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How to ship a car to the UK: A guide by A-1 Auto Transport

Ship car


There are two different types of circumstances in which you might ship your car to the UK. When shipping, you will either be transporting it permanently or temporarily.

You might not think that these circumstances matter when dealing with customs. A car is a car, right? Wrong! The length in which you plan on staying in the UK determines the requirements placed on your vehicle by customs. If this seems complicated to you, it doesn’t have to be. You can hire a professional team that handles international car transportation services to get you through the entire shipping and customs process.

Choose Your Shipping Company

Choosing your shipping company for your vehicle seems like an easy enough task. You call up companies, get some quotes, and go with the best pricing. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. You should always make sure you choose a company that has experience in international shipping. Companies who have experience will have the upper hand when dealing with customs and know the documentation and forms required.

Pricing should be transparent. When you get your quote, the company should be able to give you an itemized list of the expenses you will be paying to ship your car to the UK. Understandably, some variations may occur, but you should never be surprised with extra fees later on.

Always choose a company that will keep you informed, but does all the heavy lifting for you. Knowing what is going on during the process gives you peace of mind about the shipment. When you let the professional transport company handle the fine details, ensures that nothing is forgotten along the way.

Coordinate With The Shipping Company

Once you have chosen the shipping company that you intend to use to transport your car to the UK, you will need to begin coordinating with them. Proper transport etiquette is to schedule the shipment as far in advance as you can, the more time the company has to prepare, the better. Life happens, and a good transport company is not blind to the fact. When customers need last-minute shipping, they will try their best to accommodate.

Your shipping company will begin the process, finding out how you want your vehicle picked up, dropped off, and the method of transport you want to use. They will use this information and coordinate it with the dates you need for shipping. Keep in mind that shipping from the United States to the UK can take over a month at times, depending on the area you are moving from.

The Method of Shipment

You have two options for shipment that are most popular when shipping a vehicle internationally. These methods are RoRo (roll-on/roll-off) and container shipping. Each one will get your car to the UK but are unique in their own ways. While one is cheaper, the other offers more protection. The choice is really up to availability and what your preferences are.

RoRo Shipping

Roll-on/roll-off shipping is as simple as it sounds. Your car is driven onto the ship at one port and then driven off of the ship again at the destination port. This method is the cheaper of the two but does not come without its risks. Since your car is out in the open, it will be exposed to weather elements and even the risk of potential theft. Most transport companies will recommend that if you choose to use this method to remove all items from the exterior of the vehicle, that can easily be removed, including the license plate.

Container Shipping

Container shipping is the preferred method for most car transport customers. Although a bit more expensive than RoRo, containers provide a higher level of protection. Your car is driven into what can only be described as a large metal box. The box is then closed up, and a crane lifts it onto the ship for transport. At the destination port, the container is unloaded via crane and then awaits pick up. Your car is protected from all elements and debris that may be found on the open sea when you ship via container.

Customs Documentation

Your professional auto shipping company is going to help you handle the customs documentation. This includes what you need to have available to get your car through customs and any forms you may need to fill out. You will need to make sure that you have the following for customs:

  • Bill of Lading
  • proof of ownership or registration for the vehicle
  • certificate of insurance, proof of coverage
  • passport and visa
  • import document C104A

If there is anything else that you are required to provide or if you have to pay duties or taxes, the transport company will let you know the amount you need to pay. In most cases, the transport company will help you fill out the paperwork to file for relief from the tax or duty requirement. Your representative with the transport company will make sure everything is in order, and you know what you need to do before you drive your car in the UK.

Prepare and Ship

Once all the little details have been ironed out, you will be able to move forward with the shipping process. You will be given a full list of responsibilities you will be in charge of before your vehicle can be shipped.

  • all dirt and debris should be steam washed off of the exterior of the vehicle
  • there should be no foreign matter on the inside either, and steam cleaning may be required
  • remove all add-ons that may make the car an awkward shape, like a spoiler
  • check to see if there are any leaks or have the car maintenance done before shipping
  • the fuel level should be reduced to under a quarter of a tank, both for safety and for weight limitations

On the day of pick up, you and the representative will inspect your vehicle together. Any pre-existing damages are listed on the Bill of Lading, and both parties sign in agreement. The same will be done after the shipment arrives at the destination; this is done to help ensure that no damage occurred during transport.

Why Hiring A Professional Shipping Company Makes Sense

Whether you choose to temporarily stay in the UK as a tourist or permanently relocate, hiring the help of a professional shipping company to transport your car is the only logical solution. Renting a car for a temporary stay could be more expensive than having your car shipped for the amount of time you are in the UK.

Make sure when you need to hire a full-service shipping company, you seek out the experts in the industry.



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