There are many reasons why you may need to ship your vehicle overseas, whether you’re moving abroad or attending an exhibition. Many types of vehicles can be shipped, including cars, vans, trucks, caravans and motorbikes.

Preparation is key to ensure your vehicle arrives without delay or damage. Expert shipping companies simplify the process, but you need to play your part too. Use our handy checklist to prepare your vehicle for shipping.

Container Ship


The Important Bits

The following steps are essential to ensure your vehicle is exported as planned.

Decide on the shipping type

There are two types of vehicle shipping, including roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) and container shipping.

Ro-ro is the most common shipping method, where your vehicle is loaded onto a vessel under the deck. It’s usually the cheapest and most convenient option, as unloading is simple.

Container shipping involves special ramps to ensure your vehicle remains secure. This offers greater protection and is necessary for vintage cars.

Declare how long you’ll be exporting for

UK authorities and overseas customs require you to state the duration of export, as it determines the documentation you’ll need.

If you’re permanently exporting your vehicle, defined as 12 months or more, you must let the DVLA know. If your vehicle is out of the country for under 12 months, you must take your Registration Document (V5) / Certificate (V5C) with you. If you don’t have one, you can apply at a DVLA Local Office using a V62 form.

Research the destination country’s vehicle tax, duties and regulations container yard, rail transport

Some countries have regulations in place for importing vehicles. Ensure you do thorough research to avoid unexpected costs.

At the arrival destination, your vehicle will be processed through customs. This involves custom fees and import duties, as well as an inspection before release. If you plan to drive the vehicle abroad, you’ll need to register and insure the vehicle.

Gather the relevant documentation

Make sure you have all documents required to ship your vehicle. As a minimum, you will need proof of ownership and your vehicle’s V5 document. However, you may also need a valid driving license, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and photo identification.

You may require an export certificate for vehicle history, so customs can check if any outstanding payments are owed.

Check your Vehicle

Man examining tires at his new car

To make yourself and the shipping company aware of any flaws or faults, you’ll need to check that the vehicle is in correct working order.

Clean your vehicle

Cleaning your vehicle will bring any cosmetic flaws and faults to your attention. It will also make preparing your vehicle easier, as you may find personal items that need to be removed.

Record any cosmetic flaws and mechanical faults

To ensure your vehicle arrives in the condition you expect, you should undertake vehicle checks. Keep a record of any cosmetic flaws, including chips, dents and scratches. Take dated photographs of the flaws and include different angles of the vehicle.

As well as cosmetic flaws, check for mechanical faults in the weeks before shipment. Record any problems and make sure the shipping company are made aware. This is especially important in ro-ro shipping, as leaks can drip onto other vehicles.

Prepare your Vehicle

Close-Up Of Hand holding pressure gauge for car tyre pressure measurement

You’ll need to prepare your vehicle for shipping, to ensure that there are no problems later on.

Empty your vehicle

To ensure that your vehicle is lighter and to avoid damage and theft, you must empty it before shipping.

Remove everything other than essentials such as the spare tyre. Your GPS, stereo and portable equipment can be shipped separately.

Prepare for shipping

All security systems should be disabled. Your vehicle will be inspected numerous times, and an active alarm could disrupt the process.

For cars and vans, ensure that you remove the aerial and fold the wing mirrors back. This will ensure your vehicle is as compact as possible, to minimise damage. For convertible cars, secure the top to avoid any damage from air, moisture or debris. Otherwise, add a wind-resistant tarp.

It’s also important to check the battery has a full charge and is secure in its mounting bracket.

Inflate your tyres

Check that your tyres are properly inflated and check their air pressure. Andrews Shipping can collect and deliver your vehicle on your behalf, so it’s important that it’s safe to drive.

Check your fluids Check brake fluid inlet

Top up all of the fluids in your vehicle to ensure they are above the minimum level. This includes hydraulic, oil, water, transmission fluid, anti-freeze and brake fluid.

Fuel is a different matter and depends on the type of shipping you use. If your vehicle is exported using a shipping container, your tank should be nearly empty to save weight. For ro-ro shipping, the fuel tank should be between a quarter to half full.

Provide instructions for the shipping company

After checking your vehicle, provide the shipping company with instructions for handling the vehicle.

Andrews Shipping ship a variety of vehicles overseas, and have been doing so for many years. You can trust in our expert team to deliver your vehicle safely. Get a quote today! You can also download a copy of our checklist here