Shipping Your Vehicle Overseas

When arranging to move a vehicle overseas, there are several issues which should be carefully considered:

Know the laws and regulations of the United States and the destination country regarding what cars may be imported, and what fees must be paid.

  • Every country has different laws regarding what types and ages of vehicles may be imported and/or exported, and those laws may change without notice. In particular, many countries do not allow the importation of vehicles over a certain age. If a vehicle can be imported, there are several different calculations of tariffs, taxes, or duties, including the value of the vehicle or the size of the engine.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) regulates goods arriving and leaving the country to ensure that the goods are legitimate and, for arriving goods, that appropriate duties and fees are paid. Prior to your move, you should check the U.S. requirements for importing and the U.S. requirements for exporting motor vehicles.
  • You should work with your international mover to clarify whether the mover will provide customs clearance services or whether you will be responsible for clearance requirements. If your mover is providing these services, you should request that the shipping contract expressly state what items are covered and what items are excluded, and the costs of these services. If your mover does not provide these services, you may wish to consider hiring a separate entity in the United States or abroad to perform these services.

Ensure that you are working with a properly licensed international moving company.

  • As with all international moves, you should ensure that you are working with a company that is licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission. You can verify whether the company you are considering is licensed on the FMC website. Licensed shipping companies are required to post a monetary bond for the protection of their customers.

Ensure that your vehicle is properly prepared for an ocean move.

  • Work with your international moving company to adequately prepare your vehicle for shipment. This likely will include draining the car of all gasoline or other potentially hazardous or flammable materials, and the disconnection or temporary removal of the battery. You should also check with your international moving company regarding whether you may use your vehicle for additional packing space; many companies will not allow you to ship your vehicle if it contains loose items. Finally, determine what documentation, including the vehicle’s original title and/or registration, will need to be provided for export and/or import.