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Car Shipping Internationally: What Expats Need to Know About the Process

If you’re moving overseas, one of the biggest things you’ll need to figure out how to ship is your personal vehicle. Luckily, this sounds much more complicated than it is. People ship their personal cars all the time, and the process of car shipping internationally is as easy as finding a shipping specialist and putting the wheels in motion. Read on to learn more about what you’ll need to know for a streamlined international car shipping process.

5 Steps for Car Shipping Internationally

If you need to ship your car to your new destination, simply follow these five steps:

1. Get several quotes from auto-shippers
Prices for car shipping vary widely, and it’s worth your time to get several different quotes. Most companies charge for shipment by mile if you elect to have the company transport your car from your current location to the nearest port, and this can add up for people who are located in the center of the U.S., since most large car shipment vessels sail out of cities like San Francisco, Miami, New York, and Charleston. Keep in mind that the size of your car will also influence its shipping cost, and you’ll pay more for a big SUV than you will a small sedan.

2. Gather all of the paperwork you’ll need
Shipping a car overseas requires a significant amount of paperwork, and you’ll need to gather this now to stay organized (more on this later in this article). Keep in mind that, depending on the shipper you work with, you may be required to submit two copies of all of your documentation, including a Shipper Export Declaration. Since these requirements vary, though, it’s always wise to check with the shipping company you’ve chosen to work with for specifics.

3. Understand your insurance situation
Overseas shipping is a gray area for most insurance companies, and you’ll need to double-check to find out if you’re covered or not. To do this, just contact your domestic insurance company and ask them about their policy regarding overseas shipping. In some cases, you’ll be covered. In others, you’ll be required to purchase additional insurance for overseas shipping, which most shipment companies offer. As a general rule, these policies are roughly 2.5% of your car’s value, and can be obtained at the shipping port from which your vehicle is departing.

4. Prepare your vehicle for the journey
Some people choose to pack their cars with personal items to save space during the overseas voyage. Some people, particularly those who ship cars on “roll on, roll off” freighters do no have this option. Regardless of how you’re shipping your vehicle, though, you’ll want to prepare it adequately for the journey. As a general rule, you’ll want to clean your car completely before you load it onto the vessel. Vacuum the seats, dash, and floorboards, and wipe all surfaces. Once this is complete, take your vehicle to a local mechanic to check and change all fluids, check tire pressure, and make any minor repairs. This ensures your car is in good working order once you arrive at your new destination. Keep in mind that, since shipping containers are not airtight, moisture can seep into a car, causing mold and mildew to form. Because of this, you may want to cover your dashboard and upholstery in a protective material before you load or pack your car. If you’re going to pack your car full of personal goods, now is the time to do so. If you’re electing this option, be sure to keep a careful record of what you’re packing into the vehicle, and inspect the car and your personal items carefully before loading, so that you can spot any damage that occurs during shipment. Finally, be sure to remove any accessories, like roof racks or boxes, from your car before loading it onto the vessel for shipment.

5. Arrange to get your car to the departure port
When you hire international shipping for your vehicle, you’ll generally have the option of either having the shipper pick your car up at its origin-destination, or getting it to the port yourself. Either way now is the time to move your car to the port and prepare it for the final leg of its big journey. While hiring the shippers to transport your vehicle is more convenient, it’s generally more cost-effective to handle the transportation of the vehicle to the port on your own. While this is a personal choice and one that depends entirely on your budget and preferences, it’s wise to understand the cost implications of both options before you make a decision. 

6 Commonly-Asked Questions About International Car Shipping

International car shipping is a topic about which people have many questions, and rightfully so! It’s a big process, and one with a large amount of expense involved. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of the six most commonly asked questions about international car shipping:

1. What Will You Need to Ship Your Vehicle?
One of the most important aspects of arranging for international vehicle shipping is ensuring you have all of the needed paperwork in order. To ship your vehicle, a shipping specialist will first need to ascertain that you own the vehicle, which is why this paperwork is so important.As a general rule, you’ll need the following documents in hand to ship your vehicle internationally:

2. How do You Locate a Shipping Company?
The most time-consuming aspect of shipping a vehicle internationally is just finding a company to ship the vehicle and a port from which the vehicle can depart. Depending on where you live and where you’re traveling to, you can do this in many different ways. One popular way to start locating a shipping port is to visit ShipOverseas.com and get a quote for your vehicle. This organization will give you a price quote depending on your current location and the car’s final destination. If the price quote is acceptable to you, you can go ahead and put in a request for shipping. Once this request is received, this company and others like it will arrange all of the details for the shipment of your vehicle, including the departing port. This is the easiest option for people who have never shipped a car before or are concerned about the complexity of the process.

3. Is Insurance Available for the Shipping Process?
Many vehicle owners find the prospect of shipping their car internationally a bit frightening. In addition to the fact that a vehicle is a significant investment, sea transport is a highly variable thing, and losses do occur. Because of this, many car owners wonder if they can secure insurance for the time that their vehicle will be at sea. Luckily, the answer is yes. According to the  Carriage of Goods at Sea Act, the maximum liability for goods transferred by sea is $500. While insurance options vary depending on the shipment broker you choose to work with, many professionals offer full coverage for your vehicle as it is shipped overseas. Keep in mind that this full coverage does not include the time that your vehicle is sitting in terminal lines waiting to be loaded onto the shipment vessel. During these times, your personal insurance is the only thing that covers the vehicle.

4. What Happens When Your Vehicle Arrives at its Final Destination?
Once your vehicle arrives at its destination port, most shipping services offer clearing agents to assist you with the offloading and unpacking process of your car. While many consumers assume they won’t need this assistance, it’s critical for anyone who is shipping the vehicle via exclusive container or for anyone who has not shipped a vehicle internationally before.

5. Will You Need to Register Your Vehicle in its New Location?
The short answer is yes. Once you’ve shipped a vehicle internationally, you’ll need to register it in its new location. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re a tourist or temporary resident in a country outside of the U.S., local law may allow you to drive with your current plates and registration until the time remaining on them expires. In addition to registering your car in your new location, you’ll also need to obtain an international driver’s license shortly after your arrival.

6. Can you Pack the Vehicle with Your Personal Items?
Many people believe that shipping a car internationally is an excellent way to send personal items overseas without cramming them into a shipping container or a series of suitcases. Since vehicles are quite large, they offer more than enough room for you to pack them full of personal possessions, but is this allowed? The short answer is yes unless you’re shipping your vehicle on what’s known as a “roll on, roll off” vessel, in which case you will not be permitted to pack any personal goods into the car. If you’re shipping your vehicle in a shipping container with other vehicles or goods, however, you’ll be allowed to fill it with personal possessions. Keep in mind, though, that those personal possessions cannot be insured. If insurance is important to you, then, it’s generally a better idea to ship your vehicle in an individual container that is filled only with your goods. In this case, the property and the vehicle can be insured against loss. Keep in mind, though, that to take advantage of this insurance, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive declaration list that discloses all of the goods packed into a container. In some cases, you may even be asked to produce a packing list that is itemized with each item’s description and value. Said packing list will need to include the last six digits of your vehicle’s VIN and will need to be attached to your car’s title and handed over to the shipping officials.

Overseas Car Shipping Made Easy

As you prepare to start your new life abroad, worrying about your vehicle shipment is the last thing you should be doing. Luckily, getting a car to your new destination is easier today than it’s ever been before. Regardless of whether you’re heading to Europe, Australia, or even Africa, there are dozens of car shipment options to suit your unique needs and circumstances. While shipping your car overseas may not seem like a simple process, the tips in this article help to make it so. From arranging for a shipper to packing and preparing your car for its journey, there are dozens of things to think about throughout the process of international car shipment. By undertaking the process carefully, and ensuring that you’re fully prepared at each turn, you can make car shipment overseas less stressful and more streamlined for you and your family. In addition to making your move easier from the get-go, being deliberate about the car shipment process also helps to ensure that your vehicle will arrive safe, sound, and undamaged at your new location. So whether you choose to work with a full-service shipment company or do most of it yourself, there’s no question that getting your personal vehicle to your new expat location is easier than it’s been in years past, thanks to these simple tips and tricks.