What Are the Best Tips for Exporting Cars?

K. Kinsella

Exporting a car can be a lengthy process that involves a large amount of paperwork and a variety of different costs. Typically, those interested in exporting cars must attempt to negotiate a low-cost transportation deal with a commercial cargo carrier such as a shipping firm or a rail company. Additionally, exporters must familiarize themselves with both domestic and foreign rules about registering vehicles. Many nations charge either import or export tariffs on vehicles and so anyone thinking of exporting cars should try to identify the export route that is the least expensive in terms of overall cost.

Those looking for a low-cost transportation deal should investigate a commercial cargo carrier such as a shipping firm.
Those looking for a low-cost transportation deal should investigate a commercial cargo carrier such as a shipping firm.

Manufacturers often rely on trucks or trains when exporting cars across land borders. Freight companies sometimes offer discounted rates to business partners that purchase large quantities of cargo space; exporters often try to ship multiple cars at one time rather than sending a series of shipments involving small numbers of vehicles. Additionally, a firm may be able to negotiate a further pricing discount by entering into a long-term export deal with a shipping firm rather than negotiating a one-off transportation deal. People and entities that ship cars by boat often get the best deals when shipping cars on large commercial boats since costs are split with many other vendors whereas it can be expensive to hire a small boat just to ship a small number of vehicles.

Before a car can cross an international border, the vehicle owner must present the customs officers with a vehicle title. Laws in many nations prevent people from exporting financed vehicles unless the lender has provided the vehicle owner with written consent to take the car across the border. Newly constructed cars do not have titles since these vehicles do not yet belong to anyone. In such instances, the vehicle owner must present the customs officers with a document known as a statement or certificate of origin that explains where the car was built. Anyone who attempts to export a car with a title of a certificate of origin is liable to run into legal issues that could include penalty fees.

Nations around the world require vehicle owners and distribution firms to pay taxes whenever vehicles cross international borders. The size of these tariffs varies between nations so exporters normally try to choose the shipping route that involves the car having to cross the least number of international borders. Additionally, anyone involved in exporting cars must take into account the shipping costs and tariffs when pricing the vehicle. In some instances, exporting cars is not cost effective if these charges mean that exported cars are more expensive than vehicles already available for sale in the destination country.

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Discussion Comments


I had a friend who rather than transporting her car overseas found someone to trade cars with. She was being transferred for work, so she found someone else in the company who was being transferred in the opposite direction, and they traded cars. My friend also got a little cash since her car was in better condition and newer than the other person's vehicle.


@Laotionne - There is a good reason why the guy you mentioned could ship is vehicle. When I was in the military I knew plenty of guys who shipped their cars back and forth as they were stationed and re-stationed around the world. And the reason is because Uncle Sam was paying the bill. Military personnel are generally allowed to ship their cars, and other personal items at no charge to them.


@Feryll - I dated a guy once who was in the army, and he had foreign license plates on his car when I first met him. He shipped his car wherever he went. And he wasn't making tons of money, so there must be a cheap way to get this done.


My brother is going to be working in Europe for the next three years and he wants to transport his car from the United States to France where he will be living while he is working throughout Europe. Thus far he has looked into several ways to get the car to Europe and all of the options are way too expensive for him.

He says he would be much better off just picking up a used car once he gets to Europe rather than trying to get his car over there on a ship. Of course, this will leave him with a new car at home that will be getting no use while he is in Europe.

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