Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • If you’re moving overseas permanently or temporarily, you’ll have to decide if you want to keep your car or sell it
  • Vehicle owners who don’t want to part with their cars will need to arrange overseas shipping
  • When something as valuable as a car is being shipped internationally, you need to buy special auto insurance
  • Your personal auto insurance that you carry in the U.S. won’t kick in and protect you while the car is abroad
  • Check to see if your insurer offers marine insurance or if you can get a recommendation for cover during shipping

It’s hard enough to ship a vehicle domestically, but when you’re shipping a car overseas you have a whole host of different challenges that you’ll face.

If you’re in the military, you work for the government, or you’re moving overseas, you’ll have the option to take your personal vehicle with you for personal travel in your new hometown.

While you can ship some of your belongings by air, it’s most common to ship something as large as a motor vehicle by ocean.

Before your car becomes cargo, you need to do a lot of planning. It can be overwhelming when you don’t completely know the process from start to finish.

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Luckily, there are guides and logistics companies that can help you navigate through each step so that you don’t make any oversights. Here’s what you need to know about insuring your car when it’s ocean freight.

Do you need to keep your auto insurance on your car while it’s shipped?

As you’re planning your relocation, you’re more worried about terminating your lease, renting out your home, and finding a new place to live in a safe neighborhood.

Once you have your home situation taken care of, you’ll have to focus on what you have to do with your vehicle registration and your insurance.

You shouldn’t remove your personal car insurance from your personal car for as long as it’s registered. If you removed your domestic car insurance from your car, you wouldn’t be in compliance with mandatory insurance laws.

There’s nothing worse than having to deal with fines and penalties for failing to maintain auto insurance when you’re coming back to the country after a long bout overseas.

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Will your personal insurance cover your vehicle while it’s being shipped?

Insurance follows your car and sometimes it even follows the driver. Unfortunately, it’s not going to follow you all the time. When you drive the car across the border into a different country, most of the time your insurance isn’t valid.

The same rings true when your vehicle is placed in a container and shipped over international waters as freight.

It doesn’t matter if you have liability or a full coverage policy, your standard personal motor insurance policy won’t provide any type of coverage while the car is outside of the United States.

In fact, some insurers will even cancel your insurance if they are aware of where your car is. The only exception would be if the car were being driven in Canada.

What do you do with your registration while you’re overseas?

When you’re shipping a car into any country, it’s called an import. Every country has its own importing guidelines and requirements. You need to be prepared to fill out all of the right paperwork so that there aren’t issues transferring your title and registration.

Find out what the import fee is and what type of documentation you need.

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Choosing Which Shipping Method is Best

There are a few different methods that you can choose from when you’re shipping a car overseas. You have to consider the following:

  • how long the car will be in transit
  • how much it will cost
  • the likelihood that the car will be damaged in the process

If you’re not familiar with your options, here are the most common ones to consider:

– Roll On Roll Off Shipping

Roll on-Roll off shipping is a popular method for shipping vehicles and other types of cargo that are on wheels. The method has an amusing nickname in the industry called the Ro-Ro method.

Using a vessel with secured car decks, the shipper will drive the cargo onto the vessel, secure it, and haul it to the destination country.

Ro-Ro shipping is a very popular method for shipping vehicles because it is an efficient method. It’s also a cost efficient way for shippers to get their cars from point A to point B since you don’t have to pay an exporter for container packing and flat rack loading.

You can ship your vehicle to major ports all throughout the world but it’s not an option if you’re moving to a smaller country.

– Container Shipping

Container shipping has its benefits as well. One of the major benefits is that you can ship some of your personal belongings in your car while it’s in the container.

You can also choose a larger 40-foot container to ship multiple vehicles together if you’re looking for a more cost-efficient solution. You can also reserve a smaller 20-foot container that will only have your vehicle in it but it’s more expensive.

– By Air

Shipping a vehicle by air is the fastest option but it’s extremely expensive. You’ll pay up to 10 times more for this shipping method, but you’ll have access to your car in as little as a few days. When you choose ocean freight, there’s a huge possibility that there will be delays.

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Choosing the Right Shipping Company

The key to having a smooth experience is choosing the right shipper. There are plenty of international shippers who deal in ocean and air freight. It’s best that you look for a car transporter that has excellent credentials.

They need to be licensed, insured, and bonded. The best start is to ask for the carriers DOT information.

It’s important to compare quotes but look beyond price. When you buy auto insurance, you have to compare rates and policy features; you should do the same when exporting your car. Most international shippers offer their clients shipping insurance as part of the contract.

How much does international shipping cost?

The cost of the insurance will vary, but in most cases, the premiums are between 1.5 and 2.5 percent of the car’s declared value. Some transporters will ask for an appraisal or other proof of the car’s value before you put a stated amount.

You should ask for premium information when you get quotes so that you can use the information to make decisions.

Shipping your car overseas is a process. You have to speak with your shipper to determine what you need to gather to export your car and then import it. As you’re discussing the process with a transporter ask about insurance.

When you return to the States, don’t forget to compare auto insurance rates to activate a new policy by shopping online. Enter your zip code right here to compare quotes for free today!