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How do I prepare my car for international shipping?

Published by Joe Webster.

How do I prepare my car for international shipping?

Embarking on the journey of international car shipping can be a complex endeavor, filled with numerous steps and considerations. Whether you're relocating, selling, or sending a vehicle to a loved one abroad, understanding how to prepare your car for international shipping is crucial. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, ensuring that your vehicle not only reaches its destination safely but also adheres to all necessary regulations. From choosing the right car shipping company to understanding the nuances of customs and documentation, we'll navigate through each phase together. Let's embark on this journey, ensuring your car's overseas adventure is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

When pondering the question, "How do I prepare my car for international shipping?" it's essential to focus on meticulous preparation and understanding the shipping process. Initially, select a reputable car shipping company experienced in international routes. Ensure all necessary documentation, like the car's title and registration, is in order. Prior to shipping, thoroughly clean your car, both inside and out, and document its condition with photos. Remove personal items and secure loose parts to prevent damage. Check and maintain fluid levels, ensuring the battery is fully charged and the gas tank is about a quarter full. Disable the alarm system to avoid unnecessary triggers during transit. Finally, understand the shipping method, whether it's Roll-on/Roll-off or container shipping, and choose the one that best suits your needs. By following these steps, you ensure that your car is well-prepared for its overseas journey, minimizing potential issues and ensuring a smooth transition from your current location to its new destination.


Detailed Preparation Steps

Documentation and Paperwork

Before your car embarks on its international journey, ensuring all paperwork is in order is paramount. Start by contacting your chosen car shipping company to understand the specific documentation required. Generally, you'll need the original title of the vehicle, registration documents, and a valid photo ID. If there's a lien on the car, a lienholder authorization may also be necessary. Additionally, some countries demand a notarized declaration of the vehicle's value or a bill of sale. It's crucial to check the destination country's regulations as well, as they might have unique requirements or import taxes. Proper documentation not only smoothens the shipping process but also helps in swiftly clearing customs, ensuring that your car arrives without unnecessary delays.

Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance

A thorough vehicle inspection is a cornerstone of preparing your car for international shipping. Start by checking and maintaining essential fluids, ensuring they're at the recommended levels but not overfilled. This includes engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid. The battery should be fully charged and securely mounted. Reduce the fuel level to around a quarter of the tank to minimize weight and ensure safety. Check tire pressure, ensuring it's at the optimal level for stability during transport. It's also wise to note any mechanical issues and inform the shipping company beforehand. This step not only prepares your car for the journey but also helps in quickly identifying if any damage occurs during transit.

Cleaning and Securing the Interior

Cleaning the interior of your car is more than just a courtesy; it's a crucial step in the preparation process. Remove all personal items and loose accessories, as these can become projectiles or get lost during transit. This includes electronic devices, air fresheners, or any custom add-ons. Secure or remove loose parts like GPS devices or removable stereo systems. Additionally, it's advisable to remove toll tags or parking passes to prevent unnecessary charges during the shipping process. A clean and clutter-free interior ensures that your car overseas shipping experience is devoid of any surprises or lost items, providing peace of mind as your vehicle travels to its new destination.

External Preparation

Preparing the exterior of your car is just as important as the interior. Start with a thorough wash, allowing you to clearly note any existing scratches, dents, or dings. Document these with photos or videos as a record for insurance purposes. Fold back the side mirrors and retract the antenna if possible. If your car has any special requirements or removable parts like spoilers or roof racks, secure or remove them to prevent damage. It's also wise to disable any alarm systems to avoid unnecessary triggers during the shipping process. This meticulous attention to detail ensures that your car is not only ready for the journey but also protected, minimizing the risk of disputes or misunderstandings about the condition in which your car arrives at its destination.

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Choosing the Right Shipping Method

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) vs. Container Shipping

When it comes to shipping a car internationally, selecting the right shipping method is crucial. Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) and container shipping are the two primary options. RoRo is often the more economical choice, where your vehicle is driven onto the ship, securely parked on the car deck alongside other vehicles, and then driven off at the final destination. It's simple and efficient, especially for standard models. However, your car is exposed to the elements and must be in operable condition. On the other hand, container shipping offers an exclusive space for your car, providing added protection against weather and potential damage. It's ideal for luxury or classic cars but comes with higher shipping costs. Containers can also be shared with other vehicles, reducing car shipping costs. Consider factors like your budget, vehicle type, and protection level when choosing between RoRo and container shipping.

Insurance and Protection

Ensuring your vehicle is protected during transit is paramount. Adequate insurance coverage is essential to safeguard against unforeseen incidents. Most car shipping companies offer basic insurance, but it might not cover all risks associated with shipping a car internationally. It's advisable to review the coverage details and consider purchasing additional insurance if necessary. This might increase your car shipping costs, but the investment is worthwhile for peace of mind. Ensure the policy covers damage from handling, theft, and environmental factors. Additionally, verify the credibility of the insurance provider and understand the claim process. Remember, the safety of your vehicle, from the moment it's loaded onto the car carrier until it arrives at the final destination, should be a top priority.


Customs and International Regulations

Navigating customs is a critical aspect of international car shipping. Each country has its own set of rules and regulations, and compliance is non-negotiable. Start by researching the import duties, taxes, and any specific regulations of the destination country. Some countries have restrictions on the age, type, or condition of the vehicles allowed in. Engage with your shipping company as they often have experience and can provide valuable guidance on customs clearance. Ensure all required documentation, such as the bill of lading, sale invoice, and your identification, is accurate and readily available. Missteps in customs can lead to delays, additional shipping costs, or even confiscation of your vehicle. It's also wise to be aware of the environmental regulations, as some countries have strict policies regarding emissions and vehicle modifications. A smooth customs process ensures that your car arrives at its final destination without unnecessary hold-ups or expenses.

Before handing over your keys, ensure you have a spare tire and all necessary tools in case your car needs to be moved by the crew members. Double-check your documentation, clean and inspect your car thoroughly, and confirm all arrangements with your shipping company. Safe shipping begins with careful preparation.


proper preparation is the cornerstone of successful international car shipping. By meticulously following the outlined guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for your vehicle. Trust in the expertise of A1 Auto Transport to navigate this complex process with ease. Ready to ship your car internationally? Contact A1 Auto Transport today and set the wheels in motion!

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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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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
★★★★★ choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

A1 Auto Transport... From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

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Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

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

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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
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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