International car shipping is not for the faint of heart. It takes planning, preparation, patience, and money. iIt is an expensive venture. Even if you do everything right, there are potential pitfalls that can’t be anticipated, like the military family who tried to ship their car home after an overseas assignment, only to be told by the shipper, “We haven’t lost your car. We just don’t know where it is.” A complete nightmare.
But in most cases, if you do your homework and plan carefully, your car will end up right where you want it.
Shipping a car internationally is a little more complicated than shipping one state to state. For one thing, you’ve got two countries whose laws you need to follow to make things go smoothly. While your shipper should at least inform you of those details, if not take care of them themselves, it’s good to know the basics.
First, get your paperwork in order. That means your title needs to be current. You’ll need to turn your original title over to the shipper, so it’s a good idea to make copies for your own records. If your car is being driven to the port instead of transported on a truck, you’ll also need its registration. Finally, if you’ve got an active loan on the car, you’ll need a notarized letter from the lender that they know about, and give permission for you to send the car out of the country.
You’ll need documentation on yourself, too, in the form of a photo ID. If you’re moving with the car, you probably already have a passport, which will suffice. You’ll also need that to pick up the car at its destination.
Then you need to find out what import/export requirements there are in the country you’re shipping the car to. Among other regulations, some countries restrict how old a car can be to be legally exported to them.
Once you’ve got the groundwork taken care of, it’s time to decide how you’re going to ship it. Your first question is how convenient you want it to be versus how expensive. If you need it to be as convenient as possible, choose a door-to-door option.
With door-to-door, a truck will pick your car up at your house and take it to the shipper. They’ll then get it ready for transit, and when it arrives in the new country another truck will take it to the address you specify.
If cost is more important than convenience, you can drive it to the port yourself, then pick it up from the destination port. It’s more of a pain, but it’ll save you money.
Then you need to decide how the car will actually travel overseas. You have a number of options, but they break down to varying levels of sea freight or air freight. On the oceanic side, you can pick between Ro-Ro, shared container, or private container.
Ro-Ro stands for Roll on, Roll off, and it’s just what it sounds like. Your car gets driven onto a car-carrier ship, strapped down on a large deck with hundreds of other cars, then gets driven back off when the ship docks at its destination. It’s usually the least expensive way to ship a car internationally, but it also carries the biggest risk of damage, because your car’s sitting on an open ship deck and could get bumped, rained on, or worse.
A more secure, but also more expensive method is to containerize the car. Your shipper will strap the car down in a container, which protects it from anything outside the shipping box. You can share a container with another car, or you can spend more and have your car shipped in its own private container.
If you need the car to get there sooner than a ship can make the trip, you’ve got another, usually much more expensive option; Air shipping. Your car will be loaded onto a freighter and flown to the destination country. It’s the fastest way to ship a car internationally short of calling Captain Picard and having it beamed over. But the government insists that technology doesn’t really exist, so you’ll have to settle for a jet.
The best international car shipping company list comes with some caveats. What’s best for one person might not be best for you. After all, if you need your car to arrive at its destination in 3 days, the company that only ships by, well, ships won’t be right for you no matter how good they are. But in general, this is a short list of companies we think are worth considering if you need to ship your car overseas.
While Montway does not ship internationally themselves, they will broker the shipping job for you. That means you’ll get a quote from them, and they’ll hire an international shipping company to take your car from port to port, then work with you to help you understand what you’ll need to do for the international shipping segment of the trip. They’ll handle domestic transport within the United States themselves.
Montway consistently appears at or near the top of shipping company reviews, both in the media and from customers. The company enjoys a 4.5 out of 5 star Google user rating, with nearly 4,500 reviews. While they’re not always the lowest price, they’re not the highest either and considering their customer satisfaction ratings, it’s probably worth considering Montway.
If you want to deal directly with your international shipper, Schumacher Cargo Logistics looks like a solid choice. They’ll pack your car in a shipping container, either by itself or if you want to save a little money, in a shared one. You can save even more money with Roll-on, Roll-off shipping, or you can splurge and send your car by air freight.
Schumacher has an excellent 4.7 out of 5 Google user rating, with over 5,000 people leaving mostly very positive reviews.
uShip is a shipping aggregator, which means they don’t ship your car themselves, but they’ll get you quotes from lots of shippers with little effort on your part. All you do is tell them what you’re shipping, when, and where, and they’ll handle sending requests for quotes that you can then peruse at your leisure. If you’re too busy to deal with talking to a bunch of shippers to find the best option for you, uShip is a great way to reduce your workload.
The best way to ship a car internationally depends on your priorities. If you want to save money, Ro-Ro with port dropoff and pickup is best. If you want to protect your car, upgrade that Ro-Ro to containerized for the best option. Finally, if you want the ultimate in convenience and speed, choose door-to-door air shipping.
Prices for shipping internationally vary widely. Sometimes you can find a deal for a little under $1,000, but you’re more likely to spend 4 figures - sometimes more than 5 grand depending on when and how you ship it.
If you ship it by sea, it can take a couple of weeks, all the way to a month or two, plus time at either end for loading/unloading, packing/unpacking, and customs processes. Exactly how long it takes depends on variables like shipping schedules, weather conditions, how busy ports are, etc.
If you ship it by air, it’ll be there the same day the plane takes off, but expect to wait for those port duties just as you would at a sea port. Figure on 2 or 3 days before you can get your car again.
The first thing to consider is whether you should. For a lot of cars, it makes more sense to sell the car in the one country, then travel to the new one and buy another car. On the other hand, if it’s a rare or high-value car, or it happens to be more expensive to buy a car where you’re going than where you’re starting, then shipping it becomes a more financially-sound option.
You’ll want to find out what kind of import laws you’re dealing with in the destination country. You’ll want to be sure that anything they don’t allow into their borders isn’t in your car. One thing that universally can’t be in your car is too much gas; make sure that needle’s down below a quarter of a tank before it gets to the shipper. You can read more on Car Shipping and see our recommendations for the Best Car Shipping Companies in 2021 here.
For more on this topic, see our detailed guide on how to ship a car.
The best company depends on your budget, destination, and requirements. Car Talk has reviewed a number of shipping companies for you - you can read about them here.
The cheapest way to ship a car overseas is port pickup and dropoff, with Ro-Ro transit on the ship.
Usually more than $1,000, with some options climbing north of $5,000.
Yes! Scroll up to the top of this article to find out how!
You’ll need the vehicle’s title and sometimes its registration. If there’s a car loan involved, you’ll need a notarized document from the lender giving permission to take it out of the country. And you’ll need a photo ID.
Anywhere from a couple of days by air, to as many as 2 months by sea. So do your research and choose wisely.
The best way to get a good price is to compare offers. We recommend reaching out to...