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Car export - the Definitive Guide About Car Export From the US

What's in this article?
  1. The Basic Requirements For Exporting A Car
  2. Getting A Usps Customs Form
  3. What Are The Required Documents?
  4. Exporting A Financed Or Leased Car
  5. Preparing Your Car For Export
  6. Understanding The Automated Export System
  7. The Shipping Methods Available
  8. How Long Does Shipping Take?
  9. How Much Does The Process Cost?
  10. A Quick Overview
Car export - the Definitive Guide About Car Export From the US

Moving a car from one country to another is a confusing process involving many documents, each more important than the last.

It's overwhelming, though the process can get much simpler if you employ a shipping company. Still, it's best to have a clear idea of the procedure to grasp what's happening at all times.

So, here's a definitive guide of everything you'll need to know when exporting a car from the US.

The Basic Requirements For Exporting a Car

There are several steps involved when exporting a car to a foreign country. First, you need to get an idea of the departments involved.

The primary responsibility falls under the US Customs and Border Protection, which is the Department of Homeland Security's subsidiary. They're responsible for processing all forms and inspecting the car to ensure it's eligible for export.

They will also ensure that your vehicle isn't breaking any international standards.

All your documents must be submitted to them a minimum of 72 hours before shipping. They also hold the right to declare something unmailable if it's found to have any hazardous materials. You may be penalized if your car has to be withheld, so it's crucial to have it cleared beforehand.

You'll also need a United States Postal Service Customs form, though the division isn't directly involved in the procedure. The Federal Maritime Commission should also license your shipping company.

Every step is essential because all countries have their requirements, particularly regarding fuel and emission standards.


Getting a USPS Customs Form

A USPS form is necessary no matter what you're mailing. It's available at any post office or online.

Once you fill it in carefully, you'll submit it to Customs along with your other documents.

What Are the Required Documents?

Once you've settled on a trustworthy shipping company, you need to get all the required documents together:

  • The Manufacturer's Statement/Certificate of Origin: if you have a brand new car, one that hasn't been registered before, or custom construction, you need to submit the original MSO and two copies.
  • Certificate of Title: you need this to submit proof of ownership; it's the most important document on the list.
  • Bill of Sale: if you don't have a title or MSO, you'll need to submit this as evidence that the car legally belongs to you.
  • Passport or EIN.
  • Lien Release Documents: if you still haven't paid off your car, you'll need written authorization from the lien holder allowing you to take it to a foreign country.
  • Power of Attorney: an export POA is necessary to signify you've given someone legal power in proceedings.

You might also need to submit an EPA form for emissions compliance, a DOT form from the Department of Transport for safety compliance, and a completed US Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Export Cover Sheet.

All these documents must be submitted at least 72 hours before export.

Exporting a Financed or Leased Car

Exporting a financed car might be slightly complicated since, in many cases, lienholders don't want the car to be in a foreign country.

The best you can do in this situation is look into a loan in the country you're moving to, use it to pay off the lease, and obtain a lien release document.

Preparing Your Car for Export

Having a car transported into another country is sensitive because each has its rules and regulations. The essential part is complying with fuel and emission standards.

Countries like Japan already have high emissions levels and have strict regulations. Similarly, New Zealand has your car go through an inspection by a separate department to ensure its cleanliness. If there is any dirt on or inside, they take it to a quarantine facility to have it decontaminated.

When you're preparing your car for export, make sure to have it cleaned thoroughly. Try to keep it empty: it's better if you don't add any extra luggage inside.

Make sure the brakes are working and the tire pressure is adequate. The car needs to be in good condition to avoid trouble at Customs or while shipping.

Finally, don't there shouldn't have any gas or fuel inside. The shipping company will have to empty it before exporting anyway.


Understanding the Automated Export System

The US has the AES to keep track of all exports exiting the country. Before export, you'll fill in the shipment information, known as Electronic Export Information (EEI).

When filling in the USPS Customs form, you'll also need to add the Internal Transaction Number (ITN), which acts as a passport for the car.

The Shipping Methods Available

Once you've submitted all your documents, you'll inform your shipping company how you want the car to be transported. Your choice depends on how much you're willing to pay.

First, the most fool-proof method is a 20ft. container. It's the standard for cars and fits one, though it's also expensive. Other than that, you can opt for a 40ft. container if you have two vehicles or have someone who shares the destination. It may take longer, but it'll be cheaper.

One of the most popular methods these days is RoRo shipping, where cars are strapped under freight trains. Since there are no container or transportation costs at ports, it's less costly than the other two and just as safe. It's also quicker since there's no container to be held up.

How Long Does Shipping Take?

This largely depends on where the car is going. The standard time is ten days, but it can take up to a month. This factors in the days it takes to take your car to the port, the journey itself, and the wait once it reaches the destination city.

How Much Does the Process Cost?

Several costs are considered in the process: you'll need to pay for storage, transport, port use, and container.

There are also import duties, taxes at Customs, and fees for registering the car for on-road use in the new country. And you'll need to pay your shipping company.

Bottom line: The total cost can range from $1000-$5000. Prices will vary mainly depending on your beginning and ending cities.


A Quick Overview

Now that you have the details of the process, here's a quick overview:

  • Choose a reliable, registered shipping company.
  • Get all your documents together.
  • Prepare your car, making sure it's clean and fully functional.
  • Choose a shipping method.
  • Pick up your vehicle once it reaches its destination.

Going for a reliable shipping company helps ensure that the process goes smoothly without any extra hassle for you. Try to prepare all your documents at least a month before export, so there's time to remedy any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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