road-trip-in-the-ruralAs an international car shipping company, we get many people taking trips overseas. Today we want to share how our traveling customers ship their own car’s from USA to Europe round trip. Yes you can do that and you don’t have to be rich. We will compare the costs of renting a car vs. taking your own car. Obviously the amount of time you will be staying in Europe will determine if car rental or car shipping is better. As always we will use a real example, but with fake names.

Normally the cheapest place to ship a car from that is destined to Europe is Newark, NJ. There are other ports that are the same price too, but for this example we are using Newark, NJ because it’s the most popular.

Jack and Jill want to go on the trip of their lifetime and need to ship a car to Bremerhaven, Germany from Newark, NJ. The price for shipping their car is around $900. Since Jack and Jill are now retired, they don’t have a set amount of time. They can stay up to 6 months in Europe and not have to pay import fees. All they want to do is travel in their car and go sightseeing or a few months.

Jack drops his car off at the terminal in Newark and the ship sets sail destined for Bremerhaven, Germany. He is told that the arrival date will be April 1st and decides to get to Germany by plane a couple days before to relax. He found a room for rent in Bremerhaven using AirBnB for super cheap. April 1st comes by and he goes to pick up his car. Jill is there along for the ride. He has to pay a deposit for his car that will be refunded once the car leaves the EU and goes back to Newark, but he is fine with that.

europe-tripJack and Jill jump into their car with their luggage and take off on an adventure. With no road map, they just decide to drive. They camped, booked cheap lodging using AirBnB, and made new friends who invited them to stay over. After spending 2 months traveling from Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, & Austria, Jill begins to feel like she wants to go back home, but Jack convinces her to see Eastern Europe. Jill loves the beauty of Eastern Europe and feels like she is going back in time like in a movie.

3 months have passed since their arrival in Germany and now the couple wants to come back to their home in USA. They call up Ship Overseas to have their car shipped back to Newark from Bremerhaven for the same price of $900.

Here is the break down:
Total car shipping costs: $1800 roundtrip
Car rental in Europe would have been $30/day (USD) x 90 days = $2, 700.
Taking your own car is cheaper if you are staying for a longer period of time. The 60 day mark is where it makes sense to take your own car instead of renting. Also, most car rental companies will require the renter to come back within 1 month and miles can be limited to a certain amount.

Some advice:
Take a regular GPS. Don’t rely on your cell phone’s GPS that uses cell phone towers for signal. Buy a TomTom or Garmin because it uses a satellite. If needed, download the latest maps of the countries you are visiting from the manufacturer of the GPS. You don’t want to be in a rural area. A regular map will work as a backup.

Take cash especially when at the port picking up and dropping off your car. If you are using credit card, remember that every time you run your CC your financial institution may charge you an international fee

Take Euros out of the ATM because it’s almost always cheaper. I personally have been doing this since 1993 when I was in the Navy. I do recommend taking US dollars and converting into Euros once you arrive at the airport, but don’t be bringing all your spending cash.

Use AirBnB to book your lodging. There is no need to stay at expensive hotels. Staying at hotels can make many trips unaffordable.

Get car shipping rates to any country below!

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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.