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How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car Overseas

Are you considering sending your car overseas when you relocate? For many people shipping a car overseas is the most cost effective way to have a car in your new country.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car Overseas

Many of SDC International Shipping’s international relocation clients are interested in sending their cars or other vehicles with them when they move overseas. Naturally, one of the first questions that people ask is: “how much does it cost to ship a car overseas?” We know that the answer “depends on many factors” is as unsatisfactory an answer as it is true. For those of you who require a number, it costs between $1000 and $5000 to ship cars by sea.

Please note that it is possible to send a car by air cargo. However, as sending a car by air is extremely expensive, we are only discussing sending ships automobiles as sea cargo in this article. Cars sent to Canada or Mexico can only be shipped via land. The cost of sending a car to Canada or Mexico is mostly dependent upon the total distance the car is sent.

What will affect the Cost of Shipping a Car Overseas?

With such a great range of costs, what are the factors that affect the cost of shipping your car to another country?


Where will be picking your car up from? If you live close to a major port, then it will cost less. If we need to send a car carrier hundreds of miles to pick up your car, the cost will increase. In some cases you can bring your car directly to one of our warehouses or to the port, which can also reduce the cost of shipping some.

Vehicle Type

We can send any type of vehicle that is legal to be sent to your destination country. Normally we are requested to send normal passenger cars, SUV’s or sedans, by families who are sending their personal vehicle for their own use when they move to another country. We have also sent pickup trucks, vans, boats and their trailers and recreational vehicles by ship. Of course, the larger the vehicle, the more it will cost. If you were to send a motorcycle it would cost less.

Please note that regulations change greatly from one country to the next. In many countries, truck of any type, including pickups, are considered commercial vehicles and will not be considered a part of your household goods. Household goods usually enjoy a tax holiday when imported by someone with an immigration visa, a returning resident or someone granted a permanent residency permit. However commercial goods are not included in these, so hefty taxes might be charged if you import one of these. This is more common in Europe than in Africa.


The cost of shipping a car will depend upon the destination. Usually, but not always, the further away the costlier. There are certain destinations where the laws of supply and demand reduce the cost slightly.

Length of Time

There are several methods for sending your car overseas. The amount of time necessary for your car will be 3 – 12 weeks from pickup to delivery. The more rapid methods will cost more.

How can you reduce the Cost of Shipping a Car Overseas?

The best way to reduce the total cost of sending a car from the USA to another country is by sending it as a part of the household that SDC International Shipping will send for you. When you send your car within your container you eliminate many of the intermediate steps.

Many of our clients send a 20’ container for their personal effects and household goods. This size container is large enough to hold all of the furniture and personal goods in a typical 3 bedroom house in the USA. The typical car requires about 15’ for its length. This means that sending a car in your container will take up most of its room, and there may not be enough room in it for the remainder of your household.

We also send 40’ containers. While these containers cost more than 20’ containers, the difference in price is typically far less than the cost of shipping an automobile by itself. In addition to this, it offers you increased room for your personal goods. For about the same cost of a 40’ container, you can also choose to send a slightly larger container known as a 40’ high cube container. This container offers about an additional 15% of cargo space, with plenty of room for all of your belongings and your car.

Other Costs You Need to Consider

While sending a car represents significant savings to most locations, especially to European countries, there will be some additional costs associated with moving your car from one country to another.

When we prepare an international moving quote, we include as many of the costs that we can in it. Whether you send your car within your shipping container or we send it using a specialty service for automobile shipping, our quote for service will include all charges on the origination side of the car shipment. If we are sending a special car carrier truck to collect your car, or sending a car lift to place your car in your container, we will include these costs in quote for service. We will also include the costs of legal fees for services that we must perform in order to prepare your car for export. You will need to send us your car’s original title and license, along with a copy of your driver’s license. We will return these to you before you depart, as these documents will be requested an additional time when your car arrives at its destination. All labor associated with moving the car will also be included.

What aren’t included are the costs at the destination port for inspection, taxes if applicable, and localization of the vehicle when necessary. Commonly demanded adjustments to American sold cars are headlights and license plate holders. These are not expensive, but recently mandated emissions controls adjustments could be costly. Recently many European countries have imposed taxes on high CO2 emitting automobiles, and you might want to consider a hybrid if moving to France or Germany, for instance. Safety equipment is usually not a problem, as we send newer cars. For most destinations cars must be between six months and five years old to send them.

There are a handful of countries that require that you obtain a specific permit for importing your car prior to sending it. This is something that you have to do yourself.

Please review your shipping quote carefully. Depending upon country, your car might be delivered directly to the facility. Even if you send your car within a private shipping container, your container is often times opened at the port, the car removed for delivery to the licensing and inspection facility, and the remainder of the contents delivered to your door for delivery.

Most countries demand that the owner of the car be present in the country when the car passes through customs and vehicle inspection. There are many that demand the owner’s physical presence at least at the inspection. We will try to notify you as soon as we know about your car’s date of custom clearance. If you are moving somewhere far away from a port, you might have to arrange to travel to the port when the vehicle arrives.

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