A Hassle-Free Guide to Shipping Cars Overseas for Military Relocations

A Hassle-Free Guide to Shipping Cars Overseas for Military Relocations

International automobile shipping services are very popular among military personnel because of the nature of their profession and frequent relocations between military bases around the world. Reliable and experienced international shipping companies like K International Transport recognize this and offer great deals for military personnel to transfer their automobiles to virtually all ports in the world.

There are several restrictions and requirements that shippers should know about before beginning the process to transport a car to a military base. Luckily, shippers can rely on their freight forwarders to explain all the options and advise them on the steps to take to accomplish their particular goals.

Military Car Shipping Restrictions

Although this is not an exhaustive list, these are a few common restrictions for military personnel shipping a privately-owned vehicle to a base overseas. More qualifications may exist depending on the particular port of destination. Speak with your international car shipping company about which location-specific restrictions may apply to you.

  1. Shippers are allowed to ship only one vehicle from the USA to a United States armed forces base in Europe at the government’s expense. To transport more than one automobile, the additional car will be at the expense of the shipper.
  2. Shippers are allowed to ship a vehicle to a military base only if it is a permanent change of station.
  3. The vehicle cannot exceed 20 tons.
  4. The vehicle must be self-propelled and wheeled. Permitted vehicles include passenger automobiles, vans, pickups, station wagons, scooters, jeeps, motorcycles, and station wagons.
  5. Shippers must have at least one year left to serve on their overseas tour in order to successfully ship a car internationally from the United States.
  6. It is better to transport a vehicle that does not have a lien. If the automobile has a lien on it, the shipper must provide a written statement from the lienholder giving consent to the shipment overseas.

Necessary Documentation for Overseas Shipping

To proceed with the shipment, all necessary documentation must be submitted to the freight forwarding company. Some necessary documents include:

  • Proof of entitlement
  • Proof of identity of the shipper and consignee
  • Proof of ownership of the vehicle including the original title and lienholder authorization if there is a lien on the vehicle
  • A signed power of attorney form to allow the shipping company to transport the vehicle

In addition to these documents, the shipper must also provide the freight forwarder with addresses in the United States and abroad where the car will end up. Shippers should provide a preferred schedule for shipment as well so that the company can arrange for overseas car transport in a timely manner.


Photo by Tobias Rademacher @tobbes_rd

Taking Care of the Vehicle Before Shipping Overseas

Before a vehicle can be transported to a military base overseas, the car must be properly prepared for the international shipment. Primarily, the exterior of the automobile must be well cleaned before shipping. The interior should be vacuumed and fully dry before the shipping date. Additionally, all personal items (besides the allowed tools and spare tire) must be removed. These items include everything found in compartments, all accessories that are not permanently installed, any flammable or hazardous substances, and anything else that can be removed.

The automobile must also meet certain requirements before it is acceptable for shipping. As mentioned later in this article, the automobile must have a tank that is more than 1/8 full for RORO shipping. However, the tank also cannot be more than 1/4 full for safety reasons. The vehicle must generally be in safe operating condition and have functioning breaks, no severe damage, and no leaks. An experienced international shipping company like K International Transport can help clients meet all of these requirements prior to shipping.

RORO vs. Container Shipping

One choice that shippers will have to make, with the help of their international car shipping company, is whether to transport their vehicle via roll-on/roll-off (RORO) vessel or container shipping. The most affordable method for transporting a vehicle is through RORO services generally. However, with RORO shipping, the car cannot have any personal effects inside of it, with the small exception of tools and spare tires needed for the vehicle, if they are not valued at more than $200. Also, the vehicle must have more than 1/8 of the tank filled with gas and must meet other guidelines depending on the port of destination. If the shipper wants to transport a few personal items with the automobile, container shipping might be a better option.

yellow BMW sedan parked near containers during daytime
Photo by Alexander Pütter @beuwy_com

Although military personnel may be overwhelmed by the concept of transporting often valuable automobiles, a reliable international shipping company like K International Transport can help demystify the process. K International Transport is an expert in the freight forwarding field and can relay important information regarding port and customs regulations to clients to minimize the burden. K International Transport loves to help military personnel transport vehicles to overseas bases. Popular bases for international automobile shipping include bases in Germany, South Korea, and Italy. K International Transport can ship to virtually any port, including Ports Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Ports Zeebrugge and Antwerp, Port Livorno, and Ports Incheon and Busan.

Our agents can help clients ship from virtually every port in the United States, including New York, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, California, Washington, and more! We can even offer inland shipping and transportation services through a reliable trucking company to transport automobiles from the client’s door to a port.

Contact K International Transport today to ask questions or to obtain an international shipping quote. Call us at 212-267-6400 or email us at inquiries@kinternational.com. You can also reach out to us on Skype at kinternationalny. We look forward to working with you and shipping your automobile!