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If you are traveling or moving to France, you will want to decide whether it’s a good idea to bring your car with you or consider renting or buying a new one. If you are a proud owner of a beautiful classic car, chances are you would want to have it with you. To make sure you get to drive your classic beauty in France, read the basic overview of different transportation methods and import requirements.

Import and customs duties

If your car is 25 years old or older, it is considered a classic car, and you will only be required to pay the ”Old Timers” duty of 5.5%. This requirement, however, is subject to change without notice. The safest way to ensure you know the exact amount of import duty, contact the French Embassy in Washington prior to arranging overseas transport.

Customs duties and VAT are collected at the port of entry by the French Customs & Excise Service.

Types of car shipping services

Importing a classic car into France is not just about loading the vehicle into the vessel and waiting for it at the designated port in France. It’s about choosing the right type of shipping. Your car shipping company will give you various options which you can use to ship your car to France. These options include:

1. Roll-on/roll-off: Here your vehicle will be loaded into a special ship that has a designated cargo area to accommodate vehicles. The method is quite cost-friendly and guarantees fixed departure and arrival dates. You have to make sure your car is in driving condition since it will have to be driven on and off the ramp located on the RoRo ship.

2. Shared container: With shared container shipping, several vehicles are loaded into one container. The container charges are divided among the owners of the vehicles, though the method is still pricier than RoRo. This method of shipping can take longer because you will have to wait for the container to get full before it sets off.

3. Exclusive container: With this shipping method, your car will be shipped in its own separate container. Many classic car owners prefer this method of shipping because there is no risk of the car getting scratched or otherwise damaged by getting in contact with other vehicles.

Marine insurance

You should insure your classic car for transit cargo insurance (marine insurance) to get additional protection in case of any damage to your car.

If you would like to bring a classic or used car to France from the US, take advantage of Ship Overseas’ relationship with the US Military and the low pricing on our shipping line destined for France and Germany. We also offer FULL COVER Marine insurance against loss or damage.

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.
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