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How Many Cars Are Shipped Internationally Every Year?

What's in this article?
  1. How Many Cars Are Shipped Internationally Every Year?
  2. How To Ship A Car Internationally?
  3. Roll-On/Roll-Off Shipping (Roro)
  4. Shipping Containers
  5. Air Freight
  6. Rail Freight
  7. Requirements For Shipping A Car Overseas
  8. How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car Internationally?
  9. How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car Internationally?
  10. Final Thoughts
How Many Cars Are Shipped Internationally Every Year?

Cars are a global commodity and have been for years. Transporting vehicles from one country to another depends on networks of transportation methods that play a considerable part in international shipping of vehicle deliveries.

The entire auto industry would be lost without this bustling business.

With the enormous number of vehicles we see daily, have you ever wondered how many are moved worldwide each year? How would you describe the international auto-shipping market as a whole if you were asked?

Tracking this statistic is very difficult, even more so when you get into the details of transport type, country of origin, and destination.

Understanding the multiple moving parts can be daunting and may require working with the transportation office of your native and foreign countries. But do not worry.

In this article, we will look at how many cars are shipped internationally annually — and explore how conventional vehicles are transported across oceans or via truck, rail, or air cargo services.

How Many Cars Are Shipped Internationally Every Year?

It's hard to put a number on the annual global shipment of automobiles. International vehicle freight will surge as car numbers double by 2040.

Between 2015 and 2018, around 14 million used light-duty vehicles were exported worldwide.

Almost half of these went to sub-Saharan Africa and other low- and middle-income nations, and as newer cars depreciate, this number will climb.

The transportation of cars overseas is often a complex process that requires proper planning and navigating local laws.

Various types of cargo shipping and many services are available to accommodate different needs.

How to Ship a Car Internationally?

Shipping a car internationally sounds daunting, but with the proper knowledge and service provider, you can make the entire process easy. Here are the four most popular forms to ensure your vehicle is shipped safely and efficiently:

Roll-on/roll-off shipping (RORO)

Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) shipping is the most popular and cost-effective method of shipping a car internationally.

With this method, vehicles are driven onto and off of the ship via large ramps. Cars are securely strapped down on the vessel's deck during transport, and drivers should be prepared to remove all personal items from their vehicles before shipping.

RORO ships typically transport hundreds of vehicles at a time, and loading and unloading are relatively fast.


Shipping containers

Another popular form is container shipping. This is used by those who don't want to deal with the stress or time constraints of driving cars on or off a vessel - or maybe who fear doing so!

With this method, cars are loaded into a large container and transported via cargo ship. You can choose between bigger 40-foot containers or smaller 20-foot ones. The preference will entirely depend on your needs and shipping cost.

The car is secured inside the container with straps and blocks to prevent it from moving during transport.

Air freight

Air freight is a fast way to ship a car internationally from one country to another. This method requires the vehicle to be transported via air cargo services, usually on commercial passenger planes or larger cargo planes.

Shipping an automobile internationally via air freight is the quickest and most expensive method.

Many airlines will want to know the exact weight and size of your vehicle, and upon finding out, those figures may ask you to partially disassemble the car to make it easier to load onto the plane.

This may affect electric vehicles, vehicles with significant spoilers and other modifications, or those carrying multiple spare tires.

Rail freight

Rail freight is a cost-effective way to ship a car internationally, and it can be an incredibly convenient option if the route involves crossing one or more land borders.

This method loads vehicles onto railway cars and is transported via train. Rail freight is slower than air freight and RORO shipping but faster than container shipping.

The cost of rail freight also tends to be lower than other methods.

Requirements for Shipping a Car Overseas

If only shipping a car overseas was as simple as sending a postcard. As with many logistics and transportation, specific requirements must be checked before a vehicle can be shipped safely and legally.

Vehicle owners must provide all relevant documentation related to government policies to comply with the transportation department of the intended foreign countries.

Here's a list of some of the most important requirements you'll need for shipping a car overseas:

  • Vehicle Documentation: Destination countries will require vehicle registration documents, the title of ownership, and insurance paperwork.
  • Export Clearance: An export clearance document may be needed depending on the country of origin and destination. You can get one from your local customs office. This document is usually required to ensure the vehicle is not being shipped illegally.
  • Customs Requirements: Different countries have different customs requirements for importing a vehicle. To avoid any last-minute drama, it's essential to research the customs requirements for the country you are shipping to beforehand.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Internationally?

The price of shipping a car across international borders can vary widely depending on the service you select and the final destination's tariffs.

Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) shipping is typically the most cost-effective option, as it involves driving the car onto and off of a vessel without the need for different transportation methods or storage.

Container shipping is usually more expensive than RORO, as it requires loading and securing the vehicle inside a container for transport.

Air freight is usually the most costly option, as it involves transporting the vehicle via commercial passenger planes or larger cargo planes.

Shipping a car internationally can earn anything from $650 to $2000. Distance, vehicle, shipment method, and customs taxes are just a few variables that can impact the final price.

The cost can also be higher or lower than this range, depending on fuel surcharges, port fees, and other charges.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car Internationally?

Shipping a car internationally is not a quick process.

Air freight is the fastest way to ship a vehicle, typically taking 2-5 days from start to finish; however, adverse weather, complications at customs, or a delay in logistical planning could affect the timespan.

Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) shipping usually takes around 2-4 weeks, while container shipping can take up to 8 weeks, but they too can be affected by all of the above and on the chosen route.


Final Thoughts

Due to the wide variety of origins and transport modes, it is difficult to determine the annual volume of international auto transport accurately.

As global trade becomes more popular for customers and businesses, the number of cars being transported around the globe will steadily rise. So start familiarizing yourself with international shipping procedures and rules.

You never know when you'll need to transport your precious cargo.

By understanding exactly how cars are being shipped internationally every year and the colossal amount of them, we can better understand the scope and potential of this fantastic industry.

Whether it be shipping classic cars, heavy equipment, or motorbikes, the process is easy and streamlined with the help of A-1 Auto Transport. Whether by phone, laptop, or desktop, our website is ready for you to check out.

We're on hand to answer any questions or queries and will provide you with a free quote on the same day!

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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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NO. 17858N
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Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
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NO. 021869F
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