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Car Shipping Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Shipping your car overseas? Looking for information on shipping, import and export procedures? On this page we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions with lots of helpful information on the processes involved in shipping a car overseas.

This car shipping FAQ page is being updated on a regular basis and we hope it answers some of your questions on how to ship a car overseas?

The vast majority of cars that are shipped worldwide are moved by Sea Freight. We provide Roll on Roll off car shipping services where vehicles are shipped using specialist vessels designed solely for the purpose of transporting vehicles. We also provide Dedicated Container car shipping and Shared Container car shipping services where vehicles are securely loaded and lashed into shipping containers for safe shipment. If speed is of the essence, Air Freight car shipping services are also available to many destinations around the world.

Shipping costs can vary greatly dependant on the type of vehicle being shipped and your chosen destination. The two main categories of vehicles are a Car or a 4x4 / SUV. A car is normally defined as being a vehicle that is below 1.6m in height and 4x4’s / SUVs as vehicles that have a height of between 1.6m and 2.1m high.

The cost of shipping a vehicle to some European destinations for a standard Car for example can be as little as £500. Car shipping costs will increase depending on the distance from the UK port to the destination port. USA for instance is around £600.00 and Australia around £1000.00. Please visit our car shipping costs page for more information.

  • To export your vehicle from the UK we must have a copy of the Vehicle Registration Document known as V5 document. We will require copies of both page 1 and 2.
  • If you have recently purchased your vehicle and the Vehicle Registration Document is not in your name, we require a copy of the Bill of Sale or Invoice in addition to a copy of the Vehicle Registration Document itself.
  • For vehicles shipped to the USA, we will also require a copy of the photo page of passport or photo driving licence and social security number (if available) for the person importing the vehicle at destination.
  • Some countries, such as Australia and South Africa need additional documentation such as Vehicle Import Approval for Australia or a Letter of Authority for South Africa car shipments. Please visit our Guides pages for detailed information or speak to one of our team who will guide you through the documentation we need.
  • Your privacy is important, we will only ask you for copy documents, not originals and you can send them to us through our secure document transfer page here.
  • No original documentation should be left inside your vehicle. Originals should be taken with you when you travel or sent to the individual importing the vehicle at destination as they will be needed when the vehicle arrives.

The simple answer yes you can. You do not need to be in the country your vehicle is being shipped from and our team will be on hand to make it as easy as possible for you to coordinate everything from overseas.

If you have left your vehicle in the care of a friend or family member and it would be easier for you; we will be happy to speak directly with them to make it as easy as possible them to deliver on your behalf or for us to collect your vehicle at a time that suits them.

If you are purchasing a vehicle either from a car dealer or from a private individual, we will also be happy to deal directly with them to coordinate collection or delivery if it would make things easier for you to manage from overseas.

We are happy to provide a variety of collection options wherever your car is in the UK.

Chauffeur driver collection
For vehicles that run and drive this may provide the most cost-effective way to have your vehicle collected and transported to the port of departure. Vehicles must have a valid MOT to be moved using our chauffeur / trade plated driver collection service.

Open transporter collection
Suitable vehicles that do not run and drive, do not have a current MOT or simply if you would prefer your vehicle is not driven. Collection can be completed using a flatbed collection vehicle or multi-vehicle transporter if you have more than one vehicle to ship.

Enclosed transporter collection
Often preferred for higher value, classic or specialist vehicles, our enclosed transporter service will see your vehicle loaded inside the collection vehicle where it will remain protected from the elements…and curious or prying eyes!

Collection costs can range from as little as, for example, £150.00 for a chauffeur driver collection from London to the port of Southampton to around £450 for a transporter collection from, for example, Glasgow to Southampton port.

If you would prefer to deliver your vehicle yourself rather than have it collected, you are welcome to do so. When your shipment has been booked, we will provide full delivery instructions including delivery address and the dates and times you can deliver your vehicle.

We will prepare a “Standard Shipping Note” for you which will give you access through port security and will also include a link to your destination on google maps to make planning your journey nice and easy.

In most instances non-running vehicles can be shipped and simply need to be handled a little differently to vehicles that can be driven under their own power. If you are not able to arrange transport to the port yourself, we can arrange collection of non-running vehicles utilising transporters that can safely load vehicles that do not run using a powered winch.

Non-running vehicles can be shipped using any of our dedicated or shared container shipping services, however there are only limited roll on roll off services that are able to accommodate a vehicle that does not run.

Please expect to pay additional costs for collection and towing charges both in the UK and at destination. To be safely loaded and secured for shipment, vehicles must always have fully functioning steering irrespective of if they are being moved on a roll on roll off service or being shipped in a container. If your vehicle does not have functioning brakes it will not be possible to ship using a roll on roll off service, but it can still be accommodated on our container shipping services.

Yes you can load personal effects, spares and non-hazardous items inside your vehicle but only when shipping by container or in our shared container RRak service.

When loading personal effects into a car the front passenger compartment (driver’s seat and front passenger seat & foot well) must remain empty. When sitting in the driver’s seat, clear visibility out of all windows must also be maintained. We will also require a detailed inventory of all goods inside the car as we need to declare these goods to UK and destination customs officers.

It is also important that vehicles are not ‘overloaded’ with too much weight or ‘unsafely’ loaded with items that can move during shipment. If your vehicle is deemed to be overloaded or if items loaded in the vehicle are not appropriately secured; it may not be accepted by the shipping line or, if you have requested a collection service, the collection company may refuse to collect the vehicle if they deem it unsafe to transport it to the port.

You must make an inventory/list of any goods you have loaded into the vehicle as the contents will need to be declared to customs authorities.

We can provide insurance cover against the loss or theft only of any items being shipped in your vehicle. We cannot insure for damage or breakage as we have not professionally packed your items ourselves. You will need to complete our insurance application and advise us of descriptions and values.

If you are shipping to a destination where items cannot be included with your vehicle, or you simply have too many items to fit into your vehicle we can still help. You can find further information about shipping your personal and household effects using our dedicated International Removals services here.

You will need to be road legal if you are driving the vehicle to the port so will require a current MOT and road tax. If you have requested collection using our chauffeur driver service, your vehicle will need to have a valid MOT but does not need to be taxed.

If your vehicle does not have a valid MOT or tax, we will still be able to arrange collection using one of our transporter services so that your vehicle does not need to be driven on the road.

If your vehicle is subject to a finance agreement, you will need to obtain written confirmation from the finance company that they authorise the vehicle to be shipped out of the country. If the finance company do not authorise the vehicle to be exported, it will not be possible for you to ship your vehicle.

Whether shipping on one of our roll on roll off services or on one of our container shipping services, your vehicle will need to be driven on to the vessel or into the shipping container. While this will require the battery to remain connected and there to be some fuel in your vehicle, you should ensure there is no more than ¼ of a tank of fuel in your vehicle when it is shipped simply so that there is sufficient fuel for it to be driven for the purposes of loading and unloading.

Yes. Marine Insurance is specialist cover that provides protection for vehicles when being shipped overseas. Your cover is provided by insurance giants Royal Sun Alliance.

Marine Insurance is a different type of cover to the motor insurance policy you will have in place enabling you to drive your vehicle on the road. While some motor insurance policies may provide extended cover for you to drive your vehicle overseas, it is extremely unlikely that your existing motor insurance policy will provide marine cover to protect your vehicle while it is being shipped.

Please visit our car shipping insurance page.

Insurance premiums are calculated as a percentage of the value of your vehicle, and we provide a variety of insurance solutions underwritten by the insurance giants Royal & Sun Alliance to suit your needs. On our website you can find a summary of the levels of cover available and associated insurance premiums for our car shipping insurance costs.

Our ‘Standard’ or Super’ cover All Risks insurance policies provide cover for your vehicle against loss, theft and damage. Before your vehicle is shipped, a full exterior condition report is completed noting the condition of your vehicle prior to shipment identifying any potential existing damage. In the very unlikely event of any accidental bumps or scrapes during shipment, our All Risks insurance cover will be able to respond to a claim for new damage that was not noted on the pre-shipment vehicle condition report.

If you would like further information about your insurance options or to confirm the cost to insure your vehicle, please contact our sales team on UK Freephone 08003890784 or +44 (0) 1179 828123 or by email to sales@autoshippers.co.uk.

We suggest making your booking as far in advance as you can. Even if you do not need your vehicle to be shipped for a little while, booking your shipment well in advance lets us get everything in place and prepare the export documentation so we are ready to get things moving when you are good to go.

There is no deposit to pay when you complete our booking form and if you are not sure what date you would like your vehicle collected or what date you would like to deliver, simply provide your best estimate. Our team will keep in touch and collection / delivery dates can be firmed up a little nearer the time of shipment in line with your requirements.

Once we have received your booking our team will email an export invoice, settlement of which is required before we can arrange for your vehicle to be collected or provide you with delivery details if you are delivering your vehicle to the port yourself.

Payment can be made by Visa, Mastercard or American Express either over the phone or by using our secure online payment portal. We will also provide you with our full bank details should you prefer to make payment by bank transfer.

You will need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you are permanently exporting your vehicle out of the country. To notify the DVLA, you should fill in the ‘Permanent Export’ section of your V5C document and return it to them at: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BD.

It is important that you only send the ‘Permanent Export’ section of your V5C and that you do not send the whole V5C form to the DVLA. Once the ‘Permanent Export’ section has been detached, you should retain the rest of the document as you will need the original V5C when your vehicle arrives for the purposes of clearing your vehicle through customs at destination.

If you have moved abroad and are entitled to a refund of any vehicle tax previously paid, you should also include a covering letter providing your new address so any refund that may be due can be forwarded to you.

Further information and contact details for the DVLA can be found on the gov.uk website here.

While different countries have differing levels of requirements in respect of the cleanliness of vehicles when they arrive, we always advise that all vehicles are thoroughly cleaned inside and out prior to shipment.

Many countries do have strict quarantine and biosecurity regulations and require vehicles to be ‘free from organic material’ when they arrive to minimise the likelihood of additional cleaning being required and additional costs being incurred.

In addition to the visual cleanliness of body panels, attention should also be paid to the underside of your vehicle, under the wheel arches and any areas where dirt can accumulate during normal use. Common points of inspection that will often be checked also include the engine bay, in radiator grills, carpets, under floor mats and under seats to ensure there are no dead leaves, dirt or other ‘organic matter.

Please note if even if you have had a professional valet before shipping the ultimate decision on whether your vehicle will pass inspection is down to the customs officials in each country and they may in fact require you to pay for further cleaning of your vehicle in order to pass through quarantine.

Shipping information, including the name of the vessel, anticipated sailing date and estimated date of arrival will be provided by email well in advance of shipment.

Once the ship carrying your vehicle has sailed, we will receive notification from the shipping line. This is typically received 1-2 working days after the vessel has departed.

When we have received notification of shipment from the shipping line, we will be back in touch by email to confirm that your vehicle has been shipped. We will also provide full contact details for the receiving agent at destination into whose care your vehicle will arrive.

At this time, we will also provide you with a copy of your shipping document called the ‘Bill of Lading’. The Bill of Lading will identify your vehicle together with confirmed shipping details and will include the ‘shipped on board date’. This document serves to provide formal evidence that your vehicle has been exported on the ‘shipped on board’ date.

When your vehicle is due to arrive, you will be contacted by the local receiving agent who will notify you of the pending arrival of your vehicle by sending you a ‘Notice of Arrival’.
This will typically be provided by email and will be sent to the overseas email address provided when you booked your shipment.

We will have also advised you of the destination agents contact details and would suggest getting in touch with them directly a few days before the arrival of the ship.

The amount of import duty and tax charged by overseas customs authorities for the importation of motor vehicles can vary greatly from country to country.

Different countries also use different criteria to determine the rate any duty and tax will be calculated and charged at. This can include such factors as the age of your vehicle, its value, the type of fuel it uses, its emissions and the type of vehicle it is.

While many countries may offer reduced rates of import duty and tax or, exemption from paying any duty and tax at all, this can also be based on and determined by a variety of different criteria. Such things as how long you have owned your vehicle, how long you have lived outside of the country you are exporting it to, whether you are military personnel and if you are importing your vehicle at the same time as transferring your place of permanent residence may influence any exemption from or preferential rate of duty and tax you may be required to pay.

While confirmation can be obtained directly from the customs authorities or embassy / consulate for your chosen destination, our team will be happy to provide general advice or guidance or you can visit our guides pages for further information on duty and taxes.

Once the vehicle has cleared through customs and all applicable duty and taxes and import formalities have been completed our destination agents will accompany you to the port to collect the vehicle and give you the necessary papers to gain entry.

This can take from a few days to over a week depending on the workload of import customs officers and port staff. The process will run smoothly if you can complete all the necessary import formalities in advance of the vessel arriving. Please make sure you contact our destination agents in advance they will assist and advise you of the correct import procedures.

While most countries do require you to be to be in the country when your car arrives so that it can be cleared through customs, you do not have to be the one to collect it in person.

Once your vehicle is ready to be collected, you can arrange for a friend or relative to collect it or you can arrange for a company to collect on your behalf and deliver it to you. If somebody other than you will be collecting your vehicle, you will simply need to authorise the local agents to release your vehicle to the person or company collecting on your behalf.

In many instances the local agent at destination will also be able to offer an onward delivery service and while this is something that you will need to arrange directly with them at destination; we will be happy to discuss your requirements in advance and will be able to advise if local delivery services are available for your required destination.

As a specialist vehicle shipping company, we can assist with all formalities involved in arranging shipment of a vehicle you have purchased or already own.
We do not offer car sales or escrow services, only shipping services.

When purchasing a new vehicle be it from a car dealer or if it is a private sale, it is common practice to do some basic checks and have an inspection done on the vehicle to provide peace of mind that it is in the condition described.

One quick and easy thing to do is to check a vehicles MOT history by checking the registration number using a free service provided by gov.uk. Results from the last MOT check may highlight work that was completed on a vehicle when it had its last test and may also identify work that, while not an MOT failure, are things that were advised should be done. You can check the UK MOT history of a vehicle on the gov.uk website here.

The UK has numerous automobile companies who will arrange vehicle inspections including the AA: https://www.theaa.com/vehicle-inspection/ they will offer pre-inspection services for your piece of mind. Their basic inspection service offers a 155 point vehicle check for vehicles up to 10 years old and they will also give you a full photographic report.

You can also request an HPI Check on any vehicle using its registration number. A full, good quality HPI check will identify important things from a vehicles’ history such as if it has previously been stolen, if it has been an insurance write-off and will also identify if there is outstanding finance on a vehicle that you may become liable for if you purchase it. You can order an hpi check report on a vehicle on through the hpi check website here. A full HPI check for a single vehicle will cost £19.99 and may well prove to be a worthwhile investment.

The frequency of sailings and the time it takes for your vehicle to arrive varies from country to country. Some of the fastest transit times from the UK to Spain and Portugal where vessels can take only 2-3 days to reach their destination.

In comparison, shipping times from the UK to Australia can take between 40 days and 48 days depending on the Australian port of destination.

Here is a list of popular car shipping routes and transit times. The shipping times are from the UK port to the port of destination.

Country Port Transit Time
From UK to Australia Adelaide 48 days
Brisbane 40 days
Fremantle 44 days
Melbourne 42 days
Sydney 42 days
From UK to Canada Calgary 14 days
Halifax 9 days
Montreal 8 days
Toronto 12 days
Vancouver 38 days
From UK to Cayman Islands George Town 25 days
From UK to China Hong Kong 30 days
From UK to Cyprus Limassol 14 days
From UK to Japan Nagoya 45 days
Toyohashi 32 days
Yokohama 34 days
From UK to Malta Valletta 15 days
From UK to Namibia Walvis Bay 25 days
From UK to New Zealand Auckland 57 days
Christchurch/Lyttelton 58 days
Hamilton 45 days
Napier 54 days
Nelson 62 days
Taupo 45 days
Tauranga 54 days
Wellington 48 days
From UK to Singapore Singapore 23 days
From UK to South Africa Cape Town 23 days
Durban 28 days
Port Elizabeth 21 days
From UK to Saudi Arabia Abu Dhabi 32 days
Dubai/Jebel Ali 30 days
From UK to USA Baltimore MD 10 days
Brunswick GA 12 days
Charleston SC 14 days
Freeport TX 38 days
Galveston TX 12 days
Jacksonville FL 14 days
Port Everglades FL 48 days
Port Hueneme CA 24 days
San Diego CA 22 days
Tacoma WA 28 days

Cars which are shipped by container are driven inside the container via a ramp and secured to the floor by ratchet straps to the steel loops on the floor of the container.
We have produced several videos on how we load and ship a car in a container here.

Shared container services. We also ship cars using the RRak system where we can now load 4 cars into 1 x 40ft container using a levered racking system.
You can see how we load cars into containers using RRak here.