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See Article— USA Today

Military Moves: Planning Vehicle Shipping As A Member Of The Armed Forces

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. How to prepare your vehicle to ship
  2. Washing and valeting your vehicle
  3. Additional cleaning information
  4. Cleaning jobs to undertake
  5. Other things you must ensure
  6. Rules on vehicle shipping
  7. Type of Personally owned vehicles you can ship
  8. When are you allowed to ship your personally owned vehicle?
  9. USDA and EPA rules on vehicle shipping
  10. EPA and DOT Stickers are required
  11. DOT stickers
  12. What to do when your vehicle is being shipped
  13. What to do when picking your vehicle up
Military Moves: Planning Vehicle Shipping As A Member Of The Armed Forces

As a serving member of the military, there will often be occasions when you’re required to have a privately owned vehicle shipped, for instance, if you’re transferred or are on active-duty deployment.

Often, in these cases, it’s a great idea to look for or ask for recommendations on auto transport companies that specialize in military car shipping. It can feel like quite a stressful time, as there are lots of things to think about - there may also be a house move and complete relocation of the family too.

This guide will explain everything you need to know to make the move hassle-free whether it’s being completed by the service personnel themselves or by a member of their family or a nominated executor.

Most PCS moves happen during the summertime, so in this season, you’ll naturally see an increase in interest in military car shipping services. So, if you’ve been put on a new assignment and need to bring a personal vehicle along there are choices you need to make. The two most common options for military relocations are:

  • Personally procured move (PPM): This also used to be known as the DIY move. Here the government will reimburse military personnel for packing and moving their belongings on their own. Serving forces members who take this option will have to handle all personal details such as making sure they schedule military car shipping and also ensure that they turn in their vehicle as soon as possible at the correct vehicle processing center.
  • Government-issued transport company: This second option means that the government will cover the cost of one personally owned vehicle, and the military will make the shipping arrangements on your behalf. This is the best option to choose if you don’t feel you want to handle the PCS process all alone. Here, the government will also cover military members’ international car shipping needs. However, if you require services such as a guaranteed pickup date or dropoff location, it might be better to take the personally procured move option.

How to prepare your vehicle to ship

Once you’ve decided which of the above options is right for you, you’ll then need the following documents - so make sure they’re all in order and to hand when you’re taking your vehicle to be shipped:

  • Proof of entitlement: Please bring one copy of your official orders and amendments.
  • Proof of identity: You must also present valid Government/State issued identification.
  • Proof of ownership: Present a copy of your vehicle registration and a lien holder authorization letter. You should also show your title and registration. The vehicle must be in the service member's name.
  • Lien: Does your vehicle have a lien? If so, and you are exporting outside of the country of origin, it’s essential you provide a lien holder authorization letter.
  • For leased vehicles: You must provide a letter authorizing the exportation of your vehicle.
  • If someone else is shipping the vehicle for you: They will require a signed and certified power of attorney.
  • Provide addresses: You will have to give a valid email address, a destination address, a notification address, and details of an emergency contact before shipping your vehicle. The address must be valid and able to accept mail addressed to you (it can be a relative or friend, and the address must include street name and number, city, and zip code.

Washing and valeting your vehicle

Your car must be clean - both the interior and exterior, before it is shipped. It’s essential to remove any personal items from all compartments, doors, trunk, and under and in between the seats.

Accessories that aren’t permanent features of the vehicle should also be removed such as:

  • all loose audio/video/navigation equipment
  • liquids or pressurized cans
  • flammable, combustible, or hazardous substances
  • citizen band radios
  • air fresheners and anything hanging on the rearview mirror

The interior and the trunk of the vehicle must be valeted. If the interior of the vehicle needs to be wet cleaned or shampooed then this must be done at least fourteen days prior to it being shipped so that it is completely dry.

You are allowed to leave the following in your vehicle:

  • hand tools - though these must not exceed $200 in value
  • jacks, tire irons, fire extinguishers, and jump leads
  • spare tire or two snow tires
  • baby/child car seats

Additional cleaning information

Your vehicle needs to comply with all the USDA requirements and laws to be shipped and received, therefore it will be inspected to ensure it is completely clean and free of all dirt, soil, plant, and animal life.

With this, there is a zero-tolerance policy operating, therefore if your vehicle fails to meet these standards, you will be provided with an Agricultural Reject Sheet, identifying the areas that need additional cleaning. Only when all this has been complied with, will the vehicle be accepted.


Cleaning jobs to undertake

Please wash the exterior of your vehicle and make sure you wipe out your wheel wells and fuel intake area. Please make sure that all the corners of the motor compartment are clean. Vacuum these out then wipe down the hood and engine. Clean all the door jambs and the trunk seal.

It’s imperative to make sure the interior of the vehicle is thoroughly vacuumed, including floor mats, both top and bottom. Vacuum clean underneath and in between all the seats, under the seats, and the center console. Clean the trunk in the same way including removing the spare tire, cleaning underneath that, and the tire itself.

A DD788 inspection form will be signed off after a joint inspection of the vehicle before it is shipped so there is a mutual record.

Other things you must ensure:

  • Fuel: Must only be on a quarter tank or less for vehicle shipping
  • Keys: A complete set of keys need to be provided with the vehicle including ignition, door, trunk, gas cap, and wheel lock.
  • Vehicle must be safe to operate: Vehicle must be safe to drive. Ensure that the parking brake is functioning and there are no leaks from anywhere. Double-check the windshield for chips and cracks.

Rules on vehicle shipping

One vehicle only can be shipped at government expense. This vehicle must not exceed 20 MT. If the vehicle does exceed this particular limit, the service member will be required to pay any resulting extra costs to transport the vehicle. There may also be restrictions for destination countries that aren’t the USA.

Type of Personally owned vehicles you can ship

Motor vehicles that are self-propelled and wheeled are the only types of personally owned vehicles that can be shipped. This includes:

There are other passenger-carrying, multi-purpose motor vehicles that may qualify - you should check with the government what is acceptable. You may need to have a written certification stating the vehicle is for personal use.

For long-term shipping (over a year) of a leased personally owned vehicle, you have to have written authority from the leasing company. All requirements stated in the lease remain your responsibility throughout the length of time you have the vehicle.

When are you allowed to ship your personally owned vehicle?

There are limitations to shipping a personally owned vehicle for each different branch of the armed forces. These include:

  • Army and Air Force: personnel who have personally owned vehicles will be accepted for shipment if delivered to the port only within 90 days after the servicemember departed for an overseas tour that lasts more than a year. Or within 30 days after the service member's departure on a tour of duty of one year or less.
  • Navy and Marine Corps personnel who have personally owned vehicles will be accepted when at least one year remains to be served at their current overseas duty station at the time vehicle is delivered to the loading port.

USDA and EPA rules on vehicle shipping

Both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with the Department of Transportation in the USA have set strict guidelines that you must conform to for the shipment of your vehicle into the United States from another country - these guidelines are extremely important and must be followed strictly.

EPA and DOT Stickers are required

An EPA sticker is located in the motor compartment or the hood itself. It should say either Vehicle Emissions Control or Catalyst on it. If there is no sticker there or it isn’t easy to read then a compliance letter must be obtained from the EPA before your vehicle will be accepted. In order to get this document, proof must be provided to the EPA with the following info:

  • A stateside title
  • A stateside registration
  • A CARFAX report

DOT stickers

This sticker is on the driver's door jamb area, or on the door edge and it should have the VIN number on it.

If, as above, the sticker is missing or illegible, then proof in the form of:

  • A stateside title
  • A stateside registration
  • A CARFAX report

Should be provided to the VPC on the date of turn-in, otherwise your vehicle will not be accepted.

What to do when your vehicle is being shipped

It’s possible to track your personally owned vehicle through the International Auto Logistics website in transit. You can do this by:

  • Entering your confirmation number
  • Your surname and order number

When your vehicle is being transported the vehicle processing center will contact you at the following stages:

  • Let you know when your vehicle has arrived - usually, three days prior to it reaching its destination
  • They’ll be in touch to let you know when your vehicle has arrived
  • They’ll let you know when your vehicle will be available for you to pick up
  • If your vehicle is being stored then, please fill out a storage removal request form in order to start the process of releasing your vehicle. You’ll need to allow up to twenty-one days to deliver your vehicle to a VPC (longer if international transportation is required).

What to do when picking your vehicle up

Make sure you have all the following documents and information with you when you come to pick up your vehicle, to ensure swift completion and no delays.

  • Proof of Identity
  • Government/State-issued identification. If someone else is coming to pick up your vehicle on your behalf they must provide an official valid photo ID.
  • Inspection Form
  • Vehicle inspection and shipping form.

When you arrive at the destination vehicle processing center, you’ll need to sign in and then provide all the above-mentioned documentation and proof of ID. These documents will be verified and then the vehicle will be reviewed and assessed for any damage that may potentially have occurred during transportation. This is unlikely to happen, but in the rare instances it does there are claims personnel on site who will be able to review and settle the claim on the day.

You will be required to have the following financial documentation and information with you, just in case it is required.

  • Your bank name
  • Bank ABA/SWIFT number
  • Bank account number
  • Bank routing number/BIC
  • Bank account name.
  • Your SWIFT and BIC (Bank Identifier code) though this depends on receiving country (for instance if it is a European account)

You should always check with your state and your government website to check for any changes that have occurred to the process of shipping a vehicle for military personnel before you go ahead as procedures can sometimes change at short notice.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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
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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