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Requirements for Car Shipping From the US to the UK

What to Know Before Shipping Your Vehicle to England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

The Big Ben clock tower, Westminster Bridge, and the Thames river in London, England


Moving vehicles, machinery or personal goods overseas is easy with professional guidance. Trans Global Auto Logistics transports your possessions to the UK using local connections at ports worldwide. With over three decades of shipping experience, we’ll help deliver your goods using the methods and customization of your choosing. Let us help you with details such as customs paperwork, import regulations and ensuring a timely arrival. Explore our online resources to determine the best shipping options for goods including classic automobiles, motorcycles, RVs and yachts.



US Documentation Export Requirements for Shipping Cars from US to UK

  1. U.S. Military Service Members:
    1. Original Title or Original notarized Lien Letter with copy of title
    2. PCS Orders
    3. Passport or EIN
  2. Non-Military:
    1. Original Title
    2. Copy of Bill of Sale
    3. Passport or EIN
A woman notating on a document attached to a clipboard.

UK Documentation Import Requirements for Vehicles

  1. Copy of Bill of Sale
  2. Copy of Registration Certificate or Vehicle Title

UK Duties / Taxes Due

Temporary Imports — You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in the UK if all of the following apply:

  • You’re only visiting with no intention on living in the UK
  • Your vehicle is registered and taxed back at its home country
  • You only use the vehicle for up to 6 months total: this can be a single visit or several trips over a 12 month period
    For more information on Temporary Imports, please visit the Gov.uk website.

General guidelines on UK Duty & Taxes — Please note you must pay any VAT and Duty when shipping your car to the UK, before your vehicle will be released by UK customs.

  1. Vehicles 30 years old or less
    1. Duty – 10%
    2. VAT – 20%
  2. Vehicles more than 30 years old
    1. Must be in original condition with no major modifications
    2. Duty – 0%
    3. VAT – 5%
  3. Boats under 12 metres
    1. Duty – 1.7% (if the boat does not exceed 100kg then the rate is 2.7%
    2. VAT – 20%
  4. Boats over 12 metres
    1. Duty – 0%
    2. VAT – 20%

*Please note that for Motorcycles and Boats manufactured in the USA, the EU/UK currently enforces a “retaliatory Duty” rate of 25%. This is in addition to the above Duty and VAT rates.

A man writing on a document with a pen.

Cost & Transit Times for Shipping Car from US to UK

Cost and Transit times vary greatly depending on where your vehicle is in the USA and what UK port it needs to ship to.

  • Generally speaking, if your vehicle is located on the East Coast of the USA, then transit time is about 15 days. From the West Coast, transit time is around 30 days.
  • Please note you’ll need to factor in additional days for customs clearance and vessel loading/unloading.
  • Expect the whole shipping process to take about 30-45 days from the USA East Coast and 45-60 days from the West Coast.

To determine the cost of shipping your car to the UK, please get in touch with us and submit a free quote request, at no obligation to you.

On a spreadsheet listing dollar amounts, a calculator and red pen sit ready for use.

UK Vehicle Import Approval

You’ll have to get vehicle approval to show that your imported vehicle meets regional environmental and safety regulations. Proof of said approval will be required to register your vehicle.

  • You might not need approval for a vehicle that was first registered or manufactured more than 10 years ago. Review the UK’s exemptions.
  • Please contact the DVLA to ensure your vehicle meets all requirements.
  • Please visit gov.uk for more information on the import approval process and to download the required forms.
A car secured on an open trailer for towing.

UK Vehicle Registration

All vehicles brought into the UK permanently must be registered. You cannot register before you do all of the following:

Your vehicle will also be taxed once registered with DVLA with a £55 fee. DVLA might ask to inspect the vehicle. It can take up to 6 weeks for your registration certificate (V5C) to arrive. You need the V5C to get number plates made. Please visit the Gov.uk website for more information on how to register your vehicle and download the required forms.

A woman looks over a spreadsheet at a desk.

Ports Serviced in the US and UK

  • USA Departure Ports — Trans Global has service from all U.S. Ports, including: New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Galveston, Los Angeles, and more.
  • UK Arrival Ports — Below are the most popular UK entry ports. From any of the below destination ports, your car can be delivered to your door anywhere in the UK.
    • Southampton
    • Felixstowe
    • Liverpool
    • London Gateway
    • Dublin
    • Belfast
    • Aberdeen
A sea port with docked cargo ships, cranes, and countless shipping containers

Vehicle Transport Options for Shipping Your Car from the US to the UK

Trans Global offers several international shipping methods to our customers.

Which option will work best for your needs will be determined by several factors, including where the vehicle is located in the USA, where in the UK you want your car shipped to, how quickly you need your vehicle in the UK, the age and value of the vehicle, and cost.

1. Roll On Roll Off (RORO) — These vessels are basically large parking garages on the water. Your vehicle is driven into the belly of the ship via a large ramp and secured to the deck, protected from the outside elements.


  • RORO offers very competitive rates
  • RORO sometimes has a quicker transit time than container


  • Vehicles must be in good running condition. This is not always the case with classic cars which is why we suggest classic cars ship in containers.
  • You are not allowed to store any items in the vehicles. Anything found in the vehicles is disposed of by the receiving terminal.
  • Limited Port Calls which means there is only RORO Service to Southampton and Liverpool. If you need your vehicle to ship to Northern UK then container would be the only option.
Multiple cars on the deck of a cargo ship being transported to another location
A container ship is loaded by Crain.

2. Shared Container Shipping — Your vehicle is shipped with other vehicles in a shared container. All fees for shipping cars to the UK this way are shared between customers using the container, such as terminal handling charges, loading / unloading charges, and trucking of the container to and from the terminals.


  • Poor running or non-running vehicles must be shipped in containers
  • You can store items in the vehicle
  • Container vessels call many more UK ports than RORO


  • Transit time can be a bit longer than RORO since the container can only depart once it has a full load

3. Dedicated Container Shipping — This is similar to the Shared Container method except that your vehicle is the only one in the container. This is typically used if the customer needs the vehicle in a hurry or if it’s shipping to a location that we do not offer container consolidations to.


  • One of the quickest services other than air freight
  • You can store items in the vehicle
  • Container vessels call many more UK ports than RORO


  • More expensive than RORO and Shared Container Shipping
A ship, loaded with containers, leaving its port.
A jet plane sitting at a terminal.

4. Air Freight — One of the most expensive and least used shipping methods. Typically used for high-end collector vehicles or time sensitive shipments


  • The quickest service available


  • The most expensive service available

Preparing Your Car for Shipping from USA to UK

Prior to shipping your vehicle to the UK, it’s important that you perform the following steps to avoid additional fees or being turned away by the terminals.

  • Clean your vehicle inside and out, including its undercarriage
    • Vehicle must be clean of foreign soil, invasive plants, and animals
  • Make sure there is less than a quarter tank of fuel
  • Remove all Non-Factory installed items (applies for RORO shipments only)
  • Remove license plates
  • Disengage any after-market alarm system prior to shipment
An auto detailer polishing a car's headlight.

Additional Services

Prior to shipping your vehicle to the UK, it’s important that you perform the following steps to avoid additional fees or being turned away by the terminals.

  • Inland Transport within the USA and UK – Trans Global arranges road transport anywhere in the USA to the terminal and also to any city within the UK.
  • Marine Insurance – Per the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) liability is limited to per shipment. Marine Insurance is strongly recommended by Trans Global to ensure your vehicle is covered for any damages or loss. All shipping quotes given by Trans Global will list the cost of this optional service.
  • 3rd party vehicle purchase inspections – For those looking to purchase a vehicle online from the USA and want piece of mind knowing the vehicle is as advertised.
  • Escrow Service – For those customers that don’t feel comfortable sending funds directly to a USA online seller or when a seller isn’t comfortable providing their banking details to someone overseas, we offer this service to act as a liaison between the buyer and the seller.
Close-up photo of a semi-truck backed into a parking space.
Trans Global Auto Logistics
Based on 19 reviews
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William Reynolds
William Reynolds
14:10 28 Jan 21
I would like to take the time to thanks Anna Payton for her professionalism and help when getting my vehicle ready to... ship back to the US. She took the time to answer all my questions and concerns about the process and even took pre-shipment photos of my car (I thought this was a great addition). This the fourth time using TransGlobal and I have been impressed with their service each time.read more
Talisman Kreationen
Talisman Kreationen
18:47 15 Oct 20
The representitives here are outstanding, Amanda and Andre were great. They were there every step of the way;... questions, guidance and direction. Great to have a team that I was able to contact by email or phone while they where going through Covid-19 operating hours, never hesitating to answer a question within a reasonable time. Awesomeness at its finest.read more
My Blackjacks
My Blackjacks
15:05 24 Jul 20
Great service. Mandy is amazing and super helpful. All my emails and calls were responded to very quickly and once I... had my quote and paperwork complete she coordinated everything else and I had my car shipped to me extremely quick. Driver was friendly and professional. Highly recommended.read more
Barbara Hutton
Barbara Hutton
12:06 10 Oct 19
I used Trans Global to ship a 1970 Fiat Spider from Florida to New York. I worked with Mandy. She was extremely... courteous and very helpful. She made this whole process very simple. The car carrier they used was very courteous, prompt and ensured that the car was secured safely. Thank you Mandy for a job well done.read more
Sabrina Harder
Sabrina Harder
19:33 25 Mar 19
If I could I would give 5 stars. Brenda has been AMAZING. Seriously highly recommend them to anyone. Quick response to... emails and calls. Brenda has went out of her way to ensure everything is smooth. I can’t give her enough praise! The world needs more people like her - compassionate and caring!read more
Kelly Holliday
Kelly Holliday
23:25 23 Jul 18
Working with trans global has been an amazing experience. From trying to begin a process without hard dates to... suffering mechanical issues and arriving later than expected at the dock, the team that works for trans global have been amazing. They helped our process of getting the truck to its destination and I feel blessed by the angels at Trans Global who assisted us along the way. Mandy was a breath of fresh air as the process for me was a first time endeavor. I feel grateful that she was the one who handled the whole entire process and even helped me laugh when I stressed out and thought I messed up my money order. I will definitely use this company again when we have to ship our truck off of the island in a few years.read more
Cris Madar
Cris Madar
20:22 14 Jul 18
We moved from North Carolina to Hawaii and the process of shipping a car over an ocean seemed daunting. However, Mandy... at Trans Global was absolutely amazing and provided superb customer service. She responded to emails very promptly regardless of time and provided frequent updates. I highly recommend Trans Global and ask for Mandy.read more
Eric Alvarado
Eric Alvarado
05:06 16 Jun 18
OUTSTANDING customer service! THANKS to Mandy Brantley and the Team for tracking my two vehicles and providing all the... details to this picky customer. Couldn't be any happier with the service provided before pick up, in-transit and delivery.read more
Chop Chop
Chop Chop
04:23 28 Jun 17
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Trans Global Auto Logistics is a fully bonded and licensed Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) and freight forwarder. As a leader in the shipping logistics industry, we’re here to answer any questions regarding the safety of your shipments. Whether you’re importing or exporting, our agents guide you through the shipping process every step of the way. We also offer customizable shipping options including door-to-door service, marine insurance and fast air service.


Connect with our expert staff to determine the best shipping method and for your shipment and budget. Whether you decide on air freight, RORO, or container shipping to the UK, our agents are ready to assist you through the entire process so that you can make your shipments with confidence. Call Trans Global Auto Logistics today for a quote.

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