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Shipping a Boat – General Requirements and FAQs

A white yacht sailing in blue seas during daytime

Shipping a boat overseas is a challenging and complicated procedure. From preparing the vessel to finding the right shipping method and gathering customs documents, transporting a boat internationally can be a stressful process. With more than 30 years of experience in international boat shipping, Trans Global Auto Logistics (TGAL) will provide all the tips and resources you need to learn how to ship a boat with more ease.

Follow these general requirements for shipping a boat to ensure an effortless transportation process:

Prepare the Boat for Shipping

Preparing your vessel for shipping will help the boat arrive safely at its final destination. The process can be tedious and time-consuming, but it is a necessary step to reduce the risk of vessel damage during transport. There are many things you should do before handing over the boat to a carrier. Here’s how you can prepare for shipping a boat:

  • Wash the boat’s exterior and look for any signs of damage; take pictures to keep a record of the defects for future reference
  • Clean the interior and remove all personal items before you transport a boat; factory-installed parts are the only items that should remain in the vessel
  • Secure all loose parts and gear above and below the deck; if you want to dismantle any parts, take pictures to keep as a reminder for making reassembly easier
  • Seal hatches, latch cabin windows, and close the cabin doors firmly
  • Empty the boat’s water and fuel tank and remove all drain plugs
  • Switch off all power, disconnect batteries, and secure all cables
  • Use insulator wax on chrome and stainless steel parts and cover the vessel with a shrink wrap before shipping a boat for added protection

If boat preparation seems too daunting to perform on your own, hiring a certified marine surveyor can help reduce the burden. A marine surveyor will conduct a thorough inspection of the boat and its trailer to ensure that they are fit for transport.

Choose a Boat Trailer

A white boat strapped to a trailer during daytime

You will need a trailer to transport the boat overland ⎼ and depending on the shipping method ⎼ via sea. If you already have a trailer, you can use it to transport the boat. However, you will be held fully responsible for any damage that may occur during transport if your trailer is found to be inadequate. Inspect the trailer’s tires, jacks, and other parts t“horoughly to ensure that it is fit for transporting a boat on both land and sea.

What if you don’t have a trailer for shipping a boat? You must communicate with your carrier to find out how to ship a boat without a trailer. Many boat shipping companies like TGAL will provide a trailer if you don’t have one. Research shipping companies to learn which ones offer boat trailer transport services. When you find the ideal carrier, present accurate dimensions, and measurements of the boat so they can provide you with the right-size trailer for transporting your vessel.

Measure Your Boat

Measuring your boat is not only essential for getting the right-size trailer, but it’s also necessary for determining estimated shipping costs and staying compliant with the law. The carrier needs to know the exact measurements of your boat so they can find the right-sized shipping container for transporting the vessel. Further, if the vessel is above the legal height and standard width, you will need to use special permits and routes for shipping an oversized boat.

Obtaining an accurate measurement of your vessel is one of the most important requirements for transporting a boat. Here is how you can measure a boat manually:

  • Length – measure from the tip of the bow to the center of the stern
  • Height – measure from the bottom of the keel to the highest point of the boat with a non-removable part
  • Width or beam – measure the widest part of the boat, including the rub-rails on the edges

The maximum legal load height for boats is 13’6’’ and the width limit is 8’6’’. If your boat is taller or wider than the limit, you will need specialized transportation services. To find out how to ship a boat that’s too tall or wide, you must consult with TGAL’s shipping specialists. We can transport oversized vessels with specialized permits on non-interstate routes to facilitate the delivery of your yacht to its destination.

Pick a Shipping Method

A docked cargo ship in a seaport

There are many different methods for shipping a boat. The boat’s size and your budget will ultimately determine which shipping method is right for you. TGAL offers a wide range of shipping services for transporting a boat to satisfy diverse client needs. Our main boat transportation services include:

Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO)

RORO is the most common shipping method for transporting boats. With the RORO shipping option, your boat is rolled onto and off the ship in its wheeled trailer. TGAL can provide trailers and design customized cradles for your boat transport.

Enclosed Shipping Containers

Although one of the more affordable ways for shipping a boat, containerized transport has size limitations. This form of transportation places your boat inside an enclosed steel container for shipment. If your boat is taller or wider than eight feet, it can’t fit inside a shipping container.

Lift-On/Lift-Off (LOLO)

Want to know how to ship a boat that’s too big for RORO vessels and shipping containers? The LOLO option can be used for shipping a large boat as it has no size restriction. This shipping method uses a crane to lift and load your boat onto the top deck of a cargo vessel. LOLO shipping can incur a higher fee as additional equipment is used for loading/unloading the boat at origin and destination.

Flat Rack

You can also transport a large boat using the flat rack shipping method. With this option, the boat is shipped in its own custom cradle, strapped to a flat rack, and secured to the vessel. The flat rack acts like a non-enclosed shipping container, eliminating size restrictions and allowing oversized boats to be transported.

Consult With Our Shipping Specialists

Shipping a boat overseas is not only logistically challenging but can also be legally complicated. You will need to comply with many export and import regulations to ship your boat to another country. You must consult with shipping specialists to discuss your transportation needs to avoid costly mistakes.

From providing boat preparation tips to presenting the right documents for import customs clearance, TGAL’s shipping specialists will help you every step of the way to ensure smooth and successful boat transport. Contact TGAL’s specialists at 972-992-5023 or request a free quote to learn more about how to ship a boat to another country.

When should I begin the process of shipping a boat?

To transport a boat overseas, you will need to prepare several legal documents for export/import regulations. We recommend you start the process 30 days before the shipping date so you have sufficient time to prepare and present all of the required documents.

What items can I ship with my boat?

You must clear your boat of all personal belongings. Only factory installed-items should remain inside the boat. TGAL and marine insurance will not be responsible for any personal items lost during transport.

How much fuel can I leave in the tank while shipping a boat?

US federal law stipulates that your tank should be no more than one-fourth full during transportation. To stay compliant with transportation regulations, empty your tank to less than a quarter full.

What documents do I need to transport a boat?

If your boat is paid off:

  • The original title of the boat (we’ll mail it back after presenting it to U.S Customs)
  • Bill of Sale (if your purchase is recent)
  • A copy of your ID, driver’s license, or passport

If your boat has a lien:

  • An original and notarized permission letter for shipping overseas signed by the lien
  • A notarized copy of the title (back and front)
  • A copy of your passport, ID, or driver’s license

If you need more information or are missing any of these documents for shipping a boat, please contact us to seek assistance.

Who should I contact to learn more about how to ship a boat overseas?

If you’re in the United States, you can contact TGAL’s head office at 1-800- 264-8167 or send us an email to this address info@tgal.us. For our European clients, you can reach out to us at +49 (0) 6134-2592730 or send an email to info@transglobal-logistics.de.

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