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From the U.S.A. to many overseas destinations' service is available via modern Ro/Ro (roll on roll off vessels. These special ships allow the vehicle to be driven on and driven off and for no motorized vehicles they can be towed on and off the ship. These ships have special decks that are enclosed and are much the same as regular multi story parking garages your any city or town. Except in this case they are the length and width of the ship and are a little like an aircraft carriers deck but they are inside the ship to give the vehicles protection from the elements. However, these special Ro/Ro vessels serve not all destinations of the world as they are only operating to certain countries such as most of Europe, Japan and a few more places. It is possible to ship a vehicle using one of these special Ro/Ro vessels from the U.S.A. to a major hub port overseas and then transship the vehicle using another smaller vessel. This smaller vessel might be another Ro/Ro type of ship where available or if not available it would be a conventional break bulk vessel or even a container vessel.

In the case where these special vessels are not available, it is necessary to use a conventional break bulk ship or where possible put the vehicle into a container for shipment on a container vessel. Conventional break bulk vessels are not the most desirable choice as a vehicle is subject to damage during loading and or discharging, as they must use ropes, chains or a platform using a crane to get the vehicle on and off the ship.

Using a container also has drawbacks as the vehicle has to be loaded into the container, blocked and braced so it will not move and this must be done off the pier in a warehouse. Once done the loaded container needs to be trucked to the pier and then can be loaded on the ship. As a added problem it has been know for the US Customs to stop container containing vehicles and have them opened up so that they can make a physical inspection so make sure that they are not stolen or on a stolen list. The shipper could be help responsible for the costs of this unloading and then re-loading. It could cost a bundle and it is just the hazard of the trade.


The first thing to do is to ascertain what service is available from the port you want to ship from and to the port you want to ship to. Know your shipping options. Make sure in advance, if you do really want to ship your vehicle. No matter what you do it is not cheap and you should not even consider shipping your vehicle if you do not have a serious purpose in mind. Some people think that they will ship their car and pick it up in Europe so they can save money on renting a car for their vacation. In most cases, it will not save you money unless you are planning to stay in Europe for a long visit. Even to the nearest places it will cost well over $1000.00 to ship a small car if you consider the port costs, the ocean freight, the charges at the other end and the formalities. For example, if you ship your car for temporary use such as a vacation you in most cases would not have to pay any import duty. However, in some countries they impose a VAT or TVA (tax) that can be hard to get back even if your do not keep the car in that country for long. You can always check in importation regulations with the Embassy or consulate of the country that you want to ship your vehicle to.

If you are shipping your vehicle for personal use overseas such as for a vacation or if you are going to live overseas then you must decide if it does make economic sense to ship it. You must be clear about the purpose you want to ship your vehicle for and come to a firm decision.


Many people from other countries that go to the U.K. want to also take their car. There are a number of points to keep in mind. If you have already paid VAT in another ECU country then you do not have to pay this again in the U.K. If you bring the car from the USA to the UK, you do not have to pay any import duty or VAT as long as you have not lived in any Common Market country for at least one year. If you move to the UK as part of your job or business for a specific period you should have a letter from your company stating the period you will be in the U.K. If your stay in the U.K. is for a fixed period then you do not have to pay duty or VAT. However, if your stay if for more then six months you will need to register your car and pay the local road tax that at present is 140.00 pounds per year or 77.00 pounds for six months. If you do not meet the requirements and have to pay, duty and VAT the rate will be 10% for import duty and 17.5 % for VAT. When in the U.K. you must have vehicle insurance. This can either be by extending your regular auto insurance cover for the time you are in the U.K. or by getting a local insurance cover note from any local auto insurance agent.

In answer to the most asked question about paying duty on a car brought into the UK. The answer is No only if:

- You are transferring residence (has to have lived outside ECU for 12 months)
- You must have owned the car for more than 6 months
- You must be able to produce registration doc's to prove ownership
- You are not allowed to sell the car for a period of time in UK (otherwise, you would have to pay for duty)
If you can't comply with any of the above, then they would have to pay 10% of the present UK value.

If you are shipping the vehicle for a commercial purpose such as for resale, you should have already come to an agreement with your overseas customer about the price of the vehicle and who pays the cost of shipping. Most vehicles are required to be shipped on a PREPAID basis with most carriers and due to that, you should build the cost of shipping the vehicle into your selling price to your customer. How you get paid is the most important matter and should be settled early. Do not wait to settle this point later on and cause yourself a lot of hassle at the last moment.


If you are for example located in Chicago or any other inland point and want to ship you vehicle directly from there. It is possible and it is just a question of cost and logistics. If you hope to ship using a Ro/Ro vessel that we outlines above it is possible to use one a many reliable auto carriers that ship cars on special trailers via the road to the port of loading. You can arrange this or your shipping agent or carrier can arrange it. Costs vary but are reasonable. There are also 'drive away' services that arrange to find some one to drive your car from point a to point b. This is much cheaper but is not very fast and some times not reliable. It is possible to have your vehicle loaded into a container at any inland location and has the container moved to the port by rail or truck. The arrangements to have the vehicle (assuming it will fit into a container) loaded into the container, blocked and braced and shipped to the port, can do made by you or your shipping agent. As mentioned before this can some times cost you more if US Customs want to make a physical inspection. Get advise and make your decision accordingly.

You can either prepare the shipping documentation yourself or have your shipping agent arrange it for you. In most cases, the following is necessary:

For the Port:
-6 copies of the Dock Receipt that should specify the year, make, model, serial number of the vehicle plus the carriers booking number, vessel name, port of loading and port of discharge.

For US Customs:
- Original Title or MSO (original ownership document)
- 3 copies (back and front) of the title or Certificate of Origin.
- Copy of the Dock Receipt stamped and signed by the receiving clerk at the port where the vehicle was dropped off.
- If there is a lien on the vehicle you will need the original of a letter of authorization from any and all lien holders which authorize you to export the vehicle overseas and 3 copies.

US Customs have to run the vehicle VIN through the NCIC computer system so make sure that it is not reported stolen and they need 72 hours or more and then will if OK they will approve the vehicle for export shipment.

For the Carrier:
- Export Declaration SED (government form) to be filed with US Customs via AES if the vehicle has a value over $2500.00
-1 master of the ‘Bill of Lading’ for the carrier

For the shipping agent you use:
The shipping agent will handle all the documents mentioned above for you but you will need to give the shipping agent some information so that they can prepare the above. You should give them 4 copies of the title as noted above plus your name and address that would be shown as the SHIPPER on the carriers Bill of Lading, the address you want the shipment consigned to overseas. You will also need to declare a value of the shipment.

US Customs will no longer accept notarized copies of the titles for export customs clearance of used motor vehicles. U.S. Customs will now require the actual original title of the vehicle or a certified copy of the title. The certified copy of the title has to be certified by a Government authority that it is an authentic copy of the original title.

In the past customs has accepted three (or five) notarized copies but due to their belief that some of these notarized copies may be easily forged they want to have the originals.

Additional information about this can be obtained from the Dept. of the Treasury of the Federal Register of April 6, 1999.

You are of course recommended to take out 'Marine Insurance' covering on any goods you ship. In the case of vehicles, it is a must, marine insurance is not expensive, and it would be pound wise and penny foolish not to take has this insurance. Your shipping agent can arrange this as it is a special type of insurance cover and is not part of your normal vehicle insurance and is not offered by regular insurance brokers.

Do give serious consideration to the shipment up front.
Do use a shipping agent to arrange your shipment.
Do use an expert shipping agent not just any one.
Do take the Marine Insurance as the carrier / shipping lines liability is a max of $500.00 even if your vehicle is a total loss. Don't put things inside the vehicle when you ship it on a Ro/Ro vessel. Most Ro/Ro carriers do not allow goods to be left inside the vehicle even in the trunk. They are not responsible for any thing left inside and it might encourage some one to break in and steal it.
Don't leave too much gas in your vehicle when you ship it but make sure that there will be enough to get it on to the ship and off again at the other end. You will need enough gas to get you to the filling station at the destination as well.

There are too many ports of destination for us to list here but service can be arranged to most of them in some way or another.

Of course we can do it all for you. That's our job! However, this brief guide is mean to give you a quick understanding. Of course each type of vehicle has to be handled in it's own way. We handle all types of vehicles such as private cars to construction machines, cranes, garbage trucks, trucks, we handle them ALL! If you want us to handle your shipment, we would be honored. If you want to use your own shipping agent make sure they know what they are doing and serve you well.

Automobile Shipping- Frequently Asked Questions

Q - What are the port and clearance charges?
A - These are offloading and documentation fees charged by the destination country. Each country differs. Container offloading fees are more than Roll on Roll off fees, usually double.
Q - Will there be anybody to assist me when my vehicle arrives?
A - Yes, we have clearing agents at all ports that can assist you, but you can do the clearing yourself if you choose.
Q - Do I need insurance to travel on the roads in foreign countries?
A - Yes, insurance can be bought at the port of destination or you can arrange it prior to pick up of your vehicle with an insurance company of your choice.
Q - Do I need a driving license in a foreign country?
A - You should get an International Driver's License from the AAA Automobile Association in your area; however your American Driver's License will suffice in Europe. You can drive on your American Plates in a foreign country until they expire, when you will be required to renew your plates in the country of residence.
Q - Can anybody pick up the vehicle?
A - You can nominate any person to pick up the vehicle, but you must advise us, so that we can enter their name as the receiver. They will be required to identify themselves as well as produce the Title of Ownership or Letter of permission to ship the vehicle.  

Q - Do we provide Marine Insurance?
A - Yes, we do. There are two types of Insurance.
a. Total Loss: You will be covered for the full amount that you choose to insure for with zero deductible, in the event of the boat sinking, theft of the vehicle at the ports on either end or any permanent loss to the vehicle while in our possession. This does not cover any minor damage.
b. Full Cover: This covers you against the above and any dents or damage or loss to part of the vehicle while in our possession. This does cost more and has a deductible of $500.00.

Q - Am I able to load my car with personal possessions?
A - If you are shipping your vehicle in a shared container, you will be permitted to pack goods into the car. These goods are sent under your own risk and cannot be insured. If you ship your vehicle in a container on its own, you can pack your goods and the vehicle in the container. These can also be insured.


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