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How To Ship A Car To Europe



So you are making a move to Europe? Whether permanent or temporary, you need your car shipped and you need to know what you have to do to get it there. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as one might think. There are several quality companies that ship domestically as well as internationally.

Since you are reading this article online, we can assume you are somewhat Internet savvy. Check your favorite search engine to look up an auto shipping company or to the yellow pages if you wish to find a company from the phone book.

These companies have professional reservations staff that can give you a quick quote over the phone and tell you exactly what you will need to do once you have agreed on the company and the price. It is wise to get at least two, possibly three quotes to confirm which company will best suit your shipping requirements.

Below is some basic information on factors and issues you will need to consider when shipping a car to Europe, the UK or another international destination.

  • What part of the country are you located in and where is the shipping port that your car will be placed on an ocean going vessel?
  • Will you drive your vehicle to the port, or will you have a transport carrier pick it up locally to take it to the proper port location?
  • Assuming a transport carrier will pick up your car to take it to the port location, you will need to book your transport date in advance. You will be given a Shipping Order and you will note on it the first date your vehicle will be available for pick up. A seven day period is requested to give the transport company time to coordinate its truck to pick up your car.
  • If you are leaving the area, you must plan enough time in advance for the car transport service to pick up the vehicle before you go. If, for some reason this cannot be done, you must have an alternative party (friend, relative or neighbor) who will be able to drive the vehicle and sign it onto the truck for you.
  • Due to the fact that most of the car transport trucks are 75 feet in length, it can be almost impossible to get them into most residential areas. Low hanging wires, narrow streets, and municipal ordinances are some of the obstacles that must be dealt with. You will need to work with the truck driver when he calls you to find an acceptable place to load your car. A neighborhood shopping center usually has a large enough parking lot with room to accommodate the loading process.
  • Is your car insured? The entire time the vehicle is on the car company transport truck it is insured for its Blue Book value. Events not covered are listed on your Shipping Order and the Bill of Lading (BOL or B/L). A condition report is done at the time of pick up. This same report is presented upon delivery of the vehicle at its destination and the vehicle should then be re-inspected. If you believe damage has occurred, you must note it on the report at that time, claims made afterwards will not be honored.
  • For the actual time of shipping you will need to take out insurance for your vehicle as it is cargo. It is recommended to get what is referred to as Marine Shipping Insurance. In most cases the company shipping your car will not be liable for any damages over a set amount, say $500. Your shipper of choice should be able to provide you with all the available coverages and options.
  • Do not pack or leave personal belongings in the vehicle. Most shipping agents will not cover the cost of personal items also these types of items may get loose, fly around, and cause damage. The Deptartment of Transportation does not legally allow for the transport of household goods in a vehicle, and they have been known to leave goods sitting on the side of the road after an inspection, so do not ship them inside your car, whether in the interior cabin, or the trunk. This is why it is recommended that you remove all items from your car before you ship it, especially since certain shipping methods, such as Ro/Ro (roll on, roll off) vessels will not allow it. Also consult the shipper about how much gas can be left in the tank; it is usually only 1/4 to 1/8 of a tank.
  • What happens if I am not there to pick up my car? Depending upon the destination, they will give you from 3 to 7 days to pick up your car. After that there will be additional charges for storage, and after 30 to 90 days the vehicle will typically be sold.
  • Make certain your documents are organized. Since you are shipping a car from the United States to Europe you will have many documents to fill out. You are exporting a car and then importing it so you will need to deal with customs in both areas. Some shipping companies can manage your export documents or your inbound customs clearance process through their partners that handle your international vehicle shipment so work with your shipping agent to prepare these documents. Prior to your vehicle shipping internationally, you will need to provide all commercial invoices, sign export instructions and any other paperwork that is required by the US and European Country you are importing it into.
  • Keep in mind that many foreign governments have laws that can effect your international vehicle shipment and impose duties on your cargo shipment. You should be prepared to provide receipts for any new merchandise in your international vehicle shipment. Any destination and importation charges accrued through the port of destination are normally the cargo owner's responsibility.
  • In advance of making the shipment, it is recommended you check with the consulate of the foreign government to which you are shipping cargo to, or receiving cargo from, to determine any levies or restrictions that would affect your vehicle being accepted as cargo. The US Department of State's website has a link to other countries' embassies and consulates that can provide further information on duties and policies that may effect your international vehicle shipment. Also find out the rates and tariffs.
  • Find out if your car will be accepted by the European country you are shipping it to. Some features on automobiles sold in the US market might not be allowed in some foreign countries. You will need to get information about this before spending your money to ship a vehicle overseas from the United States. Your vehicle may be allowed into the country but will need to be modified to be accepted and considered roadworthy. The height of your bumper, color and positioning of lights, etc may be tested and required to be modified by the EU country you ship your vehicle to. Research if your car will be accepted as is or will need to be modified (and the cost of those modifications) so that you are informed and financially ready for these expenses.
  • Payment for services is expected at the time of making the reservation for the shipment. Depending on the company involved, payment can be in the form of money order, cashiers check, cash, or personal check, with time for the personal check to clear.
  • Most shipping companies offer door to door service, be sure to ask about it when you call for a quote and set up your reservation.

Hopefully these tips will help you get started in finding the shipper that will meet your needs to get your vehicle moved from the United States to Europe. Remember to evaluate what options are available at the port you intend on shipping your vehicle from and the port you plan on sending it to. Make sure to ask about holding and storage fees as well. To minimize costs, consult with the shipping company that you choose to find the best rates for insurance and for help with getting your paperwork in order.

If you need more help on specifics about shipping a car to Europe search on the Internet for Blogs and Forums of car owners who have already shipped their vehicle to Europe from the United States. Those individuals, who have already done so have their experience to share, can give you information on what shippers are recommended and what, if any, difficulties they had so you can avoid them and your car will have smooth sailing to your European destination.

CarInsurance.com can assist you in keeping your car fully insured while you are in the USA, or if you are moving to the United Kingdom. When you return to the USA, let us help you with the process of getting domestic auto insurance. Enter your zip code above to start a quote.


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