cars leaving the boat after roll-on/roll-off international car shipping

It isn’t as straightforward as domestic shipment, but transporting vehicles internationally is possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Multiple forms of international car shipping are available
  • The costs vary based on distance, shipping type, vehicle type, and route
  • Transit time will likely be lengthy
  • You’ll need the proper documents to proceed
  • A broker can streamline the process for you

The thought of shipping a car across the globe might be intimidating. Where do you even start? How much will it cost? How long does it take? Can you be sure your car is safe?

It’s important to find the right company and let their experts walk you through the process. There is some information you’ll want to learn before you begin so you’ll know what to expect. Here’s an overview of the international car-shipping procedure.

Table of Contents

International Car Shipping Types

International auto transport can seem overwhelming, but breaking the process down step-by-step will help. First, you’ll want to determine the type of car shipping you’ll need to meet your needs. The three most common shipping types are roll-on/roll-off, container, and air freight. 

Roll-on/roll-off, or RORO, involves driving your car to a shipping port, where it is then loaded onto a boat. Your vehicle isn’t provided any special protection; it will sit on the ship like any other piece of cargo while it’s transported to its destination. 

Shipping containers provide some shelter. Your vehicle is loaded into a shipping container on its own or with other cars, ensuring it has protection from debris, cargo, and the elements during transit. This method is recommended for rare or classic cars because it’s safer than RORO.

Air freight is the most expensive option, but also the fastest and safest. The car is secured on an airplane when you go this route, allowing it to reach its destination in hours rather than weeks. 

International Car Shipping Cost

Naturally, the cost of the service will influence the shipping type you select. Various factors determine the final price: distance, vehicle type, transport method, and route popularity.

Longer routes generally cost more. So, shipping a vehicle from Miami to Santo Domingo will theoretically cost less than transportation between Los Angeles and Tokyo. 

However, because Los Angeles to Tokyo is likely a more popular route with more shipping options available, you’re more likely to secure a deal at a lower price. 

The vehicle type also factors into the cost. Transporting a large truck will cost more than a compact car because of its space requirements. Taking into account several factors, shipping a vehicle internationally typically costs between $1,000 and $5,000. Air transport runs, with similar variables, between $5,000 and $40,000. Secure quotes early in the process to ensure you get the best deal.

International Car Shipping Timeline

The timeline is the final aspect that will help determine your method for international car shipping. On average, car transport abroad takes 30 to 60 days from drop-off to arrival. The timeline could shorten if you’re shipping on a popular route to an in-demand destination, but it still takes boats time to cross oceans. 

Air freight is far quicker because planes are faster than ships. However, you’ll still have to wait for the vehicle to clear customs. Make sure you have all the necessary documentation when it arrives. 

Again, keep a budget, timeline, and any specific needs top of mind while determining which shipping method works best for you.

The Documentation You’ll Need

Preparing the necessary paperwork is essential before shipping vehicles internationally. Your carrier will probably need copies of this information to ensure a smooth transition into the foreign country. 

First, you’ll need to supply two copies of your government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license and passport. You’ll also have to write out personal information: name, address, phone number, and email for both the shipper and the receiver. 

Note the vehicle’s VIN, year, make, and model while providing proof of ownership. These documents could include the title, bill of sale, or a notarized lien authorization. You could face delays and additional fees if you don’t supply this documentation, so be ready.

Planning to ship your car without a title? Read our informative article “What to Expect When Shipping Your Car Without a Title” for more insights.

Finding a Shipping Company

Locating an international car-shipping vendor is relatively simple through an online search, but you need a broker to ensure the carrier is reputable. Choosing a shady shipper may leave your car stuck in transit or, worse yet, languishing in the departure port. 

Mercury Auto Transport is an auto transport broker that provides service throughout the United States. We don’t arrange international shipments but can assist in booking vehicle shipments to Alaska or Hawaii. Contact Mercury Auto Transport to learn about our auto shipping services or get a quote.


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