International Auto Transport: Expectation vs. Reality

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International Auto Transport: Expectation vs. Reality
International Auto Transport: Expectation vs. Reality

Shipping your car to an international destination is an exciting prospect. If you want to realize your vision of driving your vehicle in your new country, you’ll have to do put in some work ahead of time.

The reality is that international vehicle shipping is generally more involved than domestic auto shipping. Different countries have various rules and regulations regarding international auto transport. You can bridge the gap between the country you’re exporting from to the country you’re importing from by having a general understanding of the international vehicle transport process. Having a solid overview of how international auto shipping works will allow you to ask an auto transport service the right question while approaching the process with a higher confidence level.

Most people will roll their eyes at the thought of having to complete paperwork. The reality is that international auto shipping requires the completion and even on-hand possession of some documents. 

Is It Easy to Figure Out What International Auto Shipping Documents to Complete?

It’s understandable if you feel some anxiety about completing and organizing international auto shipping documents. You can acquire some extra peace of mind knowing that the international auto transport documents process is more straightforward than you might think. Standard international vehicle shipping documents include a clear original title, a copy of the bill of sale, and a copy of your U.S. Passport. 

Certain international auto shipping methods only require copies of standard documentation, while other methods request original copies. Roll-on-roll-off shipping is an example of an international auto transport method that only requires copies of the requested documentation. It’s essential to recognize that additional forms will be required from your destination port and occasionally from your car’s departing port. The requirements that your destination or departing port holds will depend on the location. Let’s go over a couple of port documentation requirements.

A person shipping a car overseas from Miami requires a notarized power of an attorney. Someone shipping a car out of Los Angeles wouldn’t have to deal with this requirement. Shipping vehicles out of New York occasionally forces a person with a vehicle purchased after 2010 to prove their payment. Americans wanting to ship their car to Australia need import approval. 

While some international auto shipping requirements are more niche and isolated, understanding a few common international car transport requirements will help you know what you’re in for. 

International Auto Transport Expectation Vs Reality

Do I Have to Hand My Keys Over During International Shipping Drop-Off?

Logically, your keys will remain with the international auto transport organization you’re working with upon vehicle drop-off. The auto shipping company needs your keys to load and unload your vehicle. You’ll get your keys back when you pick up your car at its destination.

How Significant Is My Vehicle’s Title and Registration for International Auto Shipping?

Providing an original title will help get your vehicle in and out of ports. Many people make copies of their car’s title to hold onto during the shipping process. Similar to your keys, your vehicle’s original title will be given back to you when you pick up the car at its destination. Vehicle registration is only necessary when hiring someone to transport your car to a port. 

When Will My Photo ID Come Into Play?

Identification plays an essential role in helping you pick up your vehicle. An EIN (Employer Identification Number) can serve as sufficient proof of identity if you don’t have your passport on hand. 

A quality international auto shipping company will be more than capable of answering your questions relating to documentation during your consultation. A-1 Auto Shipping strives to help you navigate country-specific international shipping requirements with confidence by providing all necessary information.

Do I Need to Inspect My Vehicle Before Its Departure?

Inspections and personal belonging requirements are a vital component of international auto shipping. You can start the inspection process by performing your vehicle inspection that includes pictures. Many international auto transport services will recommend that you service your vehicle and wash it before its departure. Functional brakes are an example of something your car needs before traveling for safe loading and unloading. Cleaning your car before taking pictures of the vehicle allows you to gain a more thorough insight into your car’s condition. 

International Auto Transport Expectation Vs Reality

You can expect an auto transport company to perform their inspection upon drop-off. Having your inspection report with photo evidence can help you dispute any conflicting condition claims.

How Do Auto Transport Companies Calculate Overseas Vehicle Shipping Costs?

Cost is a primary concern for many when it comes to international auto shipping. Knowing how auto transport companies price your shipping route can help you structure a transport process that aligns with your budget. The shipping method you choose plays a central role in how much you’ll pay for international auto shipping. After selecting an overseas shipping method, you’ll benefit from comparing company costs before determining different cost and time tradeoffs. 

Will I Have Multiple Overseas Transport Methods to Choose From?

Yes, you will have different international auto shipping methods to choose from. The three most common overseas transport methods are container shipping, roll-on roll-off, and airfreight. You’ll find that the majority of international auto shipping instances utilize container shipping. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in the other methods. 

How Common Is Roll-on Roll-off Transport for International Shipping?

Roll-on roll-off international auto shipping is a transport method title that’s fortunately pretty self-explanatory. We mentioned how container shipping is more common during international auto transport. Vehicles that can’t fit into a container often use the roll-on roll-off overseas method. It’s not unusual for a motorcycle or regular-sized vehicle to utilize roll-on roll-off transport. 

International auto shipping fees go beyond ocean freight costs. An auto transport company should always include inland transportation costs in your shipping quote. We emphasize the importance of inland transportation costs since some companies leave this portion of the shipping process out when providing you with a quote. 

International Auto Transport Expectation Vs Reality

Is Airfreight Shipping Necessary?

International airfreight vehicle shipping is only necessary for a select number of instances due to the high cost of the service. One of those appropriate instances is if you own a high-value vehicle such as an exotic modern sports car or a rare vintage vehicle. The extra security that airfreight shipping provides can provide you with extra assurance that your high-value vehicle is safe and sound. People who have extra room in their budget and are on a severe time crunch can benefit from the expedited nature of international airfreight vehicle delivery. 

Is There Only One Type of Overseas Container Shipping?

Consolidated and sole-use container shipping are the two primary variations of overseas container shipping. Different people’s cars sharing one container allows consolidated container shipping to offer more overall value. Consolidated container shipping is the most popular overseas shipping method since the container’s price is split between different car owner’s vehicles that make up the container. Sole-use containers cost more on average but offer an ideal balance between cost and delivery time.

You’ll have to decide whether you’re more concerned with getting the best rate or having the auto shipping company complete your delivery ASAP. Delivery time frames are primarily based on the distance that your vehicle is traveling. The general timeframe for international delivery is between one week and one month. 

Ask the international auto shipping service that you’re considering working with if they offer consolidated container shipping. There will be some organizations that don’t offer consolidated shipping due to the service requirements for setup. 

The international auto shipping method you select is one of the clearer factors that will influence how much you pay—but what about additional fees? 

Will I Have to Deal With Additional Costs to Ship My Vehicle Internationally?

People often experience frustration with additional international vehicle shipping fees due to their seemingly “hidden” nature. Have some pre-established knowledge of what kinds of additional fees exist within the overseas auto shipping realm can help you prepare accordingly. Marine insurance, destination charges, customs duties, and taxes are all additional international auto shipping costs to take into account.

Is Marine Insurance Easy to Purchase?

Marine insurance is a supplemental form of insurance that will protect your car from possible damages that might occur during transit. Your existing car insurance policyholder might offer marine insurance. Instances where your primary car insurance policy company doesn’t offer marine insurance, will require you to purchase additional insurance coverage from a third-party organization.  

What Additional Fees Will I Have to Pay Upon Vehicle Pickup?

International auto transport agents will have to safely unload your vehicle from its freight carrier before navigating the car through customs. These destination fees cost an average of $500. Customs fees are based on a portion of your vehicle’s value. 

Will Additional Fees and Taxes Always Apply?

Additional taxes and fees won’t always apply to international auto shipping—but they might. Your auto transport company should supply you with an estimate of what these additional fees and taxes might look like. 


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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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Testimonial
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.

Testimonial
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.

Testimonial
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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