Shipping a Car to France


If you would like to know more about shipping a car from the USA to France, you will appreciate this in-depth guide. We will cover:

Shipping Car from USA to France

Because Ship Overseas, Inc. has been shipping cars back and forth between the USA and France for 40 years, you can rest assured we know a thing or two about the industry. Don’t worry about the process. It may seem daunting at first, but we will hold your hand throughout. We are here to answer all your questions regarding the shipping process to France, including Pricing, Documents, Departure and Arrival Ports.

To receive accurate pricing, we will need the Year/Make/Model of your car, Pickup Zip Code or Departure Port, and Destination Country (in this case France).

Pick Up

Most people pay us a bit extra to pick up their vehicle from their residence rather than getting it to the port themselves. When you get a quote to ship your car to France, you will see an optional charge for us to pick up your car for you and transport it to the shipping port. This option is easiest for you because you don’t have to incur the costs of gas and food, time off work, getting back home, and possibly spending a couple nights in hotels. Letting us do it for you will only cost you a couple hundred dollars extra and we’ll take the car to the nearest port in France.

Departure Shipping Ports

The departure shipping ports located throughout the United States that ship to France include:

  • Newark, NJ
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Newport News, VA
  • Charleston, SC
  • Brunswick, GA
  • Galveston, TX
  • Long Beach, CA

Remember, you can take the car to one of these ports or we can pick up your car for you at your doorstep and do it for you.

Arrival At Shipping Terminal in France

All shipping lines arrive in Le Havre, the port authority of the French city of Le Havre. The second-largest commercial port in France in tonnage, it’s also the country’s largest container port featuring three sets of terminals. This is where your designated person will pick up the car, bringing cash to pay in person for Tax or Duty. See the section below for Vehicle Import Tax & Duty.

Cost to Ship a Car to France

So, how much will it cost you to ship a car to France? It’s more affordable than you first assumed.

The cost to ship a car to France start at $1055 from Baltimore, MD.

The cost to ship a car to France will also depend on these factors:

  • You will pay more if you want us to pick up your car at your house.
  • Compact cars are more affordable to ship vs. large SUVs.
  • You will save money if you personally drop off the car and meet us at the departure shipping port (remember, you’ll have to make travel arrangements for getting back home).
  • If you’re shipping from the East Coast USA, it’s cheaper than shipping from the West Coast.

Departure & Arrival Ports, Starting Costs, & How Long Shipping Takes

The Estimated Time in Transit only includes the time from when your car arrives at the shipping terminal; it does not include the transit time from when the trucker picks up your car. In general, it takes five weeks to get a car from East Coast and West Coast USA to the French port.

The base cost to ship a car from USA to France is as follows:

  • $1190 Newark, NJ
  • $1055 from Baltimore, MD
  • $1195 from Newport News, VA
  • $1670 from Tacoma, WA
  • $1670 from Long Beach, CA

The final price tag to you will depend on the year/make/model of your car, the departure shipping port, and whether you need us to pick up your car or you decide to drop it off yourself.

Vehicle Import Tax & Duty & Destination Handling Charge

To ship a car from the USA to France, it will cost you 20% Import Tax and 9% VAT (Value Added Tax). Please contact us so we can give you our Clearing Agent’s information. There is a destination handling charge of approximately $300.

If you are in USA, contact the French Embassy by phone if you need the latest information.

French Embassy

4101 Reservoir Rd NW

Washington, DC 20007

(202) 944-6000

Please note, Ship Overseas does NOT collect the import duty. It must be paid at the time the car is being picked up.

US Military

We are authorized shippers for the US military to France. Usually, you can expect the payment for the shipment of your car to France to be covered by the military. If you are shipping a second car (such as when your spouse also wants to ship their car at the same time), you will be responsible for paying for the shipment.

POV Transfer Requirements for Military
  • The car must have four wheels or more, with exceptions for mopeds and motorcycles.
  • The car must be owned or being leased by a member of the military or a dependent
  • The car must be self-propelled and legal on public highways
  • If the car is leased, written consent for transport must be included from the third party

Travelers (Temporary Imports)

Anyone traveling to the EU will be able to bring their car for up to six months, which qualifies as a temporary import. Leave a deposit for the temporary import upon arrival, due upfront. It will be refunded when you leave.


If you are an EU citizen and have lived outside the EU for 6 months, you can bring your car back without having to pay import fees.

New/Used Car Purchase

If the car is owned for less than 1 year and if the final destination is an EU member country, you will pay 20% Import Tax; 9% VAT (Value Added Tax). Salvage titles are accepted and there are no limits on vehicle age.

Classic Car Purchase

Duty for importing classic cars is 7%, while duty for all other cars is 20%.

Storage Fees

Sometimes you can’t arrange for pickup at the same time the car arrives at port. In this case, the Le Havre port will charge you storage fees. Contact us for the latest storage fee amounts.

Optional Marine Insurance

It’s wise to buy the optional marine insurance. We offer full coverage Marine Insurance against Loss or Damage, which lasts from the time your car is loaded onto the ship until you take possession. The cost is 1.75% of the value you want the car insured for. We recommend this option if you cannot afford out of pocket cash for repairs or losses, which can be high. However, rest assured, we have never lost a vehicle unless in hurricane conditions, and that is rare. Note, hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30. Please learn more about Marine Insurance here.

Shipping Car to France Military, Government Contractors

The only ones who can ship a car overseas and still carry a lien on the car are members of the US Military and Government employees (or contractors). You will need authorization from the lender, and that will be needed to pass US Customs. If not, the car could be considered stolen.

US Military and Dependants

At the French port, you will be asked to pay a destination offloading fee of $300 for sedans and SUVs. These prices are subject to change. To get a release of your vehicle, visit the Officer at your Base in charge of Transport. They will give you a document to complete for Military Tags, which will allow you to drive to your base. You will then have to provide proper identification.

Want your vehicle delivered to your Base? Simply request delivery service from us, and we will arrange the forwarding for you at an extra fee.

Government Contractors

Government contractors follow a similar procedure as US military active-duty personnel.

Documents Required to Ship Car to France

If you want to ship a car to France, you’ll need to gather the Original Title and Valid Identification.

US Military

A1. If there is a Lien recorded on the vehicle, and you are in the Military, Government, or State service, the Lien Holder must provide permission to export the vehicle, in the form of an Original Letter from the Lienholder. You will also need three certified copies of the Certificate of Title and will have to present your Military orders or a letter from the Government or State authority. Bring a copy of the Title Record History obtainable from the Department of Motor Vehicles in the State in which the vehicle is registered.

EU Citizens

A2. You must provide Everything in (A) The original Certificate of Title of Ownership of the vehicle without a Lien recorded on the Title.

Non-EU Citizens

A3. You will need the following:

  • Copy of Passport
  • Power of Attorney Form for international residents.

Vehicle Registration in France

Get your International Driver’s License from the AAA Automobile Association in your area. Your American Driver’s License will cover this throughout Europe. Are you a tourist or temporary resident? You may drive with your American license plates in a foreign country until your registration expires for that year.

  • No Sales Tax is payable to the Seller and proof of export will be given to the Seller if requested.
  • If the vehicle is used or pre-owned, the existing Certificate of Title can be endorsed by the seller to the new owner.
  • You will need to provide a Bill of Sale.
  • Depending on which Port the vehicle sails from, you may need a Bill of Sale or a Notarized Bill of Sale.
  • When you buy a new vehicle, you will need an original Certificate of Origin from the Dealership that sold you the vehicle so it can get through Customs Clearance.

Vehicle Registration For Military & Government Contractors

This will be taken care of at the military base. Be sure to speak with your Officer in Charge. You will also get your military tags for your base.

Vehicle Registration For EU Citizens

Now that your car has passed French Customs, it should meet all safety standards. Take your car to the local DMV, bringing your:

  • French Customs Clearance information
  • Proof of residency
  • Bill of Sale
  • Original license plates

Note, Ship Overseas Inc. does not provide any guidance from this step on.

Shipping Methods

RoRo (Roll On Roll Off)

RoRo shipping is available from these ports:

  • Jacksonville, FL (RoRo Only);
  • Newark, NJ;
  • Baltimore, MD;
  • Newport News, VA;
  • Charleston, SC;
  • Brunswick, GA;
  • Galveston, TX;
  • Long Beach, CA.

This type of shipping is for anything with tires that can Roll On and Off the ship. These ships are made specifically for vehicles such as cars and motorcycles, as well as motorhomes, campers, trailers, buses, construction vehicles, and boats. Most people use RoRo when shipping one vehicle. The inside of a RoRo ship resembles a big parking garage.

Your car has to be able to make it up and down the ramp without assistance. Once loaded on the RoRo vessel, each vehicle is tied down securely in a designated spot.

Highly efficient and cost-effective, this method provides reliable departure and arrival dates, almost like an airline flight schedule.

RoRo shipping is also the preferred shipping method for new car manufacturers who wish to ship their products. All vehicles are tied to the deck and are not exposed to the ocean. You get peace of mind and additional protection against external elements.

Payment Methods / Options

You only have to come up with payment once your vehicle is at the departure shipping port.

Wire Transfer or Cashier’s Check

This is the most common method of paying for your shipment if you are not in the USA. We will send you our bank information once your order has been placed.

Wire Transfer or Cashier’s Check

This is the most common method of paying for your shipment if you are not in the USA. We will send you our bank information once your order has been placed.

Credit Card & Zelle

If you are paying with Zelle, you don’t have to pay service fees (bank-to-bank transfer).

For credit card payments, you will be charged a 3% service fee.

Canceling Your Order

Need to cancel your order? Email us as soon as possible. Payment will be refunded via the same payment method you chose, less a $300 cancellation fee.

Additional Information

  • For safety reasons, the vehicle cannot have more than a ¼ tank of gas.
  • Destination handling charge is approximately $300.
  • If the final destination is an EU member country, you also pay 20% Import Tax; 9% VAT (Value Added Tax) if the car is owned for less than 1 year.
  • If in transit through an EU country, leave a deposit of 30% of the value of the car which is refunded after the car is registered at the final destination country.
  • There must be a clear Title of Ownership with no Liens on the Title.
  • If the vehicle has been sold, then both the Seller and Buyer have to sign the back of the Title in the spaces as outlined on the back of the Title.
  • If you bought the car new, your name must be listed as the registered owner on the front of the Title.

USA Customs Clearance

Ship Overseas, Inc. will clear US Customs for you. While sometimes US Customs agents will look in your trunk, they usually just look through the car’s window and that’s that.

Preparing Your Car for Shipment to France

Here are some helpful tips for prepping your car for shipment.

  • Check for leaks in the undercarriage, as the car shipping company may refuse service if one is detected. Get it repaired before transporting it.
  • Check tire pressure, as under-inflated or over-inflated tires are just as risky in transport as they are on the road. You can increase the risk of damage to the tire during loading and unloading.
  • Disable the alarm so truck drivers don’t have to hassle with the disturbance.
  • Because your vehicle is being transported, not driven, you don’t have to fill up prior to loading. In addition, having a full tank of gasoline makes your car heavier, which adds risk to the shipment. Leave as little fuel in the tank as possible.
  • Lock the car – Once your vehicle is loaded onto the auto transport truck, there’s no reason for it to be opened until the time of delivery.
  • Remove custom accessories so they don’t break off in transit due to their odd size.

Who Can Pick Up The Vehicle in France

You can choose anyone to pick up the vehicle at the destination port. Tell us of their name and contact info a few days prior to the sailing date so that they are listed as the Receiver or Consignee in plenty of time. They will have to provide proof of identification with a picture ID, offering the Title of Ownership and a letter of permission to pick up the vehicle. If you notify us of any changes after your cargo has been loaded on the vessel, you will be charged by the shipping line.