Does the Military Ship Your Car for Free?

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Does the Military Ship Your Car for Free?
Does the Military Ship Your Car for Free?

Permanent change of station (PCS) orders are standard and aim to assist military members transition to a new station by providing funds for transportation and moving expenses. PCS reimbursement covers the cost of moving household goods, personal items, and other instances related to station relocation. 

You might be curious whether or not the government will cover your costs to ship your personally owned vehicle to your new station. The answer will hinge on the PCS situation. While there are some exceptions to this rule, the government will not pay to ship your vehicle to a domestic location if you're currently living within the United States. If you're relocating to a station outside of the continental U.S.—the government will typically pay for you to relocate your vehicle. Military members looking to cover their costs for international vehicle shipping will need to have an authorized order to do so.

We’re going to be unpacking how to ship your car internationally as a military member and get your costs covered before discussing how to get your prices as low as possible when shipping your vehicle to a new domestic station. If you follow our international shipping guidelines, you'll foster your ability to have your costs covered by Uncle Sam. The same goes for saving money with domestic shipments.

Let’s dive in!

Are There Any Restrictions for Military Members Shipping a Vehicle Overseas?

Military members looking to ship their cars overseas due to PCS orders naturally wonder if any restrictions are in place. Each host country will have different restrictions. Your local transportation office can provide information on any restrictions your host country has for vehicle shipping. If you ship a second personally owned vehicle, you might have to pay import duty.

You'll have to book your vehicle transport service through the military if you're an active service member. The military will decide how your personally owned vehicle is going to be shipped along with which carrier will perform the job if you're transporting the car internationally.

There are some limitations on which type of vehicles you can ship along with their size. The vehicle you ship can weigh no more than 20 tons. Keep in mind that the average car weighs around nine tons. Shipping a vehicle over 20 tons internationally can result in your incurring extra costs.

Let’s talk about what you can and can’t ship in your vehicle.

What Can I Ship in My Vehicle When It Travels Overseas?

You will be able to ship tools that don't exceed $200 in value. Most cars carry items necessary for maintenance and other types of emergencies like jacks, tire chains, tire irons, jumper cables, flares, and more. You’ll be able to keep all of this equipment in your car during its shipment. It’s common for people to keep a spare tire or two in their vehicle. You’ll be able to transport one spare tire and two snow tires with wheels. 

A few more items you’ll be allowed to keep in your car during shipment include:

  • Strollers, car seats, cribs
  • Luggage racks
  • Car cushions

Now for the items you won’t be allowed to keep in your vehicle…

What Can’t I Ship in My Vehicle When It Travels Overseas?

You won't be able to ship car accessories that aren't permanently installed. Flammable or hazardous substances are completely out of the question to mitigate travel risks. Liquids need to be taken out of the car to avoid spills during transit, along with pressurized cans. If you fail to remove prohibited items from your vehicle before shipping it internationally, you’ll risk having your POV shipment held up. 

Military members often wonder what the deal is with insurance and licensing when shipping their vehicles overseas.

Licensing and Insurance for Overseas Military Vehicle Shipping

Taxes, insurance, and licensing for vehicle shipping vary from country to country. You will be required to obtain proper licensing and pay taxes. Insurance costs more for international shipments than domestic shipments for natural reasons. While the government usually covers your expenses to ship your personally owned vehicle overseas, there is some work you have to do before the shipment takes place. 

How Do I Prepare to Ship My Vehicle Overseas as a Military Member?

Most of the work you have to do to prepare your vehicle for overseas shipping as a military member has to do with documentation and cleaning the vehicle. You'll need to prove your identity, vehicle ownership, and entitlement. It's standard for shipping companies to request an IAL shipping form before the delivery takes place. Additional standard information you'll provide will include your email address, emergency contact info, and destination address.

You’ll need to provide additional documentation to ship your vehicle overseas if: 

  • Your vehicle has a lien, and you're shipping the vehicle out of its origin country
  • If you’re leasing your vehicle
  • If someone other than yourself is shipping the vehicle on your behalf (unless it’s a spouse or someone else pre-designated)

Washing and cleaning out your car is an essential component of prepping your vehicle for shipping. You'll need to take all personal items out of your vehicle before cleaning it inside and outside. International car shipping services often require that you vacuum the interior of the vehicle. Before your vehicle gets sent off, an inspection will take place. After the inspection, you'll have to sign off on the report documenting your vehicle's condition.

Regarding your vehicle's gas tank, make sure it's at a ¼ full level or less. Verify that your vehicle contains an EPA and DOT sticker. The documentation you need to ship your vehicle will play a role in your ability to pick up the car at its new location.

If you want the government to cover your international vehicle shipping costs, you must follow all of the preliminary shipping requirements. Once your vehicle gets delivered to its international location, you’ll have to abide by the area’s local license and registration guidelines. Most vehicle registration deadlines in other countries are tight, so it’s better to get everything squared away as quickly as possible. 

Let's look at what's involved with a military member domestically shipping a personally owned vehicle.

What’s Involved With a Military Member Shipping a Vehicle Domestically?

We've touched that the government usually won't cover a military member's expenses for shipping a vehicle domestically, but there is a glimmer of hope. Your first option can be to reach out to your property office if you need financial assistance with shipping your car. A second option is to take advantage of the discounts that many auto transport companies offer military members.

We’re one of those companies! 

Since the military won’t be controlling what transport service you use to ship your personally owned vehicle to its domestic destination. 

While this is option is less convenient, you can always personally drive your vehicle to your new domestic station. The Department of Defense notes that some military members who personally drive their vehicles to their new service station can be reimbursed for mileage and travel costs.

We’re going to wrap up by discussing why military members can trust A-1 Auto Transport to address their vehicle shipping needs.

How Can A-1 Auto Transport Help With My Military Vehicle Shipping Needs?

We’ve been moving cars for active members of the military and veterans for over 20 years. Thousands of vehicles have been shipped through us for all branches of the military. You can head over to our home page to request an instant quote if your curious about what your shipping rate will be. 

We’re proud to offer members of the military vehicle shipping discounts. We offer discounts to active and retired service members. 

Our personally owned vehicle requirements include:

  • The car has to be owned or leased by a member of the military or dependent.
  • The vehicle must be self-propelled and highway legal.
  • A need for written consent from the third party when transporting a leased vehicle
  • Must have four wheels or more unless a motorcycle or moped

The forms we require for military auto transport are: 

We recommend visiting the following sites if you’re seeking more information related to military member auto shipping: 

Preparing to follow PCS can be stressful, but we aim to make the transition easier for you by confidently handling your vehicle shipping needs. 

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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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.

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Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
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Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
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