So, you’ve found the car of your dreams…outside of the country. Here’s what you need to know so that getting your dream car doesn’t become a nightmare.
Don’t let your excitement lead you to purchase without due diligence. Understand exactly what you are getting. Here’s a hint – the seller’s word is not enough. Photos and descriptions may tell only part of the story. Check in with other enthusiasts of the make and model, hire an independent inspector, and review the history of the car. Buyer beware takes on an entirely new meaning when the seller isn’t around the corner.
Understand the real cost
In addition to the price of the car, you will want to factor in the cost of money transfers, exchange rates and fees, including duty fees. Compare costs and options among at least three providers to find the best deal for your situation. You’ll also want to check with your local DMV about any state taxes that may be applicable.
Be sure the car is road ready for the USA
The car should meet basic requirements for road vehicles driven in the United States. If that isn’t the case on purchase, learn about any adjustments you will need to make to stay on the right side of the law. Visit regulations.gov to learn about specific requirements.
Check for eligibility
Know before you buy if the car is eligible to enter the United States. You will also want to check with your local DMV or shipping company about documents that must be filed when importing a vehicle. Visit nhtsa.gov for a wealth of information including links to applications, forms, eligibility guidelines and more.
Enjoy military perks
If you’re in the military, buy well in advance (at least six months) of your return to the United States to enjoy special discounts and perks. You’ll also have the pleasure of driving your car and creating memories in the place where you are stationed.
How will you get your new beauty in your garage? Choose a highly rated shipper you can trust to deliver your car safely and in a timely fashion at a fair price. Avoid too good to be true shipping deals. You’ll be telling nightmare stories of your car being held hostage so often your friends will hate to see you coming. You can use an independent commercial importer if your car does not meet US emissions standards.
Research the title
Cars without a clear title cannot be shipped. Verify the title before you close the deal to save yourself a big headache.
Create a paper trail
If the deal goes sour you will want documented evidence of the deal you thought you were getting. As much as possible, get everything in writing. If anything goes wrong, you’ll be glad you did.
Purchasing a car overseas can be your key to the wheels of your dreams. Due diligence is critical. You’ll have the best experience when you understand the history of the car as well as the full cost, including any fees, taxes, modifications and shipping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.