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How to Transport Your Car Overseas

Transporting a car overseas, even for non-commercial reasons, can be complicated because of customs and red tape. Streamline the process by choosing the right auto transporter service.


  • Step 1: Learn if your car is legally acceptable abroad Learn whether your car is legally acceptable abroad by calling the U.S. State Department Hotline for American Travelers. Some countries have entry restrictions on the age and make of cars.
  • TIP: Tinted windows and white headlights are common examples of car features unacceptable for entry in certain countries.
  • Step 2: Select a reliable auto transporter service Request online quotes from brokers and car shippers. Compare bids and references.
  • Step 3: Check the shipper's insurance certificate Check a shipper’s insurance certificate and safety record at the Department of Transportation web site before signing a contract.
  • Step 4: Gather proof of ownership documents for Customs Gather proof of ownership documents for Customs. They must either be original or certified copies of the title. For a car owned by a third party, provide a notarized lien holder letter allowing the vehicle to leave the country.
  • Step 5: Prepare your car for shipping Prepare your car for shipping. Have a mechanic check your brakes, battery, and exhaust system to make sure that it’s in good operating condition.
  • TIP: Remove anything that can be stolen, such as hubcaps, floor mats, and tools. They should be shipped with household goods.
  • Step 6: Buy marine insurance Buy marine insurance for damages that may occur in ocean transit. An auto transport service’s insurance may not provide full coverage. Before buying marine insurance, check your existing auto policy to see if your car is covered.
  • Step 7: Ship your car in a metal shipping container Ship your car in a metal shipping container for extra protection.
  • FACT: Built in 2008, the Auriga Leader is a Japanese car carrier ship that is also the world’s first solar-powered ship.

You Will Need

  • U.S. State Department
  • Internet access
  • Bids and references
  • Proof of ownership documents
  • Mechanic
  • Marine Insurance
  • Metal shipping container

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