Shipping a vehicle overseas is roughly a similar process for the clients when it comes to how you deal and communicate with the auto transport company you hire, but there are some particularities that are worth discussing.
When it comes to shipping outside the country, one of the first things you need to do is to check that particular country’s rules regarding what can enter, how, and what types of documents you need to ensure everything goes smoothly.
For Europe, the task at hand is easier as long as you ship within the European Union, but if you ship outside the union like to Belarus or Ukraine, you need to find out what are these countries’ specific requirements.
An auto transport company will help you gather everything you need for the process. Here’s how shipping a car to Europe usually works:
The Basic Steps of International Shipping
For you, the process of shipping a vehicle to Europe will most likely look something like this:
- Researching the market to find a company who can address your needs;
- Signing the shipping agreement with the company of your choice;
- Gather all the documents you need to be able to get the car out of the US and in the European country;
- Drop off and pick up the vehicle (unless you opt for a package that includes these services as well).
Most international vehicle shipping is done by sea, using special cargo boats specifically designed to move cars. In some cases, these boats may have special shipping containers that will transport other goods alongside vehicles.
You also have the option of shipping the vehicle via air freight, though this is a very expensive service. When you ship on a boat, the company can gather multiple vehicles and transport them at the same time, which greatly lowers the shipping rate for the client.
When considering an air freight, this isn’t an option, so unless you need to ship a very expensive car, either a vintage piece or a luxury vehicle worth millions, this option isn’t really necessary for most people. And it costs a lot of money.
When it comes to international vehicle shipping, most of your efforts will go into gathering the necessary documents to make the transport happen. The auto shipping company can pick up, drop off, and even clean your vehicle for you if you choose to, but the paperwork is your responsibility.
For Europe, you’ll generally need:
- Proof you own the vehicle, such as the title, bill of sale, etc.
- Proof of origin from the vehicle manufacturer
- Bill of lading
- Personal photo ID.
In the European Union, you can usually present these documents in any of the official languages recognized in the union, English included, so you don’t have to translate the documents unless the particular country you’re shipping to specifically requires this. Like in the US, the EU has federal laws, but the member states are generally free to modify or implement these laws based on what’s right for them, so long as they don’t specifically go against the union rules.
For non-EU members, it’s also likely to have to get the documents (or some of them) translated to one of their official languages.
When shipping by boat, it will take around 10 days for the cargo to travel from the US East Coast, and around 20 days from the West Coast. However, here arrival times can’t really be guaranteed, as you’re very dependent on the weather conditions, as well as any mechanical issues that can cause delays. It’s not common for these delays to happen, but there’s always a possibility you should take into account.
Consider the Import Tax and Value Added Tax
To ship a car to Europe, you will also have to pay import taxes and value-added taxes. The rate itself depends on the type of vehicle you have to ship, and in the European Union they are:
- 6% for motorcycles with engine capacity bigger than 250cc
- 8% for motorcycles with engine capacity lower or equal to 250cc
- 10% for regular passenger cars
- 22% for larger vehicles
These are the import taxes to which you’ll have to pay an additional VAT which ranges from 19% to 22%, depending on the country you ship to. For non-EU members, these taxes can be different.
You Also Need to Prep the Car
Shipping internationally requires a bit more planning than it does to transport the car within the US, and that includes prepping the car itself.
Here are some things you need to do:
- Give it a good wash to remove any dirt and debris;
- Remove items from the inside of the car, especially loose objects and valuable entertainment equipment. As a general rule, you should only leave the floor mats and a spare tire;
- Take it for a quick check-up, have a routine maintenance, and remove fluids;
- Disconnect the battery and alarm system;
- Create a documentation of any issues the car has before transport, such as visible marks. You can take photos of them. These will help you in case you need to file an insurance claim if something happens to the vehicle during transport.
We’ll Help You Get into Europe
If you need to ship your vehicle to Europe, and this all seems overwhelming, we get it. A-1 Auto Transport is here to help you figure out all the logistics of your international shipping, and you can trust that with us your vehicle is in good hands!
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.