How to Ship a Car If You are in the Military

11 min to read
How to ship a car overseas in the military

Receiving PCS or OCONUS orders can be exciting. Maybe this is your first time relocating. Or maybe you’ve successfully dealt with a state to state move — and military PCS shipping — in the past, and this is your first OCONUS (Outside the Continental U.S.) move. Much of the prep work is the same, but there are additional concerns you’ll need to deal with. In this post, we talk about the process of moving a vehicle in the military and share some tips that will make it easier to ship a car domestically or overseas. 

Makes Military life easier with Montway

A family may get a PCS or OCONUS order at any time. It’s an unavoidable aspect of military life, however, and just about the only thing you can do to make it less stressful is to plan ahead. If this is your family’s first move, your orders may throw you for a loop. There’s so much to think about and so much to do to prepare.  

The good news is that your transportation and relocation offices are there to help make your move a successful one and there are companies like Montway that can take some to-dos associated with your upcoming relocation off your plate. When you’re shipping a car from state to state as part of your PCS move or overseas as part of your OCONUS move, knowing that it is in good hands lets you concentrate on things like preparing your kids, tracking your expenses, and submitting your command sponsorship request. 

Military car shipping basics

When you ship a car as part of a state-to-state move, you coordinate the move with the auto transport company you prefer, like Montway, and pay out-of-pocket. When you are shipping OCONUS, however, your local transportation office will help you ship a car with an approved carrier. The good news is that the government pays for military car shipping for OCONUS moves. That is, the government will pay to ship one POV provided your overseas installation allows it. If you are planning to ship a second car overseas, you’ll need to coordinate that yourself with an auto transport company that understands the unique needs of military personnel.  

Shipping a second vehicle overseas

When you and your family don’t feel comfortable without a second car, you have two options. You can ship your main POV and then buy a beater car in your destination country (though finding a reliable hoopty can be a challenge depending on where you’re stationed). Or you can pay out-of-pocket for car shipping for your family’s second vehicle. Before you decide to ship a second car overseas as part of your OCONUS move, consider that having a second vehicle will mean paying more for registration, insurance, taxes, and fuel. That said, many military families decide that the convenience of having two vehicles will outweigh the additional costs and that shipping a second car overseas is absolutely necessary.  

PCS moves and shipping your car

When familiars receive PCS orders, they are generally responsible for paying to ship their own vehicles unless they are medically unable to drive, their orders haven’t left them enough time to drive, or there is a homeport change. The military may also pay for a domestic car shipment when a service member is retiring. Some people are highly tempted to drive from duty station to duty station to save money — military PCS moves can get expensive, after all. But there’s a very good reason to ship your car versus driving it: stress. Relocating is already a lot for one family to handle. Planning a road trip on top of coordinating a move? That can be overwhelming.  

Montway believes that shipping a car to your next duty station should be easy and affordable. That’s why we offer discounts for active and retired service members, streamlined pickup and delivery with door to door transport, and stellar customer service so you can relax and focus on making your move as easy as possible for you and your family. How do we do that? By making the process as simple and as transparent as possible. Our three-step military car shipping process is hassle-free for military PCS shipments, and we’re upfront with our customers every step of the way. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

The cost of military car shipping

We know that you probably want to budget your military PCS move and so knowing how much it will cost to ship your vehicle is important. As with all auto transport, the cost to ship a car from state to state will vary. How much you pay to ship your car as part of your PCS move will depend on factors like the size and make of your car or truck (bigger or heavily modified vehicles cost more to ship because they take up more space), your pick up location (shipping from a remote location may cost more than shipping from a metro area), the distance your vehicle will travel, whether your vehicle is in good running condition, seasonal considerations like route closures, and the price of fuel. You’ll pay less for transport in an open carrier — the most popular option — and more if you want your car transported in an enclosed truck. 

Car insurance and your move

We make sure that all of our carriers are always fully insured, but we also carry contingent cargo insurance so you can rest assured that your vehicle will be protected en route, no matter what.  

Notes on additional baggage

When you ship a car overseas as part of an OCONUS move, additional baggage is only allowed if you’re shipping in a sole-use cargo container. For domestic military car shipping, you can keep one suitcase or box with personal items (under 100 pounds) in the trunk of your car for no additional charge.  

That said, personal items traveling in a vehicle are not insured by auto transport companies, even during car shipping for military personnel. We suggest that you remove all valuables, important documents, or hard to replace belongings prior to dropping your car off with your shipper. If there are important items that must travel in your vehicle as part of your move, make sure they are privately insured.  

Shipping a car from state to state

When will your vehicle arrive? That will depend a lot on the route your car or truck is traveling. When you get a free quote from us, we will be able to give you a ballpark timeline but that will only be an estimate. We always recommend that military families looking to ship a vehicle choose door-to-door transport because it is often the fastest and will always be the most convenient way to ship a car, and we know that timing is everything for military families dealing with a move.  

Unlike many auto transport companies, we offer our military customers guaranteed pick-up dates, so your vehicle embarks on its journey when it’s most convenient for you. We can haul to and from all ports across the United States. And if you need your car quickly, we offer expedited shipping options that will put your family in the driver’s seat faster at your destination.  

Once your car arrives, it’s worth updating all your documentation and auto insurance as soon as possible because many states have penalties for failing to do so in a certain time frame. In New York, for example, drivers have 30 days to transfer an out-of-state license (in person at the Department of Motor Vehicles) after relocating to the state and must update their insurance so it meets New York requirements. You may need to get an emissions inspection before you can apply for an updated title and register your vehicle in your new state.  

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

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

OCONUS moves and shipping your car

As mentioned above, when you’re shipping one POV overseas as part of your OCONUS move, the government will coordinate all aspects of shipping. All you need to do is clean your vehicle, gather all the required paperwork, and bring it and your car to the vehicle processing center on your scheduled drop-off date.  

When you’re shipping a second POV, you have to work with an international car shipper to move your vehicle. This is where Montway can take some work off of your plate. Our goal is to make it simple and easy to ship a car overseas when you’re making an OCONUS move. In fact, we think that international car shipping can be as simple as military PCS shipping! Here’s what you need to know: 

Deciding whether to ship a second POV

Some people, when faced with the prospect of an OCONUS move, assume that it will be easier to buy a car when they arrive at their next duty station. Depending on where you’re headed, that may be true. Some bases have a thriving hoopty exchange where old beater cars get passed from soldiers that are relocating back to the states to new arriving personnel. There may even be a hoopty lot on the installation where you can check out these cars for sale — a great place to get a second vehicle if you want one after shipping your POV.   

That said, buying a car once you’re overseas isn’t always a good option. Shipping your car — especially if you own it outright — can save you a lot of time and potentially also hassles in the long run. That’s because you won’t have to sell or store your current car then do all the work of buying and then selling a car or have to worry about what to do if you have a car loan that’s worth more than your current car is worth. You can still ship a car overseas if there’s a lien on the title as long as you have a written statement from the lien holder authorizing it. 

International car shipping basics

You may be wondering how much international car shipping costs and the answer is that it varies. How much it costs to ship a car overseas will depend on the make, model, and dimensions of the vehicle, where it’s currently located, where it’s going, customs clearance and port charges, any fees that your destination country may levy, and how the vehicle is being shipped. The best way to get a feel for how much shipping your second vehicle will cost is to get a quote.  

In general, however, it’s less expensive to ship a smaller car like a sedan from a busy port in New York to a coastal European city on a RORO vessel (where vehicles are driven directly into the boat and then secured) than it is to ship an SUV from a landlocked state to a landlocked country in a shared or sole-use container. That’s because in the latter case, your vehicle has to get from the port to its final destination and because shipping larger vehicles almost always cost more than shipping smaller ones.   

The documentation required to ship a car overseas

We tell our customers that the basic requirements for shipping a car overseas are similar to those you’ll encounter when shipping a car as part of a PCS move. You’ll need: 

Keys: You’ll need to leave a set of keys with your vehicle. If you don’t already have a spare set, it’s a good idea to have one made.  

Registration and title: This has to be the original official documents, not photocopies. 

Your photo ID: You’ll have to show one form of government-issued identification (preferably a passport) when dropping off and picking up your vehicle. 

Creditor statement: You’ll need to present a notarized statement that proves that the creditor or the lessor of your leased or financed vehicle knows it is being shipped out of the country. 

Declaration of Dangerous Goods: This form required by many European countries outlines any potentially dangerous items (like the battery) in your vehicle. 

Consignee Form: This form (provided by your shipper) will ask for 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.  

Shipper Export Declaration: The U.S. Census Bureau requires this declaration when items valued at more than $2,500 or those that require a license to own or operate are shipped. 

Bill of sale: When you’re shipping a car you purchased overseas back to the states, you’ll need to show proof of ownership. 

Keep in mind that different ports have their own requirements, and so you may be asked for additional documentation or not need all the documents listed above. Ask your shipper what the port and customs will require to process your shipment, and then double check with your relocation office as there may be additional requirements for service members.  

When you can expect to receive your vehicle

How long it takes to ship a car overseas is again highly variable. It will depend on not only where your car begins its journey, but also on its destination. From the east coast to ports in Europe, the sail time (i.e., the time spent on a vessel) may be as long as two weeks or more. From the west coast to Australia or Japan, your car’s transit time may be more than twenty days. Remember that your ship time will also include the time it takes to get to a port, to load and unload your vehicle, and to get to your pickup location if you’re not picking up at the port.  

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to coordinate your international shipment so you actually get your vehicle when you need it. The easiest way to streamline the process is to put all the necessary documentation together before you ship. Note that if you’re looking for door to door or expedited international car shipping options, or international car shipping via plane, we do offer those options to our military customers.  

Driving your car in your new country

Shipping a POV overseas can involve taxes, fees, regulations, and even limits on the types of cars and trucks that can be brought into your destination country. Some countries will only allow vehicles under a certain maximum age. In others, tariffs and duties are based on the size of the engine rather than the value of the vehicle. Some countries require service members to get import approval prior to shipping or they won’t let a vehicle into the country. Others have very strict emissions standards.  

You will need to follow all local licensing and registration laws at your destination and get the appropriate auto insurance. Make sure your day-to-day budget accounts for the fact that insurance rates for vehicles from the U.S. can be very high. As noted above, the laws regarding legal car ownership and operation will vary by country, so be sure you understand what you need to do and when. Sometimes the timeframe for registering your vehicle after shipping it to your new duty station will be short and the fines for missing that window can be high, so ask your relocation office to clarify any and all deadlines.  

Double check your destination country’s restrictions

Every country has different laws when it comes to importing vehicles. Your destination country may have additional customs import requirements, specific restrictions or prohibitions related to vehicle imports, or licensing requirements that are very different from those in the U.S. You may need to pay certain taxes or fees to import your car.  

Your transportation office, relocation office, or vehicle processing center should be able to help you navigate the laws and policies that govern vehicle ownership, registration, and operation at your destination. The more you know about the rules of your destination country where foreign vehicles are concerned, the easier the process of shipping your car overseas will be. You can never be too well-informed! 

Why military members choose Montway for PCS and OCONUS car shipping

We know you and your family may get a PCS or OCONUS order at any time, and that any military move can be stressful. We are here to take care of your family vehicles so you can focus on transitioning yourself and your family to your new home. Here’s what we offer our military customers:  

PCS and OCONUS experience — We are well-versed in the additional requirements that our military customers must abide by and know how important it is that all of your belongings make it to your new duty station. 

No charge booking — We won’t charge your credit card until we’ve scheduled your shipment, making budgeting for your military move easier. 

The highest compliance standards — We only work with the most professional, qualified, and dedicated truckers and cargo captains — all of whom understand the needs of military families. 

Excellent customer service — Our customer support team is always available 365 days a year for extended hours and can offer status updates when you need them. 

391K+ cars delivered — We set the industry standard, finding the best transport solutions for each customer. We have an A+ rating with the BBB and a 5-star customer satisfaction ranking with My Moving Reviews. 

Our military discount — As a thank you for your service, we offer international vehicle shipping discounts for active duty, veterans, Reserves, National Guard, and military dependents. It’s the least we can do for the brave men and women who protect our country.  

Are you ready to book?

There’s a lot to think about before you ship a car and as you prepare your vehicle for its journey. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take to get to your next duty station or to your new home overseas because the whole process can take longer than you think. Preparation is key. Call us for a free, no-obligation quote and to learn more about how we help make military moves smoother and less stressful. If you know what to expect and have everything you need ready to roll before your drop-off date, you’ll have less to stress about and more time to prepare yourself and your family for the exciting adventure to come.  

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

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

Ready to learn more about car shipping for military personnel? Contact us today for a free shipping quote and check out what our customers are saying about their experiences with Montway at Montway Auto Transport reviews.