How to Transport a Car Overseas
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You can send your car overseas either by sea or by air—but shipping by boat is a far more affordable option. Be sure to plan ahead to stay within your budget, as pricing is determined by size, weight, origin, and destination.
Whether shipping your car out-of-state or out-of-country, it’s always a good idea to carry car insurance to protect your investment.
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Read on to find out the in’s and out’s of shipping a car overseas.
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Here’s everything you need to know about how to transport a car to another country.
Do your homework
If you want to send your car abroad, you’ll need to spend some time researching shipping companies to ensure a smooth shipment and delivery of your car to your desired destination.
There are plenty of options when choosing a shipping company, but it’s important to consider a few factors before handing over your car (and your money).
Will they go from A to B?
It may seem obvious, but you’ll need to confirm that a shipping company is willing and able to deliver your car to your destination.
Make sure the shipping company you’re considering is licensed, bonded, and insured. Shipping a car overseas is an undertaking—this is not a task to be left in the hands of amateurs.
Also, ensure any third-party shipping company involved in your car’s transport is likewise licensed, bonded, and insured. It’s ok to ask for a third party’s licensing number to confirm that they’re legit.
Run their name by the Better Business Bureau to ensure reputability.
Once you’re satisfied that the shipping firms you’re considering are trustworthy and reliable, ask for some quotes and, when you’re ready, make your decision.
Get your papers in order
You’ll need to organize and submit your documents at least 72 hours in advance to the U.S. Port of Entry you’ll be shipping the car out of. This includes the car’s original title and any forms required by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
If you’re unable to supply your car’s original title, you can submit a DMV-certified copy of the original title. Whether submitting the original or certified copy, you’ll also need to supply two additional copies of either.
If your car is new and not yet titled, you can submit a manufacturer’s statement of origin, which you can get from your dealer. You’ll need to supply two additional copies of this, too.
Finally, if there’s a lien on your car, you’ll need a signed and dated letter from your lienholder on original letterhead, expressly permitting you to ship the car overseas.
The letter must have the lienholder’s name and phone number. If you’re unsure about any details required for a lienholder letter, feel free to contact the U.S. Port of Entry.
Key Takeaway You’ll need an original or DMV-certified copy of your car’s title (plus two extra copies of either) and the necessary U.S. Government forms when exporting your car outside the United States.
Prepare your car for shipment
To prepare your car for shipment, you’ll need to heed the rules of customs. Here’s what you need to remember:
- No personal belongings can be stored in the car during shipment as they’re vulnerable to theft
- Any contents left inside the car must be declared
- Only items directly tied to the car should be left inside during shipping—things like jumper cables, a spare tire, and the original emergency kit
- The gas tank should be no more than ¼ full
It’s a good idea to wash the car (including the undercarriage) before you ship the car. Customs on both ends of your journey will inspect the car to ensure no pests or rubbish survived the trip—this could contaminate local agriculture at your destination.
While this should go without saying, it’s illegal to use your car to import or export any illegal substances. If found, they will be seized and you could face criminal prosecution.
Key Takeaway Remove all personal belongings from your car, including your registration and insurance, before shipping the car overseas.
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Cost of shipping a car internationally
The average cost to ship your car overseas is usually between $1,000 to $2,000, though this will vary depending on the type of car and its destination.
There will be additional charges, too.
Marine insurance is an add-on that covers your car when it’s being shipped by boat. Your shipping company may offer marine insurance for purchase, even if they don’t require it.
Be sure to check with your current car insurer—they may offer marine insurance as an add-on option, as well. If not, you can always go to a third-party provider and buy marine insurance to protect your investment.
Once your car reaches its port of entry, you’ll have to pay port handling fees, which include but may not be limited to charges for terminal handling, documentation, and removing your car from the ship. Ask the shipping company you’ve hired for a list of importation conditions for your port of entry.
You’ll also have to pay agent fees of around $500. An agent is responsible for guiding your car through customs once it arrives, as you won’t be allowed to do this yourself. Your shipper will usually be able to recommend an agent for this task.
To get a more thorough list of the fees you can expect when your car is delivered, contact the consulate of the country you’re shipping your car to.
This is a tax or duty, assessed as a total percentage of your car’s value, that you’ll have to pay for shipping it internationally. Since every country is different, you’ll need to inquire with your destination country about any customs duties that must be paid for shipping your car to that country.
Additional taxes and fees
It’s a good idea to expect additional taxes and fees once you’ve shipped your car overseas. You can ask your shipping company about any extra taxes you may need to pay once your vehicle is delivered.
Remember though: your shipper won’t have the final word on this. Ultimately, you’ll have to pay taxes or fees as demanded by the receiving country.
Key Takeaway Ask your shipping company what fees to expect once your car arrives at its destination.
How long does it take to ship a car internationally?
Of course, this depends on where you’re shipping your car—it ranges from about a week to 1–2 months, not including any possible delays in getting the car through customs. Ask your shipping company for an estimate as to when your car will arrive in its new home.
Shipping method and arrival timelines
The method you choose to ship your car will affect how quickly it gets to its destination.
Shipping your car in its own shipping container will ensure the fastest delivery, though this is also the most expensive option.
You can ship your car along with other vehicles destined for the same port in a consolidated container, but it will take longer to arrive. That’s because the shipper will wait for the container to fill up before sending it on its way.
Finally, you can opt for roll-on/roll-offshipping, where your car is attached securely to the ship, It won’t have any protection and will be exposed to the elements. Vessels that transport cars this way often visit many ports, and the ship might not dock at your end location.
Key Takeaway Shipping your car in its own shipping container is the fastest way to get it to its destination—but also the most expensive.
How your car insurance may help you to ship a car overseas
Depending on who supplies your car insurance, you may be able to buy marine insurance as an add-on to your policy. This protects your car when it’s being shipped by boat overseas.
If your current insurer doesn’t offer this add-on, it’s never too late to start shopping for a provider to give you what you need. Not only can Jerry help you with this, but Jerry’s “raison d’etre” is finding you the best car insurance at unbeatable prices.
Jerry is an AI-powered car insurance broker and comparison shopping app. All it takes is 45 seconds to sign up, and then Jerry generates competitive quotes from more than 40 of the country’s top insurers.
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How much does it cost to transport your car by plane?
Shipping your car overseas on a plane is prohibitively expensive for most people. It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000, depending on the destination and the type of car being shipped.
If you’ve got an antique or prized sports car you need to ship, and you can afford it, then go for it. Otherwise, shipping by boat is your best (and most affordable) bet.
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