If you are moving to another country, you may want to bring your car with you. Or perhaps you have been living overseas and you want to bring your car back to the United States. Before loading your car into a shipment container, however, it is important to understand a little more about how the international shipping process works. As with most things having to do with an international move, there is paperwork involved and you need to be properly prepared since your car will need to be transported through customs. With thousands of tons of cargo coming in and out of countries each day, it is the responsibility of Customs and Border Protection to pay close attention and regulate all shipments. As a result, there is a chance that your car will be subject to a full search and exam, which could result in delayed shipment. In order to prevent your car from being held up by customs, it is important to have proper documentation so your shipment is not delayed. However, should your vehicle be randomly selected and flagged at customs, you want to know how to go about getting it back as quickly as possible. Here are a few important tips for how to handle and avoid a hold up with customs.
Gather Your Documents
In order to ship a vehicle internationally, you will need to have several important documents prepared. These documents will need to be provided to the U.S. Port of Entry that your car will be shipping out of at least 72 hours before the date of transport. These documents include:
- Vehicle information: year, make, model, VIN #, and estimated value
- If owned: vehicle title (original plus one copy)
- If recently purchased: vehicle title and bill of sale
- If financed: a notarized copy of the title and a notarized lien authorization
- A filled out U.S. Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Export Cover Sheet
- Personal information: two forms of government issued ID (driver’s license or passport)
- Shipper and consignee information- name, address, phone number, and email for both sender and receiver
- Individual ports may have their own requirements so be sure and check with your shipper and the port to make sure you are not missing and of the required documentation
Failure to provide adequate information and documentation could result in your car being held up in customs. Preparing your paperwork in advance will help to reduce the chances of your car being held in customs.
What To Do if Your Car is Put on Hold by Customs
If customs holds your vehicle, two things may happen: an agent will perform an inspection at the arrival of the destination or your vehicle could be transported to a Centralized Examination Station. Unfortunately, there is a risk of additional fees if your car has to be inspected. If your car does in fact get put on hold, someone from customs will contact you directly or through your shipping company. If your vehicle is flagged, an agent has to perform an examination. This could take several weeks or even longer to be completed. You should inquire about the date of examination when you are contacted by customs. If you are having difficulty getting information about your vehicle, you should contact your shipping broker and ask them to help you sort through any additional paperwork that might be required for your shipment.