International car shipping

International car shipping guidelines and advice


If you ever need to ship a car internationally, for example from the US to Europe, Australia or Asia, the service is very similar to a standard auto shipping service. There are a few simple steps to follow if you want to find the best international car shipper. Getting your vehicle ready is also very similar. Your vehicle’s journey begins when it’s picked up and loaded onto the auto transport truck and trailer.  

If you ever need international car shipping, however, there are a few extra things to think about. There are, for example, laws you also have to take into account.

This guide is going to provide all the essential information and offer a few words of advice.

How international car shipping works

The international auto transport process is a very simple one. If, for example, you want to ship your car from Chicago to Sydney, your vehicle is shipped to the appropriate coastal port by an auto transport management company like SGT Auto Transport. From there, it’s loaded into a container and shipped across the ocean in a ship. When it arrives in Sydney, you just pick it up from the port.

While the process is simple and straightforward, there are a few important things you need to know and consider. Keep reading to learn more. 

Legal and logistical differences with international auto transport

When you ship a car internationally, it generally involves certain fees, duties, and tariffs. Use the services of any other auto transport company and you may find yourself paying these additional charges on top of the standard price.

As well as extra charges, the country where you are taking your car may require prior approval. They may turn your vehicle away at the port if you fail to get this vital approval from the local officials.

If you need to move your vehicle to another country, make sure you check the legal requirements and ensure you comply. For the most up-to-date import information, it’s always best to contact the embassy of your chosen country. If you’re shipping a vehicle internationally, our shipping advisors will be able to help.

There are a number of different marine and air cargo transport companies to choose from. International car shipping services are available from ports such as Miami, New York City and Los Angeles. There are also a selection of ports in states such as South Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia. Let’s give you a list of the most popular.

East Coast



Palm Beach




Wilmington NC

Wilmington Delaware




New York and New Jersey


West Coast





San Francisco

Los Angeles

Long Beach

If you’re lucky enough to live near to one of these, then it’s not an issue. Simply jump in your car and drive it to the terminal or book an auto transport service. If, however, you live much further away, you can rely on us to get your vehicle to the right location on time. We can help in both situations. 

How long can international shipping take?

International car transport

As you might expect, the timeframe very much depends on the pick-up and delivery location. The shipping company providing the ground service can give an estimate for the time it takes. The time it takes for the journey across the ocean is a little more difficult to determine.

As a general rule of thumb, however, expect the journey from the east coast to coastal Europe to take a couple of weeks. A vehicle being hauled from the west coast to Australia, on the other hand, can take almost a month to arrive.

When you make your booking with an international car transport company, make sure you sort out the arrangements in plenty of time. As well as making the booking for the shipping you also need to allow time to get your vehicle to the port and ensure all your documentation is in order.

What paperwork is required?

Registration and title documents

To ensure the smooth shipping of your car you’ll need registration and title documents. Without them, you won’t be able to ship your vehicle. Depending on the final destination, you may also need to provide license plate numbers along with this documentation. When you drop off and pick-up your vehicle, you also need to produce a government-issued ID.

Notarized statement

If you don’t own the vehicle being shipped and it’s leased or financed, you will need to submit a notarized statement from the creditor or lessor. This statement confirms that they know the vehicle is being taken out of the US and confirms you’re allowed to do so.

Consignee form

You have to complete a consignee form. You need to provide personal details such as your name, address and telephone number. You’ll also have to include details of the vehicle being shipped, including its value.

Dangerous goods declaration

Some countries also require the completion of a dangerous goods declaration, thanks to the battery and gas that are left in the car.

Shipper export declaration

You may also require a shipper export declaration. This will, however, depend on the country the car is being delivered to.

The ports being used for shipping may also have their own individual requirements.

International car shipping cost

There are a number of different factors that can influence the cost of an international shipping service. The distance is, of course, the most significant factor. However, the make, model, and dimensions can also make a difference. You also need to take port and custom charges, individual country fees, type of shipping service and the cost of moving your car to and from the relevant ports.

Driving your vehicle overseas

When your vehicle is delivered to the country of your choice, you’re going to want to drive it straight away. Whether you can, depends on the country and whether you’re going to become a permanent resident. A reputable international car shipping company will be able to advise you of the local laws relating to vehicle ownership, registration and driving requirements. The local US embassy will also be able to offer guidance.

A vehicle being hauled to Europe can be driven for up to six month on its American plates and tags, depending on local laws. You also have to notify your auto insurance company of your intention and be willing to provide coverage. You also have to meet European safety and emission standards.

To be legally allowed to drive in a European country you must apply for an International Drivers Permit. You will also need an International Motor Insurance Card, before you leave the US. This has to be requested from your insurance provider. 

Preparing your car for overseas shipping

There are several things you need to do to make sure your vehicle is ready for its journey overseas.

  1. Have your car checked up and serviced at an authorized service garage to make sure it’s in good working order.
  2. Remove all personal belongings from the inside of your car. The only things you’re allowed to leave in the car are a child seat, spare tire, emergency kit, hand tools, jack.
  3. Clean your vehicle on the inside and outside.
  4. 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, paint chips, and dents.
  5. Make sure you charge your car battery and it's well-secured.
  6. Check the pressure of the tires.
  7. Make sure the emergency brake functions properly.
  8. The fuel tank should be no more than 1/4 full.
  9. Disable or remove the alarm system of your vehicle.
  10. Make sure you have an extra set of car keys available.

If you’re moving overseas any time in the future contact us by phone on (864) 546-5038 or use Live Chat for international car shipping information.

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