How Do I Transport My Car Internationally?

If you are planning an international move and want to go in your car, then you will need to start early research on how to ship a car internationally in the most sensible way for your relocation and budget.

Among the reasons you may be relocating to another country include education, love, retirement, work, and so on. Getting your car to your destination country can be the most daunting task of your move, whether you just bought the car or you are moving your old vehicle.

It is best to have your vehicle transported to your destination home by private shipping companies or full-service national moving companies that handle the entire moving process, which includes auto transport.

There is a slight difference between international car shipping and local and interstate car shipping, just as you might expect the cost. In this post, you will get all the information needed on international car shipping as well as the breakdown of the international car shipping process, which will enable you to make a better decision.

How Do I Transport My Car Internationally?

In this article

Tips to Ship your Car Overseas

Shipping your vehicle internationally might first seem challenging, but the process is very straightforward. We guide you every step of the process to reduce the stress and also enable you to concentrate on other important tasks like preparing your pets for the international move, buying international health insurance, and most importantly, planning the entire family move.

This article will focus on transporting a car internationally by boat because transporting cars internationally via the air is very expensive and not so recommendable for standard relocations unless the vehicle holds a greater value.

Below are the tips to ship your car abroad:

Step 1: Conduct Your Research

Research is one of the most important initial steps in any purchasing choice as well as when transporting a car overseas. When we ask you to conduct research, there are certain things to note, and we will give you the breakdown of how to do them:

1. How does international car shipping work?

Car auto transport services operate all across the United States, as well as New York City, Miami, and San Francisco. A car shipping company will ship your car from one of those ports and haul it to another transporter over the ocean.

Any car shipping of your choice will provide one of these 3 car shipping options:

  • door to door delivery,
  • door to port delivery, and
  • port to door delivery

If the shipping company of your choice provides door to door delivery, a representative from the company will pick up the vehicle at your specified location and drive it to the port, otherwise, you will have to do the driving yourself.

Many shipping companies prefer to transfer your vehicle on a ship using large containers to hold your car. There are 2 types of moving containers used on the ocean, namely a roll-on roll-off (RORO) container as well as an ocean container.

The ocean container is the best to use for transporting a standard car overseas while the RORO is larger and perfect for transporting RVs, buses, or machinery with higher weight. RORO containers are prone to wet on the sea as they are exposed to the elements.

An agent will receive your vehicle once it gets to the port of entry. Even though you are at liberty of hiring any international shipping agent of your choice, however, the international shipping company you choose will probably recommend some reliable agent for you.

The agent will conduct all the necessary vehicle clearing import customs as well as making sure your car undergo legal modification to be permitted on roadways in the destination country. These agents can also assist you with registration and insurance if you want.

2. Company Research

You have first to compile a list of international car shipping companies you have penciled down for the work.

You can visit YahooGoogle, and Bing, and so on, but also remember to check platforms such as, review sites, and other platforms. You can also seek references from your friends, family, and close associates.

Check and review each company’s credentials and certifications. Verify if the shipping or auto transport company is licensed, insured, and bonded before you proceed with them. You can’t imagine wasting your time on non-credential companies.

A company that checks all the boxes for the requirements mentioned above will not wait before they inform you. The type of company you deal with will determine the type of licenses they pose.

For instance, freight forwarders will possess an FMC license, and some of them may also possess an exclusive license if they work as an NVOCC.

DOT license is required of all domestic shippers, so if your international shipping company has an internal domestic pickup section, be sure to request their DOT information.

Also, make sure you ask for proof of insurance and license from any international shipping company you are considering even if it sounds trivial, and also ask if their carriers or third-party services are well insured and licensed. You can also proceed by requesting the company’s name and conduct a little research on them.

Pro Tip

This step must be observed before you start requesting a quote from all your choice providers. You can receive quotes from anyone working with a computer that will just forward a good looking quote to your mail even though they don’t have licensed, are not insured, or are a broker that will not really monitor your auto shipping job. Read our post on tips to choosing the best car shipping companies online.

3. Research Cost of Shipping a Car Overseas

You need an online shipping quote to have an idea of how much your shipping could cost you. Getting a shipping quote is also one of the best ways to understand how shipping a vehicle overseas works.

This is because the port of departure/arrival, necessary paperwork, total costs, and so on will be indicated on the quote. Fill out your shipment details on online quote form to understand how to ship your vehicle. Some companies will display the unreal rates on their website.

Note that the online rates are for basic shipment of the smallest size of a car to a common destination at their most reasonable rate.

Also, shipping rates are not constant, meaning that they can change based on fuel costs and other little charges, so online prices are just for ideas. In this situation, you may find out the rate you see when you try to book may be different from the one you saw on the website.

Another way to find out shipping costs is to check some platforms and see what previous customers paid for their international vehicle shipping.

The prices found in these groups may vary based on the type of vehicle, the shipping company, the shipping method, and location of departure.

Carefully check the date of response on some of the groups as some may contain responses of 5 to 10 years ago.  This takes us to the next step.

Step 2 : Request Shipping Quotes and Make a Comparison 

The first thing most people do is to check the overall amount when making a quote comparison. They always overlook all the items included in the quote. So, carefully read through each shipping quote you receive.

1. How much does it cost to ship a Car Abroad?

It will cost an average of $850 to $2,000 to ship a car overseas, but you need to include the destination charge in the average cost. The destination charge varies from $500 to $850 per vehicle, and it covers taxes, unloading, import fees, and delivery fees.

You can get a comprehensive breakdown of your total cost from your car shipping company, so you don’t get surprised by hidden fees.

You will be required to pay between the range of $100 and $800 depending on your closeness to the port for a company to help you move your vehicle to the port if you are not able to drive it yourself to a port. Not all companies include domestic travel in their shipping quote.

So, make sure you check your shipping quote to know what you are paying for. With these, no one can predict the rate because there are several factors that determine them, such as:

  • The destination country
  • Shipping distance
  • Model of your car
  • Shipping method whether air freight or roll-on roll-off
  • Import taxes
  • Time of year
  • Drop-off and pickup locations

The best way to be able to determine an accurate estimate of how much your car shipping might cost is to obtain a shipping quote from one of the international shipping companies we’ve listed since all of the factors listed above will be specific to your shipping job.

Read more on how much does it cost to ship a car?

2. Ask About Insurance

In most cases, international vehicle shippers will offer insurance coverage to you, maybe from their internal program or through a company they partner with. Once again, these figures are determined by carriers and companies.

The difference between the rates could be between 1.5% of the figure up to 2.5%. Ensure you understand what is covered under this insurance and ask your provider as well.

Is the policy you are purchasing for all risk or total loss? What is the starting date of the coverage? Find out the deductible that comes with your rate. Insurance, generally, is to offer you peace of mind, especially when shipping a car internationally. It is highly unlikely that you need it, but when you do, you will be glad you have it.

Step 3: Find out Your Cost and Time Trade-Off

This is mostly concerned with your shipping choices. Are you in a haste to ship the car, or you have flexibility, so you get a cheaper rate? Most people do not know the duration of the process and the difference in cost based on the shipping method they chose.

1. Finding out Different Shipping Methods

There are different car shipping methods, and each has its benefits.


Think about a parking lot in the hull of a large ship. You will find different types of vehicles, such as vans, sedans, motorcycles, and SUVs in the parking lot. When you use a roll-on/roll-off shipping service, the parking lot is where your car will be placed when sending it to another country.

Your car is moved into the hull of the ship with other vehicles that are being shipped to your destination country; firmly hold to prevent it from shifting while on the sea, then driven off the boat at the port in the destination country.

Although this option doesn’t prioritize the safety of your car compared to the container service (to be discussed next), it is, however, the fastest and most affordable shipping option. RORO might be the only option for those that have a very large vehicle, such as SUV.

Car shipping containers:

Auto-shipping that involves the use of containers can come in two ways. Your car either shares a larger container with many other vehicles, or it is packed in its own separate metal transport container.

It is obvious that you would want your car shipped alone in a container for safety reasons than grouping it with other cars in a large container. However, sharing a large container with other cars can save you money because you will also be sharing the shipping cost.

Also, when you opt for the shared container option, the car shipping company will only send the container when it’s full.

This implies that you might need to wait for some time so the container gets full through booking from other customers to the same destination country with the same auto shipper before your car can get to you.

The individual container is the best option provided your budget is fat, or you need your car ASAP, or you simply want to protect your car. The shared container is only a good deal when you prioritize saving money over getting your car to your destination as soon as possible.


This option is the fastest and the most secure way to transport your vehicle to another country. However, it is also the most expensive shipping option.

In fact, the cost of shipping a car through air freight could be higher than the value of your car, so this option is not even available with some international vehicle shipping companies.

This option is only recommended to those with traceable exotic cars; otherwise, go for the cargo freighter for your international shipping auto needs.

2. Choosing a Departure Port

In most cases, the shipping company you chose to transport your belongings overseas will give you their best price from their nearest departure port. They should also provide other options for you. For instance, let’s assume you are transporting your Ford truck from New Jersey to Australia.

A shipping company may have a branch in New York, and you may want to ship your vehicle out of New York, but they also offer you shipping rates from Los Angeles.

Your first consideration may focus on shipping from the east coast, but there are two reasons you may find it advantageous first to transport it to California.

  1. Shipping to Australia from West Coast is much faster (sail time) and involves shorter distances, which implies that the cost of ocean freight will reduce.
  2. The volume is higher in most cases since Australia is a popular destination from the West Coast.

This type of situation is more common to overseas consolidators but can still be helpful when you are trying to determine how to ship your car to another country.

Step 4: Select Your Shipper

You have worked for this step from the previous three steps discussed above, and thus you already picked your shipping company. You only need to look in-depth into some areas and choose one.

Do companies offer International Car Shipping?

There are not many shipping companies that transport cars overseas. Most of them just concentrate on local and long-distance shipping services. That is why our major identification is on two companies that offer international car shipping services.

We advise you to request a shipping quote from both companies to identify the best deal that matches your budget.

1. Adams Van Lins

This is an international mover and also doubled as an auto transporter. We must tell you that Adams Van Lines (AVL) is one of our preferred moving companies in the moving world. So if you still need a moving company for your furniture and other household belongings, AVL is your best company. Let them ship everything, including your car for you.

2. Schumacher Cargo Logistics

Just like international Van Lines, Schumacher Cargo Logistics is also an international moving company and vehicle shipper. Schumacher stands ahead of International Van Lines because of its air freight service option, while only the RORO and container vehicle shipping is available with IVL.

You can consult our guide on the best car shipping companies to find a reliable shipping service that will ship your car safely without any issue if you are shipping just your vehicle and not your belongings.

To ensure you have a smooth car shipping experience, our top 3 vehicle shippers include UShip, Ship a car direct, and Montway Auto Transport. They offer customers door-to-door delivery, high-quality customer service, as well as transparent pricing.

Step 5: Put Together all the Document

1. What are the requirements to ship a car internationally?

Just as with most things that involve international relocation, paperwork is required when you are shipping a car abroad. In this situation, export documents are required by the United States Port of Entry, where your vehicle will be shipped out a minimum of three days before the shipping date. These include:

  • The vehicle’s original certificate of title or a certified copy of the original as well as two other copies of any of the documents.
  • A filled out United States Customs & Border Protection Vehicle Export Cover Sheet.
  • An official letter from your lien holder (if on your car) authorizing you to transport the car out of the country. The model, make, and year of your car must be included in this letter, as well as its Vehicle Identification Number and a statement referencing permission for you to ship the car overseas.

You can never be too ready when it comes to documentation. To know exactly what document you are to bring and when to put a call or email across to Port of Entry before your shipping.

Pro Tip

There are laws guiding what can be imported to each country, so you should not relent that you can just move your car to another country. Contact the BCP to confirm if your destination country will allow your car before you take any step.

Step 6: Car Inspection and Condition

Always conduct personal vehicle inspection and take pictures before you ship any type to a country. It is advisable to service your vehicle and wash it before you hand it over to the shipping company.

Please, make sure your vehicle’s brakes are functional before you hand it over to ensure safety during the loading and unloading of your vehicle.

This will help you confirm the current condition of your vehicle, and it will also be easier to locate any existing exterior damage or scratches to your vehicle, so you can include it in your inspection report.

This will also be carried out by many international vehicle shipping companies immediately the car gets to their warehouse or facility. However, it is better to have two inspections than one.

1. How to Prepare your Car for International Shipping?

Consider the following steps to get your car ready for overseas shipping:

  • Inspect and service your car at any authorized garage to ensure it is in good shape before the international trip.
  • Bring out all the personal items from your car. Only standard car equipment and a child seat are allowed to be inside the car. Equipment such as hand tools, spare tire, jack, emergency kit, and others are allowed, you must leave the license plates on the car.
  • Clean the interior of your vehicle.
  • Remove any external car attachments that are removable such as roof racks, antennas, spoilers, and so on.
  • Carefully inspect the exterior of your vehicle and take quality pictures of its current condition in case there is any sign of damage during the international shipping process. Take closer shots of any pre-existing damage to the exterior, such as paint chips, scratches, dents, and so on.
  • Wash the body (exterior) of your car
  • Check and ensure your car battery is charged and properly secured.
  • Inspect the pressure of the tires.
  • Check and ensure the proper functioning of the emergency brake
  • Reduce or stop the gas in the tank to ¼ of the tank’s capacity.
  • Disable or get rid of any alarm system on your vehicle.
  • Get an extra set of your car keys as one of them will be needed by your international vehicle shipper.


Use our best car shipping companies’ articles to locate reputable companies for your shipping job. Perks such as open and closed transport options, additional insurance, and online estimates are available with our top four shipping companies so that you have no worries on the shipping day, whether you remember to close the boot when you depart.

We have a compiled car shipping checklist to get your vehicle ready for overseas shipping. In an actual sense, you can use it any time when you are getting your car ready for interstate shipping as well.

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