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Freight from the USA

Customs Rules on shipping cars from US | Ocean Carrier's Rules on shipping cars from the US | Reading Rates on shipping cars from the US | Avoiding Mistakes when shipping vehicles from the US


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In respect of International Cargo Transportation from the USA by sea, any motorized vehicles that require DMV registration (autos, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, jet skis, ATV’s) are considered by U.S. Customs as motor vehicles. Shipping from the USA motor vehicles overseas using any type of international sea freight services is subject to special procedures related to U.S. Customs. International shipping from the United States motor vehicles by the sea makes shipping procedures different from general cargo transportation from the USA overseas.

Note: This web page does not cover all specific cover on transporting motor vehicles to the USA in all circumstances. Such procedures governed by a variety of special U.S. regulations. However, this article should get you a whole picture on the subject.


  1. SHIPPING RO-RO: RO-RO means "Roll On/Roll Off". RO-RO is a shipping term used in the international cargo transportation from the USA for shipping wheeled cargo, which is driven on and off the vessel: cars, trucks, boats on trailers, wheeled constriction equipment, railway carriages, etc.

    International shipping cars Ro-Ro
  2. SHIPPING CARS FROM THE USA INSIDE OF CONTAINERS: Cars (and other smaller motor vehicles, such as motorcycles, boats, jet skis, ATV’s, etc.) will be loaded and secured in multimodal ocean freight containers.

                                              Shipping cars in containers

    Depending on the value of shipped cars and routing of containers, you may consider two options on international shipping cars inside of multimodal sea freight containers:

    1. SHIPPING A SINGLE CAR IN CONTAINER: This option should be selected for the international transportation of valued vehicles. Shipping single cars in containers have a higher probability of reaching the destination without damages during transportation by sea.

    Transporting single cars in containers may be an option if your origin and/or destination is landlocked cities. I.e., your container must be delivered to the port of departure or/and the final destination by trucks and/or rail.

    International shipping cars in entire containers have also the advantage that your ocean freight bill of lading will be consigned to a single consignee (recipient of the car). I.e., the shipper and consignee will eliminate possible problems, delays and additional costs related to consolidation/de-consolidation cars at the origin and destination.

    2. SHIPPING CARS CONSOLIDATED IN CONTAINERS WITH OTHER VEHICLES. That means that a multimodal sea freight container will contain more than one vehicle. Consolidated cars may belong to just one owner or different owners.

    Cost of shipping cars consolidated in containers, per car, is less expensive than single shipping cars in containers. However, international shipping of cars consolidated with other vehicles has a higher probability to be damaged during transportation (we always suggesting to consider maritime insurance.)

    If a container contains vehicles that belong to different international shippers and/or cars consigned to different consignees, then the container may include problems related to finalizing of international shipping documents at the origin or/and the destination, delays and be subject to additional costs due to consolidation/de-consolidation cars at the origin or/and destination.

Note: International transportation from the USA by the sea of smaller motorized vehicles (motorcycles, jet skis, mopeds, mopeds, ATV's, etc.) is not permitted in LCL sea freight. It is because U.S. Customs will not recognize any international ocean freight carrier's container freight station (called CFS or bonded warehouses) an exam site for the inspection.

However, it is permitted to ship auto parts from the USA using LCL sea freight service. You can send auto parts from the USA overseas using LCL ocean freight service.


If cargo contains any motor vehicle, even a part of if the cargo, then U.S. Customs will require the original title along with at least three copies (not-notarized) of the title. Titles and copies (front and back) must be submitted and validated by U.S. Customs before entire shipment will be released to sail from the USA. Titles on all shipped motor vehicles are considered as essential and mandatory documents in such shipments. It must be provided to U.S. Customs at the port of origin (international ocean freight carrier's Container Yard - CY if shipping from the USA in containers or pier if shipping RO-RO). If there are any liens against the vehicle, a notarized letter from the lien holder authorizing the export of the vehicle must also accompany the title. However, motor vehicles with liens less likely will be approved by U.S. Customs to the export from the USA.
If an owner of the vehicle, as in the vehicle title, cannot accompany the vehicle to the port of departure, then the owner has to issue a power of attorney to the person or company that represents the vehicle's owner before customs in the port of departure. If you ship cars consolidated in containers, the company is a quality loading warehouse specialized in loading, securing and shipping motor vehicles in containers.
Most countries in the world require that original titles must be presented to the destination customs at a time of recovery motor vehicles. If a motor vehicle had been sold to the consignee (recipient of vehicles at the destination), the bill of sale should be presented at the destination as well.

After validating of titles, U.S. Customs, the Customs stamps titles that approved to export, and returns the titles to the shippers or an authorized by shippers persons. Then, as soon as your motor vehicle passed U.S. customs, to avoid possible extra charges at the destination due to lack of proper international shipping documents, we strongly suggest to express mail all original documents to the consignee without delay.

If motor vehicles are shipping from the USA in multimodal ocean freight containers, then doors of containers must not be sealed and locked till U.S. customs' officers will check the vehicles and its VINs inside of containers. Keep in mind, that when you load motor vehicles into containers, easy access for U.S. customs officers to vehicles and its VIN numbers (typically on the left-hand side under windshields) must be provided. Otherwise, containers may be rejected to the international shipping from the USA by U.S. Customs. Then it may require to be returned to a loading dock for the re-load.

Note: If you are loading and securing motor vehicles in multimodal ocean freight containers by your own at your site, then, unless you are a professional in loads such containers, we strongly recommend considering to hire a quality loading personal or an international moving company experienced in staffing containers with vehicles for shipping from the USA overseas.




Unless a motor vehicle is not on the trailer (international shipping of boats on trailers with an empty gas tank for example) then the shipped RO-RO vehicle must run and be filled with gas, but no more than 1/2 of the tank (1/4 is recommended). Ignition keys must accompany vehicles shipped ro-ro.


RO-RO shipping. Cars inside of RO-RO vessel. 


Motor vehicles must be in running condition to be accepted by the ocean freight carriers to the international RO-RO shipping from the USA (roll on/roll off). If a motor vehicle is delivered fo the RO-RO shipment to an RO-RO ocean freight carrier's pier in not running condition, then extra charges related to towing of not-runners on/off RO-RO vessel apply.

Vehicles shipped RO-RO on trailers (shipping boats, jets, motorcycles on trailers, etc.) are subject to international transportation's safety requirements similar to international shipping cars in multimodal sea freight containers. See below.

IMPORTANT: If you ship cars or other types of motor vehicles from the USA using international RO-RO ocean freight service, then you CANNOT send anything inside of vehicles, except for factory installed equipment. International RO-RO ocean freight carrier will not be liable for any additional items shipped RO-RO along with the vehicles.

International shipping cars in containers, unlike shipping cars RO-RO, requires that:

  • All fluids must be drained and fumes purged from the gas tank,
  • The battery disconnected and the battery terminal cables secured,
  • However, unlike with RO-RO, you may not leave keys inside of vehicles.

international shipping cars inside of containers

If you ship CARS IN CONTAINERS CONSOLIDATED WITH CARS THAT BELONG TO OTHER OWNERS, then you should not use salons and trunks of cars as an additional room for your international shipment. Shipping extra items inside your car, except for factory installed equipment, may result in problems with U.S. and destination's customs. However, if you still insist on putting something in salons or trunks of your cars, accept the risk of the issues and allowed to do that by an international shipping company, then ensure that VIN is not blocked for the view when a customs officer will match the VIN with the titles of your cars.

Note: If you are shipping only auto parts from the USA, then we recommend considering our ECONOMY LCL Sea Freight service. Shipping auto parts from the USA is permitted.

If your cars in a container that entirely belongs to a single shipper, then you can use all spare room of the container, including salons and trunks of cars, to ship additional cargo together with cars. However, in this case, besides of original titles on shipping cars, you must provide to customs complete valued packing/inventory list of all items that you ship in the container along with cars.

As an international U.S. Freight Forwarder may refer services from quality loading warehouses (international shipping companies loading docks), that specialize in loading and securing cars and other types of vehicles in multimodal ocean freight containers for the international shipping from the USA overseas. International shipping companies loading docks may also complete all U.S. Customs formalities on shipping motor vehicles from the USA on behalf of shippers.
If international shippers are going to pick up containers from ocean carrier's container yards in purpose to load cars in the containers by themselves then as U.S. Freight Forwarder, upon approval, we may offer an ocean freight bookings from steamship lines for international FCL ocean freight to ship the containers with cars overseas. Then shippers will be held responsible for completing all procedures related to pickups and returning containers, loading and securing of exported cars in the containers, U.S. Customs formalities on shipping cars, etc. Any surcharges that for any reasons may be added by steamship lines to ocean freight prices confirmed in bookings scheduled for shipping cars from the US will be on shipper's account.
If you are moving overseas from the USA, then you may compare shipping costs on shipping cars from the US offered by international moving companies Vs. International ocean freight shipping companies (freight forwarders, NVOCCs). Most likely you may find that services from international moving companies appear more convenient than from a global shipping company. However, if you understand how the international shipping cars industry works and compare shipping costs from an international moving company to shipping costs from international shipping companies, then you will be able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on shipping cars from the USA overseas.




There are no straight standards in the RO-RO international ocean freight rates structure for shipping from the USA overseas. International shipping rates RO-RO vary depending on international RO-RO ocean freight carrier's criteria and types of vessels.


international shipping cars in ro-ro vessel


Since RO-RO vessels' desks are designed to ship different types of wheeled cargo (you may compare international shipping RO-RO of cars of small and mid-sizes to RO-RO shipping of huge excavators for example) then, in general, international RO-RO shipping rates in price quotes offered on shipping from the USA RO-RO, will be based on overall volume of your RO-RO shipment in cubic feet (CBF) or cubic meters (CBM). It calculates based on measurements provided by RO-RO shippers. International RO-RO shipping rates also depend on the type of shipped vehicle (or RO-RO shipping units). In general, international RO-RO ocean freight rates per CBF or CBM will vary depending on the size of car shipped RO-RO.

The exemption would be international RO-RO ocean freight rates for shipping from the USA small and mid-size cars. If you are shipping cars from the USA using RO-RO service, then the international RO-RO ocean freight rates may be a lump sum in US$ based on makes, models and years of shipping cars. However, you should understand that in reality, to get an RO-RO shipping rate in a lump sum, international RO-RO carriers have created and used in its practice special ocean freight rates matrixes, which refer to overall volumes of cars shipped from the US based on it make, model and year information. I.e., international RO-RO ocean freight rates on shipping cars are based on its overall volume anyway. For example Cars up to 600 cubic feet of total volume and up to 1.6 meters high - $1,300 lump sum + BAF & CAF, etc.

IMPORTANT: Your international RO-RO shipment from the USA will be measured at an SSL's pier (Steam Ship Line's pier). If overall dimensions of RO-RO shipping unit retrieved by SSL will differ from dimensions given by shipper at a time of booking of his/her international RO-RO shipment, then additional shipping cost will apply on the total RO-RO shipping cost initially quoted by a global shipping company to the shipper. Your total ocean freight cost will be calculated as a total volume of your RO-RO shipping unit in CBF or CBM multiplied by the RO-RO rate per CBF or CBM depending on the type of the RO-RO shipping unit, plus surcharges on the RO-RO ocean freight rate.

In the international RO-RO ocean freight shipping from the USA, there are other types of ocean freight cube tables that used by international ocean freight carriers besides of on shipping cars. As long as a shipper provides make, model and year of the vehicle, then the total volume in CBF or CBM may be defined directly by the international shipping company, and ocean freight per CBF or CBM offered for the calculation of total shipping cost.

International shipping rates for shipping cars from the USA in multimodal sea freight containers (shipping other types of smaller motor vehicles) can be as follows:

  1. International ocean freight rates for entire FCL sea freight containers containing cars that belong to single shippers/owners and consigned to one consignee, which are loaded, secured by international shippers themselves. U.S. customs formalities are completed by shippers as well;
  2. International ocean freight rate per one car consolidated by a freight forwarder in a multimodal sea freight container with other cars that belong to other shippers (a) OR per entire ocean freight container containing two, three or more vehicles loaded and secured in containers to be shipped from the USA on behalf of one international shipper/owner (b).

    You may see international ocean freight rates that correspond with these types of loads in our online freight calculator for shipping cars from the US in containers in this link. Shipping costs in this online freight calculator are all-in/"Free Out".

1. INTERNATIONAL OCEAN FREIGHT RATE FOR SHIPPING CARS FROM U.S. PER ENTIRE SEA FREIGHT CONTAINER: The option A in our online freight calculator. In other words, the price is ocean freight only. I.e., per an FCL ocean freight booking scheduled with a steamship line only. That means that shipper is entirely responsible for stuffing and securing cars in containers. Shippers are held responsible for cars titles validation with U.S. Customs. You should read and understand these international ocean freights shipping rate as rates for shipping FCL – Full Container Load with the commodity: new or used cars, motor vehicles, etc. Often FCL ocean freight rates (shipping cost related to an ocean freight booking offered to a shipper) on international shipments of containers that contain cars (other types of motor-vehicles) will include additional surcharges on top of the ocean freight rate itself. Certain international shipping companies do not accept shipping cars from the USA in multimodal ocean freight containers.

2. INTERNATIONAL OCEAN FREIGHT RATE PER ONE CAR CONSOLIDATED IN AN OCEAN FREIGHT CONTAINER WITH OTHER CARS, or PER ENTIRE CONTAINER containing two, three or more cars, which loaded, secured for the shipping from the USA by an international shipping company on behalf of one shipper/owner:

Generally shipped cars will be consolidated in a 40' High Cube ocean freight container. Sometimes it can be the most convenient and economical way to export cars from the US using service from international shipping companies. However, this service is not always available. This ocean freight rate will include loading and securing cars in an ocean freight container by a professional quality loading company. Shipping cost will consist of passing U.S. Customs formalities with the title(s).

International shipper (or freight forwarder on shipper's behalf) should arrange delivery of car(s) to a parking lot of quality loading company (international shipping company's loading dock) and leave it there along with all required documents for the international shipment by sea. As long as cars are ready to be loaded in ocean freight containers, this quality loading company should take care of everything including passing U.S. customs formalities. As long as vehicles have crossed the U.S. customs, all international shipping documents will be returned to the shipper or (by shippers request) forwarded directly to the consignee or a destination receiving terminal.

Depending on sizes of shipping cars, it may be up to four-five cars consolidated in one multimodal 40' or 40HC ocean freight container. However, to ensure a quality load, it can be three or even only two cars in a container only. If you are shipping luxury or antique cars (valued cars) from the US, then we would recommend single shipping cars in the entire 20' or 40' ocean freight containers.

If you are shipping internationally only one car consolidated in an ocean freight container, then the international ocean freight rate should be offered as a lump sum per car depending on make, model and year, i.e., its dimensions (size). For example: Toyota Corolla, 2004 - $750 lump sum + BAF & CAF etc. And finally like this:

Ocean freight rates for international shipping consolidated cars from the US, as a rule, are all-in/"Free Out". That means that it includes loading and securing shipping cars in a container, U.S. Customs formalities and the international ocean freight cost to ship cars to the destination. Not included:

1. SED (Shipper's Export Declaration) in AES (optional) - $35
2. Insurance (optional) - 1.1 - 1.5% @ value declared
3. Destination charges

If you ship numerous cars of different makes and models, then the international ocean freight rate should be offered per entire sea freight containers including an offer for a most efficient way for staffing and securing of your cars for the international shipment. Then an international shipping company (freight forwarder or NVOCC) will discuss with the loading dock and specify how many particulars cars may fit in a particular ocean freight container for the international shipment from the USA. For example international ocean freight rate for 1 x 40HC containing two Dodge Neon, 2003 and one Chevrolet Cavalier, 2006  $2370 + BAF & CAF, etc., including stuffing cars in the sea freight container and customs formalities.


A. Original titles for cars shipped from the USA must be furnished at the destination

According to customs rules of most countries over the world, original titles of cars imported from the USA, upon arrivals of shipping cars to destinations, must be presented to destination customs. If a car had been sold to the consignee (recipient) before an international ocean freight shipment, the bill of sale should be furnished at the destination as well. I.e., as soon as your car(s) have passed the U.S. customs, to avoid extra charges at the destination due to lack of proper documentation, always express-mail all original documents to the consignee without delay. 

If shipping cars from the US using international ocean freight service is a new business for you, then in order to predict a complete shipping cost related to recovery of your shipping cars in your destination country, we would also suggest you discussing procedures on recoveries imported cars at destinations, including your destination customs formalities on cars imported from the USA, with someone experienced in the business. It can be an individual whom you can trust to, an international ocean freight forwarder (a global shipping company in your country), your destination county's customs broker, etc.  

B. Do not confuse international ocean freight services on shipping cars from the US offered by a global shipping company (Freight Forwarder, NVOCC) with service from an international moving company

Procedures and prices on international shipping cars from the US provided by an international shipping company differs from services from procedures and costs on international shipping cars by international moving companies (as a rule on ocean freight shipments related to international shipping of household goods overseas).

With an international moving company, you can get a sea freight container delivered to your door and have your car(s) loaded and secured by the international moving company along with the rest of your household goods.

International shipping companies, most of the times, do not offer such service. Loading and securing cars in containers for the ocean freight shipment, unless you request a load in the international shipping companies quality loading warehouse, is shippers responsibility.

When you ship cars from the USA overseas, we suggest you always to compare prices and service packages offered by international ocean freight shipping companies (international freight forwarders, NVOCC) Vs. International moving companies.   

C. Always be aware of origin and destination charges, which may not be included in international ocean freight rates offered by international shipping companies

Generally, international ocean freight rates offered by international shipping companies include port fees at the origin.

However, should your vehicle needs to be stored at the port of origin or at a parking lot of quality loading warehouse for any reason (i.e. lack of proper international shipping documents, waiting time for other vehicles coming to be consolidated in the same ocean freight container etc), storage fees etc, will increase shipping cost of your international shipment and are shipper's responsibility. Please plan your international shipment from the US in advance.

International ocean freight prices in quotes on shipping cars from the US do not include storage fees (if any), handling and custom related charges and fees at the destinations.

D. Shipper's responsibilities on filing shipping documents for shipping cars from the US using international ocean freight services

In respect of dealing with an international shipping company, the shipper should clearly understand that he/she is entirely held responsible for description and legality of commodity and sufficiency of international shipping documents submitted to an international ocean freight shipment.

Carrier's international ocean freight bill of lading is the final shipping document that acts as a title to the goods shipped from the US overseas, as a rule, states 'SHIPPER'S LOAD AND COUNTS' and 'SAID BY SHIPPER TO CONTAIN'. That means that a direct international ocean freight carrier (and a freight forwarder who represents this carrier) is not held responsible for information provided by the shipper at a time of booking of international shipment. 

A freight forwarder should guide shippers in the complexity of international ocean freight shipment's procedures. However, it is shipper's responsibility to provide all necessary documents related to his international ocean freight shipment that will be required by origin and destination country officials.

Below is the list of commonly used shipping documents required to be submitted when you ship cars from the USA overseas using international ocean freight services:

  • The original title along with at least three copies (non-notarized) of the title, front, and back.
  • Liens against the vehicle (if applicable), a notarized letter from the lienholder authorizing the export of the vehicle exported from the U.S.
  • Bill of sale (if applicable)
  • Power of attorney to the person or company that represents the vehicle's owner before customs (if applicable)
  • International ocean freight Bill of Lading - Carrier's transport document. The title on shipped goods. Shows cargo routing, consigner, consignee, cargo description, etc.

Customs Rules on shipping cars from US | Ocean Carrier's Rules on shipping cars from the US | Reading Rates on shipping cars from the US | Avoiding Mistakes when shipping cars from the US


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