While it’s a relatively simple process for experienced shippers, newer clients may have questions and difficulties navigating international car shipping. If you have questions regarding an upcoming shipment, you may find the information you require below. For example, the first step towards making a purchase should be research.
Researching the company
Before paying the car transport company or even requesting their services, it’s wise to do some background research to ensure they’re a legitimate business. You can research individual auto transporters or you can find a trustworthy broker for more options and less hassle.
Helpful sites are FMC.gov, BBC.org, search engines like Google or Yahoo, but also forums, review sites, etc. Friends and family may also have shipped cars in the past and can offer recommendations.
Each company’s certifications and credentials must be verified. You should know if the company is bonded, insured, and licensed. If not, it’s best to work with someone else in order to avoid legal problems and the possibility of scams.
Depending on who you’re working with, there may be different licenses they require in order to function legally. For instance, FMC licensing is necessary for freight forwarders. NVOCC operators will need an additional license.
DOT licenses are necessary for domestic auto transport service providers. DOT information should also be provided by international transport companies if they have departments dealing with domestic pickups.
Furthermore, although it may seem trivial to ask this, you should still check if the company is licensed and insured. You should also be notified if they use insured and licensed third party service providers or carriers. You may even be able to obtain the names of those service providers for further research.
It’s easy to obtain a good quote online, but the risk of stumbling over problems is high. The person or company you’re asking a quote from may not necessarily be licensed and the price may not be real. For safety purposes, you should get to know some of the company’s background before proceeding with hiring them.
Online quotes are needed to calculate a company’s shipping fee. You can also find out how they will transport your vehicle overseas through this method as well. Overall costs, the arrival/departure ports, documentation, etc. will be included in the quote.
You may find generic rates on some shippers’ websites. However, these rates are usually applicable only to ideal situations where the car is as small as possible, the destination is highly frequented by carriers, and they give you a great rate.
Due to fluctuations in fuel prices and other charges, shipping rates don’t stay the same. A price you’ve paid on your last shipment will likely not be the same a year later even if you use the same company.
You can verify the prices other clients paid for transportation through forums to check if the price you’ve received is reasonable. Factors that change shipping fees are the departure/arrival locations, the methods used for transportation, the company itself, and the type/model of car you want to move. When checking forums, it’s important to verify the date since some responses may even be 10 years old.
How to request and compare quotes
While we tend to check out the exact amount in dollars when comparing quotes, it’s important to verify the contents more thoroughly. When it comes to overseas car shipping, there are more factors included into the quote. These can be:
- Service type. You’ll pay a different shipping rate depending on whether you choose a door to door, port to door, or port to port service.
- Method. Your options are using containers or the RoRo method. Furthermore, containers can be shared with other clients or not.
- Inland transportation. If you opt for door to door transport, you’ll have to add the price of inland transportation. When receiving a quote, it may contain this fee or it may not, depending on the company.
- Destination costs. Regardless of where you’re going, there will be taxes imposed at the destination port. Clearing customs, unloading, and transporting your vehicle to the final destination may be included in the quote. On the other hand, some companies may choose not to add it making their prices seem much cheaper.
Insurance for your international car shipping
Insurance is given by auto transport companies through 3rd parties or their own programs. The quality and price of insurance differs between various providers.
The rate can be as high as 2.5% of the cargo’s value or as low as 1.5%. It’s helpful to ask the shipping service provider about their insurance, about what it covers, and how much it costs. In the worst case scenario, you’ll want to know the type of insurance you have, when it kicks in, the associated deductibles, etc.
Price vs. time expenditure
Everyone has their own preferences on this topic. Some customers want to transport their cars fast while others are willing to sacrifice time in order to reduce their costs. Furthermore, the exact time needed for the process and how it may vary according to what method is used is unknown to most clients.
You can transport your car internationally in several ways, all with their own benefits and costs. These are:
- Consolidated automobile shipping. This type of transport is the most used and popular. It implies transporting the car alongside others in a container headed for your desired destination. Usually, the time expenditure is higher with this method because the container can only be shipped after it’s filled with cars arriving from various locations. As a bonus, the container protects vehicles more than the RoRo method and the price may also be lower.
- Sole container transportation. This is ideal for transporting vehicles fast. All you need to do is provide the necessary documentation, book a container, and pay the fee. Once your shipper receives the paperwork and container, they’ll get it through customs and load it on the next vessel heading towards the arrival port of your choice.
- The RoRo method. A method that lies somewhere in the middle in terms of cost and time is the RoRo method. It implies driving your car into the belly or hull of the vessel where it will be braced and secured. While it takes longer, the price is also lower.
It’s common for RoRo vessels to transship, so they may make detours before reaching your desired location. Although this doesn’t happen always, you should take it into consideration.
Your car will not receive the protection of a container when using RoRo. It will be exposed to moisture, sea water, and other elements. Finally, you cannot put anything in your automobile except for a spare tire, the tire jack, and other car essentials.
Picking the right departure port
In most cases, your auto shipping service provider will recommend the port closest to your location for which they can give you the best price. However, you should receive other options as well.
For instance, we can use a scenario where a person from New Jersey tries to ship a car to Australia. If the shipper is located in New York, they may recommend it, though they may also give you a rate for Los Angeles’ west coast. While it may seem like the better idea to use the New York route, California provides 2 important benefits:
- The distance between Australia and the US west coast is smaller, meaning faster delivery and fewer ocean freights.
- Because shipments from the West coast to Australia are more frequent, the volume is also higher.
Choose the company and prepare the documents
Picking a shipper can be done using the steps discussed above, so we’ll assume you’ve picked one already. Next, is providing the company with the documents they need. The faster you can provide this paperwork, the faster the shipment can start.
These papers are usually straightforward (ex. the car’s original title, a sale bill copy, etc.). Depending on what country you’re sending the car to and the arrival port, there may be additional paperwork needed.
For example, you’ll need a power of attorney to transport a vehicle from Miami. In Los Angeles, this is not needed. If your car was built after 2010, you may need to provide payment proof to ship it from New York.
Furthermore, you need import approval before you can send a car to Australia. There are many more examples we can give, but it’s not necessary. Your shipper will let you know what to prepare.
Whenever you send a car overseas, we recommend you inspect it yourself, take pictures, and create a report. You should wash the car, have it services, and only then giving it to the shipper. To ensure safety during the loading process, its breaks must function properly.
If you’re aware of the car’s exact condition, you’ll easily notice damages or dings on its exterior when you receive it. Such an inspection will be conducted by the shipper as well, but it’s best if you do one anyway.
International auto shipping requirements
To transport a vehicle to abroad, you’ll need to prepare a few basic items and information. These are:
- Car keys. You’ll have to provide the shipper with keys to your car. However, you should keep a set for yourself. Make a copy if necessary.
- License plate number. In many countries, it’s necessary to submit it to the authorities before the car arrives.
- Title and registration. Without the original title and registration, a car cannot enter or exit a port.
- Photo ID. When sending the vehicle on its way and when receiving it, you’ll have to present identification. You can use your passport.
- Sale Bill. Vehicles bought overseas require a sale bill in order to import them into the US.
- Consignee form. This form will have to be filled out by the shipper. It will contain his/her phone number, address, and name, the car’s value and information, as well information about the one who picks it up at the destination point.
- Statement from your creditor. If you’ve financed or leased your car, you’ll need a statement proving the leaser or creditor knows and has allowed you to ship the vehicle.
- A dangerous goods declaration. It’s needed when sending vehicles to Europe. In it, you’ll outline the gas, batteries, and other potentially dangerous objects within your car.
- An export declaration from your shipper: When shipping objects with a value higher than $2500, you’ll need such a declaration as required by the United States Census Bureau.
- Container list. When shipping vehicles and various other items within a container, it will have to be filled out.
Most likely, your company has its own agents or partners if they don’t have an office or warehouse overseas. If you have any questions regarding the destination, obtain the agent’s contact information and call as soon as possible. The more information you obtain, the better you’ll manage.
Lastly, the following tips may also be helpful:
- You should obtain the quote in writing before settling on a shipper. Verify the fine print just in case there are any hidden charges. The quote must contain the destination and the origin. The destination can be the unloading warehouse, the port, or the consignee’s door. The origin can be a port, the shipper’s door, or a location of his or her choosing.
Furthermore, there should be an outline of the services your company will perform in the quote. It will include the place where the car will be picked up from, where it must go, the insurance, the documentation, lading bill, export declaration, customs clearance, etc.
- Ideally, you should get someone to draft a contract. It must contain the above information, and then be dated and signed by the parties involved.
- Check if you’ll receive assistance with unloading and clearing customs at the destination country. It can be a customs broker or an agent.
- You can find internet reviews for shippers online. To make sure they’re reliable, it may be worth the research.
- You can contact a customer service representative through the number provided by the company on their site. The representative should answer your call and give you good answers regarding shipping requirements, transit time, and dates. If they avoid your questions, it may be cause for suspicion.