How to Ship Cars Overseas

How to Ship Cars Overseas
June 15, 2020 Aldo Flores
Car Container Shipping Service

Shipping Vehicles Overseas: What You Need to Know

Before you trust your vehicle to a carrier, you should understand the basics of how cars are shipped overseas. This general knowledge not only helps set your expectations about the process but helps you better understand why car container ships are the best method for safe, cost-efficient transport for your vehicle. With over 30 years of experience shipping vehicles overseas and arranging for peoples’ vehicles to meet them at a new, far-away home, we’re the experts in safe auto transport across the country or around the world.


Container ships are how cars are shipped overseas under most circumstances. While air transport is available, it is cost-prohibitive for most people, and freight shipping offers a far more affordable choice. Container ships are large bulk freight vessels meant to carry shipping containers: rectangular metal boxes up to 40 feet long that can carry around 30 tons of cargo in each container. All told, these ships represent the backbone of the international freight shipping industry, with each ship carrying thousands of tons to and from ports around the world.

Car container ships can use these containers to transport vehicles, but they are also designed with decks to secure parked vehicles. Known as “roll-on, roll-off” or RORO transports, these offer another option for those who need to ship vehicles overseas. Whichever type of shipping you choose, the process starts similarly.


  • Contracting With A Logistics Company – The shipping process starts when you reach an agreement with a carrier that ships vehicles. You’ll work with them to determine the best way to transport your vehicle, the right price point for you, and how it’s getting to its export location.
  • Transport To Port – Before shipping your vehicle overseas, it needs to make it onto the ship. If you live near an export port, you may be able to personally deliver your vehicle to the logistics company. You will need to prep your vehicle, making sure it conforms to shipping guidelines that dictate how cars that are shipped overseas should be secured, and follow the shipper’s instructions precisely. Alternatively, you can arrange for shipping to the port through your transport company. Your car will be loaded onto a trailer at or near your location and driven to the port.
  • Loading Your Vehicle – For RORO shipping, a carrier representative will drive your vehicle from a secure lot onto the ship and park it in a designated location. There, it will be secured to the deck to keep it from moving in rough waters. For container shipping, your vehicle is secured inside a steel shipping container. This container is then loaded onto the car container ship by a crane. Once the ship is loaded, the vessel gets underway toward its destination port.

The other part of how cars are shipped overseas is arranging the unloading and delivery of the vehicle once it reaches the end of its sea journey.

  • Unloading The Ship – Once your vehicle has been shipped overseas and the ship is unloaded, the cargo needs to clear customs. The unloading process will see your vehicle or its container moved to a secure location at the port with other arriving cargo. Custom requirements on imports vary from location to location, but an experienced shipping partner can help you understand the expectations of the authorities and how best to ensure there are no snags.
  • Taking Delivery – If you are near the destination port, you may be able to pick up your vehicle yourself, following the carrier’s receiving guidelines and local regulations. Otherwise, transport can be arranged to move your vehicle from the port to a delivery point near you. This additional service layer can be a better option if you aren’t sure about driving on local roads yet or if your vehicle will need to move across several borders to get from the port to your new location.


The above provides a basic overview of how to ship cars overseas. In practice, arranging for transport is best left to the professionals. With decades of experience transporting vehicles and building relationships within the shipping industry, Trans Global Auto Logistics is positioned to help you move your vehicle by car container ship quickly and efficiently. Contact us for a free vehicle shipping quote today. When shipping your vehicle overseas, we’ll ensure that your new vehicle, classic car or motorcycle makes it to its destination safely and at the best possible price.

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