7 Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping Your Car Overseas

Toy car traversing a balloon of the globe

Cars face numerous hazards during overseas transit. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid when shipping your car overseas and how to be a responsible shipper.

Key Takeaways

  • Not properly vetting vendors could prove costly
  • Consider the destination’s climate to protect you and your car
  • Pre-departure inspections prevent liability in the event of transit damage
  • Evaluate the tax burden and destination and arrival paperwork
  • Adequate insurance is essential and may require supplementing the auto carrier’s policy

Shipping a car any distance can be worrisome. Sending it abroad can increase that stress exponentially. Decisions influenced by stress, inexperience, or hurrying can lead to poor decisions that compound your problems. Reviewing customer mistakes is a good way to develop smart shipping habits. Our guide will spotlight 7 common mistakes to avoid when shipping your cars overseas.

Table of Contents

1. Hasty Auto Vendor Selection

Sometimes you must ship your car internationally in a hurry. This urgency could cause you to choose the cheapest auto carrier or be too quickly satisfied by what appear to be good reviews. The cheapest vendors can sometimes be the most expensive, and 5-star testimonials aren’t always what they seem. Learn the telltale signs of fake carrier reviews: suspicious usernames, repetitive language, and use of insider jargon.

A cheap first quote could mean falling victim to auto-transport scams. These can involve criminals using a legitimate company’s details to pose as them, or pulling a bait-and-switch where the originally quoted price keeps climbing.

Be sure to research carrier registration and licensing from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). You can search using different carrier criteria, such as its name, state of operation, or USDOT number to verify a vendor. Carriers lacking a USDOT number should be avoided.

2. Neglecting Climate Considerations

Your car operates comfortably within its local environment. Any significant shift in those conditions can negatively impact it when it arrives at its destination. A colder climate can require several pre-departure purchases, such as cold weather tires, tougher wiper blades, and a new battery able to withstand consistently low temperatures.

Shipping to a warmer climate will require checking all levels, including transmission and brake fluid, and especially coolant. It’s wise to assess and upgrade your vehicle’s air-conditioning system if necessary to avoid an uncomfortable drive when you get there.

You may also want to install a set of summer tires. These are designed for optimal performance on-road conditions found in hotter locations. Moving to a destination with a different climate requires tires that are in good condition and pressure set to manufacturer specifications.

Contacting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a good way to find out what your destination country will require and demand for your car in terms of performance, safety, and emissions levels. Failure to meet a country’s standards can endanger your safety and violate the law.

3. Avoiding a Mechanic

Your car may have known and unknown issues. Even the smallest problem can be exacerbated during overseas shipping, leading to a compromised or possibly unsafe vehicle upon arrival. Don’t ship internationally without giving your car a thorough inspection and recommended repairs.

4. Storing Loose Items in the Car

An international journey could leave a car badly beaten and scraped inside unless all loose items are removed before departure. Storing items in vehicles increases the odds of break-ins and theft and may violate carrier policies. Extra items also add vehicle weight which increases shipping expenses.

5. Not Taking Extensive Interior and Exterior Photographs

Not cataloging every inch of your vehicle before it’s shipped leaves you very little defense if an auto carrier damages it during overseas transit. Giving the car a thorough cleaning inside and out before photographing it is a good way to reveal any wear and tear that exists before it goes abroad.

6. Overlooking Paperwork

CBP requires all owners shipping vehicles overseas to complete a vehicle-export cover sheet, which must be provided at the export point with other required paperwork. This should also include the vehicle’s registration, its VIN or bill of sale, and the owner’s photo ID. All required paperwork must be submitted at least 72 hours before shipment.

The CBP provides a detailed breakdown of overseas shipping terminology providing further details on factors that might impact your transport experience, including third-party ownership, government employment status, or untitled/foreign-titled vehicles.

Planning to ship your car without a title? Read our informative article “What to Expect When Shipping Your Car Without a Title” to understand what to expect during the process.

7. Ignoring the Importance of Auto Insurance

Your chosen auto shipping company must show proof of marine shipping insurance. Lack of insurance or inadequate coverage makes it difficult, if not impossible, to successfully file and receive a payout from a damage claim. It can also leave your car vulnerable to damage in the on- and offboarding process; some carrier policies only protect the vehicle while it’s in transit.

One of the most common misconceptions made when moving automobiles overseas is assuming that the carrier’s insurance would cover all eventualities. Consider buying your own insurance even if your carrier’s insurance meets legal requirements. This is particularly prudent if you’re shipping a luxury, classic, or otherwise collectible car where an auto carrier’s maximum payout may not cover the expense of repair or replacement.

Review your current auto-insurance agreement with your provider to clarify how much more shipping insurance you should add, if any.

Read our article “A Look at the Insurance Required When Shipping a Car Overseas” for a detailed look at the insurance coverage you need to safeguard your vehicle during transit.

Let Us Take Care of Your Auto Transport Needs

Mercury Auto Transport is an auto transport broker that presents offers from FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration) licensed and insured carriers. We have access to a wide range of car transporters through National Dispatch Boards, and together with you, we can often strategize and negotiate far better rates.

Get in touch with Mercury Auto Transport to receive your personalized quote or speak with one of our professional auto transport representatives and experience seamless and reliable auto transport services.


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What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.