The Ultimate Checklist for Shipping Your Car Abroad

The Ultimate Checklist for Shipping Your Car AbroadIf you have ever done a quick search online for car shipping companies that ship abroad, you have most likely noticed that there are quite a few companies listed that boast their ability to safely ship any car, anytime and to any location worldwide. When you are planning a trip or a permanent move overseas you may find that hiring one of these companies will be a great benefit to your move especially if you need to move a car. Whether you are moving a spectacular hot rod that you have worked hard to fix up or you just need to move a car that you will be driving around day to day, you need to take a little time to do some research on companies that interest you.

A few simple things to look for with a reliable international car shipper are:

  1. Licensed and Insured
  2. Affordable Rates
  3. Quality Services
  4. Flexible Terms/Flexible Contract

With the number of companies that you can find listed online, you need to learn how to weed through them to figure out which are actually good companies and which are scam operations or unreliable shippers. If you just look at the way they advertise it will be very difficult to tell one from the other as they all basically have the same or similar ads with promises of great services, low prices and being the best in the business. If you are shipping a valuable car that you plan to take to a car show overseas or you are shipping your daily driver, being able to tell which companies are legitimate and advertising honestly will go a long way when it comes to guaranteeing safety during shipment for your car.

One great way to distinguish the truly good companies from the horrid ones will be to check the customer reviews that you will find online. Many individual company websites have reviews listed from customers right on their website but you can also find reviews on other sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or on transport review sites online. Checking on a legitimate site like the BBB will allow you to see how a company is rated as well as whether or not previous customers have filed formal complaints against the company. Take into consideration that even the best of companies have had complaints filed and a simple complaint does not mean that the company is bad. The way that the company has responded to the complaint will show you how well they value their customers and possibly, how they will work with you when you ship your vehicle.


Once you hire a reliable international auto transport company to ship the car for you, you will need to be prepared to give them some very important paperwork that will prove that you are the vehicle owner and that you have the legal right to move the car from one country to another. This paperwork may include:

  • Original Title
  • Original Registration
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Original Bill of Sale
  • Lien Holder Agreement if you owe money on the car. Some countries will not allow cars to be imported if you owe money to a dealership, lender or individual.

Another important thing to consider along with the paperwork is whether the country you want to take the car requires left handed or right handed steering. If your car is a right handed vehicle and you are moving to a country that only allows left handed steering, you will either need to modify the steering wheel placement or you will need to make other plans for your vehicle as it may not be allowed to enter the country you are moving to.

Insurance Coverage

You will want to make sure you have Marine insurance for the car during shipment abroad. This type of insurance is similar to the auto insurance coverage that you have for your vehicle when you are driving it locally but it will cover damages to the car while shipping across the ocean. The coverage, based on the value of the vehicle, typically covers damage as well as loss from the time the car is loaded onto the cargo ship until it has been delivered to the entry port in the new country. As the vehicle owner, you will most likely want to check with your shipping agent or even your personal auto insurance agent to make sure the car is covered as fully as possible when shipping.

Personal Property

If you are shipping your car inside of a shipping container you will be able to load your personal property including household goods and furniture as well as other personal content inside the container with the vehicle. If you are shipping on a RORO ship, the car must be empty and no personal property will be allowed to ship with it. When shipping to some countries, it may be wise to ship personal property separately from the vehicle as customs delays are known to occur when agents must carefully inspect a container filled with small items. Be sure to check with your personal shipping agent to gather necessary information on what you may, or may not ship.

Types of Overseas Transport

When you ship across the country or from one city to the next you can simply use a flatbed truck, trailer, open air carrier or an enclosed trailer to move a car safely. When you ship a car overseas, it is basically just as simple, but you need to know what types of transport are available and which are most economical as well as suited for your personal vehicle.

  • Roll-On, Roll Off (RORO): This is the easiest way to ship a car abroad and is also the most economical. Motor vehicles and other wheeled merchandise is driven or rolled onto a cargo ship, strapped in place on the deck and then transported overseas to the new country. Thousands of motor vehicles are shipped with RORO every day of the year. To ship with RORO, you need to ensure that both the exit port and entry port will accept RORO ship deliveries. While many ports have RORO docks, there are also quite a few worldwide that do not.
  • Container Shipping: If you have a sporty hot rod, a classic or vintage car or a highly expensive luxury car, you may prefer to use a shipping container to ship the car. A standard container is usually either 20 feet or 40 feet and can hold 1-3 cars as well as personal property depending on the size of the container as well as the vehicle size. Before arranging to ship any personal property with the car be sure to ask what is allowed or not allowed to be brought to the country you are moving to. If anything is included in the shipment that is not legally allowed in, the entire container can be held or completely denied by customs officials.

Shipping times can range anywhere from a few days to over a month depending on how far the shipment is going. For example, if you are shipping from Australia to New Zealand, you can usually expect just a few days. If you are shipping to Europe or to the United States, the shipment may anywhere from two or three weeks to a month depending on the origin and destination ports in each country.

Ready for Shipping Abroad

Now that you have all of the necessary information you need to know that the car must be prepared for shipment before it even reaches the port. To prepare the car for overseas transport you can keep the following in mind:

  • Empty all personal property from the car. This included paperwork as well as other items such as CD’s, clothing, jewelry, umbrellas and other personal property.
  • Disable the car alarm.
  • Wash the vehicle and be sure to clean the chassis, tires and all surface areas to remove dirt, grease and dust.
  • If shipping in a container, drain the fuel.
  • If shipping on a RORO ship, lower the fuel to around a quarter tank.

When the vehicle arrives in the new country it will have to be processed through customs before you can take it to your new home. You will need to pay customs fees and import duties and the car must pass a physical inspection before it may be released to you. In many countries you will be required to register the vehicle locally, obtain local insurance coverage as well as a local tag and vehicle registration before you can drive.

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