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International Door to Door Car Shipping
International Door to Door Car Shipping

International Door to Door Car Shipping

Before picking an auto transport company for international door to door car shipping, you may want to first confirm they’re familiar with international auto shipping regulations and laws. These are:

  • Your new country’s laws regarding your vehicle;
  • The documentation necessary for clearing U.S. customs and the other country’s customs.
  • Any laws regarding your automobile’s condition needed for international transport.

Regulations and Laws Regarding your Automobile’s Condition

Before you can pack your automobile in a container and send it off with a ship, you should first consider the many regulations regarding its condition. These laws should be known by your auto shipper, and they should be able to guide you properly.

You might have to:

  • Remove temporarily or disconnect the battery in your car.
  • Empty your automobile and its trunk of any possessions you might have left inside it. Remove loose objects as well.
  • Remove / drain the vehicle of its gasoline, as well as of any other flammable / hazardous materials.

Some countries have regulations which restrict some types of automobiles or automobiles past a certain age from being imported. Also, some countries require your car to pass an emissions and/or safety inspection before it can be imported. Factors like your car’s engine size or its monetary value can affect the duties, taxes and tariffs you will end up paying.


Before international door to door car shipping can proceed, the overseas auto transport companies will need some documentation. Regardless of what company you hire, they should know what paperwork you require, and they should help you prepare it before the shipping day arrives.

Some of the documents you might need are as follows:

  • A certified copy or the original title certificate, as well as another 2 copies to be taken to the origin port along with the vehicle.
  • If your vehicle is leased or under a lien, you must obtain an authorization letter from the holder of the lien, allowing you to transport the automobile. This letter must contain you and/or the lien holder’s number, name, the lien holder’s date and signature, as well as the automobile’s VIN (vehicle identification number).
  • If you’re an employee of the United States government and are being sent overseas on an assignment, to ship your automobile, you’ll a letter from the U.S. government or from a similar authority. You can also use your military orders.
  • If you’ve bought a new vehicle that is to be sent to another country, you must present the original origin certificate and a bill of sale. The origin certificate can be procured from the dealership which sold you the automobile.
  • You will need a power of attorney if you’ll send a representative in your place at the day of departure.
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Dealing with Customs

Customs is a country’s regulatory agency responsible for managing the entering and exiting of goods. It collects fees and duties, and makes sure the items being transported, be they merchandise or automobiles, are safe and legitimate.

Each country has different customs regulations and laws, pertaining to the necessary documents, the vehicle’s condition and the importation process. Customs regulations should be talked about in detail with the auto transport company, to verify the company’s ability and experience, but also to prepare for the move.

Make sure you ask the transport company if they include clearing customs into their services, or if you need a broker to take care of it. If this service is offered by the international door to door car shipping company, ask if they will give you an agent to pick up your automobile in the other country and get it through customs.

Remember to research customs yourself, and not just rely on the auto shipping company. Before moving your car, contact the government of your new country to see if any restrictions or levies are in place which could influence your transport.

Shipping Methods

When speaking to an auto transport company for the first time, they may suggest one of the following 2 ways to ship your automobile:

  • RoRo (Roll on Roll off): Using this service, the automobile is driven onto the ship which will transport it to its country of choice. This method is normally cheaper than the alternative, since it requires the fewest space and resources.
  • Container shipping: Using this method, the vehicle is kept in a container for the duration of the trip, protecting it from theft and the elements. Because of this, container shipping is considered safer than RoRo, but it is also more expensive.


To protect your automobile during transportation, it is recommended you get it insured. Not all auto transport companies offer full coverage, so inquire about it beforehand. Also, the following points may prove useful:

  • For your automobile’s safety, an auto transport company must give at least a minimum amount of insurance. Different auto shipping companies offer different levels of insurance, but they are all required by law to provide this option.
  • For a bigger price, the insurance rate you receive can be increased.
  • To avoid complications and unwanted surprises in case your automobile is damaged during transportation, check the insurance policy thoroughly.
  • Marine insurance, even if it’s full coverage, will only cover 1.5% of the approximate value of your automobile.


Thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle before handing it over to the auto transport company. Remove any items you currently keep inside it, so you are not charged more for shipping them. If you do not remove them, some belongings may even end up detained by the new country’s customs authority.

The costs of international door to door car shipping will change depending on the distance towards its final destination, the condition the vehicle is in, and its size. Discuss the price with your company. Within the quote you get, the fees for clearing customs should also be included.

Potential Problems during Auto Shipping and How to Solve them

Although international door to door car shipping is usually safe, as with all transport of goods, some problems may arise. In the following paragraphs, we will list some of these occurrences, and how you can deal with them.

If the Vehicle Arrives Late

The weather, mechanical trouble, traffic jams, flat tires or accidents will sometimes cause your shipment to be late. Since trailers normally carry several automobiles at a time, your shipment can also be delayed by late paperwork or customers.

Because delays are likely to happen, most auto transport companies will not give you an exact delivery time and date. Any company which does may be a fraud.

Shippers do their best to estimate your automobile’s delivery with a 3 days error margin. If something happens which delays your transport, you will receive a phone call from the company notifying you of the new delivery date. If the vehicle’s arrival date is delayed by more than 3 days, some movers may give you a discount.

Invalid Quote

Sometimes, misunderstandings may cause the quote you’ve received to be changed. For example, if you live in a city with an identical name to another, and the company mistakes your location, the quote they give you will be calculated wrongly, and will need readjustments. This difference in distance may cause the price to grow or lower by several hundreds of dollars.

So, when giving the auto transport company your details, make sure you’re on the same page regarding your delivery and pickup locations. Give them your zip codes and complete addresses.

Bad communication

If you choose to go with a broker instead of an auto transport company, miscommunications can severely delay your transport. Because all arrangements with the carrier are handled through a third party, delays and misunderstandings are more likely to happen.

If the auto transport company needs to ask something about the pick up or about your automobile, and the broker cannot be contacted, your car may be eliminated from their shipping list. In such a case, the broker will search for another company, delaying the arrival date.

Remote Arrival Point

Much of the U.S. international door to door car shipping is done across a few major routes along which such requests are frequent. If your current home or the place where you want your car delivered is not on any of these routes, the delivery may be delayed and you may have to pay higher charges.

To lower the costs and solve this problem, you can choose to pick up your automobile from a terminal. Before choosing a shipper, ask if there are any extra charges you should expect.


If your automobile is transported with an open trailer, it may receive damage during transport due to weather conditions. Even in a covered trailer, accidents can happen, so although it’s rare, your vehicle may not arrive in the exact same condition as it left your home.

When it arrives at the destination point, check for any cracked glass, dents, scratches, or other damages. Verify under the bumpers and the roof as well.

If the vehicle has any scratches or dents which were not present when it was picked up, note this damage in the bill of landing or inspection report. Afterwards, ask the driver to sign it, so you may file a claim if you think it’s necessary.

If you wish to proceed, contact the auto moving company. You will likely have to send them a mechanic’s estimate of the costs of fixing the damages, photos of it and the inspection report.

If the auto shipper does not compensate your losses, you can talk to the Better Business Bureau for support in this matter. Also, do not forget to check the amount of insurance offered by the company before using their services. Buy more insurance if necessary.

False Estimates

One of the reasons you should thoroughly check the carrier’s background is to avoid scammers and frauds. The most used scam in this business is switching the estimate. This is done by offering to transport your automobile at extremely low costs, then by adding a ton of hidden fees until the price is absurd. If you try to argue over the cost, the company will withhold your automobile until you pay up.

The best way to avoid getting scammed, and any of the situations presented above, is to be very selecting about the company doing your international door to door car shipping. Check the reviews, speak to previous customers, and visit the Better Business Bureau website for records on them.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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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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