If you’re moving overseas for an extended period of time, you may find that bringing your vehicle with you to your destination country is a good way to get access to transport without purchasing a new vehicle.
But you may also be wondering how the process works, and what kind of paperwork you need to ship a car overseas. Do you need the car’s title, for example? In this guide from A-1 Auto Transport, we’ll explain the basics about shipping cars overseas, and whether or not you need a title to ship your personal vehicle.
Do You Need A Car Title To Ship Your Vehicle Overseas?
The short answer is “yes.” If you are the legal owner of a vehicle that you would like to ship out of the United States and to another country, you will need the car’s title, because this is how you prove legal ownership of the vehicle.
It’s typically quite difficult to ship a car overseas without a title – and if you are the legal owner of a personal vehicle, you should have your title readily at-hand, because this document proves legal ownership of the car in the United States, too.
If you have lost your title or misplaced it, it’s possible to get a new title while you’re still in the United States. This is absolutely the best option if you do not currently have a title for your vehicle, but you are the legitimate owner of the car. In many cases, it’s not possible to ship your car overseas without a title, so make sure you get a new title before you try to ship your vehicle.
You can contact your local department of motor vehicle services to learn more about replacing your title. In most cases, you will need to provide documents showing that you are the original owner of the vehicle, and you can get a new title by mail within a few weeks.
Can I Bring A Vehicle Overseas Without A Car Title?
It may be possible in some cases to bring a vehicle overseas without a car title. Typically, this is only necessary for brand-new cars that do not yet have a vehicle title. There are a few other rare cases where this is possible, but they do not typically apply to most people who are moving to a foreign country.
If you purchase a brand-new car and have it shipped overseas immediately before registering it, for example, it may not have a title. In this case, you can prove that you own the car by showing the manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (SO), as well as a document like a proof of purchase that shows you are the owner of the car.
Note, however, that many countries will not allow you to bring in a brand-new car as part of your personal effects, or may levy very high taxes and duties on the vehicle. Most countries require your car to be used personally for at least 6-12 months before it can be brought into the country tax and duty-free as part of your personal effects.
If it is, for some reason, impossible for you to obtain a car title for your vehicle, we highly recommend contacting the customs agency at your destination country to learn more about your options for proving vehicle ownership when importing your car.
What Other Paperwork Do I Need To Ship A Car Overseas?
The exact paperwork you will need can vary widely depending on the country where you’re importing your vehicle. However, you will usually need government ID, information about your vehicle, ownership information, your vehicle title, and bill of sale for your car, among other documents.
- Government ID – You will typically need to provide at least two forms of identification, such as a passport, birth certificate, or driver’s license or other state ID card to prove your identity when shipping a car overseas.
- Information about vehicle – You will need to fill out paperwork and note the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), make and model, mileage, and other details about your vehicle.
- Vehicle title – As mentioned, your title is almost always required to ship a car overseas, as this is the document that proves you’re the legal owner of the vehicle. You will usually need the original title as well as a copy.
- Bill of sale – If you own a car that you purchased recently, you may need to provide the bill of sale. This will ensure that customs knows when the car was purchased, and can determine if you’re eligible for any kind of tax break when importing your car.
- Shipper and consignee information – You’ll need to fill out paperwork with the personal information of the sender and receiver of your shipment, usually including name, email, phone number, and address.
Country-by-country requirements vary dramatically, so we highly recommend working with an experienced car shipping company and contacting customs directly to ensure you have all of the paperwork you need.
Can I Ship A Car That Has A Lien (Is Not Fully Paid Off)?
Yes, but you will need to obtain the permission of the lienholder – the bank, credit union, or other lender that has issued the loan. This is not always easy to get. Banks do not want you to export a car that you do not yet legally own. This is because it will be impossible for them to repossess your vehicle if you do not make your car payment.
If you do try to ship a car or a motorcycle overseas with a lien, you will need to obtain a letter of permission from the lienholder. This letter must be on official letterhead, and signed by someone who has the authority to sign for the financial institution in question. This process is very complex, and is usually unsuccessful.
If your car is not fully paid off, it’s usually better to simply pay the rest of the loan balance and obtain full ownership of the car before you try to ship it overseas.
If your financial situation is such that you cannot pay off the remainder of your loan before you make your move, you may want to sell the car in the United States and either purchase another vehicle at your destination country, or rely on public transit.
Shipping A Car Overseas? A-1 Auto Transport Can Help!
At A-1 Auto Transport, we’re one of the top transport brokers in America for customers who are shipping vehicles overseas. No matter why you’re moving and trying to import your vehicle, we can help you find a qualified transport company that can assist you throughout the entire process.
So don’t go it alone. Contact us online or give us a call to speak to an agent from A-1 Auto Transport, and find an experienced, international car shipping company to help with your move.
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.