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Shipping a Car Overseas Requirements

Are you looking to relocate overseas? If so, you might be keen to ship your car over with you. But where do you start? What does the process of shipping your car overseas involve, and how much is it likely to cost you?

Don’t worry, we are here to walk you through the process with our handy guide to all the requirements of shipping your car internationally.

What is the Process of Shipping a Car Overseas?

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at the process of international car shipping.

Whether you are looking to transport a classic vehicle, vintage car, pickup truck, or your reliable everyday car, the process of shipping your vehicle overseas can be divided up into a series of clear steps:

1. Research Your Options

The first thing that you will need to do is to find a reliable international car shipping company. Research your options carefully to ensure you find the right international transport company for your individual needs. A good place to start is with a simple Google search for “international auto shipping company” or “ship a car overseas”.

When creating a shortlist of possible international car shipping companies, consider the services that they offer, the insurance that they provide, and their cost-effectiveness. You should also check out their reviews and testimonials from previous clients to verify their reliability, and take a look at their Better Business Bureau reports for further reassurance.

Once you have your shortlist, ask for quotes from each international auto transport company.

2. Gather Together Your Documentation

Next, you will need to gather together all the necessary documentation for shipping your car overseas. There is typically a lot of paperwork involved in international car shipping, so start this process early on.

We will discuss the specific documents that you will need in more detail below.

3. Prepare Your Vehicle

Before shipping your car abroad, you will need to remove all of your personal belongings from it. The only items that are permitted to remain in your vehicle during transportation are those specifically associated with it, such as jumper cables and a spare tire.

As well as your personal items, you should also remember to remove any important documents, such as your registration and insurance information.

Before shipping your vehicle, you should get it serviced to ensure that it is in good condition. Also, check the tire pressure and make sure you have a spare car key to give to the shipping company.

As U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will be checking your vehicle for any illegal substances or contraband, such as pests and debris, make sure to get your car washed and thoroughly cleaned before shipping.

Don’t forget to check with your car shipping company how much fuel is allowed in the car during transportation. Most companies limit the gas tank to being no more than one-quarter full during shipment.

4. Document the Condition of Your Car

Take some time to examine your car carefully and record any existing damage, including scratches, chipped paint, and dents.

Take detailed photos of both the interior and exterior of your vehicle. In the unfortunate event that your vehicle gets damaged during transit, these photos will provide evidence to justify any insurance claims.

5. Fill Out the Necessary Paperwork

Once you have prepared your car and documented its condition, you will need to fill out all the essential shipping paperwork and sign the bill of lading.

Your chosen international car shipping company will help you with this step. Remember to retain a copy of all the documentation for your records.

Types of Overseas Car Shipping Methods

There are three primary methods of shipping your car abroad, so let’s look at these in more detail:


Roll-On/Roll-Off, or RoRo, shipping involves driving your vehicle directly onto the deck of a ship, just like you would park in a parking lot. Your vehicle is then secured using clamps, straps, and other specialized equipment.

This transportation method is generally very cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for expensive lifting equipment and labor costs. However, your vehicle will be left exposed to the elements during the entire shipping process.

This shipping method is particularly suited for larger vehicles and heavy equipment, such as trailers and trucks.

Container Shipping

Container shipping is one of the most popular methods of transporting a vehicle internationally. Vehicles may either be transported in an individual shipping container, assigned to your vehicle only, or shipped in shared shipping containers, alongside other vehicles.

The shipping method that you choose will ultimately depend on your budget. Individual shipping containers obviously offer greater safety and peace of mind; however, sharing a shipping container will work out much cheaper. If you do choose to ship your vehicle in a shared container, you will likely have to wait until the container is full before your vehicle departs.

Air Freight

The quickest and safest way to ship a car overseas is to use an air freight auto transport method. However, the downside is that it is also the most expensive method of international car shipping.

If you need to transport your vehicle quickly and can afford it, international air transport is definitely worth considering.

Shipping a Car Overseas vs. Purchasing a New Vehicle Abroad

As you plan your move overseas, you are probably facing a dilemma: should you ship your car overseas or simply buy a new one upon arrival? Well, there are a number of things that you should be thinking about as you make this decision:

  • Does your vehicle hold sentimental value or could it be easily replaced with a new car?
  • How much will it cost for you to ship your existing vehicle into the new country and is it worth your while?
  • How long are you planning to stay overseas? If you have scheduled a flying visit, shipping your vehicle overseas may not be practical, but if this is a permanent move, taking your vehicle with you may make sense.
  • Are you looking to move quickly? If so, rushing through the sale of your vehicle is likely to lose you some money. Shipping your vehicle overseas will save you the time and effort required to find a new car.
  • If this is not a permanent move, do you have somewhere to store your car until you return?
  • Car maintenance may be an expensive and problematic issue overseas, particularly if you own a supercar or a vehicle with rare parts. If you do decide to ship your car internationally, be prepared for the potential extra costs.

What Documents Will You Need to Ship Your Car Overseas?

International car shipping comes with an extensive amount of paperwork, and it’s crucial that you have all the right documents ready to avoid unnecessary delays.

Here is a quick overview of the documents that you will need to ship a car overseas:

  • The original title of the vehicle, plus two copies of the car title validated by a notary
  • Government-issued photo ID, such as a passport and driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Notarized bill of sale
  • Bill of lading
  • U.S. Customs & Border Protection Vehicle Export Cover Sheet
  • Proof of insurance
  • A completed and notarized export power of attorney (POA) (this provides customs agents with permission to make legal decisions on your behalf)
  • Completed EPA forms to show your vehicle meets the environmental and safety standards of the destination country
  • Completed DOT forms to show safety compliance
  • Export documents
  • If there is a lien on your vehicle, you will require a letter from the lien holder authorizing you to take the vehicle out of the country.

Always plan ahead when it comes to international car shipping paperwork. Document requirements may vary based on the specific regulations of your destination country, so verify what documents are required with your chosen transportation company prior to shipping. It is advisable to contact your Port of Entry directly prior to your move so that you know exactly what is expected of you.

Remember to let your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) know that you are shipping your car overseas in case you need to turn in your license plate, and make sure you have arranged a suitable insurance policy which starts when your car arrives in your final destination port.

As documentation can take some time to get sorted, it is worth beginning the process of gathering together your paperwork at least a month before you travel.

How Much Does International Car Shipping Cost?

International car shipping costs can vary greatly depending on the make and model of your vehicle, shipping distance, transport method, time of year, whether you require expedited shipping or door-to-door delivery, and your choice of auto shipping company.

In general, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 to ship your vehicle internationally. However, you will need to factor in additional shipping costs, including marine insurance, customs clearance fees and import taxes, destination charges, and additional taxes and fees, which may include sales tax and processing fees.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car Overseas?

While a typical timeline for shipping a car overseas may range from 3 to 12 weeks, the exact time might vary based on a number of different factors, including:

  • The length of time that it takes to prepare your car for overseas shipping and to organize the relevant paperwork
  • Your chosen method of international shipping
  • Your chosen origin and destination ports
  • The time of year, taking into account seasonal demand and variable weather conditions
  • Customs and import/export regulations
  • Unexpected delays due to unforeseen events

Your chosen shipping company will be able to provide you with a precise estimate of shipping time based on your individual shipping needs.

How to Find the Best International Car Shipping Company

Choosing a suitable international car shipping company requires a combination of careful research and due diligence.

Here is what you should consider as you search for a trusted shipping service partner:

  1. Start by creating a shortlist of reputable and experienced companies that offer the shipping services that you require. Using this list, you can then do some direct comparisons between the shipping providers.
  2. Compare quotes from multiple shipping companies to ensure that you are getting good value for your money. Make sure that you understand the full range of costs involved in shipping your vehicle abroad, this should include extra charges such as supplemental insurance and customs fees.
  3. Pay particular attention to customer feedback, as well as online reviews and testimonials. These can provide valuable insights into each company’s reliability and their customer satisfaction levels.
  4. Consider whether your shortlisted overseas shipping companies provide any extra services that might be beneficial to you, such as enhanced assistance with customs clearance.
  5. Ensure your chosen shipping partner is approachable and professional as you will be working closely with them throughout the shipping process to ensure the safe transport of your vehicle.

Shipping Your Vehicle Internationally With CFR Classic

If you’re looking for a reliable and experienced partner to ship your beloved car internationally, look no further than CFR Classic.

We are a leading provider of tailored international car shipping solutions, ensuring the safe and timely arrival of your vehicle at its destination country.

Contact CFR Classic today for an online quote and let us help you transport your car internationally with confidence.

Joey has spent his entire teen and adult life in cars. Joey's father owned a Jeep store, and Joey had his own used car lot that he ran himself from age 22 until I was 30. At 30 years old, Joey got "out of" the car business and joined CFR Rinkens. Joey started when there were only 9 people at CFR, but the company grew to over 150 employees during his time there. When Joey started, CFR Rinkens was shipping about 40 vehicles per week from Los Angeles. Joey established locations in Houston, Miami, and New York and within the first year, CFR went to shipping 150 cars per week. Joey started as a customer service rep and later moved up to sales manager, operations manager, and marketing manager. Joey then moved to Europe for two years and spent the entire time traveling through Europe meeting with clients. In 2022, Joey and his partners purchased CFR Classic from CFR Rinkens and he returned to California to watch over the operation more closely.

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