Container Shipping to Europe
The costs of container shipping to Europe are calculated based on several factors:
- The distance your automobile will have to travel: For obvious reasons, the longer the distance between your automobile’s current locations and its arrival point, the more expensive its transport will be. This applies both to door to door and port to port moves.
Of course, if you want the company to pick up your vehicle from wherever you live, the price will naturally go up.
Even so, the door to door option is still the best, since you won’t have to deal with logistics.
- The weight / volume of your cargo, be it an automobile, a boat, or your belongings: Auto transport companies will use these to determine the cost of shipping. When it comes to household items, the volume is normally the same as the weight;
- The arrival port: There will always be customs charges to be paid, but the sum each country demands differs. Your vehicle’s arrival port will affect the sum you’ll have to prepare for taxes.
- The kind of transportation you will have to use. Will you send your automobile through air or on a ship? Although this article is geared towards sea freight shipping, because it’s much cheaper and convenient, you should consider all your options before deciding. If you decide on sea freight, will it be with the RoRo method or with a container?
RoRo vs. Container Transport
Although container shipping to Europe has many advantages, let us take a brief look at the Roll on Roll off option, so you can make an educated choice.
The RoRo method is used to transport all forms of motorized vehicles, including trucks, cars, boats, yachts, excavators, trailer homes, SUVs, plant machinery, and excavators. Because it’s more cost effective and simple, many prefer it.
The RoRo method implies driving your car directly onto the ship which is going to transport it overseas. If this is not possible, the vehicle can be towed or rolled onboard. Once it’s loaded, it is then strapped in place below the deck, in a watertight area, along with dozens of other vehicles.
Using this method will save you money on container crating, packing, flat rack loading or port delivery. Every part of the process is done by the workers at the port.
Although the RoRo option is the most used and flexible way to transport single vehicles, it is limited by certain geographical factors. For example, it is not available across the world. There are some areas only containers can reach.
Also, if you wish to transport your belongings along with your vehicle, the RoRo option is unavailable, but you can place them all in a container.
Benefits of Container Shipping to Europe
The reason people opt for container shipping instead of cheaper methods, like RoRo, or faster methods, like an Airplane, are as follows:
Better options and flexibility
RoRo and other transport methods run across indirect, fixed routes. Their speed is also very slow, and their ports are few. Because of this, you may have to transport your vehicle using rail or road as well, costing you more money and time.
Because container ships transport more than just vehicles, there are more of them and there are more ports that receive them. They are also faster. Your automobile may arrive at the destination port in about 24 hours.
To minimize costs when using rail, you must optimize the space you have at your disposal. On the other hand, containers give you all the space you need at a small cost. If your vehicle hasn’t taken all the space in your container, you can fill the rest with belongings.
Protection against theft
Container shipping to Europe is one of the safest options for transporting vintage or luxury cars and items which normally attract thieves. There are only 3 people who can open your container: an employee from customs, you, and the representative of the company you’ve placed in charge of your transport.
Also, the contents are hidden inside the container, so nobody can see them. Even the ship’s staff doesn’t know what they’re carrying.
Protection from Damage
The structural integrity of every container is assured through thorough regulations. Containers must be water and air tight, so your vehicle is safe from extreme temperatures, tree sap, dust, bird lime, rain, sun, or hail.
Before fixing your vehicle with wheel chocks, it is first positioned carefully. To make sure damage caused by movement is lowered as much as possible, the automobile’s wheels are fixed in place and immovable. Older, string and wood methods don’t offer the same level of protection.
Containers are standard, meaning they are used and transported everywhere in the world. This reduces the need of using other methods to get your car to its final destination, such as a truck or through rail.
They’re Eco Friendly
If you care about the environment, then you may want to avoid transporting your vehicle through air. Ships cause the least pollution out of all transportation options.
Container Shipping to Europe is Cheap
Compared to transporting your automobile using an airplane, container shipping is far cheaper. What would cost you $7000 to move through air, can be shipped for just $1700 using a boat.
If you’ve decided to go with container shipping to Europe, the size of said container becomes very important. Depending on the size of your vehicle, boat, and / or belongings, you’ll have to choose between using a large 40 foot container and a smaller 20 foot one. Of course, containers come in other sizes as well, but those are used mostly for industrial and business shipments.
The items in a 2 bedroom home can be carried easily in a 20 foot container, and anything bigger requires the other option. To move a vehicle, a 20 foot container is all you need, but there won’t be much room left for anything else.
Full vs. Less Container Loading Options
If you have other belonging you need to transport beside your vehicle, then you may require the entire space in a container to move them. However, if all you need to move is your car and you’d like to reduce costs, you can use a shared container. The pros of each option are as follows.
Using the entire container:
- You’ll get the best value on your investment. Paying a flat rate for transporting everything is more economical than paying for your goods’ volume if you can fill up the entire container.
- Before you can receive your belongings from a shared container, you’ll have to wait until they are unloaded and sorted / separated from the other person/s cargo. This can take up time, and complications occur often.
- It’s better for your vehicle. Full container shipping to Europe is much safer for your automobile than the alternative. Vehicles are heavy items which can hit other objects, damaging them or themselves.
- The port’s staff handles shared containers much more often than they do the alternative. Because it’s a routine, they pay less attention to it, and accidents may happen. When using a private container, the staff doesn’t have to sort and separate the items inside it, lowering the risk of damaging them.
Shared Containers: When shipping a vehicle or belongings that don’t require the entire volume of the container (less than 20 CBM), it is a much cheaper option.
Besides the basic costs caused by your automobile’s weight, volume, and the distance to its destination, when using container shipping to Europe, you should prepare for the following:
- Duty fees: Each country’s Customs will charge a duty fee when bringing something inside its borders. These vary depending on their laws, so to get an accurate assessment of what you will pay, speak to your auto transport company. You may also have to pay terminal handling and port service charges. These also vary.
- Inspection fees. Thankfully, your container will not be inspected physically thanks to the existence of modern scanning machines. Only 5% of US’s containers get a physical inspection, and the rate in European ports is even lower.
However, if the customs staff notices anything suspicious, they may choose to open your container and investigate its contents. Unfortunately, paying for this process may fall on you.
- GRI. The general rate increase happens at each year’s end to account for the added costs incurred by freight carriers. Recently, they’ve appeared more frequently, 13 times in 2012.
When shipping companies use GRIs, the demand for their services goes down. To counteract this, they drop their prices. After a while, demand rises again and companies implement GRIs once more. Because of this, the price for container shipping to Europe is ever changing. Therefore, when deciding on a shipping date, it’s best to set it before a GRI.
Insuring your vehicle is one of the first things people think about when transporting it abroad. However, container shipping is becoming less and less risky, for the following reasons:
- Intermodal Shipping: When moving your vehicle to another country, you will probably use several transportation methods, such as a ship, a truck, or a train. Thankfully, because steel containers come in standard shapes and sizes, your items can be moved across land and sea without having to load and unload them several times. Regardless if your automobile travels by truck, train, or ship, it can remain in the same container from the current home all the way to your new one. This means it is less likely to get damaged from handling. Across the world, more than 50.000 ships have adopted intermodal transportation, making container shipping to Europe much easier.
- Tracking. With 18.000 containers travelling on the largest container ship on earth and around 10.000 containers moving on the rest, you’d think it’s difficult to tell them apart. However, the use of ISO codes allow shipping companies to electronically track each container, so accidents almost never happen.
- Regulation. IMO (the international maritime organization) makes sure shipping is done according to standards.
Of course, just because container shipping to Europe is becoming safer by the day, problems can never be 100% avoided. If you are still worried about your cargo, speak to your auto transport company about their insurance policy. If necessary, get additional insurance for the transport’s duration.
Some companies may negate any responsibility they may have in case of an accident, so remember to check their policy. Besides this, here are a few more things you’ll find helpful when trying to insure your container shipping to Europe:
- Obtain the auto transport company’s insurance proof. By law, United States auto shipping companies must have an insurance certificate. You have the right to ask for it and to question them about their policy. Check if you’ll be covered if your automobile is damaged during transport, if you are covered for the entire value of the vehicle or if a deductible will have to be paid.
- Documents. Any considerations and agreements you make with the auto transport company must be in writing. Otherwise, you have no way to prove these existed. If they offer you a service which does not appear in the contract, it must come in writing.
- Speak to an insurance company. Your auto insurance company may have a policy covering your automobile when it’s being transported. However, to make sure, ask them yourself. Inquire if your insurance applies when the automobile is transported and if you have to notify them in any way.
- Loose objects should be removed from your automobile. Damage to an automobile’s interior will likely not be covered, so before you send it on its way, remove anything that’s not firmly in place. Extra change, cassettes, electronics, or CDs may turn airborne during transport and damage your vehicle. By taking them out, the risk of theft will also be reduced. By the way, most auto transport companies do not cover theft since it is not related to their staff’s negligence.
- Inspection. Before your automobile is taken by the auto transport company, it will go through an inspection to verify its condition. When this inspection is made, be present and take photographs. If later on, you want to make an insurance claim, you will need proof your vehicle has been damaged during transport.
- The landing bill. You’ll have to complete a bill of landing upon your automobile’s arrival. This is nothing more than a report you must give detailing any damages received by your automobile during travel. Check everything, the undercarriage and the engine as well. If you do not report any losses, you cannot recover them using your insurance.
If the automobile arrives in the middle of the night, procure some powerful lights, so you can inspect everything before signing the bill. Afterwards, your transaction with the company will be complete, and you won’t be able to hold them liable anymore.
In case you find damaged areas or malfunctions, write them down in the landing bill, and make sure the driver which brought your automobile signs it. You can then ask the company to reimburse you for your losses. If the auto transport company refuses to reimburse you for the losses incurred during the container shipping to Europe, speak to the Better Business Bureau.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.