International Car Shipping – What You Need to Know


Shipping a vehicle internationally can be a big undertaking whether you are relocating, purchasing a vehicle overseas, or importing a classic car. It requires proper research, planning, and understanding of the various rules and regulations that come with international vehicle transportation. This article aims to provide you with all the necessary information to help make your international car delivery process as smooth and hassle-free as possible.

The Basics of International Car Shipping

There are two main methods of transporting vehicles internationally: Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) and container shipping. Here is a brief overview of both:

    • RoRo: The RoRo method involves driving your car directly onto a specialized vessel where it is secured and shipped on its own set of wheels. This method usually has lower costs compared to container shipping since there is no need for additional handling and immobilization costs. RoRo service can be limited by the route options available.


  • Container Shipping: Container shipping involves loading your car into a metal container large enough to fit one or multiple vehicles securely. These containers are then loaded onto cargo ships for transport. This method offers more flexibility in terms of route availability, better security, and protection for the vehicles from external elements but can often come at higher costs depending on the shipment size.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Shipping

Before handing over your car to the shipping company there are several steps you need to take in order to ensure its safety and compliance with international car shipping standards:

    1. Clean the Interior and Exterior: Wash your car thoroughly both inside and out. This will help in identifying any pre-existing scratches, dents, or other damage that may need to be documented.


    1. Document Existing Damage: Take high-quality photographs of your vehicle from various angles. Make sure to document any pre-existing damage such as dents, scratches, or paint chips if you happen to identify any during your assessment
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    1. Disable the Alarm System: Be sure to disable your car is alarm system in order to avoid it being activated during transit which can cause unnecessary delays and potential battery-draining consequences.


  1. Maintenance Check-up: Have your mechanic inspect the vehicle before shipment. Ensure all fluids are at appropriate levels (with exception of gas), make certain there are no leaks, and confirm that your car is in working order.

Understanding Customs Rules and Regulations

The process of importing a vehicle into another country can come with its own set of unique challenges pertaining to customs rules and regulations. Many countries have strict requirements for importing vehicles including emission standards, modifications, age limits, and taxes or tariffs that are based on various factors such as engine size or value of the automobile. It is crucial for you to research these regulations well ahead of time in order not only plan financially but ensure your vehicle meets these criteria.


Varying levels of taxation will apply when importing a vehicle overseas – import duties (tariffs), value-added tax (VAT) or goods and services tax (GST), and other fees depending on the destination country. Several factors affecting these taxes include the following:

  • Age of the vehicle
  • Engine size or power
  • Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) value
  • Possession duration of the vehicle by owner at origin location prior to import

Emissions Standards and Vehicle Modifications

Countries may have stringent emissions standards in place for vehicles being imported into their borders. These regulations are designed to limit pollutants emitted from automobile exhaust systems thereby protecting air quality. It is essential that you research your destination countrys relevant emission requirements as they are likely specific to your particular vehicle make, model, year of manufacture, or engine displacement. Furthermore, ensure all modifications made to your car comply with local laws which may state restrictions on aspects such as window tinting levels or safety features.

Insurance Considerations

While shipping companies typically offer basic insurance coverage for the cargo they transport including automobiles it is worth considering purchasing additional coverage through a marine insurance policy. Primary shipping insurance through carriers generally provide a minimal coverage amount dependent on weight thus accurately reflecting a cars actual value tends not to be possible resulting in high out-of-pocket expenses should any damage occur during transit.