How to Transport a Car Overseas

Follow regulations exactly when you transport a car overseas to expedite the safe and reliable shipping of your car.
Follow regulations exactly when you transport a car overseas to expedite the safe and reliable shipping of your car.

Transporting a car overseas when you move to a foreign country may be worth the effort if you don't want to rent or buy a new car at your new residence. Of course, you could sell your car or store it locally if this is a temporary move, but this may not be financially feasible. It's slightly more complicated to ship a car internationally than it is to move a car from one state to another. Use this guide to help you walk through the steps--especially those regarding the documentation you'll need for Customs and preparing your car--when you transport a car overseas.

Things You'll Need

  • Title of car, original or certified copy, plus two copies
  • Letter of permission by lien holder
  • Other documentation as required
  • Bill of lading

Research car transporters who ship internationally to find reputable car shipping companies in good standing with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). Get shipping quotes from three or four car movers. The cost will hinge on your destination and origin points, the weight and type of car you are shipping overseas and what's included in the service.

Note the terms and what's included when you evaluate the quotes from each car mover. Look for shipping insurance, though you should expect any coverage to be nominal, and consider getting supplemental marine insurance to cover the replacement cost of your car if something happens.

Note how the car transport company physically moves the car to and from the ship and what will happen to the car when on the ship--that is, whether your vehicle will be driven or hauled on a vehicle transport that might be enclosed or open. Note whether the service is door-to-door or port-to-port and when delivery is expected.

Get informed about the duties and restrictions of your destination country. Call or write the consulate of the country to which you're moving to find out any special duties or taxes you might owe. Ask the car mover or the consulate to find out what customs restrictions exist when you import your car into the country--for example, whether or not the vehicle is allowed in the country, where it must be delivered and whether or not you're permitted to sell the car once you arrive in the new country. Car transport companies who ship internationally generally have accurate and up-to-date information on the restrictions and requirements of foreign countries.

Clean the car from top to bottom. Empty the glove compartment and trunk. Remove any personal items, garbage, repair equipment, tools and loose objects. In most cases, you'll be allowed to leave permanent fixtures such as car seat covers, floor mats and spare tires in the car.

Get your documentation together for Customs to clear. Include the title for the car, using either your original paperwork or a certified copy issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. For a new car with no title, use the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin and make two extra copies. Include a letter from any lien holder that you have permission to transport the car overseas. Other documentation may be needed depending on your particular case; check with the vehicle transport company.

Inspect your car thoroughly when the car shipper comes to pick it up. Note that the details of your vehicle's condition are included accurately on the bill of lading before you sign it. The bill of lading is the document that asserts the description and state of your vehicle when it leaves its origin point and when it arrives at its destination.

Expect to pay the car shipper when the car is picked up for transport overseas. Call the car transport service if you want to know the status of your vehicle while it is in transit.

Meet the car on the other end and inspect it thoroughly before you sign off on it. Make sure it is in the same condition in which it left the country of origin. Allow a few days' grace in the date your car is delivered when you transport a car overseas.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your car is not in drivable condition, check with the car transport service. It may need to be drivable in order to be shipped overseas.
  • Read the instructions the car transporter provides you with for preparing the car and comply to the letter. It's important that you follow all instructions to assure the legality of the move and that your car arrives safely.

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