Wondering how much it costs to ship a car overseas or within the US?

If you’re shipping a car overseas or somewhere in the US and you’re looking into costs so you can arrange auto transport that is both economical and reliable, there are some things that you should know that will help you make the best choices. There are also some important rules that you should know, so you are able to minimize delays and fines along the way.

So, how much DOES it cost to ship a car?

When you have been in the freight forwarding industry as long as I have (more than 30 years), you learn a little thing or two about best practices in dealing with foreign entities and governments. And “specialty” becomes second nature.

Although auto transport is relatively common, it’s still considered specialty when it comes to shipping standards, and with that implication comes a good deal of specialty rules and situations.

Now, onto pricing your auto shipment… Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Get some help

To start, I recommend getting in touch with a freight forwarding company, because they’re going to end up saving you a lot of time and money by helping you navigate through these issues and connecting you with reputable business contacts. From there, get this information over to them early:

  1. Provide your freight forwarding company the make, year & model
  2. Obtain the overall length, width & height
  3. Define the origin port of departure
  4. Define the destination port of arrival
  5. If a car pick-up is desired, provide the pick-up address
  6. Advise your shipping expert at the forwarding firm if the vehicle is running or non-running

You may want to even help yourself save time by having this information ready when you first connect with your freight forwarder provider.

 MORE LIKE THIS: How to Avoid the Woes Associated with Shipping Hazardous Materials


Step 2: By air or ocean 

Air Services:

Shipping a vehicle viby air is expensive and mostly reserved to shippers with high value vehicles ($100,000.00 & over). 

US Customs will require that they validate the original title prior to the flight. If the purpose of the shipment is that the car was sold to an overseas buyer, a bill of sales will be required. All other documents will be procured by the forwarder.

Flying a motorcycle, there are some preparations that should be made. For instance, you need to empty out the fluid, disconnect the battery, and pack it in a treat-heated crate. Sometimes your freight forwarder will be able to help with these things (ETC Intenational Freight System offers packing & crating services)

Ocean Services:

Once your shipping expert, the forwarder, knows of the answers to the questions as shown above, he or she can determine the best or least expensive service available to the shipper. 

You can ship a car via a roll on roll off (RORO) carrier wherein the vehicle is driven on & off the special auto transport ships on top of a deck or inside the belly of the ship. This option is often affordable to many international destinations, but not all of them.


  • Cars must be emptied out of any object loose in the vehicle, as no insurance covers loose items
  • Customs require the original title to be validated before shipping the vehicle (before loading the vehicle into the ocean container at the warehouse near the departure port)
  • You can ship your vehicle inside an ocean consolidation (This is an excellent way to keep the cost down as you share the space with other shippers’ vehicles & it cover also many, but, not all world ports) 

You can choose to ship your vehicle or vehicles & accessories inside an exclusive 20’ or 40’ ocean container. You now access all world ports. When shipping multiple vehicles, Forwarders such as ETC International Freight System will build ramps and segregate the vehicles with the highest safety standards. Customs require the original title to be validated before loading the vehicle into the ocean container at the warehouse near the departure port.

3. Watch out for these things

New Vehicles:

Since customs will require an original title for a used vehicle or the manufacturer certificate for a brand new vehicle, it is imperative that you hold in your hands the original title before you can ship it.

Laws about your vehicle are different in other countries than in the United States, so always investigate prior to making a purchase of a vehicle if the destination customs will allow such a vehicle to enter the country. With imports, we provide the shipper updated informatoin to make sure the vehicle will comply with State and EPA regulations.

When exporting from the US, your buyer or the freight agent with an office overseas will need to check with their customs if your vehicles meet their standards of import.

Used Vehicles:

Sending a vehicle back home is easy & the shippers can opt to ship using a roll on roll off service, an ocean consolidation service or in the likely event that you have personal effects, household goods, the exclusive container would be your best option. Depending of your location, you may access to on-site packing.


  • Your gas tank should be less than 25% full, because if not, your shipment is considered hazardous, which is a whole other can of worms.


Once you have gone through these steps you will be presented with a price specific to your situation that covers everything you’ll need at this point.

If you’re interested in learning more about services that support you through this process, contact us to get a freight quote today!

Here’s a calculator for helping crunch some numbers that should also aide in your auto shipment:

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