How Long Does International Car Shipping Take?

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How Long Does International Car Shipping Take?

International Car Shipping: How Long Does It Take?

Depending on a variety of factors, your automobile may arrive within a day or a month. The following article will help you estimate the delivery date, though you should keep in mind unforeseen circumstances may hasten or slow down the transport. One of the factors influencing the answer to this question is the method you use to ship your automobile.

How Long Does International Car Shipping Take by Plane?

The biggest advantage of international car shipping using a plane is its speed. Air freight is considered by many as the fastest way to transport a vehicle. So, in case of an emergency, plane shipping may be the best option.

Other advantages:

If you’re transporting a sentimentally or a financially valuable vehicle, which needs the most care possible, then shipping it with a cargo plane is the safest method. Auto transportation by sea or road sometimes leads to scratches or dents due to the weather, bumps in the road, hitting other vehicles, etc. Your automobile will be safe from all these problems if you use air freight.

How Long Does International Car Shipping Take?

When shipping automobiles using air freight, it will usually be sent directly to its destination. Because there are no stops midway, the automobile won’t be at the mercy of a shipping crew member, or left alone when the truck driver takes a rest.

Disadvantages of air freight:

Unless it’s an expensive, classic, or exotic automobile, the cost of transporting it using air freight may very well be higher than what you paid to buy it. With the money you’d otherwise pay to have a car transported by air, you can often buy a new one.


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The final cost is dependent on the distance, make and weight of the vehicle. International auto transportation can cost as much as $100,000 while state to state shipping is significantly cheaper. To get an exact cost, ask the auto shipping company for a quote.

Precautions when Using Air Freight

To use air freight for auto transport, you must follow very strict guidelines. First of all, your automobile must be operable. Most airlines restrict extra parts or personal belongings from being transported along with the automobile. Transporting these separately may cost you more time.

Prepare your title documents and registration beforehand, so you may provide them to the crew. If your automobile is under a lease or financed, you will also have to give a lessor’s or creditor’s notarized statement. To retrieve your automobile from its destination point, you’ll have to provide an ID.

Note of caution: Though air freight is the fastest way to transport your automobile, you may have to wait a few days for your automobile to clear customs, before you can retrieve it.

How Long Does International Car Shipping Take by Sea?

Shipping by sea, though much cheaper than air freight, is unfortunately much slower as well. Though it’s impossible to offer transport times for every route possible, here are a few approximations. Please note, the actual transportation time may vary depending on your particular circumstances.

From the USA to New Zealand or Australia, shipping an automobile takes around 50 days, while shipping one from Europe to Australia or New Zealand takes around 80 days. From New Zeeland to Australia, a vehicle may arrive in 30 days, while the trip from Australia to New Zealand takes around 10 days. There is no perfect way to measure each route’s time, so for the most accurate assessments, contact the auto transport company directly.

You have 2 options to choose from when opting for international sea freight auto shipping:

  1. RoRo Shipping (Roll on Roll off): This is the cheaper method where you drive the automobile onto the ship, where it is fixed in place, then drive it off at the destination. The disadvantage to this method is you cannot transport your personal items along with your vehicle. If need other items to be shipped besides your vehicle, it may take more time to get everything to its new destination.
  2. Container Shipping: Be it with a single vehicle container or with a container carrying multiple vehicles as well as yours, this method is safer for your car and allows you to carry your personal things along with it. Because the automobile is in a container for the duration of the sea freight, it is kept safe from climate change, bad weather or prying eyes. However, using a multiple car container may lead to complications when picking up the vehicle at the destination port, which may cost you more time.

How Long does International Car Shipping Take by Land?

The time it takes for your automobile to arrive at its destination point by land depends greatly on the distance, roads, budget, weather and several other factors. Because of all these factors, it is hard to accurately predict the time your automobile will arrive at your new home.

Thunderstorms, hail and snow will sometimes happen and delay the driver. Because of this, transporting an automobile during winter can take longer than in the summer.

The distance your automobile must cover is also an important factor. Transporting it to a nearby state can take as little as 2 days, while shipping it to another country or across the nation may take more than a month. For an international vehicle transport, scheduling the legal work for shipping your automobile is another source of delays.

More expensive transportation options will get your car delivered directly to its destination, while cheaper choices may lead to the hauler making multiple stops during the trip to drop off or pick up new vehicles. Paying extra, will speed up the shipping process, however the best way to get your automobile delivered on time is to plan ahead and to make preparation a couple months before the move.

Joe Webster

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.

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