How to: Ship a Vehicle from USA to Europe

If you need to have a vehicle shipped from North America to Europe, you’ve come to the right place. The process of transporting a car to Europe is not as difficult as it may seem when you partner with the right auto shipping company. At Ship Vehicles, we have been transporting cars from North America to Europe for over 30 years. Our experience with the overall process will make us an asset in your overseas relocation.

Working with us, we will handle all of the major steps, logistics and paperwork to ship your vehicle to Europe successfully. With just a few details, we’ll be able to begin the work on completing your import. The following is all the information you’ll need to remember when shipping a vehicle from North America to Europe.

What transportation methods are available to ship a vehicle to Europe?

One of the first steps in an international auto shipment, is to decide on your desired shipping method. When shipping a vehicle to Europe, you’ll have four options: Roll-On, Roll-Off (RoRo), individual container shipping, shared container shipping and air freight transport. Let’s examine these in further detail.

Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) Shipping

This method of auto shipping is very popular and affordable for shipping a vehicle to Europe. RoRo involves handing over your keys to the port workers who will load your vehicle on and off the transport ship. Your vehicle is essentially driven onto the vessel and secured to the deck for the duration of its journey across the ocean.

This idea was developed by Japanese car manufacturers to help ship their vehicles to Europe and USA in a quick and efficient way. Nowadays, Roll-on, roll-off transport can handle more than just cars; you can also ship motor homes, buses, boats, large trucks, tractors, cranes, and any other heavy-duty machinery.

While it’s the most cost-effective method for shipping a vehicle to Europe, there are some downsides involved. Since your vehicle is housed on the deck of the shipping vessel for shipment, it is completely exposed to the elements. The potential for any damage is much higher than other shipping methods. Additionally, with most auto transport companies, all-risk insurance is not available for RoRo shipping.

Container Shipping (Individual & Shared)

While RoRo shipping involves global routes, it’s not as all-encompassing as container transport. Depending on the country you’re shipping to in Europe, a smaller country may only have options for container shipping. Overall, container shipping is pricier than RoRo but offers more safety and security for your vehicle.

During its journey to Europe, your vehicle will be placed and secured in either its own shipping container or a shared one with the vehicles of other customers. Opting for a shared container is slightly more affordable since the overall costs are also shared. You will only be required to pay for the space that your vehicle takes up. However, if you’re shipping an exotic, classic, vintage or otherwise expensive vehicle, you may prefer to purchase its own container.

Air Freight

Air freight vehicle transport to Europe is most often selected when timing is a concern and cost is a non-issue. Transporting a vehicle via the ocean (RoRo or container), will usually take around 3-4 weeks; whereas shipping a car to Europe by airplane will significantly reduce the overall travel time.

However, this method of auto shipment is incredibly expensive and generally only used in the case of high-value cars and shows or events with tight deadlines.

How much does it cost to ship a vehicle to Europe?

The overall price for shipping a vehicle to Europe will depend on a variety of factors related to your individual situation. For example, because of total distance, it is much cheaper to ship a car from New York to Europe than Los Angeles to Europe. It is due to this fact that, you’ll want to obtain a custom shipping quote to ensure that you’re receiving the most accurate pricing.

If price is a major factor for you, you should start the conversation with an auto transport company as early as possible. At Ship Vehicles, we always offer completely customized quotes. To get the process started for shipping your car to Europe, you can obtain a free estimate today by filling out our online quote request form or phoning in at (888) 231-0113.

On average, the cost for shipping a vehicle to Europe starts at around $800. However, this number will increase based on the vehicle’s size, shipping method, destination fees, duties or taxes, and overall distance the car will have to travel to reach its final destination.

Choosing a Port of Departure and Arrival

Simply put, you’ll save more money choosing a departure port that is on the East Coast of North America than on the West Coast. In general, it is much faster and cheaper to ship a vehicle from any of the major ports on the East Coast such as New York, various ports in Florida, Nova Scotia and Halifax.

When it comes to destination ports, you can expect to pay around the same price shipping into any port across Western Europe or the UK. Choose one that best suits you and your individual needs. If you need to ship a car to countries like Hungary, Switzerland, Austria or any other inland European countries, your vehicle will be transported to the nearest base port. You will then need to arrange the transportation of your vehicle from the port to its final destination. In this case, you can pick it up and drive it yourself or pay for additional car transport services. The auto shipping company will collect your vehicle and have it brought to whatever your desired location may be.

Are there any special documents required to ship a vehicle to Europe?

The documentation needed to ship a vehicle to Europe may vary slightly depending on the type of vehicle and the destination port. It’s always best to consult your auto shipping company if you have any questions regarding documentation as they will be well-versed on the subject. Regardless, here are the most common documents that are needed when transporting a car from North America to Europe:

  • Two forms of identification (passport and other ID)
  • The vehicle’s original title
  • Bill of sale (only if the car has been owned longer than 6 months)
  • Power of attorney (in some cases, depending on the loading port)


Our team of shipping experts will use these documents to export your vehicle to any European country and effectively clear customs. You will receive these documents back to you when you collect the vehicle along with your stamped import forms. These documents are very important as you will need them to register the car in your destination country.

Additional Tips for Shipping a Vehicle to Europe

The following is some general advice and tips you should follow in order to guarantee that shipping your vehicle to Europe goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Make sure your vehicle is thoroughly cleaned prior to transport. Your car will go through a customs inspection at the destination port and if it needs to be cleaned for agricultural reasons, you could incur a hefty fee.
  • Empty the gas or diesel so that it’s only a quarter of a tank full.
  • Obtain your European “Green Card” insurance. To drive in Europe, you need to have vehicle insurance. Without it, your car will not clear customs.
  • It’ll cost you much less to ship a vehicle that runs than one that is non-functioning. Since the vehicle may need to be turned on to be loaded on and off the shipping vessel, avoid transporting cars that cannot run.
  • It’s advantageous to ship your own car rather than buying one in Europe. Some European countries place restrictions on purchasing vehicles if you don’t own a residence there.
  • When possible, you may be required to submit your American license plate to the European regulatory authority upon arrival. In this case, remove the license plates prior to shipment and take them with you in your own personal luggage.

Ready to begin the process of shipping your vehicle to Europe? Take a moment to fill out and submit our online quote request form. One of our dedicated shipping experts will get back to you in regards to your free, customized quote in less than 24 hours. For more direct communication, call our office today at (888) 231-0113, we’d be happy to answer any questions you have about shipping a vehicle to Europe.