How Do I Ship My Car Internationally?

At a glance

International auto transportation works a little differently than interstate or local car shipping, and as you might imagine, it costs far more. However, whether you’re moving to another country for work, for adventure, or for a military assignment, you may need a car. If you can afford it, why not bring your favorite set of wheels with you?

There are special considerations when you’re shipping your car out of the country. How does the whole thing work? What documents do you need for customs? And which companies can even ship a car internationally? Keep reading to get the answers to all of these questions and more.

How to ship a car abroad

How does international car shipping work?

1. Roll-on/roll-off

Imagine a parking lot in the hull of an immense ship. The parking lot is full of different types of vehicles, including motorcycles, vans, SUVs, and sedans. That’s where your car goes when you’re sending it overseas using a roll-on/roll-off (or RORO) shipping service.

Your car is driven into the ship’s hull with all the other cars that are being sent to your destination country, secured in place to prevent it from shifting en route, then driven off the boat at the receiving port.

This method is typically one of the fastest and most economical, though it gives your car less protection than container service.

If your car is exceptionally large (like a massive SUV), RORO might be your only option.

2. Car shipping containers

Containerized auto transport can take one of two forms. Your car is either packed into its own metal shipping container, or it shares a larger container with several other cars.

Obviously shipping your car in its own container is safer than shipping it in a shared same container as other cars. But when you share a container, you also share the cost of shipment, so opting for a shared container can save you money.

However, when you choose to share a container, the auto shipping company won’t actually send the container until it’s full. This means you might need to wait for other customers to book shipping services to the same country with the same company before you can get your car.

If you want to protect your car, or if you need it quickly, or if you have plenty of room in your budget, go with an individual container. If saving money is more important than getting your car to your destination quickly, go with a shared container service.

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Protect your assets

Protect your assets

Before you send your car across the sea, make sure you have marine insurance to cover any loss or damage it suffers during its journey. This is sometimes included in auto insurance policies, so check with your insurer to see if your policy has it. If not, you’ll need to purchase it separately.

3. Air freight

Air freight auto transport is both the fastest and the safest way to ship your car internationally. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive. In fact, it can cost more than the value of your car, so some international car transport companies don’t even offer it.

Unless you have an irreplaceable exotic car, we recommend just going with a cargo freighter for your international auto transport needs.

What documents do you need to ship a car internationally?

Like with most international travel, there’s a lot of paperwork that goes into shipping your car to a different country. While some countries have unique documentation requirements, here’s a list of what you’ll usually need:

  • Photo ID
  • Proof of ownership (either the vehicle’s title or a notarized bill of sale)
  • Vehicle registration
  • Written travel consent from the lienholder if you’re leasing the vehicle

You will need to present this documentation to customs at least 72 hours before shipping your vehicle. To learn more about what documents you’ll need to ship your car to another country, visit the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s guide to exporting a motor vehicle.

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Some countries might not accept your car

Some countries might not accept your car

Every country has unique laws about what imports it accepts, so you shouldn’t just assume you can take your car to a different country. Before you do anything else, contact CBP to ask if your destination country will accept your car. The division’s number is 1-877-227-5511, and you can call anytime from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST).

Which companies can ship a car internationally?

Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many companies that ship cars to different countries. Most just focus on local and interstate shipping services. That’s why we’ve identified two companies that do provide international car shipping.

We recommend getting quotes from both to find the best deal for your budget.

International Van Lines

International Van Lines is an international moving company as well as an auto shipper. In fact, IVL is one of our very favorite moving companies in the industry.

So if you still haven’t found a mover for all of your furniture and household goods, you can hire IVL as a convenient one-stop shop to ship your car along with everything else you own.

Schumacher Cargo Logistics

Like IVL, Schumacher Cargo Logistics also provides both international auto transportation and household goods relocation. One thing that sets Schumacher Cargo apart from IVL is that it offers air freight services, while IVL offers only RORO and container auto shipping.

If you want to learn more about everything Schumacher Cargo has to offer, visit their website and request a quote.

How much does it cost to ship a car overseas?

International auto shipping can cost upwards of $1,000.1 And if your vehicle is traveling an exceptionally long distance or you’re paying for air freight instead of ocean freight, the cost can exceed the value of your car.

That said, rates are virtually impossible to predict because they depend on several key factors:

  • Which country you’re shipping to
  • Shipping distance
  • Make/model of your car
  • Time of year
  • Shipment method (RORO, container, or air freight)
  • Pickup and drop-off locations (door-to-door vs. port-to-port)
  • Import taxes

Since all of these factors will be unique to your move, the only way to get an accurate estimate of what shipping your car might cost is to request a quote from one of the companies we’ve listed.

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Is your car worth it?

Is your car worth it?

Like we’ve said several times, shipping your car overseas might cost more than your car is worth. If your car is an old junker or is easily replaceable, we recommend just selling your car and buying a new one when you reach your destination instead of paying for international shipping.

Recommended resources

Now that we’ve talked about the auto shipping process and pointed you to a few companies that can service your move, we recommend you check out these other resources:

People also asked. . .

Sources

  1. Schumacher Cargo Logistics, “Vehicle Shipping

About Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over three years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.