We will first discuss how to check a vehicle shipping service provider’s legitimacy. Whenever you deal with a company, the following 3 steps must be followed in order to limit risk. This is especially important if you’re not located within the US. A car shipper can be considered safe if they pass the following steps.
- The BBB or Better Business Bureau. The purpose of this company is to ensure ethical practices within the marketplace and to maintain a safe environment for sellers and buyers. To check if your shipper is reliable, visit the BBB website. In the “search for” section, enter the company’s phone, URL, name, and type. You can also add the postal code and city, though those are optional. After clicking the “BBB accredited” box, you can click search. If the company you’re working with is on the list, then it’s a good sign. You can even dig deeper into its details by clicking on its name.
- The FMC or Federal maritime commission. The purpose of the FMC is to regulate oceanic shipping, specifically the USA’s foreign commerce. They have a website, fmc.gov, which you can visit. If you want to verify an automobile shipper, you can search their name there. If the company comes up when you use the search feature, it’s a good sign.
- Whois search. You use this search to find the company website’s ownership information. Usually, the company’s country and name will come up. This will prove helpful in verifying the country where the shipper is located. For example, you may discover that some US shippers you find on Google aren’t even located in the US.
To use this feature, go to the Whois site. You’ll find your company’s information under the whois record tab as well as its location. The creation date of the site will also be available under the registration date. If the company’s website was registered less than 12 months ago, it can easily be a sign of a scam.
You can also find the IP location of the website through the Server Stats tab. To pass this verification, the company’s name must be located in the United States and match Whois records.
To make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate shipper, make sure it passes all 3 of the above verifications.
Your country’s regulations, permits, and duty tax
Because we’ll be delving into the duty taxes of various countries, this subject can be a bit complicated. Instead of listing each country’s information, we will split the issue in 2 pieces:
- People located within the United States,
- People located outside the United States.
The purpose of this subheading is to help car shippers from to US who need information about a country’s auto import regulations, permits, and taxes. In some instances, it may be unprofitable or simply impossible to transport a car to a certain country from the US due to import taxes and the trade agreement between the 2 countries. On the other hand, you may be able to ship your car to some countries for free. However, in most cases, the car’s value will determine import taxes.
When it comes to people that live in the United States, in many cases they may be exporting vehicles to family or friends living in different countries. The best way to go about it is to contact the embassy for said country in order to check their specific regulations. You will find most of them in Washington, DC.
If you are living outside of the United States, you may buy the vehicle online from eBay Motors or from other similar websites. Some may choose new vehicles while others may opt for the classics.
The word “import duty” may replace “import tax” in some countries. To find out who to call for information on taxes, here’s how you can proceed:
Let’s say you’re shipping a car to Germany from the US. To obtain the country’s government website through a Google search, you’ll want to filter the results. To do this, add inurl:.gov after the words you are searching for. By doing so, the Google results shown will only be those whose URL ends in .gov. By using the contact information from those websites, you’ll likely manage to find someone who can help you rather easily.
Finding vehicles over the internet
First of all, we must protect ourselves from scammers when searching for vehicles online. To get a car’s background, you can use a vehicle fax. It works similarly to background checks on people. It will reveal the car’s ownership history and title problems, as well as service and accidents. For more information, visit CarFax’s website.
Online auto dealerships may have prepared CarFax in advance for their automobiles. Request it, and if they hadn’t prepared it, you will need the car’s VIN# to get it yourself.
In the US, Craigslist ranks within the top websites. You’re likely to find great deals on vehicles here. It may be a senior who no longer needs a vehicle or a college graduate with a new car trying to get rid of the other one.
The advantages of this site are:
- Great deals.
- Permit searches in various formats (for sale by dealer, by owner, by owner and dealer). The cheapest deals are those in the “by owner” category.
- There’s also the chance of finding owners willing to sell their vehicles for very low prices either because they don’t know the automobile’s actual value or they need money fast.
Of course, with pros there are also cons, and these are:
- Possible scams. If someone requests payment only through Western Union, it’s best to move on.
- Lack of experienced automobile sellers.
- Sometimes, there may be insufficient pictures. However, you can request more through email.
- You may have to contact owners through email since some car owners don’t post phone numbers.
To make the best of Craigslist, you can use their filter so you’ll only see results you’re looking for. For instance, if your country forbids the importation of salvaged cars, you can filter them out of your search results.
This is another safe and popular website where you can find cars. The advantages of using it are as follows:
- The KBB value appears alongside your search results.
- Feedback from past customers appears as well.
- Cars come with numerous pictures.
- Communication is easy.
- Many cars come with a free AutoCheck which can replace CarFax.
- Allows searching for automobiles sold by dealers or by owners.
On the other hand, the negatives of this website are:
- International rates don’t appear for most sellers.
- You have to pay in full.
- Some sellers request immediate payment before they ship their automobiles.
Organizing car payments
Among the most common ways you can pay for a car you’ve bought online, there are:
- PayPal: This is a popular payment option for people buying cars off of Craigslist. Sellers must present the original ownership title, so you as the buyer will be safe. Without this title, you can request a refund from PayPal and recuperate your loss.
- Bank transfers: Another way through which you can pay is bank transfers, though it’s only advisable to use them if you’re working with a trustworthy auto dealership. We recommend you obtain a copy of the company’s license. Only if the company’s name and the one appearing on the license are the same should you transfer the money.
- Escrow: The escrow company is another alternative you may find useful. Since there are certain fees associated with it, you may have to pay more than usual. Furthermore, sellers may be averse to using this opting since it requires them to first send the vehicle before they receive any money.
International automobile buyers will receive no financing. However, they are also not required to pay sales taxes.
Factors that influence the rates of international automobile shipping
Your international car shipping cost will not be static but instead influenced by several factors. Also, the more services you opt for, the higher the shipper’s fee will be. However, since some of these options may save you money and time in the long run, it’s worth considering them. Here’s a list of factors you’ll need to pay attention to:
- Model, make, and year of fabrication. What kind of vehicle you own will influence how much transporting it will cost. In general, you’ll pay more if the car is larger. Expensive cars, like exotic or luxury vehicles, will also be more expensive to ship. On the other hand, how many miles the vehicle has accumulated won’t influence the price.
- Truck. If you’re shipping a vehicle abroad, you may need help getting the car to the nearest port. If you live near a port, this won’t be necessary. However, you can also find yourself in a situation where you’re in another country or city from where the vehicle is. In this situation, auto transportation is necessary.
Some things you should take into account when moving your vehicle over land are miles, food, hotels, airfare, pay losses, time, gas, etc. The sum of these costs can easily surpass the rate of an auto transport company. You’ll have to pay upfront for transportation, but you’ll likely save more money in the end.
- Distance to the car’s destination. Online shoppers usually try to buy vehicles from countries close to the one they’re shipping it to. This will reduce transport costs and the time expenditure.
If the country is landlocked, you won’t necessarily need a container to get it there. You can either ask a transport company to pick it up or you can go to the port and drive it yourself. While the second option can be cheaper, it also consumes much more time and can cause problems for you and your car.
- Insurance. If you’re taking a vehicle to another country, you won’t necessarily need marine insurance. However, in some cases such as when transporting exotic or luxury cars, it will be helpful.
While vehicles are braced and locked during shipping, there’ll be some degree of movement within the vessel depending on the weather. Large ocean swells can increase damage risks.
Paying your auto shipping service provider
To pay your shipper, you have 4 options. Of course, we recommend you use the methods explained above to check the company’s validity before sending any money. If it passes those tests, then here’re some methods through which you can send the payment:
- Credit card: It’s considered the safest payment method. An auto transport company will check the credit card’s authorization to make sure there are available funds. After they confirm the booking number, your shipper can then charge the card.
- PayPal: It acts as a processing business for your credit card. No financial information will be given to the shipper. Your auto transport service provider will send you an invoice which you will have to pay afterwards. Then, you’ll receive a booking number.
- Bank Transfers: Payments are made upfront through this method as well. You should ensure that the company’s name appears on the account before depositing your money into it.
- Western Union: Residents of third world countries use this method. The money will be sent upfront. To ensure you don’t get scammed, check that the company’s name appears on the Money Order and not the name of a person.
Keys, lading bill, sale bill, and ownership title
The process becomes simple for clients after the payment is handled especially if you’re living in the US. If you’ve used an online automobile dealership or a site like Craigslist, then you need to send the keys and paperwork to the shipper.
You will also need the sale bill and the ownership title if you live in another country. The car’s new owner must receive the sale bill while the international auto shipper must receive the ownership title. The ownership title must not have liens on it.
The shipper will send back the ownership title using FedEx International after the transport has been completed. The paperwork will move between the shipper and the consignee or owner. When the owner picks up the car, he will receive the ownership title.
Only people whose names appear on the lading bill will be authorized to take the vehicle. The consignee or owner will receive a copy of the lading bill. When receiving the car, the consignee will have to prove his identity. If the consignee or owner cannot show up to receive the vehicle, other people may not take their place.
The vehicle’s keys will be shipped alongside it. Usually, car dealerships can only provide one copy. However, if 2 are available, you can request the shipping company to mail one set alongside the ownership title.
In general, import or duty taxes will be handled at the port of arrival. There can be large differences in import taxes between different countries, since their regulations differ. By this point, you should already know how much you will pay in taxes. In case of problems, make sure you have some money with you in cash. Also, the faster you pick up your car, the more you’re likely to avoid storage fees.
Selling your automobile
While the initial process of selling an automobile can be difficult, after your first car, it becomes significantly easier. You can use the methods mentioned throughout this article for this purpose or simply to buy a car for yourself.
To sell your automobile, you won’t need a website. The following instructions will help:
- Make a video of your vehicle and take some great pictures.
- Upload the video on Youtube. Making an account is easy. After posting the video, check if it’s public so others can see it.
- You can then take the video’s URL and visit Craigslist. For this part of the process your email and phone number will likely be needed.
- Select your city and country, and then post your ad to Classifieds, cars and trucks, for sale, and by owner.
- Complete the ad with the car’s description, and then click “Continue.” You will then see a preview and have a chance to check everything once more. Once that’s done, post the ad and wait for responses.
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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