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How To Ship A Boat Overseas

How To Ship A Boat Overseas

The excitement of cutting through the ocean waves with an undulating cruise on your private boat is the sort of experience that few things can beat. But just because you're relocating to somewhere overseas or are going on vacation does not mean that you need to miss out on this experience.

This is, in fact, all the more reason for you to take your boat along (not literally "along") and enjoy the tides of the exotic region.

But shipping a boat is somewhat different than shipping cars or motorcycles.

For one, vessels are usually bigger, and the preparation steps are also trickier.

But you don't have to worry about a thing.

We'll guide you through the whole process of shipping your boat (we know it sounds rather ironic) without it turning into a lecture.


Prepare For Shipping

Prepare For Shipping

Let's get cracking! Our first goal is to make sure that your boat is in perfect order for being shipped overseas. This is going to be more of a roller coaster ride, so we've divided the tasks into different sections for your ease.

Here we go:

Start With Measurements

This is what affects the actual cost of shipping your boat, so be extra careful here. Estimates won't do, you need to measure the exact dimensions of your boat: the length, width, and height. These dimensions need to be for both the interior and the exterior:

  • For the latter, you'll also have to include any protruding elements like the motor, bow, swim platforms, and so on that cover space.
  • To measure the height, start measuring from the top-most part of the boast that can't be disassembled for shipping and work your way down.
  • To measure the width, simply use the widest section of the boat.

These exact boat measurements are important because, this way, your boat will be classified into a distinct category of vessels, and thus you'll be charged accordingly for the shipment. Plus, there are legal regulations to consider, i.e., there is a maximum height, maximum with, and so on. If your boat exceeds those parameters, you'll need written permission from the concerned department to ship it overseas.

Prepare Your Boat

Next, you need to make your boat compact and ready for transport:

  • Start by removing all the detachable parts of the boat, such as the anchor, propellers, antennas, lights, and so on
  • Take out any valuables, i.e., expensive décor
  • Secure the cabinets
  • Empty the fuel tank (or keep a little, based on your shipment preference and instructions of the shipping company)
  • Take the batteries off the hook
  • Tape shut the cabin windows
  • Don't let any cargo stay behind
  • Check the drain plugs (remove any standing water)
  • Remove any water left behind by the air conditioning system
  • Then, start thoroughly cleaning the exterior of the boat

Protect The Boat

Next, you'll have to ensure that your boat stays safe during its journey to wherever you're headed. Just a heads up, it would be better if you could photograph every angle of it and note down if there are any minor damages on its surface. This way, if the boat is mishandled during the shipping process and that leaves some marks, you'll know.

After that, you can wrap a plastic cover or canvas around your boat to safeguard it from those horrid bumps during the journey. You'll need to go the extra mile for wooden boats and apply a fine coating of linseed oil (better get an expert to do this for you) to prevent the wood from becoming completely dehydrated.

You can also ensure further protection by getting a custom-made cradle for your boat to ease transport and keep it safe during the process (for oversized ones, especially.)

Complete Your Document Set Beforehand

The exact list of documents for importing your boat into another country will vary based on the regulations and requirements of the said country. You'll have to visit the website of the customs department of the said country and get a complete list from there.

Some essential entries include:

  • Lading bill
  • Documents from the shipping process
  • Title of the boat
  • Bill of sale detailing the specs and price of the car

The rest you can complete based on the requirements of the said country.


Check On Your Insurance Coverage

Check On Your Insurance Coverage

When you ship your boat overseas, you can expect it to take some damage even if you were extra careful about it. There is still an odd chance of something going wrong, and you should be prepared for that in advance. What you need here is an insurance policy for your boat that covers you in case your vessel gets damaged during transport.

If you do have coverage for your boat, be sure to discuss the details with your insurance agent disclosing the route and every other detail that could interest them. Ask if the insurance policy will cover the vessel in case of any damage. Better yet, you should get your shipping company (the one you chose) to discuss the details with your insurance provider.

However, in some cases, this may not be an issue at all since many high-end shipping companies have maritime insurance policies of their own that cover your vessel in case of any damage during the transportation.


Consider The Shipping Options

Consider The Shipping Options

Next comes your preference for shipping your boat, i.e., the option you choose; there are four in total:

  • Roll-on, Roll-off Shipment: This is pretty much standard. Your boat on its trailer will be transported onboard, fastened securely with the transport ship, and then transported overseas. Upon arrival at the destination port, the boat will simply be taken off-board, and that's pretty much it. This method offers simplicity and affordability, although it is not the best out there in terms of safety assurance for your vehicle. If you're on a limited budget, though, then roll-on, roll-off shipping will be a perfectly viable option.
  • Enclosed Container Shipping: This option is only available in cases where the boat falls under the dimensions of 40' (L) x 7'10" (H) x 7'8" (W). In such cases, the option will suit you perfectly as the sealed container offers extra protection to the boat but will, of course, cost a bit more.
  • Flat Rack Shipment: If your boat exceeds the size limits noted earlier, it will have to be shipped in a custom cradle that is fastened to a flat rack and then secured with the transport vessel. For this, you'll have to take out any bulky items to keep the cost at a minimum.
  • Submersion: This is only recommended for small distance transportation, not for overseas voyages. In this case, the boat is loaded from the water and unloaded directly as well.


Choose The Delivery Option

Choose The Delivery Option

You can either choose for port-to-port delivery or door-to-door (quite literally); the former is the cheaper of the two options but puts you in charge of delivering the boat to the transportation company and picking it up upon arrival at the destination port. In the latter case, you get more control over the process and save yourself a ton of trouble, for a bigger sum, of course.

The choice is yours, ultimately!


Customs Clearance & Registration

Customs Clearance & Registration

If you prepared your documents in advance and were careful about their details (no errors or omissions), you should be good at this stage. Unless you claim a tax exemption, you'll have to pay a percentage of your boat's worth in value-added tax and an additional sum for customs duties for your import.

Once that's done, the registration process should not take long.

After that, you'll be free to ride the waves at your will!

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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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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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