US Dept of Homeland Security No matter what country you are shipping a car to, it will have to pass US Customs. Passing US Customs is normally not an issue, but what happens when your container shipment is randomly selected for inspection? Or what if there are a group of containers suspected of illegal goods? As an international car shipping company, our customers have to occasionally deal with US Customs.

There is a 5% chance that USA Customs may prevent a container from being loaded. When they have a suspicion that the container has illegal goods inside of it, or there is something amiss with the container that has not been properly declared, they will withdraw the container from the port and take it to an inspection facility where the container will be unloaded and inspected.If there are illegal goods in the container those goods will be confiscated, but if all is found to be in order, then the container is re-loaded and taken to the port for loading onto the next available vessel. Unfortunately a US Customs vehicle inspection causes delays.

The charges for re-loading and travelling expenses are unfortunately borne by the owner of the container. In other words that person will be responsible for all costs incurred by the trucker and the inspecting facility. It is rather unfair, but it happens and there is very little we can do about it.

Container ships usually have this problem. Unlike container shipping, Roll on Roll off (RoRo) shipments do not have this problem as the vehicle is easily seen and there are no up and down expenses incurred.

Download this doc provided by US Customs Exporting a Vehicle from USA

This guide was developed as a single source of guidance for shippers and exporters on the proper procedures required for the exportation of used self-propelled motor vehicles presented for export, along with their accompanying documentation.

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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 ΒΌ 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.
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