Best International Car Shipping Companies & Cost

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Author: Steve Palmer

Updated: 08/14/2022

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International car shipping process

International Car Shipping is the process of transporting a private or commercial motor vehicle from one place to another (in our case from one country to another). This may be done with the use of either a trailer or by tow truck via the land and then via the vessel to ship it by the sea. The process can vary depending on the type of transport, cargo, and the mode of transport. Car Shipping is commonly used for vehicle relocation within a company’s car fleet and for personal cars between countries.

A car shipping operation does not offer any service that typically includes loading and unloading vehicles, transporting cars to different locations, or transferring then between vehicles. It transfers one location to another without involving carriers other than people in general use vehicles such as automobiles.


Car shipping process

The Car shipping process consists of the following steps:

1. The first step is the decision as to whether a car shipping company will be needed. If it is necessary, the company should decide which company will perform this service. They may provide their own shipping service or contract to use a third-party shipper. If they provide their own service, the customer can select the carrier and negotiate on price. A different pricing model applies when using a third-party shipper or freight forwarder.

2. When choosing a carrier, it is important to consider costs, reliability and speed in making decisions on which carrier is best for your car shipping needs.

3. When a car shipping company is selected, the carrier needs to be contacted and documentation as well as payment arrangements made before transport can begin.

4. All the required paperwork including invoices, certificates of origin, and consents are then sent to the carrier. It is up to the shipper whether they want to take delivery of the car when it arrives at the destination or arrange for storage until they can pick it up.

5. Insurance documents are also sent to the carrier and documents such as declarations and bills of lading taken care of by them once they have arrived at their destination or storage location.

6. Once the car has been delivered and clearances have been obtained, it is time to take possession of the vehicle.

7. The next step is to have the vehicle certified by a port authority or customs broker. Depending on local customs requirements, there may be local paperwork to be taken care of as well.

8. The insurance documents are also completed and all necessary claims are settled prior to taking possession of the vehicle. This is also generally done in conjunction with a customs broker depending on requirements in different countries around the world.

9. Once all the necessary paperwork is complete with customs authorities and automobile certifiers, the vehicle can be driven out of the port or terminal.

10. The last step is to have any necessary repairs performed on the vehicle and to have it inspected according to local vehicle standards. This may include having a roadworthiness and emissions test performed as well as a modification check completed. Failures in these areas can cause steep fines, and vehicles that do not pass will often be stored until they are repaired or disposed of.

Best international car transport companies

Car shipping companies, also commonly referred to as auto shipping companies, are international cargo carriers that offer transport of vehicles, including cars and motorcycles. There are two types of car shipping companies:


1. Brokers Car shipping companies

Brokers Car shipping companies, also commonly referred to as auto shipping brokers, are often used by importers and exporters to transport vehicles and other cargo between countries. They are typically hired by importers who have excess cargo capacity on their own customized fleets of trucks and trailers that they seldom need. For example, a car shipping broker can be hired by an exporter in the United States when they require vehicle transportation from USA to country A. The broker will then arrange for trucking at cost price between country A-USO with a bare truck lease. The broker is then usually paid an agreed upon fee and will not be responsible for any additional costs (e.g., airfreight).


2. Carriers Car shipping companies

Carriers Car shipping companies, also commonly referred to as auto shipping carriers, are sometimes hired by transporters to transport cargo from point of origin to destination. A car shipping carrier is typically hired by importers and exporters for last-mile delivery of cargoes between countries. Carriers work in partnership with a series of smaller transportation providers and have access to a diverse fleet of trucking machines that include; open car shipping trailers, semi-trailers and tractor trailers. Carriage will often use chartered container carriers for transit between ports or warehouses due the fact that it is more cost effective and more environmentally friendly than using trucks or airfreight. An example of international vehicle carriers is Direct Vehicle Services where they will ship any vehicle to any country in the world at a reasonable price.


How to choose the best car shipping company


Below are things to consider when choosing the best shipping company.

1. Do Research

Choosing car shipping company is a task that should not be taken lightly. Lots of research should be done before you actually start moving your car/truck overseas. Before you begin your search for auto shipping company, search the internet and find out companies that have been in business for many years and have a good reputation.

2. Know Your Needs

Car shipping companies provide door-to-door delivery of vehicles between ports and to their destination. If you need a lift gate truck, they can arrange one for you. If your vehicle is to be shipped by aircraft, they can arrange that as well. They will also provide instructions on how to care for your vehicle once it arrives at its final destination. Ask them how much this special handling will cost and how long it will last.

3. Know Who They Work With

The transportation company you choose will depend on the type of vehicle you need shipped overseas. For example, a small car will be transported by plane. If you want a more complicated transfer of an SUV with a truck, they may arrange for it to be transported by sea. Many car shipping companies work with a number of different carriers, so ask them to tell you who the carrier they work with is and what the cost will be for your freight in both dollar and tax-free but that is exactly what you should expect to pay once you have selected your preferred auto carrier.

4. Cost

Car transport costs can vary from one auto transport company to the next, so it is important to shop around before you make a decision. Most companies set their own transport rates based on the type of vehicle being shipped and its condition at pickup.


Transportli Score




9.6 out of 10


4.6 stars

West Coast Shipping

8.9 our of 10


3.7 stars

Dnipro LLC

9.8 out of 10


4.6 stars

Schumacher Cargo Logistics

8.9 our of 10


4.8 stars

CFR Rinkens

9.7 our of 10


4.7 stars

Can I ship inoperable cars?

Sure, you simply need to indicate that your car is in inoperable condition. In this case shipping company will hire a trailer with winch to load your car.

Inoperable cars shipping cost is higher!

It will take some time and effort from the driver to load/unload your car into the trailer. You should expect extra 75-100 dollars charge for inoperable car shipping.

International Car shipping cost








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Car shipping trailers (via land)

Car shipping trailers is a comprehensive and unbiased guide to the most cost-effective and quickest means of transporting your car, boat, or motorcycle. It will help you decide how to transport your vehicle door-to-door with rates for both one way and round trip shipping.

There are two options to choose from; open shipping or enclosed car shipping trailers.


Open car shipping trailers

Open trailer is constructed from a series of strong, well-built and weather resistant steel beams connected by steel or aluminium profiles. The beams are bolted together using pre-punched holes on which bolts are placed. The ends of the beams can be bolted together with clamps of a similar design for extra strength and safety. Shelving, racks or bulkhead panels are sometimes added for additional cargo support, or to allow access to wires, cables, pipes and hoses. A majority of open car shipping trailers are manufactured in modular sections that can be quickly assembled on site making them ideal for project transport requirements due to their speed and ease of setup.

To ensure safety at high speeds, open car shipping trailers are fitted with a number of components. The lower section of the trailer is reinforced with a steel or aluminium skirting board to support heavier loads. High quality rims have a solid outer rim and welded inner rim for extra strength and durability. The axles are firmly bolted onto the frame for added stability and safety.


Enclosed car shipping trailers

Enclosed car shipping trailers have been designed that allow for easy transport of cargo but with limited or no ventilation. This is accomplished with a door on the front of the trailer or double doors on either side. A number of different configurations exist including inline double decker, tandem double decker and tandem single decker which are all suited to different types and sizes of cargo. Smaller enclosed car shipping trailers have been designed for general freight such as equipment, machinery and electronics that may require specific modifications to ensure safe transportation. To protect the cargo, high-quality decking materials are usually used in construction of the trailer to ensure long life and suffice with safety regulations.

International car shipping tips

Below tips will help you save on cost when car shipping.

1. Ask for discount on price if you have a full container load.

2. Contact your carrier well before the delivery date and make sure you have all of the required paperwork ready before they arrive.

3. Write down prices charged by your carrier for the main items included in the shipment. Compare this with similar priced automobiles that you know people in country A can buy from dealers or private sellers. If the price is significantly cheaper than what is being charged, your carrier may be able to negotiate a lower freight rate for you.

4. If you have a full container load, many carriers will offer a discount on the price for larger and more complex orders.

5. Ask the carrier to include items that might increase the cost of shipment such as additional equipment, tools or spare parts. This could help increase your profitability by adding to the overall value of your cargo.

6. If you are looking for a specific model or type of car and there is a high demand in country A for this vehicle, your carrier may also be willing to negotiate some extra freight savings from new shipments coming into country A in the near future.

How to prepare your car?

1. Make sure that all of the vehicle’s fluids are full. This includes water, oil and gasoline/petrol/diesel.

2. Make sure that the tires have adequate pressure in them and are in good condition. A new set of tires can be expensive for your carrier to transport, so you may need to provide these yourself if you want them included in your shipment.

3. Check that the lights and any warning lights on your vehicle are working properly. If any of these aren’t working on your vehicle, they should be fixed before shipment or you will be charged by the carrier when they receive it at their port or depot.

4. Ensure that the spare tire is on your vehicle and in good condition. If not, ask your carrier to replace it with a new one before they load your vehicle onto their truck.

5. Make sure that all of your vehicle’s documents are present and in good condition before they load the car onto the sea vessel or plane for shipment overseas. Unfortunately, these documents may need to be translated if they are not in English or another common language. If you don’t know what documents should be included in your shipment, ask one of your carrier’s representatives because this information will vary from broker to broker.

Car shipping FAQ

1. What do I need to move my car from the U.S. to Europe?

All you need is a car shipping quote and the vehicle, plus a little bit of time for preparation and working with the client service team before the vehicle is picked up at your home address. Depending on your needs and which sea carrier you plan to use, you may be able to save money by self-insuring or self-packing your vehicle. You will also need an overseas car insurance policy that allows temporary export, as this is required by most carriers when shipping a vehicle overseas.


2. Should I self-insure for my auto shipping, or leave it to my auto shipping carrier?

If you choose to self-insure, make sure you get the following: insurance that allows temporary export of your vehicle when it leaves the U.S., plus insurance to cover both value and replacement costs in case something happens while your vehicle is overseas. International car transport insurance can be expensive.


3. What kind of auto insurance do I need while my car is being shipped?

You should buy international basic motor vehicle coverage with a deductible, which would limit the amount covered by your policy in case something happens to your vehicle during transport. This will ensure that you are not left without any transport. You should also purchase gap coverage. A vehicle shipping company may offer optional insurance, but it’s best to know what you’re getting into before buying it.


4. What do I need to do before sending my car abroad?

Before you send your car overseas, make sure your vehicle is ready for pickup and the paperwork is done, so your vehicle can be picked up on time.



Car shipping can be a great alternative to driving or flying, but you should consider all of your options and do your research before choosing the best option for you. It’s also important to protect your vehicle during its journey. Buying international car insurance is a great way to take the stress out of shipping and help you get back on the road even faster when it arrives at its final destination.