Car Shipping Container

How to choose the right car shipping container for your needs?

A car shipping container is a popular and secure way to move your car overseas. But as there are so many types of specialized and custom-made containers to choose from, the selection process can be challenging. That’s where picking up the right shipping company matters. Luckily, AFL specializes in international container shipping and covers almost […]

A car shipping container is a popular and secure way to move your car overseas. But as there are so many types of specialized and custom-made containers to choose from, the selection process can be challenging. That’s where picking up the right shipping company matters. Luckily, AFL specializes in international container shipping and covers almost all destinations worldwide. We can choose the right size of container for your shipping needs and handle the customs and documentation process. Our company endeavours to provide a safe and secure delivery to your doorstep.

Car shipping container: An Introduction

Car Shipping Container AFL

Like RoRo, container shipping is another method of transporting a vehicle overseas through a sea route. But unlike RoRo, it offers closed container car shipping that involves placing the car inside a metal container rather than driving it on a carrier.

Container shipping is a perfect choice for luxury vehicles and fragile items you wish to send overseas. It provides an additional layer of security in terms of an enclosed space. 

The different types of car shipping containers

There are two options to ship a car in a shipping container. One is FCL, and the other one is LCL. You can choose a method according to your delivery needs and budget.

Full Container Load shipping (FCL)

FCL is a perfect fit for luxury cars and goods. With this option, you can also ship fragile items, providing absolute shipping security to your vehicles and goods. But this shipping method is expensive as you’ll have to pay for leasing the whole container. 

Less than Container Load shipping (LCL)

If you want to ship a car alongside other items on a budget, we recommend choosing LCL. In this shipping method, you’ll share the space inside the container with other people’s goods and the shipping cost. So, LCL is cheaper than FCL. But you’ll have to wait a bit to receive the delivery as the carrier will only embark on its journey after the container fills. 

Which type of container is best for your needs?

You can use different types of containers to ship a car in a shipping container. The weight and material of the container are also governing factors in choosing the right container type. A steel container, although lighter than aluminium, a steel container is more robust and is the right choice for shipping heavy goods at long distances. 

On the other hand, moving an aluminium container makes it a good choice for shipping at smaller distances. Depending on your needs, here are the most common types of shipping containers you can find:

  • Dry storage containers

Dry storage containers transport dry goods such as vehicles, equipment, or other items. They are the most common shipping container types in 20 and 40-ft sizes.

  • Open-top containers

Open-top containers feature a removable top and transport over-height products.

  • Flat-rack containers

Flat-rack containers have collapsible sides and transport oversized items. 

  • Refrigerated containers

Refrigerated containers ship perishable goods such as flowers, seafood, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Open-side containers

These containers open up from the sides to provide easy loading of wide items. 

  • Tunnel containers

These types of containers have doors at both ends that offer easy loading and unloading of goods.

  • Ventilated containers

These containers come with proper ventilation to transport weather-sensitive goods. Their construction offers natural ventilation in the entire container across the top rails and bottom.

  • Car carriers

Car carriers are special containers designed specifically to ship cars safely and securely.

How to find the right size container for your car?

Generally, the shipping company offers containers in 20 and 40-ft sizes. You can fit one or two standard garage-size cars in a 20ft container along with other goods. In contrast, 40-ft car shipping containers have more capacity and can accommodate two or four vehicles plus heavy construction equipment. 

While choosing a suitable container, first consider what kind of cargo you are shipping. Is it lightweight or heavy? Some cargo like cars are not easy to load or offload and require a forklift, while perishable goods will require refrigerated containers. You can also obtain a custom-made container to ship special items. 

How to ship a car in a container?

Shipping companies use a specific process to load a car in a shipping container. Through a racking system, the company will place the vehicle inside the container and secure it with ratchet straps. Your car will be secure inside the metal container for the entire journey. 

You would also need proper documentation to clear customs in both origin and destination countries for shipping your car and goods overseas. The standard paperwork required includes:

  • ID and Passport.
  • Original Invoice.
  • Title of Ownership.
  • Registration Certificate.
  • Bill of Lading.
  • Vehicle VIN and Chassis No.
  • Emission Certificate (If Applicable).
  • Packing List.

How much does car container shipping costs?

There are various factors that determine the cost of shipping cars, such as the size of the container and vehicle dimensions. The condition and age of a container also matter. A new container will cost you more to ship a car and goods, while an old car shipping container will cost you less. 

On average, the shipping charges to ship a car through a 20ft container can range between $1400 and $2500. If you ship cars and goods through a 40ft container, it can cost you anywhere between $3500 and $4500. Other factors also go into overall shipping charges. They include:

  • Shipping method

Whether shipping a car through LCL or FCL, it will hugely reflect your final shipping charges. Depending on your requirement, if you choose FCL, the cost will be high as you’ll have to pay for leasing the entire container. In comparison, with a shared container shipping like LCL, you’ll be sharing the shipping charges with other people. So, the overall shipping cost will be less. 

  • Vehicle dimensions

Your vehicle type, size, and weight will also affect the shipping charges. For heavier and larger cars, you will require a 40ft or a special container designed explicitly for carrying more oversized vehicles. Hence, the final shipping cost will be higher than transporting lightweight cars. 

  • Peak Season

It’s essential to consider at what time of the year you want to ship a vehicle. During peak season, the shipping rate is high because the demand is more, and there is less availability of car shipping containers and carriers. 

  • Location

If you schedule a pickup for your vehicle from your doorstep, the auto hauling cost will also add up to your shipping charges. A pickup or delivery to rural areas will also cost you more as it will be difficult for the auto haulers to reach.

  • Distance

The distance between origin and destination ports is also crucial in increasing the shipping costs. Shipping carriers usually calculate the cost as price per nautical mile. So the more significant the distance, the more it will cost you in a car shipping container.

How can AFL take care of your shipping needs?

A car shipping container is a common method to transport vehicles and goods overseas. You can ship various goods alongside your car, and your items will travel in the protected security of the steel container. 

Shipping several containers will cost you less as all the shipments will combine to form a consolidated shipment. But choosing the right container type and size matters a lot. That’s where AFL can help you choose the right container, depending on your shipping requirements. 

Our industry experts have a wealth of experience spanning years. We provide strong insurance coverage and have no upfront or hidden costs. Moreover, our company can offer you a car shipping container at competitive rates. The services we offer include:

  • Personalized Container Shipping

Our agents will listen carefully to your shipping requirements to learn about your vehicle, budget, and timeline. This will help them to offer you a personalized quote and provide you with the container shipping of your choice. Depending on your shipping requirements, we can devise a specialized or custom-made car shipping container for you. 

  • Processing Services

If you are shipping your car overseas, it will require you to prepare detailed and complicated paperwork. If you submit incomplete or wrong information, it can incur a penalty or may bar your vehicle from entering the destination country. But we won’t leave you alone to handle the paperwork, customs clearance, delivery schedule, and hiring a carrier. At AFL, we can help you collect the right information and fill in your documents. Once collected, our agents will submit and assist with customs clearance. 

  • NVOCC Services

Our NVOCC license allows us to find the most suitable carrier, prepare the shipment and make appropriate arrangements for your car to load into the container. It also permits us to negotiate rates and find a shipping carrier at affordable rates. Regardless of the size of your cargo, we have the required industry knowledge to book large or small spaces from the carriers. Furthermore, our robust network of shipping partners eliminates unnecessary shipment and custom delays. 

  • Door-to-Port Services

Besides providing shipping services, we can also take care of your local transport. We have a time-honored relationship with our auto hauling partner, SAKAEM logistics. If you are short on time and cannot deliver the car to the origin port, we can provide you with pick-up services. Our pick-up services include a fast pickup of your vehicle from your doorstep and delivery at the port. If you require port-to-door transportation in the destination country, we can arrange local transport for the secure delivery of your vehicle at your desired location. Other than transport services, we offer customized packaging for the security of your cargo.


A car shipping container is the most reliable and secure method of transporting vehicles and goods overseas. But you would need a thorough understanding of the types of containers and the shipping process. In addition, when searching for a container car shipping company, consider one with experience in shipping to popular destinations overseas. Also, check if they can assist you with the documentation and customs clearance processes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you ship a car in a container?

The shipping company will load the car in a container through a ramp by rolling it down from a flatbed truck. Further, it will push the vehicle into the container via a forklift. Next, the car will be strapped securely inside the container.

How many cars can fit inside a container?

A standard 20-ft container can hold one or two cars at a time, while a 40-ft container can hold around two to four regular-sized vehicles. You also have the option of choosing a private or shared container.

What is the cost to transport a car in a shipping container?

The cost of a car shipping container depends on the type of container, dimensions of your vehicle, distance, and container shipping method. If you choose a shared container, it will cost you less than leasing a private container.


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