Most car shopping processes go off without a hitch. Usually there’s nothing to worry about and you can assume your car will be waiting for you at the designated port. You may have even waived the optional marine insurance offered to you by your shipping company. You may want to reconsider that next time.

Here’s a cautionary tale to keep in mind:

On December 5, 2012, a car carrier named the Baltic Ace collided with a container ship in the North Sea. Leaving a swath of debris and destruction 150 meters long and killing 11 out of 24 crew members, the Baltic Ace incident occurred in one of the world’s busiest and largest shipping lanes. Dumping 430 liters of oil into the sea and presenting the threat of dangerous substances from both the wreckage and the 1, 417 cars on board, the Baltic posed a huge risk to the environment and the marine industry.

In order to ensure safe passage for other ships through this busy shipping lane, a salvage operation was put in place. Recovery took place in two phases: in 2014, all oil was removed, and in 2015, the salvage operation began. Since the oil couldn’t be pumped out directly, it had to be heated and then removed, a painstaking process that took two weeks. In all, 460, 000 liters of oil were removed.

Divers cut holes in the hull to prepare the wreck for lifting. In April of 2014, the salvage operation began using a precise wire cutting process that cut the wreck into eight pieces. Those eight sections became distorted as they broke away from each other, requiring some pieces to be pulled out in smaller pieces, while others came out whole. Small auto parts had to hauled out with smaller devices and eventually divers themselves had to go down and remove loose pieces.

In all, more than 18 ships and 150 people took part in the salvage operation, removing 13, 000 tons of wreckage. The whole process was done in October 2015, with the shipping lane opened for business once again that November. It had taken three years from the time the collision occurred until the ocean floor was finally clean of the wreck.

Three.whole.years. That’s a lot of time, money and resources devoted to an accident that never should’ve happened. However, on a lesser scale, the individual owners of every single car on that carrier faced a big loss that December day. Many had not opted for the marine insurance when booking their car shipment, and thus faced a total loss on their vehicle.

Marine insurance covers the loss or damage of your vehicle throughout the car shipping process. It’s an extra chunk of change on your end, to be sure, but do you really want to put yourself at risk for this type of unforeseen catastrophe?

Get a free quote from Ship Overseas and learn about how marine insurance can protect your investment.

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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.
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.
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.