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International Automobile Shipping Laws

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Relocating internationally is an intricate process that requires ample planning --transporting your life overseas is no small task! When it comes to shipping your most valuable possession to your new home country, it's important to ensure that you hire a trustworthy and qualified automobile transport company, and that you educate yourself on the complicated process.

Before you choose car movers for hire, be sure that they are familiar with all laws and regulations regarding international auto transport:

  • Any vehicle condition regulations required for international auto shipping


  • All international vehicle shipping paperwork required by U.S. Customs and the customs of your destination country


  • Your destination country's regulations for your car to clear customs


Vehicle Condition Regulations

There are many laws in place regarding your vehicle's condition before it can be loaded into the shipping container or rolled onto the ship. Your auto mover should be aware of all of these restrictions, and capable of explaining them to you in detail. (These regulations may vary depending on your destination country)

You may be required to:

  • Drain the car of most or all gasoline or other hazardous or flammable materials
  • Disconnect or temporarily remove the car battery.
  • Empty your vehicle and trunk of all personal possessions or other loose items

Depending on your destination country, the laws restricting the age and type of vehicles permitted for import will also vary--some countries prohibit the importation of automobiles over a certain age or vehicles that do not pass safety or emissions inspections. Additionally, factors such as the vehicle's value or engine size can determine the amount of of tariffs, taxes, or duties you will have to pay


Before you are able to ship your vehicle, there is specific paperwork needed by your overseas auto shippers. Any company you choose to hire should be able to advise you on the specific documents required, and they should have them in order before loading your car for shipment abroad.

Some of the required documents are:

  • The original Certificate of Title or a certified copy of the Certificate of Title, plus two complete copies that accompany your car to the port of origin.


  • If you lease your car or if a lien has been recorded, you must also provide a separate letter from the lien holder authorizing the exportation, including the owner/ lien holder's name, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the owner/lien holder's telephone number, and the lien holder's signature and date.


  • If you are a U.S. government employee being reassigned overseas, you will need your military orders or a letter from the government or other authority authorizing the transport of your vehicle.


  • If you purchased a new car that is being shipped abroad, you will need a Bill of Sale and an Original Certificate of Origin from the dealership where you bought the vehicle


  • If you cannot be present at the point of departure with your vehicle, you may require a power of attorney


Customs is a regulatory agency in a country responsible for controlling the flow of goods in and out of the country, ensuring they are legitimate and safe, and collecting the appropriate duties and fees.

  • Every country's customs department has its own specific rules and regulations
    regarding the process of importation, the condition of the car and the required paperwork. You should discuss the customs regulations in detail with your auto movers to ensure that they are familiar and ideally, that they have imported vehicles there previously.


  • Be sure to ask your auto shippers if they provide customs clearance services or if you will have to hire a separate customs broker to handle the process. If your auto movers offer this service, be sure that they will provide you with an agent to receive your vehicle when it arrives at customs in your destination country.


  • While it is wise to enlist the aid of professionals, you want to do your own research as well. Before you ship your vehicle, check with the consulate of your new country's government to determine any levies or restrictions that could affect your vehicle shipment.

Additional Resources

  • Find out more about overseas auto shippers, different shipping methods, and insurance options.
  • Be sure to ask any potential vehicle shipper you are considering for hire these important questions to avoid common problems that occur during auto transport.
  • Download our helpful checklist to prepare your vehicle for shipping.
  • Begin your search for free quotes from vehicle shippers right now at Movers.com!

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on August 23, 2013

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