Need to get your car overseas? Whether transporting it for a holiday or a permanent move abroad, a vehicle is a major item – so you’ll need to plan in a way that works best for your budget and destination. This international car shipping guide walks you through all the necessary steps, to make the process as smooth, safe, and cost-effective as possible.

Choose a Transport Company

A Google search for ‘international car shipping’ will return a multitude of companies. Although pricing and timelines are important, you also need to factor in experience levels. This way, you can trust that a company will ship your car securely and get it through the customs process successfully. Also check that a company has the following:

  • Service from your current location to chosen destination
  • Proper licensing and insurance
  • Strong relations with legitimate third parties
  • Good reputation and online reviews

If you’re unsure, ask questions, and make sure you compare offerings – this way, you can be certain you’re getting the best overall package. Your chosen company should keep you informed throughout the car’s shipment and will likely ask questions, such as how you want the car to be picked up/dropped off, its method of transport etc., to coordinate a shipping date. It’s best to schedule well in advance, so you have sufficient preparation time.

Organise Vehicle Documents

For all international travel, there’s paperwork requirements which your shipping company will help you manage, but make sure you contact your Port of Entry beforehand too, so you know what they’ll expect, and when. Common Customs documents include a Bill of Lading, vehicle ownership/registration, insurance certificate, visa, and passport. For anything else you may need, or tax and duty payments to make, your company should help – including forms you could fill in if eligible for tax relief or duty exemption.

Man steam washing car

Prepare Your Car for Shipping

It’s unlikely your car will be shipped with any boxes or items inside, unless they’re directly related, e.g., spare tyres. Make sure you remove all important documents and check the car’s condition before it goes on the ship, as when it crosses the border, it will undergo a Customs agent inspection. Responsibilities to fulfil prior might include:

  • Steam washing the exterior
  • Removing foreign matter from the interior
  • Taking off awkward-shaped add-ons like spoilers
  • Getting the car serviced to avoid leaks
  • Reducing the fuel level to under a quarter of a tank (for safety and weight limits)

The Bill of Lading outlines any problems with the car before it’s shipped, so when it arrives at its destination, any potential damage in transit can be reviewed.

Be Clear on Shipment Costs

International car shipping costs vary, dependent on the travel window and the accommodations needed – but don’t get caught out by hidden fees. Although small variations are to be expected, the pricing structure should be transparent and itemised. Additional fees may include marine insurance (to protect your car), destination charges (for an agent to navigate it through Customs), Customs duty (usually a percentage of the car’s value), and any other taxes/fees (such as sales tax or processing fees). Make sure your budget has a bit of leeway to account for these possible extras.

Know the Car Shipping Duration

The length of the shipping journey depends on the car’s destination, and your company should give a reasonable estimate – shorter haul usually takes about a week, whereas longer haul could take over a month. There are two choices of methods, which also impact the shipping speed:

  1. RoRo Shipping: this is the cheaper method, where your car is driven onto the ship at one port, securely braced on the vessel, and then driven off the ship at the destination port. However, it’s usually slower due to multiple port visits, and riskier as it’s exposed to the sea and elements.
  2. Container Shipping: the more expensive method, where your car is put into a large metal box, then lifted onto and off the ship by a crane. You can choose between sole containers (the fastest and priciest, but with the best protection from weather and theft) and consolidated containers (more cost-effective but slower, where your car shares with other vehicles going to the same destination).

Both methods are efficient and offer their own benefits, so this must be a personal choice based on your car shipping budget and timelines.

Car by shipping container

Ready to send your vehicle abroad? Our car shipping service is competitively priced thanks to excellent relations with UK shipping lines. We’ll ensure your car is delivered on time and in perfect condition – contact Andrews Shipping now.