Shipping your car overseas can range from smooth to complicated, and most of the time, the relationship between the two countries involved determines the difficulty of the process. If you are shipping your car to Guam, you can consider yourself lucky. Because Guam is one of the unincorporated territories of the United States, car importation is considered more accessible here than in other countries.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should not prepare for the importation and clearance process. Guam’s officials have no reason to make things insanely tricky for US citizens, but it doesn’t mean they will turn a blind eye if you lack documentation or your car doesn’t pass standards. As an importer, you still have to learn more about Guam’s importation process and what you need to prepare for car shipping to Guam.
Check if Your Car is Eligible for Import
As stated earlier, just because Guam is a territory of the US doesn’t mean they’re lax about importation rules. The first step of the process is to find out if your car is eligible for importation. There’s no point going through shipping your vehicle to Guam only to find out that your vehicle is not allowed in the country.
Unlike other countries, Guam’s importation process is governed by several agencies. Your car needs to pass requirements set by the EPA, DOT, and the FMVSS. If your vehicle is older than 25 years old, you need additional permission from the EPA to prove that your vehicle is not an environmental and safety hazard.
Search for a Reputable Shipping Company
Because Guam is a US territory, most shipping companies have experience when it comes to shipping cars to the country and the many nuances of the clearance process. Of course, you should do your part and research Guam’s policies; however, shipping companies often have insider information that you won’t read about online.
You will be speaking to several shipping companies anyway since you need to gather several quotes before making up your mind. These companies give estimates for free, and usually, they ask questions about your car and your preferences so they can suggest the best service for you.
Of course, communication goes both ways, and you should take this opportunity to ask some questions. To determine if they are the right fit for you, ask the following questions during your initial call:
- Are you licensed and registered?
- How long have you been in the shipping industry?
- Do you have prior experience when it comes to shipping cars to Guam?
- What importation policies should I be worried about?
- How much do I need to pay for duties and taxes?
- What problems will I most likely run into? Do you offer insurance for my car?
Choose a Method of Shipping
When it comes to shipping your car from the US to Guam, you have several options. If you are on a tight budget, the cheaper option would be RoRo, or Roll-on/Roll-off shipping. If you want to save money, you can even start the process by driving the car yourself to the nearest port. However, if you are busy or if the port is far away, you can choose to have your vehicle shipped to the port via open-air transport.
Your car will be loaded onto an open trailer that’s built specifically to transport cars. A typical trailer can house up to 10 vehicles simultaneously - 5 on the lower tier and another five on the upper tier. Once the trailer arrives at the port, the cars will be unloaded one by one manually. Then, your vehicle will be rolled onto the ship’s cargo hold and secured into place.
The most significant advantage of this method is that it’s more affordable. Shipping cars abroad is not cheap, so you may want to save money at every opportunity. If you’re worried about damage and dirt, professional movers are cautious when it comes to loading the car onto the hold. Your vehicle can get dirty during the trip because the trailer is open. Vehicles are covered with tarps or dust cover, but they don’t offer full protection against rain, snow, dirt, mud, and fumes.
If you want more protection for your vehicle, you can choose an enclosed trailer. Your vehicle will be stored inside a shipping container, which means it’s also safe from the elements. Also, the car isn’t removed from the container upon reaching the port. The entire container is loaded onto the cargo hold, which means the vehicle remains undisturbed during the whole process.
Calculate Your Shipping Costs
The next step is to take the quotes that you’ve gotten from various shipping companies so you can get an idea of how much you’ll be spending on your car shipping to Guam. Here’s a rough breakdown of all the fees you will incur during the process:
- Transport costs from your point of origin to the nearest port
- Transport costs from the US to Guam
- Insurance protection
- Import tax of 4% (only applicable if your car is less than three months old)
- Other taxes and import duties (will depend on your car’s declared value and shipping details)
Book Your Shipping Date
Now it’s time to finally book your shipping date. Once you’ve chosen which shipping company to hire, it’s time to decide on where and when they will pick your car up. If you have a specific date in mind, remember that shipping companies are busy servicing several countries across the globe. If you decide to book your car shipping a week before your desired date, don’t be surprised to find that there are no available slots on that day.
To give the shipping company ample time to prepare and ensure that their vehicles and containers are available, book your shipment 6-8 weeks in advance. This is especially true for shipping’s peak season, which takes place around March to September.
Prepare Your Car For Shipping
Make sure you prepare your car for the shipping process way before the actual shipping date. This ensures that the shipping process goes smoothly and you don’t run into problems like missing accessories or damaged items in your car.
- Fill the car’s tank to only a quarter full.
- Remove any valuables such as car radios, antennas, and anything else that can go missing or get damaged during the process.
- Take your car in for maintenance and servicing. Your car needs to pass environmental and safety standards, so you have to make sure your car is roadworthy.
- Take photos and videos of your car’s current condition. This will serve as proof in case your car gets damaged during the trip.
Prepare All The Necessary Documents
Here are the documents that you’ll be needing during your exit from the US and your clearance process in Guam:
- Car’s title and registration - They need proof of your car’s country of origin and its manufacturing date.
- Proof of insurance
- Driver’s license - A copy of your driver’s license will do. They need this to confirm your identity and as proof that you are licensed to drive a car.
- EPA Form 3520-21 - This proves that your car has passed environmental standards
- DOT Form HS-7 - This proves that your car has passed motor safety standards
- Customs 7501 Forms
- Official bill of lading
- Letter of permission from EPA - This is needed if your car is over 25 years old.
- Car’s statement of value or original purchase receipt - This is needed to determine your car’s value.
Sign Paperwork on the Actual Date of Shipping
Your presence is required on the actual date of shipping because you need to sign the paperwork, and there are certain documents required for the clearance process that will come from your shipping company. As a precaution, we recommend taking pictures and videos of the loading process.
Pick Your Car Up From The Port
Depending on the port of origin, it can take up to 30 days for your car to arrive in Guam. As such, there’s plenty of time for your to prepare for its arrival. If you’re migrating to Guam permanently, you can even get started on the process of procuring your driver’s license in Guam. Even if Guam is a US territory, only military personnel are exempted from needing a Guam driver’s license. Everyone else needs to go through the process of applying to one.
Unlike other countries, you don’t get a grace period of several months before you’re obligated to register your vehicle. Since Guam is a US territory, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t register your vehicle immediately upon picking it up. The visitor’s center also doubles as a vehicle registration outlet. You must register your car within 72 hours of its arrival in the country. If this is unexpected, you don’t have to worry. Most shipping companies offer assistance in vehicle registration as part of their services.