Shipping Heavy Equipment Overseas

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Shipping Heavy Equipment Overseas

This Is How You Can Make Shipping Heavy Equipment Overseas Easy

The idea of shipping heavy machinery overseas may seem difficult at first glance. After all, these types of machines are large, heavy, and require a lot of preparation to ship properly.

If you are looking to ship a piece of heavy machinery internationally, there are several things you will want to consider before you get started.

  1. Will you handle the shipping process or will you hire an expert to oversee it?
  2. Does your heavy equipment have any special import or export restrictions?
  3. Do you have to pay any taxes or duties on your heavy equipment?
  4. Have you properly measured and weighed your piece of heavy machinery?
  5. Do you have legitimate shipping contacts?
  6. What kind of budget are you working with?

All of these questions are important to ask as they deal with specific portions of international heavy equipment transportation.

  1. Working with an Expert

If you are new to international shipping, it is highly recommended that you work with an expert.

Shipping Heavy Equipment Overseas

All too often people try and take on international shipping without any help.

Guess what happens almost every time?

They cut corners, they ignore import and export laws, they misclassify their shipments, and they get into trouble with the government.

International trade is a serious industry that is overseen by many major government departments. The last thing you want to do is get into trouble with the government because you didn’t do your research properly.

Understanding How Trade Works in the United States (Simplified)

In the United States, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, and the Department of Treasury all oversee trade. Each of these departments have their own extensive list of rules, their own classification systems, and consist of a lot of red tape that can be stressful to try and understand.

When it comes to shipping heavy equipment overseas, you need to be aware of what classification codes your machinery falls under as well.

Any goods that are deemed to have military use have to be classified as such.

But it isn’t that easy.

Something as simple as a ball bearing can be classified as a military good if it can be used in both civilian and military vehicles. Now you see where it gets confusing.

You also cannot ship heavy machinery to a nation that is involved in the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction or any country that the U.S. has placed sanctions on. These nations are often referred to as restricted or prohibited countries.

For a full list of these countries, check out the Department of Treasury’s website.

In addition, you also have to consider several other factors like:

  • Are you trading with a restricted party?
  • Have you screened your import or export against denied party lists?
  • Do you have proper paperwork for the piece of heavy equipment?
  • Did you file all the proper paperwork for the shipment?

The shipping process can quickly become overwhelming when you consider that breaking any of these rules can lead to massive fines and even criminal charges.

Save yourself the trouble and hire an expert.

  1. Determining Import and Export Requirements for Shipping Heavy Equipment Overseas

By now you are probably leaning towards hiring a shipping company to help you oversee the international heavy equipment transportation process.


A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. ships vehicles worldwide. Click here or call 1-800-518-8708 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote to ship your car.


Here are a few other details you should know

  • You have to determine which classification codes your piece of heavy equipment require as determined under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).
  • You can file your export license application online through the Bureau of Industry and Security. Most heavy machinery will require you to fill out a Simplified Network Application Process Redesign (SNAP-R) application.
  • You will have to determine if the country you are importing to has their own regulations regarding shipping heavy equipment overseas. Even though the United States may approve its export, your target country may not.
  • Heavy equipment is also regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – meaning that anything you import will have to conform to U.S. emissions regulations.
  • Is the heavy machinery a tractor or a piece of construction equipment? The government classifies the two very differently.

We always advise that you work with an experienced shipping company, especially if it is your first time engaging in international shipping.

A lot of things can go wrong when shipping heavy equipment and the experience and contacts that a shipping company have will provide you with peace of mind.

  1. Duties, Taxes, and Tariffs

The amount you will pay in duties, taxes, and tariffs will vary based on where you are importing or exporting your heavy machinery from.

For example, if a piece of heavy machinery was legitimately manufactured in North America, you will be able to import it to the U.S. duty free as per the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA).

Importing / Exporting on Your Own

If you elect to import or export on your own, you will want to do extensive research on the specific country you are looking to trade with. As a general rule, anything North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) is duty free, while various other countries will have their own duty rates for both importing and exporting.

You will also be required to pay a fees to your broker, any shipping companies you work with, and for any applications that have costs associated with them.

Don’t be surprised as the costs mount. Shipping on your own is really expensive. There are a lot of fees.

Importing / Exporting with Help

You will still pay the same fees when you work with a dedicated shipping company, but you will save yourself a lot of trouble.

Importing and exporting heavy equipment overseas isn’t easy. There are a lot of regulations, tons of paperwork, and many opportunities for you to make a mistake if you try and do it on your own.

Reputable shipping companies have created a business specifically to deal with shipping goods. Here at A1 Transport, we specialize in shipping vehicles, heavy machinery, and other large objects.

  1. Measuring Your Heavy Machinery

One of the best ways to get the most value out of your heavy equipment shipment is to properly measure and weigh your machine. Knowing the specifications of your vehicle will help you negotiate the best shipping rates and it may save you a lot of regulatory trouble.

Roll-On Roll-Off Method

This is one of the most popular methods for shipping vehicles. As the name suggests, a piece of heavy equipment is rolled-on and rolled-off its shipping bed.

When using this method, rates are often determined by the heavy equipment’s weight per ton or its dimensions in cubic meters (whichever is greater).

Disassembling Your Vehicle

Certain countries may require that you disassemble a piece of heavy machinery before shipping it. This is something you will want to avoid at all costs as it will cost you additional labor to put the heavy equipment back together.

  1. Check the Legitimacy of Your Shipping Contacts

By this point it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that international heavy equipment transportation is hard. There are a lot of details that go into shipping heavy equipment and missing the smallest one can lead to a lot of trouble. A lot of novice importers and exporters make the mistake of trusting the wrong people.

Don’t make this mistake!

If you are going to try and import or export heavy equipment overseas, take the time to verify that the people you are working with are legitimate. There are a lot of cases of fraud taking place in the world of international shipping – don’t become a victim.

This is why it is important that you work with an experienced shipping company. We spent decades building our international contacts, sourcing the best prices, and developing relationships that we are willing to stake our reputation on.

Heavy equipment is expensive, protect that investment by taking the time to verify any individuals or companies that you are planning to work for. The last thing you want to happen is to lose a major purchase because of a reversed payment, lost shipment, or other regulatory tape.

  1. Know Your Budget

We mentioned it before, but were going to say it again.

International heavy equipment transportation can be expensive. There are a lot of forms to fill out, a lot of rules to follow, you often have to pay duty and taxes, and you will have to pay fees to customs, your brokerage agent, shipping company, and any other services you require to complete the shipment.

If you don’t have connections in the industry, the costs can be staggering.

Here’s what we recommend you do

Give A1 Transport a call. Tony has been helping business people like yourself ship heavy equipment around the world for decades.

Before you start the international shipping process for your heavy equipment, determine your budget. Price out how much you can afford to pay for each leg of the shipping process. Here are a few things to consider:

  • How much is the heavy equipment itself?
  • What are the shipping fees (brokerage, shipping, packing, etc.)?
  • Do you have to pay duty or tax?
  • Are you doing business with an approved country?

Determining your budget is essential if you want to go into the international heavy equipment shipping process with a plan.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of shipping your heavy equipment – contact us through our website today.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with 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, Inc., 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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