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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Shipping Your Car Overseas (but Were Afraid To Ask)

By Expert Author: Kyle Curran

So you want to ship your car overseas? How? Where to start? As with anything, call the pros! Make sure you contact a reputable international car shipping company (in the industry, these companies are also known as “freight forwarders,” although not every freight forwarder ships cars). They will ask you the make, model and year of the car, from where and to where you want to ship, and then generally provide you with three overseas car shipping options.

1.Roll On Roll Off Service. This is also more commonly known as shipping RoRo. This is generally the easiest and most cost effective way to ship your car overseas. The car is delivered to the port by the owner/shipper (or by a third party) a few days before the vessel is scheduled to sail. The car must be accompanied by the original title, shipping documents and other documents that may be required by that port for export. While at the port, the documents will be examined by customs and cleared for export. The car is then driven under its power onto a ferry-type vessel. At the port of destination, the car is driven off and stored at the port until the person who picks up the vehicle clears it through local customs at the port. No third party is generally required for import clearance in a RoRo shipment. The price for shipment depends on the ports and size of the car; the bigger the vehicle the higher the price. There are a few disadvantages to RoRo shipments. First, not all ports in the world accept RoRo vessels; for example, New York does not. Second, no personal items may be placed in the car during shipment. Third, your car will be exposed to the elements during the voyage and most probably while sitting at the ports. In short, RoRo is a great option for your mid-priced car where the trip is a straight shot between RoRo ports.

2.Container Service. In this type of shipment your car is delivered to a warehouse near the port of departure a few days before the vessel sails. It is important to use a warehouse that has expensive experience in loading cars. The car is professionally loaded by blocking and bracing the car in the container so it does not shift during the overseas voyage. Any additional items may be loaded in a container, so this is a good option for someone moving overseas who also wants to ship furniture and personal items. After the loading and export customs clearance, a trucker will deliver the container to the port for loading onto the vessel. At the port of destination, the container is unloaded from the vessel and delivered to a warehouse near the port where it is unloaded and customs cleared. It can then be picked up at the unloading warehouse. This option is pricier than RoRo, in part because it requires a third party agent in the destination country to arrange the unloading of the container. There are additional complexities and costs as more parties are involved. The advantage is that is considered a much safer method of shipping your car than RoRo because in a container the car is protected from the elements. Shipping using container service is a best option for luxury and/or new vehicles, in addition to those who also want to ship other items together with the car.

3.Consolidated Container Service. This is usually the cheapest option. Your car would be loaded into a container together with other cars – sometimes up to 5 or 6 cars, depending on the size. Other than the price, there are virtually no other upsides to this manner of shipping. The risk of damage to the car is fairly high (often the cars hung inside the container like clothes in a closet). If one car is held up in customs, the entire container is placed on hold. You will still need agents and multiple parties involved as described in regular container service above. Many reputable international shipping companies will not arrange these types of shipments as they are not worth the headache. These types of shipments are generally only appropriate for very old cars (not antiques!) or salvage vehicles.

In short, your international car shipping company will guide you through these options and provide you with quotes so that you can make the most informed decision. Of course, there are no guarantees that your car will arrive in pristine condition so make sure to discuss all insurance options with your freight forwarder.

Kyle Curran is the author of this article on overseas car shipping. Find more information, about international car shipping here

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