All Cargo Group - shippingcars

By: Allcargo Group  09-12-2011
Keywords: Cars, ocean freight


Any motorized vehicles that require DMV registration (auto, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, jet skis, ATV’s) are considered by U.S. Customs (and Foreign Customs) as motor vehicles. Shipping cars (and other types of motor vehicles) from the USA overseas is subject to certain special procedures related to customs and safety issues. Procedures on Shipping cars (and other types of motor vehicles) from the USA overseas make shipments containing motor vehicles slightly different from shipping general cargo from the USA.

You may ship cars (motor vehicles) from the USA overseas by sea in two ways:

  1. RO-RO - "Roll On/Roll Off"; a term for wheeled cargo, which is driven on and off the vessel as cars, trailers or railway carriages etc.
  1. Loaded and secured in an ocean container. A single vehicle only or consolidated with other vehicles.   

Shipping motorized vehicles (Cars, motorcycles, mopeds, jet skis, ATV’s etc) from the USA can not be permitted to move as LCL (less than container load) ocean freight. This is due to U.S. Customs Regulations that will not recognize any warehouse as an exam site for inspection.


U.S. Custom regulations require the original title along with at least three copies (non-notarized) of the title; front and back to be submitted when ship cars (motor vehicles) from US. These must accompany the vehicle to the port of origin. If there are any liens against the vehicle, a notarized letter from the lien holder authorizing the export of the vehicle must also accompany the vehicle.

If owner of vehicle, as in the vehicle title, cannot accompany the vehicle to the port of departure, then the owner may issue a power of attorney to the person or company that represents the vehicle’s owner before customs in the port of departure (international transportation company, freight forwarder, quality loading warehouse on cars shipped from US etc).

The original title must be presented to US Customs at the port of loading. If a vehicle had been sold to the consignee (recipient), then bill of sale must be presented at the destination as well. I.e. as soon as your vehicle had passed U.S. customs, in order to avoid extra charges at the destination due to lack of proper documentation, mail all original documents to the consignee without delay.  

If cars (motor-vehicles) are being shipped from the USA in a marine container, then doors of the container must not be sealed and locked at a time when U.S. customs officer checks the vehicles and its VIN’s inside of the container. Easy access for the U.S. customs officer to vehicles and its VIN numbers (as a rule on the left side under windshields) must be provided. Otherwise, the loaded ocean freight container may be rejected to the international shipment from the USA by U.S. customs and require to be returned to a loading dock for the reload. While loading and securing cars (motor-vehicles) in ocean freight containers we strongly recommend considering a quality loading company experienced in shipping vehicles from US oversea.  


RO/RO – as long as vehicles are not on trailers (cars, trucks etc) then it must be filled with gas, but no more than 1/4 tank of gas (1/4 is recommended). All keys must accompany vehicles shipped RO/RO.

Vehicles should be in running condition for roll on/roll off service. As long as it is not in running condition then extra charges related to towing not-running vehicles on/off the vessel will apply.

As long as your vehicle is on a trailer (boat, jet, motorcycle etc) then safety requirements are similar to shipping cars from US in sea freight containers. See below.

When you ship cars from US, it must be completely empty, except for factory installed equipment.

VEHICLES SHIPPED IN MARINE CONTAINERS – unlike with RO/RO all fluids must be drained and fumes purged from the gas tank, the battery disconnected and the battery terminal cables secured.

You may not leave keys inside of vehicles. You should not use salons and trunks of cars as an additional room for your international shipment by sea. If you need to ship smaller cargo from the USA along with your car, then we recommend considering our Economy LCL Sea Freight service. Shipping spare items from the USA inside of your car may result to problems with U.S. and the destinations customs. However, if you still intend to ship something from US using the salon or trunk of your car then make sure that the VIN is not blocked for the view when a customs officer will match it with the title of your car exported from U.S.

As a rule, we offer quality loading warehouses (loading docks), which specialize in loading and securing cars in sea freight containers for international shipments and complete U.S. Customs formalities on shipping cars from US. Get instant shipping cost on shipping cars in containers from US in this link.

If shipper is going to load cars in ocean freight containers, then we can offer a booking on FCL  ocean freight based on our contracts with SSL’s (Steamship lines, international transportation companies). Then the shipper is held responsible to complete all procedures related to load cars in sea freight containers, U.S. Customs formalities for shipping cars from the USA etc. Any surcharges added to total shipping cost to the ocean freight booking related to shipping cars from US will be on shipper's account.

Notice: You may compare shipping costs on shipping cars from US offered by international moving companies vs. international transportation companies (particular our service). Most likely you will find that service from an international moving company appear more convenient than from an international transportation company. However, when you will compare shipping costs from an international moving company with shipping cost from an international transportation company and get a little bit deeper in procedures on shipping cars from the USA, you should make your right choice.


OCEAN FREIGHT RO/RO – there are no standards in Ro/Ro rates structure for shipping vehicles from the USA. Shipping cost differs depending on type of vessels and ocean freight carrier’s standards. 

Since Ro-Ro vessels desks designed for shipping different types of vehicles (compare shipping of small size cars and huge excavators for example) then in general ocean freight shipping cost (price quotes initially offered on your sea freight shipment using Ro-Ro service) will be based on overall volume of your vehicle in cubic feet - CBF (or cubic meter - CBM) calculated based on measurements provided by shipper and depends on type of vehicle. Mostly rates per CBF (CBM) vary depending on size of vehicle shipped.

Exempt are ocean freight rates on shipping cars from US using Ro-Ro ocean freight service. For export cars from the USA, Ro/Ro rates depend on make, model and year of cars. However, actually these cars Ro/Ro sea freight rates are based on its overall volume as well. Ro-Ro international transportation companies had created and use in its practice special ocean freight rates matrixes, which refer to overall volumes of cars shipped from US based on it make, model and year information.

Notice that vehicles shipped from U.S. will be measured at a SSL's (Steam Ship Line, International Transportation Company) pier. If dimensions will differ from the dimensions given by the shipper at a time of booking of his/her international shipment, then additional shipping cost will apply on the total shipping coast initially quoted. Your total ocean freight will be calculated as a total volume of your vehicle in CBF or CBM multiplied to the rate per CBF or CBM depending on type of vehicle.

On Ro/Ro ocean freight there are other types of ocean freight cube tables used by carriers besides of on shipping cars from US. As long as a shipper provides make, model and year of vehicle, the total volume in CBF or CBM may be defined directly by the international shipping company and ocean freight per CBF or CBM offered for the calculation of total shipping cost of the ocean freight.   


Ocean freight for entire FCL sea freight container with cars loaded by shipper

Per one car consolidated by freight forwarder in a multimodal sea freight container with other cars OR per entire ocean freight container containing two, three or more cars loaded, secured and shipped from the USA on behalf of one shipper (owner).

1. OCEAN FREIGHT RATE PER ENTIRESEA FREIGHT CONTAINER: Other word per an FCL ocean freight booking only. It means that shipper is completely responsible for stuffing and securing cars in containers. Read this rate as a FCL – Full Container Load rate. Often FCL sea freight rates (shipping cost related to a sea freight booking offered) on shipments containers that containing vehicles will include additional surcharges on top of the sea freight itself. Certain international transportation companies do not accept shipping cars from the USA in sea freight containers.

2. OCEAN RATE PER CAR CONSOLIDATED IN A OCEAN FREIGHT CONTAINER WITH OTHER CARS, OR per entire ocean freight container containing two, three or more cars loaded, secured and shipped from the USA on behalf of one shipper (owner):

Usually cars will be consolidated in a 40 Foot High Cube sea freight container. Sometimes it can be most convenient and economical way to ship cars from US using service from international transportation companies. However this service is not always available. This freight rate will include loading and securing cars in a ocean freight container by a professional quality loading company. Shipping cost will include passing U.S. Customs formalities with title(s).

Shipper (or freight forwarder on shipper’s behalf) should arrange delivery of automobile(s) to a parking lot of quality loading company and leave it there along with all required documents for the international shipment. As long as cars are ready to be loaded in sea freight containers, this quality loading company should take care of everything including passing origin customs formalities. As long as vehicles had passed U.S. customs, all shipping documents will be returned back to shipper or (by shipper’s request) forwarded directly to consignee or to destination receiving terminal.

Depending on sizes of cars imported from US it may be up to four cars consolidated in one multimodal 40 foot or 40 Foot HC sea freight container. However, usually it can be three or even only two only. For shipping luxury or antique cars from US we would recommend shipping single cars in entire 20 foot sea freight containers.

If you ship only one car consolidated in an ocean freight container, then ocean freight rate should be offered as a lump sum per car depending on make, model and year, i.e. its dimensions (size).

Not included in the freight rates are:

  1. SED in AES (optional) - $65.00
  2. Insurance All Risk Marine Coverage (optional) - 1.8% of the value declared
  3. Destination charges

If you export numerous cars deferent makes and models then ocean rate should be offered per entire sea freight containers including most our offer for most efficient way of staffing of your cars for the international shipment. I.e. freight forwarder will discuss with the loading dock and specify how many particulars cars will fit in a particular container for the shipment from the USA.


A. Original titles for cars imported from the USA must be presented at the destination

Original titles of cars imported from USA must be presented to destination customs. If a vehicle had been sold to the consignee (recipient) before its international shipment, then bill of sale should be presented at the destination as well. I.e. as soon as your vehicle had passed U.S. customs, in order to avoid extra charges at the destination due to lack of proper documentation, mail all original documents to the consignee without delay.

If shipping cars from US is a new business for you, then in order to predict shipping cost related to recovery of your imported cars, we would also suggest you discussing procedures on recoveries cars at destinations including your destination customs formalities on cars imported from the USA with someone experienced in the shipping cars from USA business. It can be an individual whom you trust to, a freight forwarder or an international transportation company in your country, your customs broker etc.

B. Do not confuse service on shipping cars from US offered by an international Transportation Company with a service from an International Moving Company

Service on shipping cars from US offered by an International Transportation Company differs from a service from an International Moving Company on shipping cars overseas (as a rule on shipments related to shipping household goods oversea).

With an International Moving Company your can gat a sea freight container delivered to your door and get your car(s) loaded and secured by the International Moving Company along with your household goods.

International Transportation Companies do not offer such service. Loading and securing cars in containers, unless you request the load in a quality loading warehouse, is shipper’s responsibility.

When you ship cars from the USA we suggest you always to compare prices and service packages offered by International Transportation Companies vs. International Moving Companies.  

C. Be aware of origin and destination charges

As a rule freight rates offered include port fees in at origin. However, should your vehicle need to be stored at the port of origin or at a parking lot of quality loading company for any reason (i.e. lack of proper documents, waiting time for your other vehicles coming to be consolidated in the same container etc), storage fees, which will increase shipping cost of your import are the responsibility of the shipper. Please plan your international shipment from U.S. in advance.

Freight prices in quotes on shipping cars from US do not include storage fees (if any), handling and custom related charges and fees at the overseas destinations.

D. Shipper’s responsibilities on documents for shipping cars from US

In respect of dealing with a freight forwarder (an international transportation company), shipper should clearly understand that he/she is responsible for description and legality of commodity and sufficiency of documentation submitted to an international shipment.

Carrier’s bill of lading, final document that acts as title to the shipped from US goods, as a rule states ‘SHIPPER'S LOAD AND COUNT’ and ‘SAID BY SHIPPER TO CONTAIN’. That means that the carrier (and a freight forwarder who represents this carrier) is not held responsible on information provided by shipper at a time of booking of international shipment.

A freight forwarder should guide shipper in complexity of international shipment's procedures. However, it is shipper’s responsibility to provide all necessary documents related to his international shipment that will be required by origin and destination country officials.

Below is the list of common used documents required to be submitted when you ship a vehicle from the USA oversea:

  • The original title along with at lest three copies (non-notarized) of the title, front and back.
  • Liens against the vehicle (if applicable), a notarized letter from the lien holder authorizing the export of the vehicle exported from U.S.
  • Bill of sale (if applicable)
  • Power of attorney to the person or company that represents the vehicle’s owner before customs (if applicable)
  • Bill of Lading – Carriers transport document. Shows cargo routing, consigner, consignee, cargo description, etc.

The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

Keywords: Cars, ocean freight

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