expat network

Shipping A Vehicle Abroad

There are many decisions to take when you move abroad and one of these will be whether to sell or store your car and buy in your new country or take your car with you. Although shipping a vehicle is not as expensive as it once was there are many factors to consider.
  • Make sure that you take account of all of the costs of taking your car with you. This should include the cost of shipping the car and potentially shipping it back at the end of your time abroad. It will also need to take account of any import tariffs, which vary from country to country and in some cases according to the value and age of the car and how long you have owned the vehicle. Many countries do not charge tax on cars for first-time immigrants and citizens or if you left your country of origin not intending to return. It is also worth considering the cost at the end of your stay if you are planning to return. At that point you will need to decide whether to sell the car locally or pay to ship it back again. If you plan to sell it locally, you will need to be realistic about the second-hand car market and the risks of having to sell it quickly before you leave.
  • Check whether there are any restrictions that will prevent the car being imported into your destination country. You will have to meet the safety and environmental standards in that country. Your car shipping company will be able to advise you of the requirements to prevent you sending a car that will not comply.
  • Consider the driving conditions in your planned new home. If they drive on the other side of the road, this may cause constant problems as quite apart from the difficulties of safely overtaking, you will have to get out of the car to pay at toll booths, in car parks etc. You should also consider whether a car is actually needed as public transport arrangements may be far better than you are used to. If you are moving to a city you may not need a car and it may be better to hire a car for the occasional trips out of the city.


If you decide to ship your car from the UK and will be taking it abroad for more than 12 months, you will need to advise the DVLA that you will be exporting your vehicle and complete and return the relevant section on your V5 (log book) document to them. If you have already left the UK you will need to submit a Form V561 notice of permanent export. You will also need to change the address on your driving licence.

If you are shipping from other countries you will need to check what formalities are required before you arrange the shipping. The major car freight companies will be able to advise you.


There are different options for shipping your car:

  • A ‘Roll on Roll off’ service where your vehicle is driven onto a vessel, secured for the journey and then driven off at the other end. This is appropriate if you are shipping your car on its own and can be a lower cost option.
  • The car can be placed in a shared container with other cars going to the same destination.
  • The car can also be placed in a container with your household goods. It will be placed in a wooden frame and crate to protect it and section it off. You can place personal items in the car and use the rest of the container space for your household contents.


You should ensure that the car is steam cleaned immediately before loading, with special attention given to the wheel arches and wheels. This is especially if you are going to a country like Australia where quarantine arrangements will apply.

The removal company will need all of the documentation which will include proof of ownership, and a copy of the owner’s passport.

In some cases the car can be collected from your house or it may need to be delivered to the shipping company or port ready for loading.

At the other end your car will either be unloaded at your new home or made available for collection at a depot or at the port. Some countries require a full inspection of the vehicle to check that it is road worthy and meets the safety and environmental requirements of the country.  In some countries cars will also be required to be steam cleaned again on arrival.