How to Prepare and Ship a Car to Another Country

Vivian LlambesExports, Freight Forwarding, General, Ocean FreightLeave a Comment

Cars being loaded on to a Roll on / Roll off vessel

Shipping a car to another country can be a difficult task if you do not know what to do. Thankfully, modern technology and working procedures mean that you can easily prepare for most circumstances. This article summarizes some of the key things to consider and the steps to follow to ensure that your car safely arrives at its destination. 

Key preliminaries before exporting your car

There are nine preliminary steps that you will have to follow as you ship your car. It is not advisable to skip any of them. Below are summaries of your roles in each step.

STEP 1: Vehicle documentation

Begin by gathering all the documents related to your car. Without them, the car may not leave or arrive. Transporters want to be sure that you really own the car and that it is not stolen. You will need its original registration, proof of insurance, a bill of sale, original title, and your identification, which can be a driver’s license or passport. 

Remember to prepare all the paperwork in advance to avoid delays. You should also have sufficient money to pay any import duties and taxes to reduce storage fees. Moreover, cars cannot be moved from the jurisdiction in which they were financed without the explicit and complete consent of the lending bank. 

STEP 2: Cleaning the Car

The second step is to wash the car thoroughly. This includes the interior and exterior. This allows you to see any damage that the car has before it is shipped. Often there are disputes about damage, and these can be easily resolved if you clean the car, photograph it thoroughly, and declare any dents or scratches or dings. If transported professionally, you will have a clean car at the new destination. 

STEP 3: Checking for and reporting damage

Reporting damage is a critical step that the transporter will require. You should take a close inspection and photograph the car, highlighting any damage. Hopefully, there will be no dust or mud. However, you can report paint chips and discoloration. Given the significant improvement in shipping standards, it is not likely that the car will be damaged in transit. Nevertheless, it is always best to make certain that you know the exact condition of the car you are sending. 

STEP4: Removing any personal items from the car

Do not forget to remove personal items from the car. They can be lost, and the transporter will not be responsible for them. As you clean, open all cabinets and shelves to clear them of your personal belongings. Never stash boxes or other items in the car in the hope that they can be transported at no cost. These items are not insured against theft or damage so if they get lost, you will have no recourse. In fact, the transporter may be fined for moving items in the car. 

It is never a good idea to leave identifying and personal information, such insurance, in the car. Similarly, you should detach any parking passes and toll tags. Remember that leaving the toll tag ensures that you are charged if the vehicle ever goes through tolls. It is advisable to leave a spare tire, license plates, jack, and emergency kit just in case there is a problem. 

STEP 5: Doing the necessary maintenance work

You should perform all the necessary maintenance work on the vehicle. This is done to allow the car to be driven on and off the truck. Otherwise, you may have to pay extra fees for forklifts and cranes. Check for mechanical issues and leaks. Look at the tire pressure to ensure that it is neither over-inflated or deflated. The battery should be fully charged. Top up the necessary fluids including coolants, brake fluids, washers, and power steering. Note the mileage so that you can verify any discrepancies at the end of the journey. 

STEP 6: Emptying the gas tank

Empty the gas tank because the vehicle will not be driven for a long distance. You can leave a little fuel for the shifts on and off the truck. When you fill the tank before shifting, you simply make your car heavier and incur unnecessary expenses. A quarter tank is just about right for most vehicles. 

STEP 7: Detaching all outside accessories

All external accessories should be removed from the car prior to shipping. These extras can damage the car during transit. At the same time, the accessories are expensive and are liable to be damaged. Some of the items that you would typically remove include racks, boxes, antennas, and customized spoilers.  

STEP 8: Locking up the car and leaving keys 

Lock up the car for security purposes. However, you should leave the keys or a copy of the keys with the transporter so they can move the car. Locking the car door is extra security and will help you if you must make a claim for theft. Only hand over a spare key so that you still have control over the car. These keys can get lost in transit. 

STEP 9: Preparing and presenting a bill of lading

Prepare and present your bill of lading to get the process going. Prior to the shipping, the driver will call to ensure that the car is ready for handover. Sometimes you must drive the car to the pickup station. There must be an authorized agent to inspect the car and sign all the documents, including one explaining the state of the car. The bill of lading will show the origin and destination of the car. It will also highlight special and mechanical issues for future reference. 

Key documents required to export a car

There are certain documents that you will need to export your car. In the USA, these are listed under Section 192, subsection 2. Customs will want to see the vehicle identification number (VIN) or product identification number (PIN) if you do not have access to the former. Some exemptions for paperwork may apply if the vehicle is only in transit when it lands in the USA, has a temporary importation order bond, or is exempted for non-residents for up to 12 months. 

Customs officials need all the documents to be with them at least 72 hours prior to the shipment going out. During the export, the vehicle is presented to the customs and border team to ensure that everything is in order. Make sure that you are familiar with the requirements for presentation under 19 CFR 192.2 (d). These are specific locations that are designated by port directors, and these are publicized during hours of operation. Officials will authenticate and mark the documentation once everything has been confirmed. 

Insurance and tax requirements

It is imperative that you purchase appropriate and adequate insurance for the vehicle whilst in transit. Marine insurance covers the time spent on sea. The carrier will have minimal coverage that cannot replace your car so you may need to supplement it with your own more comprehensive package. Ensure that you confirm coverage with the carrier. They may even tell you about additional costs depending on your car and its weight. 

Wrapping up

Shipping your car abroad should not be a problem if you understand the process and have all the appropriate documentation. Make sure that your car is cleaned, prepared, and inspected before handing it over. Remove personal effects and expensive accessories. Prepare and present all the documentation. Finally, check that you have adequate insurance for transit before sending it off. If you’re looking for an affordable and quality company to ship your car, Shiplilly offers overseas vehicle shipping as a service. Contact us today to get a free quote.

Vivian Llambes
Vivian loves working here. She has been with the company since the start, over two decades ago. When she's not giving her 110% to help her clients business succeed, you can find Vivian spending time outdoors with her family, or relaxing on the beach with a good book.

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