Q&A: shipping your car overseas

Car container.jpg

Many of our customers moving abroad want to know if they can take their car with them. Cars are normally the second largest purchase we make (behind our homes), so it’s understandable that you’ll want to hold onto yours.

Depending on your destination country, it may well be worth shipping your car over with you to save the hassle of selling your vehicle at origin and having find and purchase a new one at destination.

As a popular option for customers moving overseas, we’ve collated the top 6 questions we’re asked about international car shipping, along with our answers:

How is my car transported?

The most common way of transporting a car overseas is by shipping container. The container is brought to your home, your car loaded and secured to prevent movement during transit to the port. The container is then loaded on a cargo ship to be unloaded at your destination country for you to collect. Once import duties and customs fees are finalised, and after any quarantine period has passed, your car is available to be driven away.

Sounds expensive! How can I keep costs down?

If you are moving a full consignment along with your car, Pickfords can provide a service to combine your shipment by outfitting your vehicle container with shelving for your other items. Not only does this maximise the use of space in your container to save on cost, but it adds protection to both your car and any other belongings shipped with it.

Car and baggage.jpg

Do I need to tell anyone?

If you’re moving your car out of the UK for longer than 12 months, you must notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and return a completed Notification of Permanent Export section from your V5C.

Will my car cause issues at customs?

To avoid any problems, we strongly recommend your car is cleaned thoroughly inside and out ahead of shipment. For transportation to Australia or New Zealand this is particularly important, as your vehicle will be subject to strict quarantine inspections when it arrives and could undergo additional cleaning (at your expense) if the authorities deem it necessary.

Will my licence be valid abroad?

If you hold a UK driving licence, it should be valid in any EU or European Economic Area (EEA) country, including Switzerland. Driving outside the EU/EEA requires an International Driving Permit. If you’re planning to stay longer than a year, you’ll need a local driving licence at your destination country.

Driving laws are unique to each country, so make sure you know the rules of the road wherever you’re headed.

Will I be allowed to drive my car in my destination country?

Most countries will let British cars on their roads, subject to certain conditions prior to shipping. These requirements vary considerably depending on the destination. Pickfords provides customers with the latest information on the appropriate importation permits for your destination. Some countries only let you import your car if you have owned it for at least twelve months. There may also be a requirement to pass local compliance tests (similar to an MOT in the UK) before being legally allowed to drive it in the destination country.

Customs will need to clear the vehicle and there will likely be duties and taxes to be paid before the vehicle is released. During this time the vehicle will remain in port or at an agent’s warehouse.


Shipping your car can be worthwhile, but it depends largely on where you want to take it. We highly recommend gaining professional advice on shipping a car overseas as early as possible; it’s a complicated process and potentially costly if your car travels without the correct paperwork. Pickfords moves many cars across the world every year, so our Move Managers are well-placed to answer your questions, take away the stress and keep your costs down.

To find out more about shipping your car overseas, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.

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