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How to Ship Cars Overseas

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Whether you are shipping your car overseas because you are moving or starting an auto export business, you need to be aware of the auto export process and what to expect when shipping cars overseas. This post is also relevant to shipping boats, motorcycles, motor homes overseas. We will generalize everything as “car” and “cars” and sometimes “auto” or “autos” in this post.

Let’s start with the different types of vessels and equipment available to ship cars overseas.

There are several ways to ship cars overseas: Full Container (20’/40’/45′), RORO (roll-on, roll-off), or Flat Rack (20’/40′). Most cars are shipped via Full Containers or RORO. When cars or boats are over width, typically they are loaded in Flat Racks.

Full Container Shipping (aka intermodal shipping containers)

The vast majority of ocean shipments go via containers. The industry term is FCL (full container) when referring to shipping a full container and LCL (less than container) when shipping in a “shared container” with other shippers. There are multiple types of containers, this is a good website to learn more:

RORO Shipping

this is a vessel with a large warehouse the ship designed to carry wheeled or static cargo such as cars, tractors, trailers, and other oversize cargo. Shipping cars with RORO is not available from every US port to every destination worldwide. So you need to ask if your freight forwarder has service from the port or origin and destination you are shipping.

Shipping Autos with Air Freight

Customers sometimes require their cars to be shipped urgently. In this case, shipping a car with air freight is the only available option. The price is many times more expensive, but urgency costs money!

What you will need to ship your car overseas:

  • Original Title to the car (applies to all types except boats)

  • Bill of sale with value shown

  • EIN Number (for US Customs purposes)

  • The car delivered with less than 1/8 tank of gas

You will be asked to fill out a Power of Attorney (POA) allowing your freight forwarder to file export documentation on your behalf as well as a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) which shows details of the cargo (e.g. shipper, consignee, cargo value, etc). It is highly recommended to always buy marine insurance when shipping cars. This is because the freight forwarder is not responsible or obligated to pay you if your cargo is damaged in transit. Freight Forwarders typically have Terms and Conditions written on their invoices and bills of lading that limit their liability to $500 per shipment.

If you are shipping a single car, shipping in a “consolidation” is a good option if your freight forwarder has a consolidation to the destination are shipping to. Otherwise you can ask for a rate for a full container or RORO.

Please contact us today at (800) 874 4748 or request a quote to learn more about our Car Shipping services.



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