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How To Ship A Car To France

How To Ship A Car To France

How hard is it to ship a car to France? Frankly, it's complicated. It can be a burden for those who haven't previously arranged for vehicle shipment overseas. But here's the good news: there are ways to prepare well before you get your car shipped, limiting the risk of hiccups and minimizing stress for everybody involved. 

Here is a step-by-step guide for shipping your car to France:


Check Vehicle Eligibility

For your vehicle to be permitted to be shipped to France, its build and specifications must comply with French regulations and requirements. Given that you're coming from another country unless you're a French citizen, a number of things become a factor for eligibility that you should check on, including:

  • Whether you're importing a new car or a used car
  • Whether you have owned the vehicle for a minimum of six months
  • Whether you plan to keep the car in France permanently or temporarily

Those conditions don't just directly impact whether or not your car is eligible to be shipped but also the actual tax rate you'll be covering. Therefore, make sure you research and choose a reputable company for shipping your car. They will assist you well in finding these out.


Consider Shipping Duration

Consider Shipping Duration

When it comes to international car shipping, be as flexible as you can regarding the exact date you expect the vehicle to arrive at its destination. That said, there are ETA durations to take note of based on the port that your car will be transported to.

• Le Havre

For car shipments to France, Le Havre is the more common destination port, given its greater capacity for container shipping and the fact it's located in the north of France. Typically, it takes about 4-5 weeks on the water from a port on the west coast of the US and about 3-4 weeks from the east coast. 

• Marseille Port

Taking shipments to the southern France region, expect around 5-7 weeks port to port from the west coast of the US, particularly with full containers being shipped. From the east coast, the time on the sea is shortened to approximately 3-5 weeks.


Prepare Necessary Documents

Prepare Necessary Documents

Now that you have an idea of what regulations you should adhere to and how long you're likely going to have your car taken away for shipping, the next step is gathering all the essential documentation for this service to go through, which consists of:

  • Your car registration
  • Sales contract or invoice/bill (if there has been a sale)
  • Certificate of insurance – French law obliges any motor vehicle owner to take out a third-party liability insurance policy. You must produce proof of insurance resulting from the obligation of automobile insurance. Alternatively, you can get a special type of insurance called "border insurance." This insurance can cover a period of 30 days or 90 days.

Moreover, your car must also be declared in Customs, which means copies of all the documents above must be accessible to those in charge of inspecting the vehicle. And also, an external Community transit declaration, which is made using the New Computerized Transit System (NCTS), is needed where applicable.


Contact an Auto Transport Representative

Contact an Auto Transport Representative

The shipper's reputation is a big deal, especially if you're shipping a car overseas for the first time. You wouldn't want to have your car shipped by people who seem hesitant or unsure about sensible questions you may have. They should have the expertise on how the whole thing works from start to finish. So before booking with your chosen company, speak with a customer representative and gauge how well they respond to these questions:

  • "Are shipments to France guaranteed in a specific duration of weeks/days?"
  • "Where do you park or store a car overnight before taking it away for shipping?"
  • "What insurance is there to cover for damages or theft that happened during shipment?" (Reputable companies should have good insurance covering any form of damage, with the values of insurance claims ranging from 50,000 USD up to 1 million USD.) 


Select the Shipping Method

Select the Shipping Method

Note that there are a number of different ways that your vehicle will be handled during shipment, and you should think about it carefully before deciding.

  • Roll-On/Roll-Off – It's the most cost-effective of the three, as the only added fees apart from shipping costs are port and customs clearance charges. Your vehicle gets loaded into the holding area of a large vessel resembling a large parking garage. 
  • Shared Container – It comes with a little more security than the "roll-on/roll-off" method as your car is placed in a container, but several other vehicles join it inside. Bear in mind, however, that the extra charges involved for unloading and customs clearance will be shared between you and other clients.
  • Full Container Load – It's almost the same as a "shared container." Still, in this case, your car is the only vehicle occupying the entire container, and you cover all the additional charges. Nevertheless, this is the most secure option, and it's a good choice if you wish to transport other personal items with the car. But you're advised to pack these with extra care inside the car, as the shipper isn't likely going to be liable for any damages to those.


Get an Estimate

As far as the shipping cost goes, you should consider all the stages your car has to undergo just to make it to the other side. Charges include freight and insurance, delivery, storage once your vehicle arrives, cleaning the undercarriage, import processing, and logistics service provider fees. The exact amount you'll have to fork out will depend on (1) the type and model of your vehicle, (2) the departure port used for your vehicle, as well as its proximity to warehouse locations, (3) your chosen method of shipment, and (4) the destination port. Use the site of your shipper to get a quote and calculate the total cost of your shipment, and a customer rep should be able to clarify why it might be that high. 

Customs duties and taxes are also factors. Most vehicles imported to France from another country are subject to the local customs duties plus a value-added tax (VAT) of nearly 20%, so do bear this in mind. However, not everyone needs to pay this in each case. Only a deposit is required up front for those who plan to bring their car in for a holiday trip. Also, you'll get back this deposit upon the export of the car from France. If you're a US citizen and ship a car to France from the US to relocate for work, then you can import the vehicle as part of your "personal effects," provided you've owned it for six months or longer.


Confirm Shipping Arrangements

Regarding the shipment purchase, this can be done over the phone or through an online booking page of the company's site. Have all numbers, and important details easily accessible as some may be required (e.g., driver's license and car registration). Once the purchase has been confirmed, your shipper will contact you with an available date and time slot for shipping the vehicle. You can expect to be given about a full week's notice before the day they will pick up your car.


Prepare Vehicle for Shipping

Prepare Vehicle for Shipping

This step is all about minimizing risks. Keep your car in perfect 'shipping' condition so that it can be transported without a hitch all throughout the process. It'll also make it easier to verify signs of damage caused by shipping, which will help you in making a claim.

  • Wash your car by hand thoroughly and be mindful to use clean rags.
  • Check that no jewelry and other valuable items are left in the car.
  • Leave the gas tank roughly 1/8th to 1/4th full, as this saves weight.
  • Shut off the car alarm completely or have it disabled temporarily in a way you can reactivate it easily when it arrives at the other side.

Also, be sure to store photocopies of your car registration and license in the glove compartment. What's important is that these papers are easily accessible and can verify that the vehicle is, in fact, yours.


Have Vehicle Ready for Pickup

Depending on what's been arranged with your shipper, have your car ready about five minutes before the scheduled pickup time. If you must drive to a port, be sure to leave early enough to have some leeway for bad traffic. When the driver meets with you, he will have you double-check the important documents like your shipping invoice, forms listing down payments received plus outstanding balance, and a certificate of origin to indicate where your car is being shipped from. After that is settled, leave your car keys with the driver. And spend a few seconds to snap a few photos of your car right before it's taken away so that later on, you can compare how everything looks before and after shipment. 


Collect Vehicle and Inspect

Collection day has arrived (the company should've given you notice a few days prior and informed you of any possible delays). When you meet with the staff, sign the required forms and papers confirming all payments are finalized and that you have officially collected the vehicle. Also, take a moment to inspect your car for any distinct scratches or damages. Take pictures of whatever was not there before the day you turned it over, and compare both sets of photos to confirm any differences.

 Contact your shipper's insurance provider if there is noticeable damage that you want to file a claim for. Note that they may ask for a written record of all damages to your car predating the shipment, as well as pictures showing its current condition. Email these as necessary to speed up the whole process for your claim.

Congratulations – your car has made it across the sea, and it's ready for new adventures in France.

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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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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my 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.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to 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!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
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.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

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.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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

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