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.
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:
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.
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!
Related Information & FAQ
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.