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Dock Shipping – A Complete Framework

What's in this article?
  1. What Is Dock Shipping?
  2. Role Of Customs In Shipping
  3. The Costs Involved When Shipping A Car
  4. Factors Affecting Shipping Costs
  5. Types Of Shipping
  6. Container Shipping
  7. Roll-On Roll-Off Shipping
  8. Loading A Car In A Container
  9. What Is Cross Docking?
  10. Documents Needed To Ship A Car
Dock Shipping – A Complete Framework

While trying to figure out the rules and regulations in the country, you're shipping your car to; there's also a complete procedure for sending your vehicle from port to port.

It's generally called dock-to-dock shipping because it involves the shipping setting out from one port and stopping at the next. There are a lot of papers involved, and it's where you get all your expenses when moving your car.

So, how does dock shipping work?

What is Dock Shipping?

First, you need to know what dock shipping is and have a basic framework. It means transporting your car from one dock to another, meaning a port in the USA to a seaport in whatever country you send your car.

It's also called dock-to-dock shipping, done through two primary methods when it comes to cars. Many rules are involved since the vehicle is entering foreign ground. But the direct authority involved in the process, no matter the destination, is Customs.


Role of Customs in Shipping

The Customs department in any country makes sure goods are legal. When you're preparing to ship your car, you'll go through Customs in America first. Then, you'll have to pass through when your vehicle reaches its destination.

They inspect your car at the port and may withhold it if it doesn't comply with their laws. That's why partnering with a reliable shipping company is essential to help you prepare a car.

Although there are usually other authorities at the port, they differ according to the country.

Other than Customs, your shipping company helps ensure your car goes through everything smoothly with the documents you've provided. The process includes loading on and off, storage and transportation.

All these have fees that factor into your car's final shipping cost.

The Costs Involved When Shipping a Car

First, the cost depends on where you're shipping a car to. Depending on the route and port, it'll cost less if you're transporting it to a country near the USA.

It also depends on how you're shipping it and how long it spends in storage at ports on either side. The weather and time also factor in because finding room for your car during Christmas is almost impossible.

Factors Affecting Shipping Costs

Even if everything else is optimal, there are other factors affecting costs.

  • Transporting a larger or heavier car is more expensive.
  • Where you live: this affects ground costs significantly. If you live in or near a port city like San Francisco, New York, or Miami, you'll have to pay nothing to get your car to the port. But if you're further inland or near the middle of the country, fees will be exorbitant and may even add up to more than the actual shipping cost.
  • Taxes and Duties: These are paid at Customs and are a given no matter your destination. Your shipping company should help you look into exemptions, which is possible, especially if you're already a resident in your destination country.
  • Pick-up Location: if you have the company transport your car directly to your home, then that's another addition to ground costs. It's best to drive it back yourself or pick it up from a terminal.
  • Route: if routes have more traffic, then prices will be lower. If it's less frequented, then charges will be higher. Similarly, longer journeys cost more.
  • Expedited shipping: while it takes 3-12 weeks to ship a car, you can speed it up. But keep in mind that the costs are very high.
  • Open or closed container refers to how your car will be transported. If you choose an open one, it's cheaper and faster, but your vehicle will be exposed to the elements and is more likely to get scratched. A closed container can be more challenging to reserve but keeps your vehicle completely secure. Still, it's only a good option if you have an antique or specialty car.

Types of Shipping

Two effective methods of importing cars are container and RoRo shipping.

Container Shipping

Container shipping refers to when you're renting a separate container for your vehicle. It'll be alone and enclosed, so it's the most reliable method. However, it's also the most expensive.

The standard size is 20ft., but you can lower costs by opting for a 40ft. Your car will be transported with another one, so you’ll be sharing fees too.

Roll-on Roll-off Shipping

This is the most popular method because it's cheaper and usually faster. It involves a deck where cars can be rolled on and off, cutting out the costs of transporting a container with a crane.

Cars are strapped on the freight, so there are no container costs. While it's not great for specialty cars, it is a suitable option for standard vehicles.

Loading a Car in a Container

If you're going for container shipping, you should know that it's secured inside carefully. All four wheels are chocked using a metal or wooden block, which is then screwed in place.

Then, padded ratchet straps secure the wheels to built-in eyelets. This step gives added security to the car. If inconvenient, the front and rear towing eyelets can be used.

Finally, all car containers must be wind and water-tight, so there's no chance of damage.

What is Cross Docking?

Cross-docking is a method that reduces, or eliminates warehouse storage costs, making it an excellent option for car shipping.

Inbound trucks are unloaded directly onto outbound ones without delay, so there's no waiting in a warehouse. Not only does this save costs, but it'll also cut back time.

Cross docking is increasingly popular, so if you have a transportation company, it's a good idea to go for it. On top of that, it also reduces the risk of damage. The more people handle your car, the more likely it is to get damaged, especially when it comes to the exterior.


Documents Needed to Ship a Car

  • Dock receipt: proof that the shipping company has been authorised to handle the car on the customer's behalf.
  • Bill of Lading (BOL): it is essentially a contract between customers and carriers that lists shipping details.
  • Insurance papers: it’s optional for the customer, but companies and carriers are legally required to be insured.
  • Title and registration: the title is proof of ownership, while registration papers are from the state DMV, which declares a vehicle roadworthy.
  • Lien release documents: if your car is still leased, you’ll need written authorization for transporting it, so it’s better to pay it off or take out a loan in your destination country to pay the one in America to avoid trouble.
  • Gate pass: permission for picking up or releasing a car.
  • Photo for identification.
  • US Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Export Cover Sheet, EPA form, and DOT form.
  • Power of Attorney: POA allows your shipping company to decide on your behalf.

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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