How to Ship Your Car Internationally

Cars can be major items to move all the way across an entire ocean. Fortunately, the process of shipping a car overseas can be surprisingly straightforward. Even though the international shipping company that you choose will take care of a lot of the stuff for you, it’s very important to understand exactly what your role will be in the car shipping process.


If you’re moving, the process will be slightly different than if you are buying cars and importing them. Buying cars internationally and shipping them is a hobby for some and a means of income for others. As a buyer, if you buy cars in Nigeria from an auction site and ship them back to the United States, there will be more steps that you need to take and maybe even some tariffs to pay. That being said, it’s still not incredibly difficult or worrisome, however. International auto transport requires a good bit of planning and careful preparation. We’ll walk you through everything that you need to know to make shipping your car internationally go as smoothly as possible.

Do your research.



Doing a quick search on the internet will reveal that there are several different companies that offer international car shipping. With so many companies offering this service, you will definitely want to do plenty of research to choose the right car carrier for your needs. As with most things, start with a simple search and then narrow your choices down from there.


You can try searching for the cheapest way to ship a car. What will be most important to you is that the car shipping company you choose meets a few requirements. First, you need to make sure that they offer shipment service from your car’s location to your location. Next, you will definitely want the auto transport company to be bonded and insured as they will be responsible for your vehicle. Finally, you will want to make sure that they work with car carriers who are also properly licensed, bonded, and insured.


If you find an auto transport company that doesn’t meet all three of these requirements, cross them off your list right away. If you can’t find the answers to your questions, send them a message, and ask directly. You want to make sure that your car is taken care of and that the auto transport is done correctly for your own peace of mind.

Once you have narrowed down your list to companies that meet the requirements above, you can start to do some more direct comparisons. Look up companies and read online reviews. From there, you can narrow your choice down further by asking for quotes or average costs. You could also check to see if there are any discounts that you take advantage of.

Get your documents in order.



As with anything having to do with international shipping, there will be paperwork involved when you want to transport a car overseas. In this case, you’ll need to provide import documents to the U.S. Port of Entry your car will be shipped to. There is usually a time requirement that you will need to meet in order to avoid delays.


Besides all of the documentation proving your identity, there are a few other items that you will need to provide. A few of the documents that you will need to provide are U.S.Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Information Sheet, an original or certified copy of the Certificate of Title, a bill of laden and a bill of sale, foreign registration, and an official letter from your lienholder if you have financed the car. In terms of documentation, keep in mind that you can never be overprepared. Contact your Port of Entry directly prior to car shipping so that you know exactly what they expect from you and when.

Prepare your car.



Before your car ships, you will need to prepare it. In general, the only items that may be left in the car are those that are directly related to it. Items such as your spare tire, your jumper cables, and your jack are alright, but you will not be able to put any other boxes or personal belongings inside the car. As discussed above, be sure to remove any important documents, such as your registration and insurance information as you will need those for shipping regulations.


The car shipping company that you use can tell you exactly what can and cannot be in your car during shipping and import. They likely will also have requirements in terms of how much gas and other dangerous fluids can be in the car. Most auto transport companies require that the fuel tank be no more than one-quarter full. Also, remember that customs agents at the port will be checking out the car carefully for things that are illegal to bring into the country. The last thing that you want is to have the car rejected at the port and sent back. As a preventative measure, you can get your car washed on the way to having it shipped.


International car transport might seem like a major undertaking, considering the vehicle size and value, but it doesn’t have to be hard as long as you do your research and go the extra mile planning with the car shipping service you’ve chosen to ship your dream car.


Hey, I’m


A Philadelphia to San Diego transplant, Johanna is a contributing writer for Julie Teaches. Johanna has been to 35 countries, and when she is not jet-setting, she is at the park with her dog, SImon.