Everything You Need to Know About International Car Shipping From the USA

7 min to read
Ship a car overseas internationally

Shipping a car internationally is actually just as easy as shipping a car across the country, but there are some key differences. The practical concerns are largely the same. You’ll still need to go through the steps of finding a reliable auto transport management company. You’ll prep your vehicle for international car shipping in the same way. And your car will be picked up by a trucker and put on a car carrier at the start of its journey just like it would if it was being shipped domestically.

That’s where the similarities between shipping a car across the country and international car shipping end, however. It’s not that international car shipping is more complicated, but rather that there’s more to think about when a vehicle is moving between countries, traveling over both land and sea, and subject to the laws of multiple nations.

Montway Auto Transport has been helping customers ship cars internationally for years, and we wanted to share what we’ve learned so that you can ship your car overseas more easily. After all, you have enough on your mind and your plate whether you’re selling a car to a foreign buyer or you’re moving abroad yourself. Here’s everything you need to know about international car shipping:

What makes international car shipping different

The process of shipping a car internationally is simple. Your car will ride in a truck to the port or airport where it will be loaded onto a cargo ship or plane for the next phase of its journey. When it arrives at its destination country, it will be picked up at the port or airport or loaded onto another truck that will take it to its final stop. But if you still have questions about the actual shipping process, we’d be happy to answer those for you.

There are also legal and logistical issues you’ll have to deal with. International car shipping usually involves tariffs, duties, and fees (though it should be noted that Montway does not charge sales tax), and there may be regulations or limits on the types of vehicles you can ship to certain countries. Depending on where your car is headed, you may even need to get prior approval from the government before importing your car or it could be turned away at port.

Before you ship a car, be sure you understand the laws concerned with auto imports in your destination country. The information you find online may be out of date, so save yourself a headache and go straight to the embassy to get the most up to date information about what you’ll need to do to ship your car overseas legally.

Ground transport is part of international car shipping

Unless you live quite close to the port or airport where your marine transport company or air cargo company ships from, ground transport will be a part of your car’s journey. International car shipping companies ship out of ports in cities like Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles, and from ports in states like Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina, but if you don’t live near the coast, don’t worry. Montway can easily coordinate shipping from your location to a terminal city and will advise on the work with marine and air cargo shippers to make sure your carrier follows all directions for proper handling and loading.

International shipping times can vary greatly

There’s no one single answer to the question, ‘How long does international car shipping take?’ That’s because transit times will vary depending on where a vehicle begins its journey and where it will end up. The auto transport management company handling your ground transport will be able to give you a good idea of how long it will take your car to get to the port (if your car will travel on a cargo ship), but sail time is harder to estimate and you’ll need to add in time for loading and unloading plus how long it will take to get to your pickup location.

In general, however, the sail time from ports on the east coast to ports in Europe will be about two weeks. If your car is traveling from the west coast to a port in Australia, it may spend nearly a month en route. Regardless of where your car will end up, make sure you give yourself plenty of lead time to book your shipment and to get your documentation in order so you can be sure it gets where it needs to go on time.

Shipping a car overseas typically involves paperwork

Let’s talk about the documentation you need to ship a car overseas. First, you’ll need to have your registration and title because your car won’t be able to travel through the ports without those two pieces of paperwork. You may need to submit your license plate number along with copies of the title to the regulatory authority in your car’s destination in advance of its arrival. You’ll probably need to show a government-issued ID when dropping off and picking up your vehicle, and in the case of international car shipping, a passport is your best option.

Is your car leased or financed? Then you’ll be required to present a notarised statement proving that your creditor or lessor is aware that you are shipping a car internationally and has given you written permission to take the vehicle out of the country.

Then there are the documents relating to your vehicle as cargo. At the port or airport, your shipper will have you fill out a consignee form that includes your name, address, and phone number; information about your vehicle and its value; and information about the person who will pick up your car at its destination. Some countries will require you to fill out a declaration of dangerous goods before shipping — not because a vehicle is inherently dangerous, but because the battery and the gas left in the tank is considered hazardous cargo. Because you have to have a license to operate a car, you’ll also need to fill out and submit a shipper export declaration.

And that’s not necessarily all. Individual ports often have their own requirements above and beyond what is legally required to ship a car internationally, so be sure to check with your shipper to ensure you’re not missing any of the documentation required to process your shipment. This is another area where we would be happy to assist you, because we know a lot about what’s required to get vehicles en route to their international destinations.

The cost of international car shipping varies

Several factors will determine how much it costs to ship a car overseas. The make, model, and dimensions of the vehicle can all factor into the price. Larger cars, heavily modified vehicles, and cars with body damage may cost more to ship. The distance to and from port will determine how much ground transport costs. And the cost of international car shipping will also vary depending on where your car is currently located, where it’s going, the customs clearance and port charges, any fees the destination country may levy, and how the vehicle is being shipped. Different marine and air cargo options are priced at different rates.

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.

In general, it will cost less to ship a small car from New York City to Europe than to ship a larger luxury vehicle from Los Angeles to Japan. The only way to know for sure how much international car shipping will cost is to get in touch with us via Live Chat or phone. You may want to reach out to a few auto transport management companies to see if you can score a good deal. Look for companies like Montway that are proud of their auto transport reviews and transparent when it comes to their pricing policies.

Your car will be insured every step of the way

During international car shipping, your vehicle will be insured under your ground transporter’s policy and your international carrier’s coverage. At Montway, we also cover your car under our own contingent insurance for the entirety of the time it’s on the mainland road, so you have total peace of mind.

Getting there is only the first step

If you’re moving overseas, you are probably wondering whether you’ll be able to drive your car as soon as it arrives in your destination country. The answer to that question depends on where your vehicle is headed and whether you’re relocating permanently. Your shipper will be able to help you understand the laws that govern vehicle ownership, registration, and operation in your new overseas home. You can also reach out to the embassy of that country to find out exactly what you’ll need to do to legally drive your vehicle.

If you’re moving from the US to Europe, for example, you can actually drive a car with American plates and tags for up to six months without having to register it — provided you plan to ship your car back home in six months or less and that your auto insurer is willing to insure your vehicle during its time overseas. Your car will also need to meet all European standards for safety and emissions, and you will need to apply for both an International Motor Insurance Card and an International Driver Permit.

Montway’s approach to international car shipping

We have experience partnering with international carriers to ensure that your car gets to the port or airport when it needs to so it can embark on the next stage of its international journey. We can haul to any and all ports across the United States, and our shipping prices are all-inclusive and sales tax-free, so you never have to worry about additional fees.

Here’s our international car shipping process:

Choose your options and contact us — We have open or enclosed transport, as well as expedited shipping for our international customers to choose from.

You can get a guaranteed pickup — If you have limited availability, we can offer you a special option for a guaranteed pick-up on a specific day.

The lines of communication stay open — Our customer support team is available 365 days a year, and we can connect you directly with your hauler so you can check on your car’s status any time.

Why choose us for your car shipment? Montway is an industry leader with an established network of 15,000 carriers, and we partner with some of the largest companies in the country. We were named one of the fastest growing companies in the United States in the Inc 500, and we ranked #8 on the Fast 50 List by Crain’s Chicago Business for growth. We’ve shipped hundreds of thousands of vehicles for satisfied customers. Yours can be next!

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.