The hardest part about migrating or taking an extended vacation in Europe is taking your belongings and personal items along. In many cases, people who move to Europe choose to sell everything they have, intending to purchase new ones in Europe to save on shipping and moving fees.
However, this does not apply to all assets. Some people can’t bear to sell off their US manufactured cars so that they don’t have to go through the process of shipping their vehicle abroad. Maybe the car is expensive, rare, or has sentimental value. No matter your reasons, shipping your car to Europe is a practical option, especially if the cost of shipping, clearance, and registering your car abroad still costs less than just getting a completely new vehicle.
If this is your first time shipping a car to Europe, you may feel a bit intimidated. However, this guide will give you a rundown of all you need to know to ensure that your car arrives safe and sound at your new home.
Plan The Shipment Date
In most cases, planning the car’s shipment date is not the first step on the list. However, since we’re shipping a car to Europe, booking your shipment date earlier doesn’t hurt to get the best date possible. If the reason why you’re shipping a vehicle to Europe is that you’re a buyer or seller, you can skip this step. This step is for people who are either taking a vacation or immigrating to Europe.
Why do you need to plan your car’s shipment date carefully? If you’re traveling to Europe via ship or plane and you’re expected to arrive around the 2nd of September, you want your car to arrive on the same day if you can. You do this so that it coincides with your travel dates.
Pulling this off is difficult, especially if you don’t give the shipping companies advance notice. What we recommend is confirming your own travel dates. Once you know when you’re arriving, you can start planning your car’s shipment dates. You don’t have to be there on the same day as your car arrives to pick it up; however, we recommend that you plan it for a smoother process, so the days between you and your car’s arrival aren’t too far apart.
Of course, your car’s shipping date needs to come first before your travel date because you will be required during the first part of the process. You have paperwork to sign and documents to process, so it’s better that you leave once your car has been loaded into the ship or the plane.
Pick The Shipment Method
When it comes to shipping your car to Europe, you will employ more than one mode of transportation. The shipping company you choose in the end will provide you with several options, and you can choose which one fits your budget and needs. Here are two common shipping methods used in car shipping to Europe.
An open-air trailer pulls up next to your place of business or home. Open-air trailers come in all shapes and sizes - some can be big enough to accommodate up to 10 cars, and there are smaller ones that look more like pickup trucks and can accommodate only one car at a time. The crew loads your vehicle onto the trailer and straps it in securely. The truck then drives to the nearest port or airport, depending on whether you can transport your car by air or sea. The car is unloaded from the trailer and is usually driven into place by a moving expert. The car is then strapped down tightly in its spot inside the hold.
You can hire a moving company to take your car to the nearest port or runway via a shipping container. The shipping container is connected to the truck, and the car is loaded inside the shipping container to secure it. The shipping container is usually big enough to accommodate a single car. Once the truck has reached the port or terminal, the truck is uncoupled with the shipping container. A crane takes the shipping container and loads it onto the ship with the help of a computer program.
The second method is usually more expensive because you have to consider the costs of the shipping container. However, because the shipping container protects the car, it shields the car from the elements and tampering.
Calculate Shipping Costs
The next step is to calculate shipping costs. The cost of shipping your car to Europe will change, depending on these factors:
- The method of shipping used
- The total mileage
- The type of insurance coverage
- The value of the vehicle
Additionally, because you are shipping your car abroad, you also have to pay fees for clearance, customs, and more If your car is new, you have to pay an added value tax of 17.5% of the car’s total value. You don’t have to pay this fee if your car is at least six months old before transporting it. By then, it is considered as part of household goods and is considered duty and VAT free.
Shipping your car to Europe via ocean freight can cost around $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the above factors. If you want to transport your vehicle via plane, the average cost is about $10,000.
Hire The Right Overseas Car Shipping Company
You need to hire an overseas car shipping company that you can completely trust, especially since you can’t be there watching over your car throughout the process. When searching for the perfect shipping company for your European shipping needs, here are factors that should affect your decision:
- The amount of experience they have with shipping cars to Europe
- Their knowledge about shipping and clearance procedures in Europe
- Their legitimacy and certifications
- Their ability to explain the process to you clearly, and their willingness to guide you throughout the process
Shipping a car to Europe is no joke, and if this is your first time, you need a company that will help you understand all the fees and requirements involved in the process. Some companies will gladly do the processing and clearing on your behalf to make it easier for you.
Prepare The Necessary Documents For Clearance
The last thing you want is to cause delays at the airport or terminal simply because you do not have the proper documents. If your car is not approved because you did not prepare your documents, the plane or ship may even leave without your car. To prevent this from happening, make sure to have all the documents you need for clearance and processing.
If the entire process is confusing for you, you can ask your shipping company to assist you. They will take care of things as long as you supply them with the following documents:
- Proof of ownership. You can present the car’s purchase invoice, the title, or certification of ownership.
- Proof of payment for taxes, duties, and others. Each time you pay for something, remember to keep the receipt as this will be asked of you later.
- Some countries will require you to test your car for roadworthiness. Once you pass the test, you will receive a certificate, which you can use during clearance.
Aside from preparing your car for clearance, you should also conduct basic maintenance and general cleaning on the vehicle to ensure it fits for travel. Because you need to go through a lot of processes, direct door-to-door delivery is impossible. You will most likely drive the car yourself once you reach Europe.
You should also clear the car of any valuables and personal belongings as they are not covered by insurance. Because you will most likely be driving the vehicle once it reaches the destination, leave gas in the tank, so you don’t have to refuel it inside the terminal. Because gas is a dangerous substance, you have to submit a Declaration of Dangerous Goods.
Pick Up Your Car From The Terminal
If you arrive ahead of your vehicle, you can wait for your car to arrive at the terminal. Once your car is ready for pickup, you may present the documents you have to secure an auto tourist visa for your car. This gives you the right to drive your vehicle in Europe for six months unregistered without any fees.
If your car arrives before you do, you can ask an agent or representative to process clearance for you. You can also wait until you arrive - your vehicle will be stored inside a secure facility while waiting to claim it.
Register Your Car In Europe
Do you have to register your car in Europe? If you are on vacation and will be in Europe for less than six months, there’s no need to. However, if you’re permanently moving to Europe, you need to register your car.
Keep in mind that your car will undergo several safety and environmental tests before you can register your vehicle. Also, your old US car insurance will be null and void because you’re registering your car in Europe. You have to purchase new insurance for your vehicle from any legitimate European company. Don’t forget that you will also need a European driver’s license.