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How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car Overseas

Published on Jul 22, 2021 by Kfir Cohen

Many SDC International Shipping’s international relocation clients are interested in sending their cars or other vehicles with them when they move overseas.


What’s on this page?

01 | What will affect the cost of shipping a car overseas?
02 | How can you reduce the cost of shipping a vehicle?
03 | Other Costs You Need to Consider


Naturally, one of the first questions 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 accurate. For those 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 only discuss 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 vehicle to Canada or Mexico depends on the total distance the vehicle is sent.


What will affect the cost of shipping a car overseas?

Type of Vehicle

Cars are not the only vehicles that you are permitted to send overseas. Our clients commonly send motorcycles and other vehicles also. The rules for cars and motorcycles are usually identical, but some countries will allow you to send both a bike and a car. Some countries will allow one licensed vehicle per family; others will allow one vehicle per adult. 

The cost of sending a motorcycle by itself is similar to sending an automobile when sent as an independent shipment. It is slightly less expensive but still far more costly than sending as a part of your household shipment. However, when you send your motorcycle in your shipping container, it can be crated and secured within your container for a small additional cost.

Read more: International Vehicle Shipping from USA

There are other types of vehicles that can be sent. These include both licensed and unlicensed vehicles. For vehicles that are licensed in the destination country, they will need to meet the safety and licensing regulations of that country. For instance, some countries license light motorcycles (fewer than 50 CC ), and others don’t. ATVs, off-road motorbikes, snowmobiles, jet skis, motorized scooters, etc., all require licensing in some countries.

If they are licensed or titled in your state, we will need to clear their title before we can send it overseas, regardless of the licensing policy in your destination country. While boats can usually be dispatched on the trailers, their registration is generally done via a different government ministry.

Shipping Method

Cars are shipped overseas in a variety of methods. While vehicles can be sent in airplanes, it is costly and should not even be considered.

Cars can be shipped in your international shipping container. This will be the preferred method for most of our clients, and this is also the most cost-effective method. Some origin-destination combinations make more sense for us to pick up your car with a car carrier and send it using a special car transport either in containers or roll on roll off. However, for most of our customers, even if it means taking a 40’ container instead of a 20’, sending your car within your personal container will ensure that your car arrives soundly at a reasonable price.

Most cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks can fit into a shipping container. 7’ 8” is the internal width dimension of the containers. If you are shopping for a new car, this measure is listed in the details of all new cars. If you are doing some advanced planning, you will find that buying a new car six months before your moving date will make the most sense.

Some SUVs, vans, and full-sized pickup trucks will not fit into sea shipment containers. These, along with RV’s, boats, and other oversized vehicles, get sent using the roll-on roll-off method, where the cars are delivered using special ships. Don’t let the name fool you; this method is safe, and the cars travel in a protected environment.

Occasionally we will also send our clients cars using specialized containers that have been outfitted with equipment to make automobile transport safe and secure.

When you get quotes for the international shipping of cars, be sure that the quote includes the exact method. Sometimes cheap methods, like open containers, are used. These expose your car to dampness and potential damage.

The Origin

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.

The Destination

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.


How can you reduce the cost of shipping a vehicle?

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 three-bedroom house in the USA. The standard 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.


Popular International Car Shipping Destinations:


We also send 40’ containers. While these containers cost more than 20’ containers, the price difference is typically far less than the cost of shipping an automobile by itself. In addition to this, it offers you increased room for your goods. For about the exact price as 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 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 send a particular car carrier truck to collect your car or send a car lift to place your vehicle in your container, we will include these costs in a quote for service.

We will also include the costs of legal fees for services that we must perform 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.

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

Please review your shipping quote carefully. Depending upon the 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 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 car owner be present in the country when the car passes through customs and vehicle inspection. Many require 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 customs clearance date. If you are moving somewhere far away from a port, you might have to arrange to travel to the dock when the vehicle arrives.


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By Kfir Cohen

Kfir Cohen is handling global operations, cargo shipping, negotiation, and management of different suppliers around the world. He has more than 15 years of experience in the avant-garde of relocation and the sea/air freight business.
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