipping costs between different container shipping methods.

Dry containers vs. High cube dry containers

Dry containers are used for shipping most types of cargo, while the specifications and purpose largely depend on the container manufacturer, age, and ultimately – the owner. There are 20’ and 40’ dry container types.

As opposed to dry containers, high cube dry containers provide an extra foot in height. There are 40’ and 45’ high cube dry containers.

Exclusive vs. Shared container

If you choose container shipping, the cost of shipping your vehicle overseas will depend on whether you choose an exclusive or a shared container. Exclusive container shipping is more expensive than shared container shipping. Also, it’s by far the most expensive shipping method, compared both to other container shipping methods and Roll-on/Roll-off shipping.

RoRo vs. Container Shipping: Cost Examples

Let’s take a look at some of the examples of costs for the aforementioned shipping methods.

From Newark, NJ to Antwerp, Belgium:

RoRo: $850

Shared Container: $900

20 Ft Exclusive Container: $1175

40 Ft Exclusive Container: $2000

Despite the cost, 40 ft Exclusive Container is a good option for vehicle owners who are shipping up to 4 vehicles or for vehicle owners who are shipping their furniture with the vehicle. The vehicles are stacked one on top of the other.

From Houston, TX to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:

RoRo: $1350

20 Ft Exclusive Container: $2000

40 Ft Exclusive Container: $3650

From Houston, TX (Houston port is Galveston, TX) to Lagos, Nigeria:

RoRo: $935

Shared Container: $1350

20 Ft Exclusive Container: $2600

40 Ft Exclusive Container (2 vehicles only): $3250

40 Ft Exclusive Container (4 vehicles): $4700

Final considerations

In most cases, RoRo shipping is the most affordable shipping method. It’s cheaper to transport the car to a port that’s not nearest to the vehicle location (provided RoRo shipping is available) than to ship it from the port closest to the vehicle location, where container shipping is the only option.

Consult the best of Roll-on/Roll-off shipping companies

Ship Overseas has been offering reliable shipping services for over 3 decades. Contact us today to inquire about the departure and arrival ports for shipping vehicles from the USA to Europe, Latin America, Africa or the Middle East, or from Europe to the USA.

If you can’t transport your vehicle to the port, we’ll pick it up for you!

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Important info to Ship a Car Overseas:
  • No car can leave USA if it has a lien on it. What does this mean? Your car must be paid in full. The only people who can ship a car overseas and still carry a lien on the car are US Military and Government employees/contractors. For those people a letter of authorization from the lender will need to be issued to pass US Customs. Otherwise the car may be considered stolen.
  • A clear Title of Ownership with no Liens on the Title.
  • If you bought a car new, then your name must be listed on the front of the Title as the registered owner.
  • If the vehicle has been sold, then both the Seller and Buyer have to sign the back of the Title in the spaces as detailed on the back of the Title.
  • For safety reasons, the vehicle cannot have more than a ¼ tank of gas.
Import Duty for Destination Country:
  • Import duty is NOT collected by Ship Overseas. It must be paid at the arrival port by whoever is picking up the car. We wrote a blog post about vehicle import duty here. It talks about how to find out import duty for your country.
Travel & Living Abroad:
  • Most countries will allow a traveler to temporarily import their car for up to 6 months. After the 6 months is up, import duty will be charged. For many travelers going to Europe and taking their car, a deposit is paid up front. When the car goes back to it's destination country, the deposit is refunded. If a person has lived in USA for 1 or more years, most countries will allow that person to bring their car back duty free! The car must not have any liens on it. Please check with your Customs Department first.