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Whether it is a good old Lamborghini or a collector's Bentley, classic cars have their own place in the hearts of automobile enthusiasts. Jaguar, Mustang, Corvette, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Bentley are some of the most iconic names in this line, but they are miles away from covering the whole picture.
If it's old and unique enough, it's a classic!
They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, from muscle cars to sedans to sports racers, but they are rare. Thus even a single scratch can ruin them for you. This is exactly what a car enthusiast worries about when deciding on shipping their classic vehicle overseas.
In this guide, we'll show you how you can ship your classic car overseas without worries.
Let's get started!
Before you begin your search for a logistics services company to handle your car during overseas shipping (unless you plan on transporting it by air – but it applies in either case), you'll have to handle a couple of things yourself:
First, start by cleaning the exterior and interior of the vehicle thoroughly. This also includes the undercarriage, which may have some deposits of mud or soil (this will most likely make the car inadmissible in the destination country due to biosafety reasons). For the undercarriage, steam cleaning may be needed.
You'll also have to dispose of any biosafety concern from inside the vehicle, i.e., used tissue papers, face masks, and so on. Make sure that none of your personal possessions, especially items of value (okay, this may have sounded a bit odd in the context of a classic car, but still), are inside the vehicle.
For transport, you'll need to ensure that your car has just the right amount of gas in it, but no more than that. A general rule of the thumb is to fill up the car's gas tank by ¼ or a quarter of its full capacity.
Avoid leaving the tank bone-dry since that will create problems for you.
But the same is also true for fully filling the tank, which will simply raise the total weight of your shipment and thus the shipment cost.
Next, you must get an expert on board, unless you're an expert yourself, and have them thoroughly inspect your vehicle. Tire air pressure, belts, gaskets, vehicle health, emission standards (for compliance with the country being imported), and other details must be scrutinized.
Then you can do a little inspection of your own too, but this will be more superficial, i.e., your job is to find any dents, scratches, and other marks on your vehicle, even the tiniest ones. This way, you'll be able to record the state of your car (note it down) and be able to compare it when you receive it at your new place in your shipment.
You should also photograph every angle of your ride for more tangible evidence in case your car is damaged somehow during the shipment.
If your ride has some ornate objects that come off, it is best that you do take them off before you ship your vehicle. You should have your vehicle in its base form, stripped of all removable ornamentation before you ship it to avoid any damage to the same.
The documentation requirements vary from country to country. You'll have to log into the customs website of the state you plan on shipping your car to get a list of the required documents. But some quintessential paperwork includes:
The next step is to select the most suitable car shipment option for your vintage car; there are three main options in this regard, and your budget, above all other things, will dictate your choice. The more you pay, the faster and safer your option will be:
Roll-on, Roll-off Shipment: This is the simplest of all the methods listed; it involves driving the vehicle onboard the shipment vessel, transporting it under the open sky, and then driving it off-board upon arrival. For this reason, it is also dubbed as "open-air shipment." There are some requirements here, firstly, your vehicle must be operational, and none of your personal belongings should be inside the vehicle when you ship it. While this is the cheapest shipment solution, it does not guarantee any additional safety.
Container Shipping: This option, in contrast, involves a sealed container that shields the car from any damage, and you can also keep your possessions inside the vehicle in this case. Once the shipment arrives at the destination port, the container is off-loaded and then stored in a wharf or warehouse until it is opened; then, your car is delivered as per your instructions.
Air Freight: This is only for those who're in a hurry to get their vehicle to wherever they're headed. The same principle applies here like that to overseas transport, just replace a sea-voyage with air travel and jack up the prices accordingly.
You have the option of having your car delivered from door to door, i.e., the shipping company will pick up your vehicle from your current location and ship it overseas to your new place. This will save you lots of hassle but will cost more.
If you're on a tight budget, you could simply drive your vehicle to the departure port, whichever is nearer to your original location, and receive your shipment at the destination port. It's either some extra payment or extra effort – the choice is yours!
Just a couple of more stages and you'll be free to drive your classic car in the new country:
After import processing of your shipment, your car will make its first stop at the customs department of the country being imported to. The policies differ, but these departments' basic goals are the same throughout – they need to verify that the vehicle you've imported is valued accurately so that it can be taxed accordingly.
Here's what you can ensure to smoothen the process:
If you don't qualify for a tax exemption, you'll have to pay a percentage in VAT or value-added tax and a sum for customs duties.
Your car will then be inspected for compliance with import regulations in their country.
To ace this stage, make sure that:
In most cases, however, the import regulations for classics are not very strict.
Following this, your car will be released, and you'll be able to apply for registration with the local authorities. This is compulsory unless you have imported the vehicle for a short term. After the payment of the VAT and customs duties, registration should not take long.
And then, you can drive your car on the streets without fear!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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