Exporting Cars

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General Information

Exporting cars doesn't have to be too difficult to accomplish. Depending on the location in which your car is being exported, there may be a litany of paperwork that has to be filled out, but with the right auto broker, you'll be able to get through this process as pain-free as possible. A-1 Auto Transport has been exporting cars for years and will be able to guide you through every step of the customs process and to ensure that you avoid as many of the fees as possible.

Exporting Cars

However, exporting cars from the United States means having an understanding of the customs regulations and requirements that you'll have to adhere to, as well as understanding the export options that you will have available.

Requirements to Export a Car

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), you will need to abide by the following guidelines to export a car from the United States.

  • Provide the Original Certificate of Title or a valid proof of ownership document (it must contain the Vehicle Identification Number, known as the VIN number);
  • If you're exporting your vehicle through a land border to Canada or Mexico, you will need to provide the documents at least 72 hours before the export date;
  • On the day that you're planning on exporting the vehicle, you will need to bring the car to  U.S. Customs so that they may make sure that your documents match the vehicle (both VIN numbers match);
  • You will have to allow the U.S. Customs agent to inspect your vehicle from both the exterior and interior;
  • Finally, if you're planning on exporting your car overseas, you will need to provide U.S. Customs with the car 72 hours before the scheduled ship date, as well as all of the pertinent ownership documents

*If you do not have access to the ownership documentation of your vehicle, you should contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for assistance. Do this as soon as possible, as you may not receive the replacement right away.

For an explanation of the requirements, visit the CBP's website at:


A-1 Auto Transport ships vehicles worldwide. Click here or call 1-800-518-8708 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote to ship your car.

Types of Car Classifications

According to the U.S. Customs Border and Protection, cars can be classified into the following categories:

  • Used Cars

Used cars will require the aforementioned proof of ownership documents. If the used car is owned by a third party, such as through a lease/financial arrangement, than the exporter must have a written letter providing permission to export the vehicle from the third party. It's important that the authorization letter have the contact information of the third party present so that all of the information can be verified in terms of its validity.

If the used vehicle was originally purchased abroad, a translation of the proof of ownership documents must be provided.

Lastly, if a U.S. Government employee is the one exporting the vehicle, than the official documents from the particular agency that the employee works for must be provided, in which the arrangement is clearly stated.

  • New Cars

New cars that were bought in the United States have to have a letter provided to the U.S. Customs official, usually called the Certificate of Origin, that states that the car was created in the United States. Usually you will already have these documents given to you when you purchased the vehicle.

  • "Junk" Cars

When exporting a car that is considered to be "junk," this requires a certification that states this. Depending on the circumstances, you possibly will be asked to provide a copy of this certification.

Shipping Methods

Of course, when exporting cars, you should be aware of the shipping service options that you have available. The two most common shipping methods when shipping overseas are:

  • Roll-On and Roll-Off Service

Not only is this the most popular method, but it is also the least expensive option. Your vehicle when choosing this option will be placed on a special car deck on a freight ship at a port in the United States, where it will then be delivered to the port of your destination country or the nearest port to it. However, you should understand that this method does take a bit of a long time and may not arrive at the exact specified date. This would be a good option for a "Junk" car or one that is used and old.

  • Container Service

The more expensive option out of the two, it does cost extra, but this brings with it extra perks. Considerably more secure, your car will be placed it in its own special container, rather than being secured on a car deck alongside other cars like in the first option. You will also be able to include other items in the container as well, as long as they're not placed inside of the vehicle. This is the recommended option for a new vehicle or one that is highly valuable.

Of course, if you're exporting the vehicle to Canada or Mexico, you can choose from the land options available, which are choosing to have it shipped via either an Enclosed Trailer or an Open Trailer. Rail options might also be available into Canada at certain locations, but to Mexico, the trucking option will be the only one available.

A-1 Auto Transport can not only help you out with each step of the documentation process, but we can also recommend to you the best export shipping option for your vehicle and arrange all of the delivery services that you may need, including door-to-door transport so that your vehicle makes it to its final destination as quickly as possible! Contact us today!

Visit www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/export-docs/motor-vehicle for more detailed information!

Joe WebsterWritten By:Joe WebsterConnect with Joe Webster on facebookConnect with Joe Webster on linkedin

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.

Email me - info@a1autotransport.com

Satisfied Customers

“I am meticulous when it comes to everything. At first, I was thinking of just driving all the way to Illinois from New Jersey. A friend recommended me to go to A1 Auto Transport and told me a lot of good things about them. I refused initially because I had filed a 4 day leave just to drive and visit my mother. But things did not go well. My boss asked me to cancel my leave because a very important client asked for an urgent meeting, and the manager could not attend to it. I was hopeless and took the risk of asking help from A1. The notice was short and I forgot I needed to inform them in advance. After a couple of hours, I received a call and they told me they found a way to book me with no extra fees. I am so thankful I got to attend to my work matters. I did not get to see my mother, but the vehicle and items inside it were in perfect condition as if it was me who took care of it. I owe you guys big time! I got one huge deal from our client.”

“The plan was to ship my car from California to Utah. I went through nearly 20 quotes after using an auto shipping site which linked to a bunch of brokers. Finally, I found A1 Auto Transport, a company with its own trucks with great reviews. I was sold. Joe was very competent, gave off the impression he’d done this a million times, and it really showed throughout the transport. He listened to my request carefully, offered me several options, stayed in touch during the transport, and made sure I was happy with everything. Overall, a great company which I would definitely recommend to others!”

“I’m so glad I met you Joe!! A truly fortunate experience. Having to transport a car to Minnesota, I was stunned to see the company, who was supposed to take care of it, just vanish. I couldn’t reach them anymore, like they went bankrupt overnight. However, I was lucky enough to not pay anything, so I simply researched some more until I found A1 Auto Transport. Joe answered my call the first time and we soon agreed on a date and a quote. Unfortunately, I got caught up in work and forgot about it. The order was not confirmed, so Joe must’ve thought I changed my mind. I called him the next day and arranged for a new date. This time, I made a note on my phone and it went well. I replied to his email this time, and the driver arrived at a parking lot down the street on time, as promised. The driver was nice enough to not mention my previous mistake. He delivered my car in just 3 days. Upon careful inspection, there were no scratches or damage done to it during transport. Joe was there along with the driver and they both waited patiently until I was satisfied. Thanks!”

“A1 Auto is kind of like your favourite mom and pop pizza parlour, the one you can’t get enough of despite all the new, expensive avant-garde pizza shops that have mushroomed conspicuously across the entire neighbourhood and seem to have taken over the whole world...but not you. Because you value quality and genuine customer service, and know this business understands and works doubly hard to give you your money’s worth. I’ve been using A1 Auto Transport whenever I left California for business: they may not be the cheapest car transporters around, but the sheer professionalism, dedication, and heart they put into their work is just amazing and worth my every dime. I’m probably one of the most sceptical people you would ever meet. I’m rarely convinced when bombarded with dubious, self-congratulating ads of companies that look like they’ve spent tons of money on marketing materials just to lure your average guy in. A1 Auto Transport is the complete opposite of these companies. My car always arrived promptly on schedule, never with a hint of scratch or dirt or damage, and they keep me updated every step of the process. When you’ve found a company whose genuine care for their customers comes naturally, you stand by them no matter what. It’s the most logical thing to do.”

“A1 Auto Transport helped me move a vehicle to Iowa from Houston. I was a bit nervous, no knowing much about such services. Thanks to Joe, I was able to clear the fog a little. He answered all my questions and explained everything in a way that left no room for interpretation. The details were straightforward. I picked Sunday as the pickup date, since I wasn’t at work, and they accommodated me. The truck arrived an hour early, yet the driver patiently waited for me to arrive. He thoroughly checked my car for scratches or anything that might affect the transport then drove it onto the truck. I was given a 2 day time window during which the car was supposed to arrive in, and it got to Iowa in the evening of the first day. The trip didn’t damage it at all. Next time a friend wants to move, I’ll surely recommend A1 Auto Transport.”

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

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
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NO. 018191NF
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ShipYourCarNow LLC
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Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
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