Container ship in a harbor

6 Things to Know About Shipping a Car Overseas

Overseas orders can be an exciting adventure for military families, but you will need to do a little additional work and planning if you are going to take your privately owned vehicle, or POV, with you. The government will pay to ship one vehicle to your final destination if your overseas installation allows it.

Here are six key points that will help you ship your car overseas so that you can master your move.

  1. Limitations — You will be limited by your vehicle's type and weight. The government will pay to ship a typical family car but not something that's recreational or oversized. Your family sedan will usually pass the test, but you may have to make alternative plans for an oversized truck or SUV.
  2. Modified vehicles — Many military members take great pride in personalizing their vehicle by adding fun modifications to it. Those modifications, completed using local standards and laws, may not be legal in other countries. Additionally, some non-factory modifications must meet special requirements to be shipped. The regulations vary, so be sure to check with your transportation or relocation office for information specific to your new duty station.
  3. Time limits — While you may have to follow a strict timeline while relocating, there are multiple time limits when shipping your POV. Departure and return shipping times vary by service branch so be sure to discuss the terms with your transportation or relocation office and plan accordingly.
  4. Weight — Weight limitations for vehicles are very strict. While your car may tip the scales 500 pounds below the weight limit, don't assume you can pack it with 499 pounds of additional items during your move. There are guidelines detailing what is allowed inside your car.
  5. Licensing — Once you reach your destination, you will need to follow local licensing and registration laws. These laws vary significantly from country to country, and deadlines for registering your vehicle tend to be tight. Review these guidelines with your relocation office so that you can plan accordingly and avoid fines.
  6. Buying a car at your destination — For some families, two vehicles are simply a requirement. For others, the lower sticker price for a foreign car is too good to pass up. Whatever the motivating factor, many people opt to purchase a car while overseas. Keep in mind that the regulations listed above also apply when moving back. Different countries have different standards and some vehicles in foreign countries — even American cars — may not be legal to drive in the United States. If you purchase a car overseas, do your research so you don't get stuck when you return home.

It is important to understand the amount of time and effort it will take to move a POV overseas. Don't assume you can take your car or truck with you or transport a vehicle that you purchased overseas easily back into the U.S. Do your homework and know the limitations on vehicles at your new duty station before you begin to move so that you can seize this overseas adventure. Military OneSource can help you master your move.