Few events can make you feel more like a member of the jet set than buying a car from overseas. You’ve scoured the globe for your dream machine and now you’ve sealed the deal with a seller in a foreign country. But after your initial rush from wheeling and dealing subsides, you’re left with the mundane details of shipping your new ride home. Importing a vehicle to the United States means crossing every T and dotting every I, but it also means being prepared for how much it will cost. Beyond the price of the car and transportation, you may be surprised to find several other associated items on your bill. Here are five unexpected costs you should know about before buying your car abroad.
- Ground transportation — You may be focused on all the details related to how your new purchase will cross the ocean. However, it’s important to remember that’s not the only leg of the journey. You’ll also need to arrange for the car to be transported to the shipper’s port of origin as well as your final destination once it arrives.
- International bank fees — Wire transfers sent through international banks often come with additional fees. In certain cases, your payment may be routed through several different institutions, each imposing its own fee. Using a U.S.-based account may cut down on these expenses.
- Customs inspection fees — Customs officials may choose to inspect the container your vehicle occupies during its travels. If so, you may be responsible for paying thousands of dollars in inspection fees. Fortunately, such random inspections are exceedingly rare.
- Marine insurance — Buying insurance coverage for your car during transit is a good idea, but it’s not often that international buyers are prepared to pay for it. They may assume the ocean carrier will pay for any damages incurred during the crossing, but that’s not the case. Carriers are required by law to pay only a tiny reimbursement for any damage to the contents of a shipping container. In any event, spending a little more on insurance is better than paying to repair a rare or expensive vehicle.
- Destination charges — These may include storage, unloading, collecting the container and transporting it to the warehouse. Whatever these charges add up to in your case, they most likely will not be included in your shipping company’s quoted rate.
The thrill of becoming an international car buyer can be tempered once you realize all the associated costs that go with it. However, if you prepare yourself in advance, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy a much smoother transaction.