Shipping a Car Overseas

Shipping a Car Overseas
September 26, 2022 Chrissy Goodwin
Photo of a luxury car in front of a freight ship

What You Need to Know When Shipping Your Car

At Trans Global Auto Logistics, shipping cars overseas is our bread and butter. So, whether you’re relocating outside the United States for work or need military shipping for active-duty assignments, we can walk you through the steps of shipping your car (or truck) to your destination.

Get familiar with the terms of overseas shipping for cars and trucks

One term many clients inquire about is “self-propelled vehicle.” This term appears on many documents and forms that need to be completed. This classification includes cars and trucks, buses and motorcycles, motorhomes (RVs), and specific agriculture and construction equipment designed to operate on the ground. If you are looking to ship heavy equipment or a vehicle that may not fall into this category, please contact us for more information.

Preparing the paperwork to ship a car overseas

Before starting the process of shipping your car, it’s important to become familiar with the US laws and regulations and those of the country you are shipping to. For example, some countries forbid importing older vehicles (with exceptions for antiques or collectible classic cars). It’s also important to understand the taxes and tariffs you will be charged. In some instances, purchasing a vehicle at your destination may be more affordable.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulates everything to ensure requirements are met, and fees are paid. Hiring an international mover can help ease the paperwork as they will often provide the necessary clearance documents.

Readying your car for shipping

Once your paperwork is in order, it’s time to prepare your vehicle for shipping.

  • Drain all gasoline and hazardous/flammable liquids.
  • Disconnect or remove the battery.
  • Check with your moving company about using the vehicle’s interior for packing space. Some shipping companies will not allow loose items inside.
  • Secure all documentation, such as the title and registration. If there are issues with the vehicle’s title or if you are a US Government Employee relocating with a government-owned vehicle, be sure to share that information with your shipping provider.

Photo of a large overseas shipping port filled with containers.

Active-duty military? Extra details to know about shipping a car overseas

For US active-duty military and government employees, additional rules may apply. Some points to consider when shipping your car:

  • Size and weight limitations — The government typically pays to ship one vehicle weighing up to 20 metric tons. If your SUV or RV weighs more, you must pay extra.
  • Vehicles modified in the US —Some non-factory vehicle modifications may need to meet the requirements of the country they are being shipped to.
  • Know your timeline — Shipping times may vary based on your military branch or government office. Having this information will help with planning your relocation.
  • Learn what can be packed in your vehicle — Don’t assume your vehicle can be used as a packing container for household relocation. Learn what is and is not allowed inside.


Trans Global Auto Logistics has over 30 years in the business. Consult with one of our representatives today, and we’ll ensure that shipping your car overseas is as stress-free as possible.

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