International car shipping

Making Sense of International Car Shipping Quotes

Learn how to make sense of the quotes you receive from car shipping carriers. Discover how to make informed decisions before sending your car overseas.

Cost to Ship a Car Overseas

If you’re preparing to do your research on shipping a car overseas, you’ll soon find out about the importance of international car shipping quotes. Car shipping carriers provide car shipping calculators that allow you to get a sense of how much you’ll need to pay to ship your car from one country to the next. The quote you receive will either be based on recent car shipping data, or you’ll receive a real-time estimate for costs. The quote you receive gives you insights into what you can expect to pay when shipping with a particular car shipping carrier.

How to Get International Car Shipping Quotes

Getting international car shipping quotes is a fairly easy process. You’ll only need two things.

Once you are on the company’s website, they’ll typically have a button you can press either on the homepage or the menu bar where you can click to “get a free quote. Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll be asked to put your loading port, destination port, the make and model of your car, and the type of shipping you’d like to use. The two main methods for shipping cars internationally are Roll on Roll off (RoRo) shipping and container shipping. If you aren’t familiar with these shipping methods, don’t worry, we’ll be covering it in an upcoming section.  

After you’ve completed this step you’ll be provided with a general estimate of how much it will cost to ship your car internationally. If you see a high difference between the high end and low end of the estimate it’s because the final cost will be determined by how many services are offered by the shipping carriers. They do their best to provide both basic and premium services to their customers.

Shipping Methods

The shipping method you choose will directly affect the price you pay when getting an international car shipping quote. RoRo shipping is more economical than container shipping, but container shipping comes with some added perks.

  • RoRo shipping involves your car being rolled onto the transport vessel, secured, and kept in the same place until it arrives at the destination port. The only drawback to RoRo shipping is that your car can be vulnerable to damage if the vessel is traveling through rough seas or inclement weather.
  • Container shipping provides added safety to your vehicle. Your car will be loaded into a container and then placed on the shipping vessel. The car is secured, and, depending on whether you choose  less than container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL), you may be able to ship  some of your belongings along with your vehicle. LCL doesn’t permit you to bring additional belongings, because your car will be sharing the container with other vehicles. But, if you choose FCL, your vehicle will have a container to itself, and will be able to hold more than just your car. 

Shipping Services

Your international car shipping quotes don’t only reflect the shipping method you choose, they also reflect the shipping services you choose.

For international shipping, you typically have to choose between either door-to-port service or port-to-port service.

  • Door-to-port service involves an agent from the car shipping carrier picking your vehicle up from your home4 and taking it to the loading port. Once the car arrives at the loading port, the agent will then have your car loaded onto the vessel according to your chosen shipping method. You’ll only be required to pick your car up from the destination port after its arrival.
  • Port-to-port is less expensive than door-to-port service, but requires you to be the one to transport your car to the loading port. This method can be a bit more tricky if you don’t have easy access to the loading port, because once you drop your car, you’ll have to find your own way back home.

NOTE: If you live in a more rural area, you’ll most likely want to use a door-to-port service. 

However, you’ll also have to pay a higher price to have your car transported to the 

loading port than someone living in a metropolitan area. 

Primary Factors Affecting Shipping Cost 

There are a few primary factors that will influence the overall price you are made to pay when shipping your car internationally.

  • Distance – The further your vehicle has to travel when being shipped overseas, the higher the price you’ll have to pay.
  • Size and Weight – The size and weight of your vehicle will also affect the price you are quoted for shipping your car. The more your car weighs, the more you’ll have to pay to ship it.
  • Speed  – The speed of your shipment directly affects the cost. The larger the window of time you have for shipping, the less you’ll be made to pay. Expedited shipping will always cost more because the shipping carrier will have to work harder to get your car delivered faster than their set standard.
  • Season  – Shipping during the summer and winter will always cost more. Summer is the busy season for shipping cars and there is often congestion on the seas. Winter shipping comes with higher costs due to inclement weather, delays, and congestion on the seas.

Timeframes for Shipping a Car

Car shipping times can vary from country to country. You should Take a look at the table below to get a sense of how long it can take to ship a car internationally.

To/FromGroundOceanEstimated Time
New York, NY to (New York port) to Germany$275$1,2005+19 days
Los Angeles to (California port) to UK$350$3,7005+32 days
Las Vegas, NV to (California port) to New Zealand$450$2,4005+26 days
Portland, OR to (California port) to Puerto Rico$475$3,3006+20 days
Phoenix, AZ to (California port) to Hawaii$550$2,0006+15 days
Columbus, OH to (New York port) to Spain$550$1,4005+19 days
Detroit, MI to (New York port) to Argentina$575$3,0006+26 days
Chicago, IL to (New York port) to Costa Rica$675$3,6006+16 days
Miami, FL to (New York port) to Belgium$925$1,2007+18 days
Dallas, TX to (California port) to Australia$1,025$1,5007+30 days
Container Port

Import Duties, Taxes, and Fees

When you receive international car shipping quotes, it’s important to keep in mind the price you see is not the only price you pay. The majority of shipping carriers do not include the cost of import duties, taxes, and fees that will be charged once your car is imported into the country.

For this reason, it’s important for you to reach out to a customs agent for the country you’re shipping to. The agent will not only be able to identify which forms you’ll need to ship your car, but they’ll also be able to tell you what duties, taxes, and fees you’ll be expected to pay. The majority of duties and taxes are based on the make, model, age, and size of your vehicle. The fees you pay are tied to the country’s inspection of your car upon its arrival into the country.

Storage Fees

When you ship your car to another country, you may not be able to arrive the same day your vehicle does. Because of this, your car can be stored in a warehouse after it’s been imported. Then, once you arrive to retrieve your car, you’ll be able to pick up your car and drive away once you’ve paid your import duties, taxes, and fees. 

Marine Insurance

Marine insurance is oftentimes optional. It’s an added protection you can include to add extra peace of mind for your shipment. This insurance covers any damages that are not already covered through any other insurance offered by the shipping carrier.

One of the primary selling points for marine insurance is that it covers your shipment during hurricane season (June 1st to November 30th) Hurricanes are known as being capable of doing serious damage to vehicles and vessels.

Required Documents

The type of documents required to ship your car internationally depends on what country you’re shipping to. Every country has its own set of rules, regulations, and laws about allowing cars into their country. It’s important for you to contact the customs agent for the country you are planning to ship to. The agent will let you know what forms you need as well as what you’ll need to do to avoid paying additional fees,

Listed below are some of the most common documents you’ll need to ship your vehicle from one country to the next.

  • Original Title of the Car 
  • Your Driver’s License 
  • Bill of Lading 
  • Bill of Sale

NOTE: If the idea of filling out shipping documents makes you feel stressed, don’t worry. Many 

shipping carriers offer customs clearances that allow them to fill out all the paperwork for 

you at a small additional cost. 

Preparing to Ship Your Car

Preparing to ship your car takes only a few quick steps. Doing so will help you avoid delays and unnecessary fees.

Prior to your car being taken to the loading port by either yourself or an agent, be sure to do the following:

  • Take photos of your vehicle. You’ll want to be able to show the condition your vehicle was in prior to shipment.
  • Remove all of your personal belongings from the vehicle. The only thing you should have in your car are items that are needed to make the car run (car tools and jumper cables.)
  • Check your tires and car battery and make sure they meet the shipping carrier’s requirements. 
  • Disable any alarms you have on your car.
  • Lock your car before giving your keys to the agent who will load and ship your car.

How the Shipping Route Affects Cost

The shipping route and frequency of shipment also affects the internationally car shipping quotes you receive. Every shipping carrier has their own unique route that they take between ports. Their chosen route–and how often they travel between a particular loading port and shipping port affects the overall cost of shipping your car. 

It’s important to keep this in mind when reviewing international car shipping quotes from different shipping carriers. The price you see may reflect both the length of their route and the frequency at which they travel it.

Shipping Routes

Shipping Tips

When you’re shipping a car internationally for the first time, you should take all the help you can get. Posted below are some of the most common international shipping tips provided by the transport carriers themselves.

  • Check with your carrier about how often they’ve handled a vehicle like yours before. It’s not only important for a company to have a good reputation, they should also have experience shipping your same type of vehicle. 
  • Take photos of your car before it’s shipped. You’ll want to show what condition your car was in before it was shipped. That way, if your car gets damaged in any way during transport, you’ll be able to show what damages were, and weren’t, there before.
  • Get insurance for the entire journey. Depending on your chosen shipping method and shipping service, you may think you won’t need insurance for the whole journey. But, it’s better to have it and not need it, then not have it and need it.
  • Remove all of your personal belongings from the vehicle before it’s shipped. This is a general rule for preparing your car for shipment, but it’s left in as a tip because sometimes people still forget to do it. The shipping carrier is only responsible for shipping your vehicle. If something goes missing during the transport, they won’t be able to locate it for you.
  • Have a good timeline for how long it should take to ship your vehicle. It’s important for you to know how long it should and could take for your vehicle to arrive. Especially since you’ll be the one responsible for picking your car up from the destination power.
  • Know the shipping carrier’s expectations for the condition of your car. Some carriers can only transport running cars, whereas others can transport both running and inoperable cars. You should also know how much fuel should be left in your car and what condition your battery and tires should be in.


After reading this post you have learned the ins and outs of shipping a car internationally. You’ve learned what process is used to generate internationally car shipping quotes as well as what factors will affect the overall price you are asked to pay to ship your car. You’ve also discovered why it’s necessary to contact a customs agent for the country you are shipping to. You’ve also learned the top tips for making sure your car shipping experience goes smoothly. Now all you have to do is choose your car shipping carrier and your destination port!


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