Moving Must-haves December 30, 2019

Your Guide to Shipping a Car Overseas

Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

When making such a profound life decision as moving to another country, shipping a car overseas may be a smart choice. Getting around the new city in a different country, going to work, or just visiting old friends in a nearby town will be way easier if you take your four-wheeler with you.

More likely than not, you and your wheels have had a fair share of adventures up and down the roads of your hometown. So, if it is to come with you on a long, international journey, you’ll want it to arrive safe and sound. Here are some simple steps to that end.

Step 1: Research International Shipping

Research is, in many ways, the most important part of sending your vehicle to your new destination. It may decide the time frame and the overall quality of services provided.

Find Out About International Shipping Companies

Many international shipping companies offer transportation of cars. So don’t hesitate to hit the internet and make a list of those that may be suitable. Of course, you may also take advice from friends into account, as well as the reviews left by previous clients. In the first instance, probably the most important thing is to make sure that the company you are considering to hire is licensed. Since that fact, along with information about whether the company is insured is one of the key things that make people decide on a shipper, it will probably be highlighted on their website.

shipping containers
Choose a shipping company carefully

Step 2: Research the Cost and Ask for a Quote

The next step in the research is learning more about the costs of international car transport. They may vary for a number of reasons, so make sure to establish which services at which prices best suit your needs.

Overseas Vehicle Transport

When you opt for international moving by sea, always feel free to ask the shipping company for a quick price estimate or to schedule a free survey, depending on the services you are interested in. Your car will be sent abroad on a ship, but it’s not the same if it will travel in a container or via the roll-on roll-off method. The size of your car may play a part in the cost estimate, too.

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Basic and Additional Cost

The cost of transport will also depend on the distance between the port of origin and port of destination, the destination fee and whether you wish the shipping company to freight your car to the port, in case you live inland.


Some companies include insurance in their offer, so always favor those who do. Insurance is optional, and it costs money, but accidents may happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Overseas transport services cost money, so make sure they’re of the highest quality

Step 3: Choose a Shipper

With research properly done, it’s time to decide on the best company to ship your vehicle overseas. Give it meticulous consideration, especially if your car is more to you than a simple tool for getting from one place to another faster.

Make Sure It’s Reliable

Even if a company meets all standards during basic research, check for additional information from people who already used their services. The company won’t boast about cars damaged during an overseas trip, but car owners certainly wouldn’t keep their mouths shut. Also, make sure that the company offers tracking information for the ship that carries your car.

Additional Offers

Most companies offer transportation of cars from the point of origin to the ship, but make sure to check if your preferred shipper is among them. Also, in case that other things need to be sent to your new home, you should ask the company whether it allows them to be packed inside the car for international travel. Not all of them do, so better to be informed in advance than surprised when standing on a dock.

shipping containers
Better the container, easier overseas travel

Step 4: Complete the Paperwork

Paperwork is important for overseas vehicle shipping, as for anything else. Required documents are the original title, copy of the bill, and a copy of your American passport. Additional documents may be required depending on specific regulations in this or that US city and also the destination country and port. Also, roll on transportation usually requires less paperwork than using a container, since the services of that kind are less demanding.

signature on a document
Round up the documents for international transport

Step 5: Prepare the Vehicle for the Overseas Trip Before You Ship It

Before you put your car on the ship, you should make a thorough check of its state and do some minor repairs if necessary. This is mostly done because of the insurance claims in case any damage occurs during the trip. You may also want to learn what shipping containers dimensions are available.

Inspect Your Car Before Loading

It is highly recommended that you make a full check of your vehicle before sending it off. That includes making a report on every dent and ding in your car, together with pictures. Servicing the car, with particular attention to brakes, is also a good thing to do, as is washing.

Many international shipping companies have their own recommendations on what preparatory measures should be taken, so follow them through, and there should be no problems. Most companies will do their inspection, but one more pair of eyes can’t hurt.

Learn What Can’t Be Sent in a Container

As we said before, some companies allow using a vehicle as a container of sorts, for other belongings, be it car parts or anything else. However, certain things cannot be shipped in a container, and a list is not hard to find. As you can imagine, it mostly concerns explosive, flammable, or toxic materials.

car in front of a workshop
Before boarding the ship, check if the car is ready for a trip across the ocean

Step 6: Wait for the Shipment

The final part of the process is waiting for your vehicle at the destination port. Traveling time depends mostly on the distance between ports. Also, don’t forget the destination fee. Every country, and often every city has its own fee, so you may do good to find exact numbers beforehand. Responsible for getting your car to the dry land will be the destination agent. Whether your international transport company has its own agent in the destination city or works with local partners, always be sure to have that agent’s information with you. Agents may also help you with customs and any other legal or safety requirements of the destination country.

You may, of course, use services from your chosen agent.

parked trucks
Upon arrival, cars are moved by trucks

Unloading Cars From a Ship

Once the vessel arrives, the agent will arrange for a truck to transport the container to the place of unloading. If you are not there to pick it up immediately, your car will be put in storage and held there until you arrive.

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