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How To Ship Heavy Equipment Overseas

How To Ship Heavy Equipment Overseas

When it comes to shipping heavy equipment overseas, planning is the most crucial element in getting your stuff from point A to point B. International shipping introduces several factors that anyone shipping equipment within the country's borders doesn't have to worry about. It was a lot more of a headache in the past because you had to manually get forms and fill them out before shipping equipment to operate overseas. Sometimes, you'd need special licenses and bills of lading for your equipment that would complicate matters. Today's rapid information age has made it easier and quicker than ever before to ship equipment overseas. Even so, knowing the process will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.


Know Your Equipment

Know Your Equipment

The size, make, and model of your equipment are all vital information that you should have on hand when visiting a shipping company to do an estimate. Not only does it help the shipping company give you a solid estimate on the cost, but it also allows them to advise you on safety measures. Heavy equipment can be expensive and taking proper care and precautions with it while shipping will ensure that it is delayed. The size of your equipment is a crucial consideration since some ports (especially minor ones) may not have the capability to handle heavier axle loads. In such a case, the shipping company may opt to unload the equipment at another port then use overland methods (trains, flatbeds, etc.) to ship it to its final destination. The cost would, of course, be impacted as a result, but at the very least, you'll be sure that your equipment can get to where it needs to be. You will also need the weight and size to apply for clearance beforehand. Some shipping companies have a weight limit on what they can handle, so heavier equipment may require you to shop around for a bit.


Documentation and Forms

International shipping carries with it a lot of risks. Governments try their best to reduce the incidence of black-market dealings by requiring documentation for heavy equipment. The US also has requirements for heavy equipment leaving its shores. The ownership and title of the vehicle need to be expressly established in documentation to avoid misunderstandings. While you can fill these documents out yourself, you don't have to. Some shipping companies offer options for filling out your departing and landing papers for you. These companies have dealt with international regulations for most of their operational life and are well poised to help you overcome any hurdles you might encounter. The destination country's requirements for landing equipment will vary by location. Hiring a professional international shipping company saves you the hassle of researching these minute details yourself.


Prepare your Vehicle for Shipment

Heavy equipment may be on a ship for a while. However, before the vehicle is loaded onto the vessel, you will need to take a few precautions to ensure that it remains in top shape while on the ship. Ideally, you shouldn't have loose parts or tools in the vehicle. If you do, you should ensure they are secured. Ships move about a lot, and unsecured tools or utilities may cause damage to the interior of the equipment's cab. Ideally, you should remove as much fuel as you can while still leaving it mobile enough to get to its destination (based on the shipping method, see below). Disconnect any batteries or alarm systems. If these go off during the journey, there may not be a way to turn them off, and the vehicle's battery may be dead by the time it makes landfall. Finally, ensure that the equipment will have enough space to maneuver in to offload it from the ship. Usually, your shipping company will do this for you, but you should still provide clearance figures to support their considerations.


Determine Transportation Option

Determine Transportation Option

overseas. These transport options have their bonuses and drawbacks, so determining which one is best for your equipment comes down to the vehicle in question.

  • Flat-Rack: if the vehicle cannot be driven on or off the vessel, a flat rack offers the best option to transport it to its final destination. In this methodology, the equipment is mounted on a rack and then lifted off via a crane. It can then be secured to a truck or train for final movement to the site.
  • Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO): RORO requires the equipment to be mobile so that it can be driven onto the ship. This method also needs the vehicle to have enough fuel to drive it on and off the ship. Ideally, the vehicle should have no more than a quarter tank of fuel when loading. However, having too much fuel in the equipment's tank is a fire hazard.
  • Container: Both of the above methods leave the equipment open to the elements. While most heavy equipment can stand up to constant abuse by the environment, others may require more controlled surroundings. Containers provide an enclosed area that a vehicle can be shipped in.


Getting the Equipment to Site

Getting the Equipment to Site

While some of the uses for these heavy machines may not require moving them off the port, most sites they're required to be on will probably not be in the nearby vicinity. When the equipment makes landfall, you'll need to work out how you're getting it from the port to its final destination. Owners have several options for this leg of the journey.

  • Flatbed Shipping: Flatbed trucks can take the load of some of these heavy equipment pieces and ferry them across a country via highways and arterial roads. There are a wide variety of flatbed options that cater to many different weight classes of equipment. Usually, these top out at around 48,000 pounds. When deciding on flatbed movement, you should ensure that it can take both the cargo and the equipment needed to unload it.
  • Towing: Instead of putting it on a trailer, some equipment can be towed behind a truck or other motor. The towing force will need to match the weight of the equipment, so it may require some sizeable horsepower to move more significant pieces of equipment. You'll also need to prepare for towing the equipment, including ensuring that the brakes are disengaged and setting the gearbox to run as being on tow. Specialized shipping companies usually have a lot of support equipment for towing large loads.
  • Special Trailers: Some heavy equipment is demanding in that it requires specialty trailers for its transport, loading, and unloading. Depending on your equipment, you should contact the shipping company to see if they can handle your specialized transport needs.


Know The Risks

Most shipping companies have insurance for their clients because there's no telling what can happen on a trip. Heavy equipment should also be covered by insurance, but sometimes, this insurance doesn't extend to shipping the unit overseas. Consulting with your company's insurance agent may help you figure out if this is covered in the policy. If not, many shipping companies are willing to accommodate expensive equipment under their extended or advanced shipping insurance. If using commercial shipping insurance, you may need to get the equipment professionally appraised and evaluated. Ideally, your shipping company should use military specifications for shipping heavy equipment. These specs ensure that the equipment will be shipped with the utmost care and attention to detail.

Shipping Equipment Overseas With a Professional Company

While you can attempt to do all the minor overhead without support from a professional company, it's far more time-consuming than just hiring a pro. A1 Transport has experience in equipment shipping and management, dealing with hundreds of contracts over the years. If you want your equipment to get to its destination safe and sound, give us a call, and we'll offer a quote. The sooner you get in contact with us, the better it'll be!

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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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