Are you moving abroad and want to ship your car to your new home? Are you a foreign national seeking to ship a car not available in the U.S. to your home country? Is it cheaper to buy a car in the United States and send it to your country than buying it from a car dealership in your country? Did you sell a high-quality car to a foreign buyer and now need to ship it to them? Regardless of the reasons why you’re exporting cars, here’s what you need to know about the process.


The Legal Requirements

The United States has significant documentation requirements if you’re going to export a car. This is done to prevent stolen cars from being shipped to overseas buyers. This is why used cars have greater documentation requirements than new cars being shipped overseas.

Exporters must file shipment information called Electronic Export Information (EEI) through the Automated Export System (AES) before they can ship. You must set up an ACE account to use this system. If you are a private individual, you’ll have to use your Social Security Number. If you are a small business, you’ll have to provide your Employer Identification Number. The EEI must be filed at least 72 hours prior to the departure of the vehicle from the U.S. The AES filing number will be necessary to ship. But this is just the first step.

You must provide proof of ownership of the vehicle. This will either be a manufacturer’s statement of origin or SO (new cars) or a certificate of title (used cars). If you bought the car in another country, you’ll need to provide original documentation of ownership in that country and/or an English language equivalent. If there is a lien against the car, you’ll have to have a written letter from the lienholder giving permission for it to be exported. If the car is junked or recorded as scrap, you’ll have to provide a copy of that documentation, as well.

You must provide the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. If the car doesn’t have a VIN, it will have a product identification number or PIN. All of this must be presented to customs at least 72 hours before departure. This is true whether the car is being loaded onto a cargo ship sailing to another continent or driven under its own power to a new owner in Canada.


The Standard Shipping Documentation Required

If you’re shipping a car abroad, you’ll have to provide the same set of documentation required to ship anything else abroad. For example, you’ll have to provide an original bill of lading. If the car was recently purchased, you’ll have to provide a commercial or purchase invoice in addition to the title and registration. When you’re exporting a car through a third party service, you will probably have to file a non-sale certificate.  This certificate tells the client not to sell the vehicle. Letters of credit guaranteeing the buyer will pay for the item may be necessary, depending on the shipping agreement.

You can work with a third-party logistics firm to get your vehicle through customs. We especially recommend assistance with LAX customs clearance, since Los Angeles is one of the highest-ranking customs districts in the country.


The Shipping Fees and Duties  

Cars are big and heavy. You’re going to have to pay quite a bit of money to ship the car. This tends to be by rail or ship rather than by air for cars.

However, shipping costs aren’t the only thing you’ll have to pay. For example, you may have to pay import duties or fees to customs at the country of import. A value added tax or VAT tax or excise duty may be due. Some countries require proof that the vehicle was inspected prior to importation into their country.

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