You’ve been transferred overseas and want to bring your vintage wheels with you. Or maybe you’re going on an extended vacation and prefer the comfort of your own car instead of a rental. In either of these cases, the challenges of planning, organizing and shipping are the same.  Here are five mistakes you should avoid if you’re shipping a car overseas:

Mistake #1Select a freight company on price alone.

Choosing a freight company is no different than choosing a plumber or electrician. Price is part of the equation, but you also want to know if he or she is licensed, bonded and insured. You may also want to ask for references. When evaluating freight companies, find out how long they’ve been in business and whether they have experience shipping to your destination country. Every country has different regulations covering vehicle imports, so this is important. The freight company should be willing to provide references for recent shipments and answer all of you questions thoroughly and without hesitation.

Price is ultimately part of the equation and you should expect to pay approximately  less than $1000 to transport a compact car from the U.S. to Europe and up to approximately $2, 000 for a full-sized SUV. If you’re shipping to Australia from the U.S., expect to pay around $2, 950 for a standard-sized car (depends where you’re shipping from East Coast vs West Coast).  You’ll pay more if you transport household items in the container with your car.

Mistake #2:  Don’t read the entire quote. 

 It’s important to read the entire quote to understand what is not included. Read everything and ask questions about parts you don’t understand — and make sure you get the answers in writing. Items not typically included in quotes are:

  • Packing materials used to safely secure your vehicle in the shipping container
  • Customs clearance
  • Destination port fee
  • Terminal handling charges
  • Delivery of the vehicle after you’ve reached your destination

 Mistake #3:  Procrastinate.

You’ve reviewed the three freight estimates and selected the company that offers the best combination of price, experience and professional demeanor to transfer your car. Great! You can relax, right? Not exactly. Transport alone can actually take two weeks or more depending on the departure & destination ports. To avoid last minute problems, submit your request to the carrier within 30 days of when you want to ship your car.

Mistake #4:  Pack your car with “stuff.”

As tempting as it may be to use your car as a suitcase, don’t. Freight companies charge for shipments based on the weight of the cargo, so you’ll end up paying more if you store belongings in your car.  In addition, your car will probably remain unlocked throughout the journey because of the numerous inspections required, so theft could be a problem.

Most freight companies won’t insure your car’s interior or any items left in the car during transport, and that includes the trunk, glove compartment, and any other latched compartment that could pop open and cause damage. The bottom line is, you’re completely responsible for any damage that occurs to your car’s interior and the items in it during transport. Most times it’s cheaper to ship via  a RoRo ship, but you cannot have anything inside the vehicle. In container shipping you can, but with the price difference you can just air your belongings via FedEx instead and save money overall.

Mistake #5:  Don’t insure your car.

 Auto Insurance can be complicated, but there are plenty of things you can do to save money. One of the things you should do when shipping your car overseas is to add extra insurance. This will provide you with peace of mind that your property is protected against damage during transport.  In addition to external damage and theft of the vehicle, insurance will protect your car against other potential problems, including variations in water temperature. You may think you’ll save money by skipping the insurance, but the cost pales in comparison to what you’ll pay to repair or replace your car.

International car moving companies are liable for only a maximum of $500 per car being shipped overseas, so you might consider purchasing additional insurance to protect your car during transport.

Travel With the Car You Love

When you travel overseas, you don’t have to say goodbye to your favorite set of wheels. If you do your research and plan carefully, shipping a car overseas doesn’t have to be a hassle. It’s an ideal solution for many families who are traveling or moving to another country.


Leave a Reply

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.
Send this to a friend