Shipping Vehicles Overseas, As Affordable As Possible

20/03/2023 - 16:05 | Featured | IAB Team

There are several reasons why you may want to ship a vehicle overseas. You could be relocating abroad and want to take your car with you. After all, it's a lot cheaper to ship your current vehicle than to buy a new one. You may also need to ship multiple vehicles for your business, international auto auctions, or international auto shows.

Regardless of your reason for wanting to ship a vehicle overseas, you need to do proper research to ensure your cargo arrives on time and in good condition. Shipping vehicles overseas can also be expensive, easily costing thousands of dollars and you'll not only want to ensure you are not overpaying but that you are also getting maximum value for your money.

A quick Google search will reveal shipping services near you and you can request and compare overseas car shipping cost quotes. Below, you'll find ways to cut unnecessary costs on car shipping. Here we go.

Shipping Method

When it comes to shipping vehicles overseas, there are two major methods- air freight and ocean shipping. Air freight is the fastest shipping method and your vehicle is just a flight away from its destination. However, air freight is very expensive, costing at least 2 to 3 times the amount of ocean shipping.

Unless there's a clear need to ship your vehicle overseas as quickly as possible, you'll do well to explore the other shipping methods if you want to cut down shipping costs.

Ocean shipping is another way to get your vehicle abroad and is usually the more affordable option. While the estimated time of arrival of your vehicle can be weeks, it costs far less to ship by ocean compared to air freight.

When it comes to ocean shipping, your vehicle can either be transported by Roro shipping or Container shipping.

Roro Shipping

This involves using Roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ships, which are ships specifically designed for wheeled cargo like vehicles, to transport your automobile. It's the cheapest shipping method and ideal for mixed consignments of different vehicles. However, this method isn't suitable for non-running vehicles or classic/collectible cars that may not start at the turn of a key.

Roro shipping also takes longer and there's a greater risk of damages although reputable shipping services can work to minimize this.

Container Shipping

Here, vehicles are stowed in shipping containers which are then transported on large container ships. This method is generally more expensive than Roro shipping and the cost becomes even higher as the number of vehicles to be transported increases.

On the plus side, there's a lower risk of damage and faster delivery times compared to Roro shipping. However, larger vehicles may not fit into shipping containers and may need to be transported by Roro shipping.

Shipping Distance

You don't have control over this. The longer the shipping distance, the more you'll have to pay. Also, shipping destinations that are not easily accessible will require you to spend more money.


Seasonal demands have a significant impact on shipping costs. Generally, demands tend to skyrocket between August to September and January to February. These are the peak shipping periods and you'll have to pay more during these times compared to other months of the year.

If you can help it, plan for your vehicle to be shipped during the off-season. You could save a couple hundreds of dollars at least.

Proper Documentation and Import/Export Fees

Since your vehicle is crossing international borders, you'll need proper documentation and pay import/export charges. Having proper documentation can save you unnecessary expenses and having prior knowledge of import/export fees means you get to budget for them in advance.

Reputable shipping services will help you get important documents in order while informing you of any import or export fees to be paid in advance.

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