How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Overseas?

Last Updated on May 19, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Shipping a car overseas can seem daunting. This guide covers overseas car shipping costs, from methods to documentation. Read on to budget your international vehicle shipment!

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Overseas?

The average cost to ship a car overseas is $1,000-$6,000. Shipping farther distances like USA to Europe starts at around $1,500 for RoRo. Closer routes like Australia to New Zealand begin under $1,000 for RoRo. Shipping across the ocean is more than regional overland transport.

Costs depend on:

  • Shipping method (RoRo vs. container)
  • Distance and route
  • Vehicle size and weight
  • Additional services like insurance

RoRo shipping tends to be cheaper since vehicles are stacked, not in containers.

According to SGT Auto Transport, the cost to ship a car overseas can range from $650 to $2,000 or more.

Forbes writes that the average cost of using a shipping container for a longer distance move is about $3,870.

WC Shipping says that the typical cost to ship a car can range from $900 to over $2,000 per car, depending on the overseas destination.

MarketWatch notes that international car shipping via freight ship costs between $1,500 and $5,000. Shipping via air freight can cost as much as $40,000 depending on the car’s journey.

Factors Influencing Shipping Costs

Several key factors influence international vehicle shipping costs:

Shipping Method: RoRo vs. Container

  • Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) – The vehicle is driven onto a cargo ship and secured. Most common for operational vehicles.
  • Container – The vehicle is packed into a shipping container and lifted onto the vessel. Best for non-operational cars.

RoRo pricing ranges from $1,000-$3,500 while container shipping ranges $2000-$6000+.

Distance and Route

Longer distances mean higher freight charges. Popular routes include:

  • USA to Europe (starting around $1,500 for RoRo)
  • Australia to New Zealand (starting under $1,000 for RoRo)

Landlocked countries can add costs due to overland transport from port.

Vehicle Size and Weight

Larger and heavier vehicles cost more. Oversize/overweight vehicles require special handling, adding cost. Provide accurate dimensions and weight for quotes.


Shipping insurance (1-5% of vehicle value) is highly recommended to protect against damage. Discuss options with your shipping company.

Destination Fees

Upon arrival, there are often destination port fees and customs duties to process the vehicle. This is in addition to shipping costs. Research the import laws and costs for your destination country.

You might also like our articles on the cost of storage container rental, shipping a body, or buying a cargo ship.

Shipping Methods and Their Costs

Roll-On/Roll-Off Shipping

RoRo involves driving the vehicle onto a cargo ship and securing it. This open-air method is best for operational vehicles. Average RoRo costs range from $1,000-$3,500.

Containerized Shipping

With container shipping, the vehicle is packed into a container and lifted onto the vessel. Ideal for non-operational vehicles. Container shipping averages $2,000-$6,000+.

While pricier, container transport reduces exposure to elements.

Door-to-Port vs. Port-to-Port

Door-to-port shipping, with pickup and delivery at your home, costs more but is more convenient than port-to-port. You’ll need to factor in overland transport and transit insurance to and from the port for the latter.

To make shipping as smooth and affordable as possible:

  • Get quotes from multiple companies to compare pricing. Rates can vary greatly.
  • Book early to get the best rates. Peak season is summertime.
  • Opt for ports with frequent ship traffic – this brings lower costs.
  • Ask about discounts for advance payment, multiple vehicles, etc.
  • Prepare your vehicle properly for shipping to avoid fees. Cancel registration, empty gas to 1/4 tank, disconnect battery, etc.

With research and planning, the process of shipping your car overseas doesn’t have to be a headache. Understanding the costs involved will help you budget wisely.

Additional Expenses in International Car Shipping

How to ship your car overseasAdditional destination fees include:

  • Customs duties
  • Port handling fees
  • Import taxes

Research the import laws and costs for your destination country.

Insurance and Protection for Overseas Vehicle Shipping

  • Shipping insurance protects against damage. Typically costs 1-5% of vehicle value.
  • May need extra coverage for household belongings when using a container.
  • Discuss insurance needs with your shipping company.

How to Prepare Your Car for Shipping

Proper preparation avoids fees and delays:

  • Cancel registration
  • Empty gas tank to 1/4
  • Disconnect battery
  • Remove antennas and loose parts

Ensure car meets country import requirements!

Choosing a Reliable Shipping Company

To find a reputable company:

  • Get quotes from multiple carriers to compare
  • Look for experience shipping to your destination
  • Confirm they are licensed, bonded, and insured
  • Read reviews of client satisfaction


Research and planning are key to an affordable overseas car shipping experience. Understanding the costs involved helps you budget wisely.

Final Words

Can I import a car from Europe to USA?

Yes, you can import a car from Europe to the USA, but there are some requirements and costs to keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know:

Legal Importation: The car must be over 25 years old to avoid having to meet US safety and emissions standards. Otherwise, the car must be modified to comply with DOT and EPA rules. This process is called federalization and can be very expensive.

Documentation: You’ll need import paperwork like a certificate of title, registration, import declaration forms, and a DOT form if the car doesn’t meet US standards. Inspectors will verify the VIN at the port.

Shipping Costs: Expect to pay $1,500-$4,000 for shipping a car from Europe to the USA, depending on method and port distance. Roll-on/roll-off shipping is often cheaper than container.

Customs Duties and Taxes: There is a 2.5% duty on cars imported to the USA from Europe. You may also owe state sales tax for registering the car.

Insurance: Ensure your imported car is insured before you drive it on public roads. Customs brokers can help with securing proper coverage.

So in summary, yes you can import a European car, but expect to pay for paperwork, modifications if needed, shipping costs, duties and taxes, and insurance. Research all requirements to ensure smooth importation.

Is it cheaper to import a car from Germany?

Importing a car from Germany to the USA can potentially be cheaper than buying domestically, but there are many factors that determine the final cost:

Purchase Price: German cars tend to hold their value well, so even older used cars can have a higher purchase price than comparable US models. However, you may be able to find deals, especially on more common brands.

Import Fees: You’ll need to pay international shipping costs ($1,500-$4,000), plus 2.5% import duty and customs processing fees. These can add hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the car value.

Federalization: If the car doesn’t meet EPA and DOT standards, modifying it to comply can cost thousands. Exempt 25+ year old cars avoid this major expense.

Insurance and Registration: Make sure to get proper US insurance before registering the imported car in your state. This is an added cost.

Maintenance: German cars are well-engineered but parts/service can be expensive. Make sure you budget for ongoing maintenance.

Depreciation: Imported cars tend to depreciate faster than models already in the US market.

So while a German import may save on the initial purchase, expect to pay more for shipping, duties, and ownership costs. Crunch the numbers carefully before buying to see if it’s truly cheaper. The best values are often older, well-maintained German cars exempt from federalization.

Are European cars legal in the US?

Yes, European cars can generally be imported and legally driven in the USA, but there are some requirements:

  • Cars less than 25 years old must be federalized to comply with US safety and emissions standards. This process can cost thousands.
  • Cars 25+ years old are exempt from federalization requirements. These classics can be imported more easily.
  • EPA and DOT rules still apply for engine swaps and major modifications to any imported car.
  • All imported cars must meet US title, registration, and insurance requirements before driving on public roads.
  • You may be limited to certain usage if the car does not meet federal motor vehicle standards. Some states prohibit registration.

So while European cars are not expressly illegal in the US, importing and registering them for regular road use can be difficult and expensive if they don’t conform to DOT/EPA regulations. Working with an experienced importer is recommended to ensure your car meets all compliance criteria.

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