Every country has different rules and regulations when it comes to importing your personal vehicle, but many factors are fairly consistent across the board. By using the following checklist and doing a little research into the specific country to which you are moving, you can easily transport your vehicle to your final destination.
Research Your Destination Country
Most countries have strict policies on the age and type of vehicle they allow to be imported, and some countries don’t allow used vehicles at all. Your first and most important step should be to determine if your vehicle fulfills these requirements. The country’s Customs website is a great place to get started, and if you can’t find the information you are looking for, you will need to contact the customs department directly. Keep in mind, there are often steep fees and import tariffs and taxes imposed, so you will want to ensure that shipping your vehicle is a worthwhile investment.
Collect the Proper Documentation
You will need to assemble some paperwork prior to beginning the transport of your vehicle. The majority of vehicle transport companies can inform you of the exact documentation you will need, but the following items are always required:
- Original title certificate or certified copy;
- Proof of current registration;
- If your car has a loan, you will need to provide a letter from the lien holder showing it is authorized to be moved abroad;
- New vehicles require Bill of Sale or Purchase Contract;
- Any country-specific documents, including, but not limited to, customs clearance paperwork, proof of payment of taxes, etc.
Determine the Method of Transport
There are three main options when transporting your car overseas:
- Roll-On/Roll-Off Service- the most common and popular type, your car is rolled on to the transport vehicle at the beginning of the trip, and rolled off at the final destination.
- Container- this is the most expensive, but safest option, and it entails having your vehicle shipped in an individual covered container.
- On-Deck Shipping- usually reserved for companies shipping a large number of vehicles at once.
Find a Transport Company
There are many companies that ship overseas out there (with A-1 Auto Transport being one), and some not quite so reputable. Research the options and find one that best fits with your personal needs. Always make sure to check references and verify Better Business Bureau standing prior to signing a contract.
Although auto transport companies are required by law to have a minimum standard of insurance during transport, you will want to explore the possibility of purchasing additional insurance to protect your vehicle against unforeseeable circumstances and unexpected damage.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Once you have secured a transport company and set a shipment date, you will want to prepare your vehicle which entails the following steps:
- Remove all personal items from inside the car.
- Lower or remove antenna, or any other after-market custom additions.
- Make sure there is a quarter tank of fuel or less at time of pick-up.
- Clean vehicle thoroughly to allow for inspection.
- Make note of any preexisting damage.
- Disable all alarms.
Although a costly and complex undertaking, the process of shipping your vehicle abroad can be completed successfully with a little research and the proper foresight and preparation.
Jenna Oppenheimer is a 22 year old bilingual expatriate who currently resides in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. She spent most of her childhood in South Florida, New Orleans, and Portland, Ore with her four siblings!
Before embarking on her many adventures all over the globe, she studied anthropology at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to her passion for culture and writing, she enjoys surfing and swimming in the ocean, spending time with dogs and horses, and traveling internationally.
She has traveled extensively in Latin America; Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, across Europe; mainly in Germany and Italy, Asia; Japan and Thailand; New Zealand; in the British Virgin Islands, and all over the continental USA, and last, but not least Hawaii!