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Freight from the USA

Customs Rules | Carriers Rules | Reading Rates | Avoiding Mistakes

Our primary business is shipping from the U.S. freight LCL. LCL freight perfectly fits shipping from the USA auto parts not marked with VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). If you can pack all your shipping items in boxes or crate them, then our economy LCL freight service should meet your shipping needs. By selecting the LCL service, calculate an LCL price quote in our online freight calculator. Watch this 3-minute video on YouTube about how the online freight calculator works. See how big a cubic meter is in this video.

However, any motorized vehicles that require DMV (U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles) registration (autos, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, jet skis, ATVs, etc.) will NOT be permitted for international shipping from the USA as LCL freight. U.S. Customs does not recognize any ocean freight carrier's warehouse as an inspection site.

Currently, we do not provide service for shipping motorized vehicles. This webpage is written for general information only.


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

Note: This web page does not cover all specifics on transporting motor vehicles to the USA in all circumstances. A variety of special U.S. regulations govern such procedures. However, this article should give you a whole picture of the subject.


  1. SHIPPING RO-RO: RO-RO means "Roll-On/Roll-Off." RO-RO is a shipping term used in international cargo transportation from the USA for wheeled cargo 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, ATVs, 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 for international shipping cars inside 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 is more likely to reach the destination without damage during sea transportation.

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

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

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

    The 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 is more likely to be damaged during transportation (we always suggest considering maritime insurance.)

    Suppose a container contains vehicles that belong to different international shippers and cars consigned to other consignees. In that case, the container may include problems in finalizing international shipping documents at the origin or/and the destination, delays, and additional costs due to consolidation/de-consolidation of cars at the origin or/and destination.

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

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


If cargo contains any motor vehicle, even a part of the cargo, then U.S. Customs will require the original title and 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 the entire shipment will be released to sail from the USA. Titles on all shipped motor vehicles are considered 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 vehicle's export must accompany the title. However, U.S. Customs will be less likely to approve motor vehicles with liens for export from the USA.
Suppose an owner of the vehicle, as in the vehicle title, cannot accompany the vehicle to the port of departure. In that case, the owner has to issue a power of attorney to the person or company representing 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 require that original titles be presented to the destination customs when they recover motor vehicles. If a motor vehicle had been sold to the consignee (recipient of vehicles at the destination), the bill of sale should also be presented at the destination.

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

Suppose motor vehicles are shipping from the USA in multimodal ocean freight containers. In that case, the containers' doors must not be locked until U.S. Customs officers check the vehicles and their VINs inside the containers. Remember that when you load motor vehicles into containers, you must provide U.S. customs officers easy access to vehicles and their VINs (typically on the left-hand side under windshields). Otherwise, U.S. Customs may reject containers for international shipping from the USA. Then, it may be required to be returned to a loading dock for re-loading.

Note: If you are loading and securing motor vehicles in multimodal ocean freight containers on your own at your site, then unless you are a professional in loading such containers, we strongly recommend considering hiring quality loading personnel 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), 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 for 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 the RO-RO vessel apply.

Vehicles shipped RO-RO on trailers (shipping from U.S. 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, you CAN NOT send anything inside 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 cars.

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 was disconnected, and the battery terminal cables secured,
  • However, unlike with RO-RO, you may not leave keys inside vehicles.

international shipping cars inside of containers

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

Note: We recommend considering our ECONOMY LCL Sea Freight service if you are shipping only auto parts from the USA. Shipping auto parts from the USA is permitted.

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

As an international U.S. Freight Forwarder, you may refer to services from quality loading warehouses (international shipping companies' loading docks) that specialize in loading and securing cars and other vehicles in multimodal ocean freight containers for 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 to load cars in the containers by themselves, then as U.S. Freight Forwarder, upon approval, we may offer 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 exported cars in the containers, U.S. Customs formalities on shipping cars, etc. Any surcharges that, for any reason, may be added by steamship lines to ocean freight prices confirmed in bookings scheduled for shipping cars from the US will be on the shipper's account.
Suppose you are moving overseas from the USA. In that case, 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). You may likely find that the services of international moving companies appear more convenient than those of a global shipping company. However, suppose 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. In that case, you can 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 for shipping different types of wheeled cargo (you may compare international shipping RO-RO of cars of small and mid-sizes to RO-RO shipping of giant 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 the 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 vehicle type (or RO-RO shipping units). International RO-RO ocean freight rates per CBF or CBM will generally vary depending on the car's size shipped RO-RO.

The exemption would be international RO-RO ocean freight rates for shipping from the USA to small and mid-size cars. If you ship cars from the USA using RO-RO service, the international RO-RO ocean freight rates may be a lump sum in US$ based on makes, models, and years of shipping cars. However, it would help if you understood that, in reality, to get an RO-RO shipping rate in a lump sum, international RO-RO carriers have created and used in their practice special ocean freight rates matrixes, which refer to overall volumes of cars shipped from the US-based on its make, model and year information. I.e., international RO-RO ocean freight rates on shipping cars are based on their overall volume. 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 pier (Steam Ship Line's pier). Suppose the overall dimensions of the RO-RO shipping unit retrieved by SSL will differ from those given by the shipper when booking their international RO-RO shipment. In that case, additional shipping costs will apply to the total RO-RO shipping cost initially quoted to the shipper by a global shipping company. Your total ocean freight cost will be calculated as the 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 RO-RO shipping type unit, plus surcharges on the RO-RO ocean freight rate.

In the international RO-RO ocean freight shipping from the USA, other types of ocean freight cube tables are used by international ocean freight carriers besides shipping cars. As long as a shipper provides the make, model, and year of the vehicle, the total volume in CBF or CBM may be defined directly by the international shipping company, and ocean freight per CBF or CBM is offered to calculate the 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 belonging to single shippers/owners and consigned to one consignee are loaded and secured by international shippers. 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 vehicles that belong to other shippers (a) OR per entire ocean freight container containing two, three, or more cars 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: 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 the shipper is responsible for stuffing and securing cars in containers. Shippers are held accountable for car title validation with U.S. Customs. You should read and understand these international ocean freight shipping rates as rates for shipping FCL – Full Container Load with the commodity: new or used cars, motor vehicles, etc. Often, FCL ocean freight rates (shipping costs related to an ocean freight booking offered to a shipper) on international shipments of containers containing cars (other types of motor vehicles) will include additional surcharges on top of the ocean freight rate. 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 is loaded, secured for 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 international shipping companies' services. However, this service is not always available. This ocean freight rate will include loading and securing vehicles in an ocean freight container by a professional quality loading company. The shipping cost will pass U.S. Customs formalities with the title(s).

The international shipper (or freight forwarder on the shipper's behalf) should arrange delivery of the car(s) to a parking lot of a quality loading company (international shipping company's loading dock) and leave it there along with all required documents for the international shipment by sea. If cars are ready to be loaded in ocean freight containers, this quality loading company should handle 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 shipper request) forwarded directly to the consignee or a destination receiving terminal.

Depending on shipping cars' sizes, four to five vehicles may be consolidated in one multimodal 40' or 40HC ocean freight container. However, to ensure a quality load, only three or even two cars can be in a container. If you ship luxury or antique (valued) cars from the US, we recommend single shipping cars in 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:

As a rule, Ocean freight rates for international shipping consolidated cars from the US are all-in/"Free Out." That 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

Suppose you ship numerous cars of different makes and models. In that case, the international ocean freight rate should be offered per entire sea freight container, including an offer for the most efficient way of staffing and securing your cars for international shipment. An international shipping company (freight forwarder or NVOCC) will then discuss with the loading dock and specify how many particular cars may fit in a specific ocean freight container for the international shipment from the USA. For example, the 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 worldwide, the original titles of cars imported from the USA must be presented to destination customs upon arrival of shipping cars to destinations. If a vehicle had been sold to the consignee (recipient) before an international ocean freight shipment, the bill of sale should also be furnished at the destination. For example, as soon as your car(s) have passed 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 an international ocean freight service is a new business for you, then to predict a complete shipping cost related to the recovery of your shipping cars in your destination country, we would also suggest you discuss procedures for recoveries imported cars at destinations, including your destination customs formalities on vehicles imported from the USA, with someone experienced in the business. It can be an individual you can trust, an international ocean freight forwarder (a global shipping company in your country), your destination country'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 assistance from an international moving company

Procedures and prices on international shipping cars from the US provided by an international shipping company differ 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.

Most of the time, international shipping companies do not offer such a service. The shipper is responsible for loading and securing cars in containers for the ocean freight shipment unless you request a load in the international shipping company's quality loading warehouse.

When you ship cars from the USA overseas, we suggest you always 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 shipping companies include port fees at the origin.

However, should your vehicle need to be stored at the port of origin or a parking lot of a 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.

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

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

Regarding dealing with an international shipping company, the shipper should clearly understand that they are entirely held responsible for the description and legality of the commodity and the sufficiency of international shipping documents submitted to an international ocean freight shipment.

A 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 a direct international ocean freight carrier (and a freight forwarder representing this carrier) is not responsible for the shipper's information when booking an international shipment. 

A freight forwarder should guide shippers in the complexity of international ocean freight shipment procedures. However, the shipper is responsible for providing all necessary documents for his international ocean freight shipment 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 and 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 car 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 the US | Ocean Carrier's Rules on shipping cars from the US | Reading Rates on shipping vehicles from the US | Avoiding Mistakes when importing cars from the US


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