Shipping Your Car Overseas: What you should know

Relocating to another country is always exciting, but it can also bring a host of challenges. One such challenge is figuring out what to do with your car. Shipping a car overseas is more difficult and, potentially, far more costly than selling your car and buying a new one when you get to your destination, though that is not always the case.
 
If you do decide to ship, there are a few tips to take note of that will make the process easier.
 

Decide on a type of shipping

 
shipping car1You have two main options for shipping your car. Roll-On, Roll-Off (RO RO) car ferry services offer specially designed car carriers with sealed decks that protect cars from the elements. In this method, cars can simply be driven on and back off the vessel, making it an easy, and no-hassle option. This is a great option for larger or unusually sized vehicles that don’t easily fit in standard containers. It’s also a far less expensive option than container shipping.
 
Container shipping is an option that, while more costly than RO RO shipping, provides added security and convenience. Your car can be picked up and dropped off whenever and wherever you’d like, and its tightly secured in a private container to prevent rolling, shifting and contact with other cars. Shared container options are available, and they can help defray the cost. While many cars fit into containers, not all of them do.
 

Do your research

 
Look for a shipping company specializing in vehicles that will meet your specific needs, has great reviews, and offers excellent customer service. Find out whether they will pick up your car or whether you’ll have to drive to their port.
 
Contact your insurance company to find out if your policy covers shipping and make sure your insurance meets shipping requirements of your shipping agency. Most shipping companies won’t ship your car unless it has catastrophic insurance.
 
If you’re moving due to a job transfer, find out whether your company will pay for a portion, or all, of the shipping expenses as well as importation costs.
 
You will need to find out what will happen to your car once it reaches its destination. Will you be picking it up, or will you need to designate a friend or family member? Some companies offer clearing agents at ports to help you offload and clear your car, but you may have to arrange for one yourself in advance. Be aware that many country’s customs agencies require that a professional handle the process; you may not have the choice to do without this service.
 
Finally, you will most likely be required to pay customs and import taxes on your car once it arrives in your new country, though there may be allowances for diplomats in some countries. Just like in the States, you will need to pay for tax, title and licensing of the vehicle to make it legal for driving on the streets. Some countries give you a grace period of 90 days or even six months before you are required to license the car. Find out ahead of time what the law is in your destination country.
 

Find out foreign licensing requirements for driving

 
Learn what paperwork you’ll need to bring and what you will need to do to acquire a driver’s license in the country you are moving to. Some countries allow newcomers to drive temporarily with a foreign license, while others don’t recognize foreign licenses. Requirements and restrictions differ, as does the length of time you have to get a license once you arrive.
 

Learn about insurance requirements in your new country of residence

 
Insurance laws vary from country to country and you may be required to have car insurance in place before you drive your car off the custom’s lot. With due diligence, you’ll be prepared in advance.
 

Have all of your car’s paperwork in order

 
Find out what paperwork you will need to ship your car. You’ll most likely need to present the title, bill of sale, registration, and driver’s license. You may need to provide notarized copies of the title.
 

Remove everything from your car

 
Some shipping companies will insist that your car be completely empty upon arrival. They may not want to be liable for any of your possessions, and they may have concerns about whether items in the car will pass through customs. Moreover, you don’t want to risk loss or damage to any of your possessions if something should happen to your car. Remove all items from the trunk and glove compartment, and take out any electronic devices and accessories.
 

Have your car cleaned and lighten your load

 
Some shipping companies require that your car be clean, inside and out. You can clean it yourself, but it’s likely best and easiest to have it detailed by a professional cleaning company.
Your gas tank should only be filled to quarter capacity before loading to ensure that it weighs less.
To help prevent damage, tuck your mirrors in and lower or remove your antennae.
 

Assess your car’s condition

 
Look over your whole car, taking not of any scratches, dents or dings that are already there. Take photos from all angles so that you have evidence of what your car looked like before shipping. Inspect it and take photos again when you collect it at the port.
 
Shipping your car overseas can be a tremendous savings or a it can be a huge expense depending on a number of factors; you’ll need to determine what makes the most sense for you based on both the monetary and the sentimental value of your car, the cost of shipping and taxation, and savings comparisons when it comes to shipping, or selling and replacement on foreign soil.
 
Author byline
 
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.
 

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