Car shipping ports

Major Eight Car Shipping Ports in the USA

Car shipping ports in the USA provide an easy way to ship your vehicles overseas. However, it’s challenging to secure the best carrier services for a secure delivery. If you take the help of a reliable shipping company like AFL, there is nothing to worry about. Not only will we help with the shipping process, […]

Car shipping ports in the USA provide an easy way to ship your vehicles overseas. However, it’s challenging to secure the best carrier services for a secure delivery. If you take the help of a reliable shipping company like AFL, there is nothing to worry about. Not only will we help with the shipping process, but we also provide inland transportation and can handle your documentation and customs clearance processes at the car shipping port. With the help of our shipping and logistics partners worldwide, we ensure to provide you with a hassle-free shipping experience.

Car shipping in the USA: An Introduction

Ocean freight is a major transport option for global trade. It accounts for 90% of the traded goods over the world. Since 1600, the USA has had a solid shipping base. The USA contributes 26% of the economy through trade, and its maritime vessels account for 70% of weight trade.

It ranks second among countries with the largest Exclusive Economic Zone at 11,351,000 sq. km. The USA’s fifty major ports handled 2363 million tonnes in 2019, with five major car shipping ports crossing three figures regularly.

Available options for car shipping

There are two shipping options that most car shipping ports in the USA offer. RoRo and container shipping.

RoRo car shipping

It is the cheapest and quickest shipping method that involves driving a car on the vessel bound for your desired location.

The shipping company will strap the vehicle on the ship’s deck for security. After reaching the port, you can drive the car of the vessel. To use this shipping option, your vehicle must be operational.

Container car shipping

Container shipping involves placing a vehicle in a metal container for additional security. The best part about this shipping method is placing other goods alongside your car. But container shipping is expensive due to renting a container, crane, and labor for load/unloading vehicles and items. There are two more options in container shipping:


Full Container Load shipping involves renting an entire container for exclusive use. You can place as many vehicles and goods as can fit inside the container. FCL is a good choice for shipping luxury vehicles and fragile goods. However, this method is the most expensive option as you’ll have to pay for the whole container.


Less than Container Load shipping involves sharing a container with other people’s goods. You’ll only pay for the space your vehicle or goods will occupy. This is a good choice for shipping items if you are short on budget. But LCL shipping may take some time as the vessel will only begin its journey once the container fills.

International car shipping ports in USA

The coastal areas of the USA are home to some of the biggest seaports in the country, with eight important ports handling 47% of total ocean freight. Here are the seven RoRo and shipping container car ports in the USA:

Port of Long Beach

Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach is a container port in the City of Long Beach, adjoining the Port of Los Angeles to form San Pedro Bay. In 2019, it was the second largest container terminal with the ability to support 8,113,315 TEU. At present, it can handle 80-85 million tonnes of cargo, showing a 25% growth from the last decade. The Port of Long Beach provides a 3.2 km region for active container operations and an average of 50 feet depth for container vessels.

It is one of the few port facilities in the USA with high drafts. The largest vessel it handled had a draft of 20.1 meters.

It has 80 berths with ten cargo piers and over 100 miles of a railway network, allowing direct cargo handling. Moreover, the green port policy of Port of Long Beach is the second best in the USA, allowing an 88% reduction in emissions.

Newark Port (New York And New Jersey)

Newark Port (New York And New Jersey)

The Ports of New York and New Jersey cover the entire coastal area of New York Harbor. It stretches over 25 miles to make it one of the largest natural harbors globally and the third busiest port in the USA.

In 2019, this port handled 136.6 million tonnes of cargo, including 41 million tons in general and 45 million tons in bulk shipment. Newark port can support 7,471,131TEU imports and 7,179,788 TEU of exports.

The facility has nine terminals with 3087 meters of quay length and six mega berths to handle containers with 15.2 meters of draft. Newark port covers 17 counties, that’s why it can handle 50% of TEU movement in the North Atlantic. An express railway network supports 400,000 container movement tasks annually.

Savannah Port

Savannah Port

Located on the East Coast in Savannah, Georgia, the Savannah port is the fourth busiest seaport in the USA. It has the biggest container terminal in Western Hemisphere and offers the best shipping options to ship vehicles to Africa or Europe. This port provides a satellite terminal and inland distribution facilities.

With 3,599 feet of deep water berthing, 1.425 million square feet of covered, and 99 acres of open storage, it can handle both RoRo and container vessels. The Savannah port supports 3,701,297 TEUs and 41,944,446 tons of cargo annually.

Port of Seattle

Port of Seattle

Located in Washington, the Port of Seattle joined with the Port of Tacoma in 2015 to operate heavy cargo. The Northwest Seaport Alliance jointly operates these ports. In 2015, both ports accounted for handling over 2.1 million TEUs. Currently, the Port of Seattle supports 1,293,435 TEUs and 23,009,273 tons of cargo annually. It is also an excellent transport hub for shipping vehicles to East Asian countries.

Port of Houston

Port of Houston

Established in 1914, the Port of Houston covers 50 miles of area across the Houston Downtown Harbor. It is the 10th busiest port in the world, supporting 284.9 million tonnes of inward and outward cargo. Among all other car shipping ports in the USA, the Port of Houston handles 2.5x times more cargo.

It consists of 2 container terminals and five general cargo handling terminals. Moreover, it receives an average of 7,800 to 8,500 vessel calls annually. The port has the largest container handling network on the US Gulf line. A web of Houston railway network and trucks provides inland transport for cargo. The Port of Houston has a channel width of 106.5 meters with an 11.4 meters maximum depth.

Port of Virginia

Port of Virginia

Located on the US East Coast, the Port of Virginia is the deepest water harbor and the 6th largest port for container operations in the USA. By tonnage, it is the second-largest port and third-largest by container volume on the East Coast.

The Port of Virginia provides facilities to ship to Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Newport areas. It can support 2,172,284 TEUs and 61,701,612 tons of freight cargo per year.

In 2019, it successfully handled 2.9 million TEUs. The Port of Virginia consists of 55+ terminals and 50-foot channels, allowing a large number of vessels to call. Its strategic position ensures that ships will take only 2.5 hours to reach the open sea.

Additionally, it has a railway network that allows 1/3rd of the port cargo, the largest percentage of shipment in any US East Coast port, to arrive or depart.

Port of Charleston

Port of Charleston

Located in South Carolina, the Port of Charleston handles vehicles, containers, and bulk cargo such as crude oil, steel, coal, etc. In 2020, the Port of Charleston ranked 6th in the USA, with over $72 million of imports and exports traded.

It has five terminals and can handle post-Panamax vessels regularly passing through the Panama Canal. Currently, it supports 1,821,148 TEUs and 24,596,490 tons of cargo volume annually.

Port of Miami

Port of Miami

Located in Florida, the Port of Miami is one of the leading car shipping ports in the USA. Due to its strategic location near North and South America and widened Panama Canal, it is the only port to handle cruise and cargo ships.

In 2021, the total TEUs handled by the Port of Miami increased from 1,066,738 to 1,254,062. It supports shipping to Latin America, Europe, and Asia and annually contributes $43 million to Florida’s economy.

The Post-Panamax gantry cranes and on-dock intermodal rail provide fast access to 70% of the US population in just four days.

How to prepare for car shipping?

To prepare your car for car shipping ports in the USA, you’ll have to take some necessary steps to avoid double taxes or penalties. Each country has its own rules and regulations that you must adhere to, such as preparing your car for shipping and customs clearance.

Take the assistance of a reliable shipping company and contact your destination country’s embassy to learn more about customs rules. But first, prepare your car for car shipping ports by inspecting it for damage.

In addition, empty the fuel tank until 1/4th gas is left. Don’t place any items in the car except a spare tire or jack if you want to ship it through RoRo. Last but not least, collect information and prepare the necessary paperwork. The standard documentation for car shipping would include:

  • ID & Passport.
  • Original Invoice.
  • Bill of Lading.
  • Vehicle VIN and Chassis No.
  • Title of Ownership.
  • Registration Certificate.
  • Employee Certificate.

Factors affecting the car shipping cost

Several factors can affect the shipping costs resulting in a hike in shipping charges. They include:

Car Shipping method

If you choose to ship a car, RoRo will cost you less, while container shipping will include container rent, labor, and crane charges. This will cause the shipping rates to increase.

Vehicle weight & size

The heavier and larger your vehicle will be, the more space it will occupy. Shipping companies charge heavier vehicles based on their weight. Hence, it will result in increased shipping charges. Lighter vehicles, such as regular-sized cars, will cost you less as the company bases its rate on Cubic Meters.

Car Shipping season

During peak season, due to high demand for shipping, there is less availability of carriers and containers. Therefore, this shortage can result in increased shipping prices.

How can AFL help you in car shipping?

Car shipping ports in the USA are the busiest and deepest water seaports offering both RoRo and container shipping facilities. But not all car shipping ports can handle RoRo or all kinds of cargo. Moreover, you’ll also need to prepare your car for customs clearance.

In that case, an experienced shipping company like AFL can bring your car to the appropriate port in the USA for RoRo or container shipping. With the help of our worldwide shipping partners, we guarantee to match you with the best carrier available according to your shipping schedule.

Our experts will also assist you in collecting the required information, preparing documentation, and submitting it at customs in the origin and destination country.  You can find the full schedule of Grimaldi Lines and Sallum on our website.

We provide a live tracking option for hassle-free pick-up and delivery. Regardless of the size of your cargo, we provide customized packaging and door-to-port service. Our logistics partner, SAKAEM, can pick up your car from anywhere in the USA to deliver it to the port.

If you want inland transport in your destination country, we can also arrange local transport to pick up your car from the port and deliver it to your desired location. So book your shipment today for the most secure and fastest delivery!


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