Ship Ruling Table

6 Documents You Might Need to Ship a Car Overseas


If you’re planning an international move, you might be wondering how to ship my car abroad. For those who want to take your car with you when you move overseas, it’s time to start thinking about the process and making the arrangements early.

While shipping a car overseas isn’t going to be cheap, it could easily work out to be more cost effective than buying a new car when you arrive at your destination. 

Cars are major items to move and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking the question “Can I ship my car overseas?” It's a surprisingly straightforward process, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, including “What documents do I need to ship a car overseas?” 

If you know exactly what’s involved, the process is more likely to be a smooth one, and you’ll be able to focus on other tasks.

Can you ship a car to another country and what documents do I need?

A certain amount of paperwork plays a crucial role when you want to ship a car overseas. The process involves several steps, but rest assured, we’re here to guide you through the process and let you know what to expect. 

Let’s start by answering the question, “What documents do I need to ship a car overseas?” Once you know what’s needed, it’ll make the process less stressful. In addition, it means you’ll be able to comply with all the shipping a car overseas requirements. Failure to do so could lead to delays or additional fees. 

In general, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  1. Personal information: This means two copies of government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license
  2. Vehicle information: Year, make, model, VIN #, and estimated value
  3. Ownership information - 
    1. If owned that would be the vehicle title (original plus one copy)
    2. If recently purchased that would be the vehicle title and bill of sale
    3. If financed you’d need to provide a notarized copy of the title and a notarized lien authorization
  4. Shipper and Consignee Information: Name, address, phone number of email for the sender and receiver
  5. Bill of Sale or Notarized Bill of Sale - depending on which port the vehicle sails from
  6. Power of Attorney giving the clearing agents permission to clear your documents on your behalf - this applies for some ports in Florida 

Important note:  No car can leave the USA if it has a lien on it, which means you must pay for the car in full. The only people who can ship a car overseas and still have a lien on it are members of the US military and government employees or contractors. They will need to provide a letter of authorization from the lender in order to pass through US customers. Permission must be in the form of an Original Letter from the lien holder together with three certified copies of the Certificate of Title. 

In addition, if you’re in the military, you might have to show your military orders or have a letter from the government or state authority and a copy of the Title Record History. You can get this from the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where the vehicle is registered.

Can you ship a car to another country? A Comprehensive Guide

In this guide, we’ll focus on shipping a car overseas by boat. This is because international air transport for cars is incredibly expensive and not really an option for a standard move. It’s more of an option if you want to ship a car that’s very valuable or rare. 

So for the standard overseas car shipping process, you need to do the following:

Do your research

Before you make any kind of booking, you first have to find the right international car shipping company for your needs. A good place to start is with your favorite search engine, possibly Google. A simple search for “transport a car overseas” or “international car shipping” and it will pull up plenty of options. 

Ideally, you want a company that meets the following requirements:

  • Offers service from your current location to your new one
  • Is properly licensed, bonded, and insured
  • Only works with third-parties who are also properly licensed, bonded, and insured

Once you’ve got a list of companies that meet the above requirements, you’ll be able to do some more direct comparisons. Look up the companies through the Better Business Bureau and read plenty of online reviews. Then you can narrow down your search even further by asking for quotes.  

Gather your documents

We’ve already given you a quick run down of the paperwork required for your international car shipping move. However, we’d also like to advise you to contact your Port of Entry directly prior to your move so you know exactly what they expect from you and when. 

Get your car ready to travel

You might be thinking that it would be really cool if you could ship some boxes or belongings inside your car. Generally. this is not allowed. You can only leave items in your car that are directly related to it, such as the spare tire and jumper cables.

Remember to remove any important documents, such as your registration and insurance information.

Most companies stipulate that your car should be no more than one-quarter full of gas. 

At the border, customs agents will check over your car carefully, for pests and debris that are illegal to bring into the country. As a precaution, get your car washed on the way to your export Port of Entry. 

You should also carefully inspect the exterior of your vehicle and take photographs of your car’s current condition. Take close-up shots of any pre-existing damage such as scratches, dents, and paint chips.   

How much does it cost to transport a car overseas?

The exact amount it will cost you to transport a car overseas depends on how far your car is going to travel and the company you hire to do the job. You can expect to spend around $1,000 to $2,000 to ship one car to another country. However, there are additional costs you’ll need to consider. 

Other costs to consider

Factor in the following additional costs when you’re transporting a car to another country:

Marine insurance

It’s always advisable to purchase supplemental insurance that will protect your car when it’s on the open water. This applies even if your shipping company doesn’t require that you do it. Contact your existing car insurance provider as they may also offer marine insurance. 

Destination charges

When your car arrives at the port of your new country, it will have to be trucked off the freight carrier and safely navigated through customs. An agent has to do this because you’re not permitted to do it yourself. 

Many shipping companies hire out agents at the port or can point you in the right direction to hire one. You can expect to pay around $500 for this service.  

Customs duty

Customers duty is a tax charged on items that are shipped internationally. To find out what the customs fees are, check with the port of the country you’re moving to. It is generally calculated as a total percentage of the item’s value. 

Additional taxes and fees

You may have to pay sales tax, processing fees, and other charges when you transport a car overseas. Your shipping company should be able to give you an idea of what to expect. 

How long does it take to ship a car overseas?

The answer to this question is a difficult one to be specific about because it depends on where your car is going. For some international destinations, your car might arrive at the port around a week after it ships out. For further destinations, you may have to wait a month or longer. 

Getting your car to the port

One final thing to consider is how you’re going to get your car to the port on mainland USA. you could drive it yourself, which seems like a cheap and easy thing to do. However, you have to factor in the cost of your time, hotels, and possibly a return flight. There’s also the additional wear and tear on your vehicle to think about. 

More often than not, it’s much cheaper, faster, and easier to partner with an auto transport management company like SGT Auto Transport. You make arrangements with the company to pick up your car from your home and deliver it to the necessary port. All you’ve then got to do is make sure you’re available to collect your car from the destination port.  

Want to learn more about shipping a vehicle? Find the answers to your questions here.

If you’re ready to make your auto transport arrangements, please give us a call at (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option.  

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