Here are some great tips for shipping a car internationally via air freight

If you are moving overseas, one of the challenges you may face is how you will relocate your personal belongings both large and small. One item in particular you may be inclined to bring with you is your car.

There are two ways to ship a vehicle overseas: ocean freight or air freight. Most people will elect to ship via ocean freight because the cost of air freight for a large object often exceeds of 5 times or more than the ocean freighting. However the downside to ocean freight is it can take more than a month for your car to arrive at the intended destination. If time is of the essence, air freight might be the right choice for you. 

Depending on size and destination of a vehicle, prices will vary. Most commonly, airlines use a 1×20’ steel pallet for vehicles with dimensions not exceeding the airlines pallet. The aircraft is equipped with rollers and the vehicle on a pallet is easily blocked, braced and rolled into the cargo space.

When air freighting a vehicle is most common to use an all freighter aircraft (freight only). A Combi aircraft (Passenger / freight) would not accommodate vehicles. Vehicles to be shipped via air freight also require a signed dangerous goods certificate and UN number, your international shipping company can provide the document and proper UN number. All freighter aircrafts can depart once per week to most, but, not all destinations.

Shipping a Vehicle

Before a shipper bothers checking with the international freight forwarder, the shipper should check with US Customs as there are many restrictions to importing a vehicle. Should the vehicle be a returning US, you will be required to provide proof that the vehicle was shipped out (bill of lading) as well as past DMV registration.

If exporting a vehicle from the US you may also want to check with customs of the country you are exporting to be sure there are no restrictions preventing your vehicle from being cleared through the customs of your intended destination company. 

To meet the US Customs requirements, when the booking with the airline is made the shipper will be asked to provide an original title (Pink Slip) showing the name of the owner and indicating that the car is paid off in full. If you are transporting a new vehicle from a dealership the original MSO (Manufacturer certificate of origin) will replace the original title. If your car is leased or purchased with a loan, you may be required to obtain an official letter from the bank allowing the export of your vehicle.

When the vehicle arrives at the airport of destination, the receiving party (consignee) will have to designate a customhouse broker to initiate the foreign clearance before driving off.  If desired by the shipper, ETC International can use our own clearing agents overseas to clear your shipments.

Personal Effects

Personal belongings cannot be air freighted inside a vehicle and must be air freighted alongside your vehicle. Although these items may be on the same flight, they will be considered a separate shipment. Your international forwarding company will use separate Air Way Bill. Cargo insurance can be purchased through the forwarder and must be designed specifically for vehicles or personal belongings respectively.

Shipping a car internationally can be tricky if you don’t have a knowledgeable and experienced person to guide you. Working with an international freight forwarder can save you time, money, and anxiety during the complex shipping process. Call or click for your free rate quote


GET a quote




Tell us a little about your project, we’ll respond same day (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm).