The Process of International Auto Shipping

Whether you plan to move to a new country, are planning to study in another country or just need to get away for a little vacation time to enjoy life, planning to go overseas can be stressful even when the trip is for fun. Having to bring a car to use during the trip can intensify things. Do you need to have an automobile shipped internationally and have no idea where to begin? If so, you are not alone. Most people who ship their car overseas for the first time have no idea where to begin, who to trust and how to decide the best mode of transport for their car. This can be a very overwhelming task to take on, and it must be handled by doing extensive research and taking time to carefully consider each company and what they offer for cost, modes of transport and general customer service.

1. Research is Vital

Some of the best vacation spots are overseas, and when you need a vacation, you do the research to find the best hotels and places for fun while away. When it comes to car shipping, the first, and most important step to scheduling international auto shipping is to conduct the vital research that will allow you to choose the best company to ship the car. To complete the research in an accurate fashion, you first need to complete a search to locate companies that offer international auto shipping services. Make a list of the companies that catch your eye and save the list so you can check each one out.

Check reviews of each company in online auto shipping forums, on the individual business websites and on auto transport referral sites. If the company will be needed to transport the car from a home or office to the shipping port via the interstate, be sure to check with the Department of Transportation to make sure they are licensed completely, have a safe driving record and that their carrier insurance is valid.

2. Insurance

Insurance coverage is extremely important. When doing your research, the company should be asked about their coverage including the amounts covered and what type of damage will be covered in case of an accident. As the car owner, you should be able to request, and physically see, the hard copy of the insurance certificate.

3. Quotes

You can choose to submit for a free quote online with most auto transporters, domestic and international, or you may prefer to call the company and speak to a live agent to be able to offer detailed information about the car, the destination and the circumstances of the shipment. Some websites can offer several quotes at one time for multiple shipping companies, but it is best to speak to a live agent to get the best quote. Speaking to an agent will offer the necessary time to provide details about the car that you may not be able to offer with an online submission form.

Once you are offered a quote, you need to understand that charges can change even within just a few days. This is not because the shipper is trying to be dishonorable, instead, it is due to the cost of fuel. When the cost of fuel rises, so will the cost to ship a car. This also works to lower the cost when the cost of fuel goes down.

To get the most accurate rate, be sure to provide as much information about the car as possible. The make, model and year are a good start, but the company also needs to know if the car has been modified at all. Modifications can alter the weight and overall size of a car and the company needs to know this to schedule the car for the correct space on the ship or inside of the correct sized container.

Be sure to get quotes from several companies before you decide on the one to choose. Most will have similar rates, but you may notice a few that offer very low rates. In this case, it is best to avoid the ones that offer rates that are far below what the majority offer. Many companies like this will quote a low rate to snag business, but that rate will often increase once they are hired and you may find yourself paying a higher rate than you expected.

4. Paperwork You Will Need

While many countries will require a variety of legal documentation to import a car to their country, there is some basic paperwork that will be required when shipping a car overseas and most countries will require these legal documents:

  • Original Vehicle Title
  • Original Vehicle Registration
  • Bill of Sale or Sales Receipt
  • Driver's License
  • Passport
  • Valid Insurance Certificate

Every country will also require specific passport or visa documentation, taxes and custom duties to be paid and licensing and vehicle registration requirements. These are things that must be checked into prior to leaving for the country and before the car is shipped.

5. Shipping Method

Determining the shipping method ahead of time can help you save time when it is time for the car to ship. For many people, renting a steel shipping container and having it delivered to the port works best, but for others, having the shipping company deliver the car to the port and then loading it onto a RORO ship is best.

The shipping method can greatly affect the amount of time it takes for the car to be delivered overseas. Shipping with the container is usually quickest but shipping RORO can save money and it is the most common way to ship a car overseas. RORO also exposes the car to the sea water and other elements during shipment, so if you own an expensive luxury car, an exotic car or a custom car, you may prefer to use container shipping instead of RORO shipping. 

6. Pre-Delivery Inspection and Repairs

Before the car is shipped, you should take it to a mechanic to make sure everything is working correctly. Parts in many areas of the world may be unavailable for some cars, and having everything repaired before leaving is a wise suggestion. You may find parts to be expensive in areas of the world where repair shops may be limited on parts and services. You also need to have the car washed and completely cleaned out before it ships. Detailed pictures should be taken to make sure you have a clear view of the overall condition of the car before it leaves your possession. The company that you hire for sending your vehicle overseas should also provide you with hard copies of all paperwork, an after-hours number to reach them and a detailed itinerary for your car. It is also great to check about tracking services if these are offered on the route to the country you are relocating to.

Once the car has been delivered to the destination, it will need to be inspected by customs for release to the owner. The owner needs to also complete an inspection before the car leaves the port. If any signs of damage are found, a claim needs to be filed immediately so the shipper can begin a repair ticket. 

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