How to ship your vehicle to America

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Articles, North America, United States

From the moment we were informed that the USA were intended to open their borders to vaccinated – and tested – European travellers, following a travel ban introduced in March 2020 – we started arranging the transatlantic shipping of our Iveco.

After a thorough research, the best shipping solution was provided by German Seabridge, an agency specialised in forwarding fully equipped European campervans and RVs to America. Reservation proved to be straightforward, with crystal-clear costs, including port charges, so after the exchange of few emails, we have arranged shipping for December 23rd.  Let’s see what it takes to ship your European – plated vehicle to the other side of the Atlantic:

Vessel type: the specific is a Ro-Ro (Roll on – Roll off) service on cargo vessels destined to carry vehicles, so there is no need for a container, which in anyway can’t take an RV or high standing van. Those vessels can load up to 6.000 vehicles with the maximum dimensions of 6 m. height, 30 m. length and a weight of 300 tons. Departures are in weekly basis, either from Europe or America.

Trip length: the vessel departs from Hamburg every week. Every Thursday leaves from Antwerp and arrives to Baltimore after 15 days (Friday). Our Iveco will be shipped on December 23rd and is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore on January 7th. The vehicle must be driven at the departure port three working days earlier (Dec. 20th) and can be received from final the destination two working days later (Jan. 11th). Vehicle stay at the port is for free for five working days after the vessel’s arrival. After that, parking fee is 10-25USD/day (for <5 and <10 ton vehicle). Delays of 2-3 days are considered normal in these routes.

Departure / arrival ports: the most popular port terminals in Europe are Hamburg, Antwerp, Southampton, Liverpool and Tilbury. Primary destination ports are Halifax, Baltimore and Brunswick on east coast but you can also ship your vehicle to Veracruz (Mexico), Panama or even to L.A. and Seattle on west coast.

Reservation: you can send an email to Seabridge and they will send you back a reservation form with all the data of your vehicle (VIN, engine No, copy of registration card). You just fill and sign it and send it back with the owner’s passport copy. Usually the reservation must be done 2 to 3 months prior the departure but in our case we asked for reservation 45 days before and confirmation was immediate. You will receive detailed information about procedures and costs in each port.

Shipping/handling costs: freight rate as of 25th October 2021 was 49 euros/cubic metre, which was the same as last year we had asked for quotation. According to our Iveco’s dimensions (6,95×2,3×3,0 metres), total volume is 49 m3, so multiplied per 49 euros, the freight cost is 2,405 euros. A fuel surcharge of 22.5% ia added to that (541 euros), plus the following port costs for Antwerp and Baltimore:

  • US customs declaration 75 euros
  • ISPS terminal charge 50 euros
  • Forwarder & Port charges in Antwerp 195 euros
  • Forwarder & Port charges in Baltimore 300 USD
  • Escort service in Baltimore 50 USD.

So total costs are: 3,265 euros plus 350 USD to be paid in Baltimore. Handling quotation was a little bit different for Halifax port but total costs are essentially the same as for Baltimore.

Marine Insurance: Burglary and theft belong to the past and are really rare, the forwarder says. But the shipping company asks for a marine insurance, which costs 300 euros for current vehicle value up to 50,000 euros and for baggage/content up to 10,000. Electronic & photography equipment in the vehicle is not covered though.

Red tape: you pay the forwarder only after the ship is departed and max a week later you will get by email a data freight receipt, which is essential for picking up of the vehicle. You will receive the import papers from the freight forwarder (Pride) in Baltimore. You need to keep the customs / import papers, and you must present them upon the return shipment of your vehicle. The local freight forwarding and port charges must be paid in cash directly to the forwarding agent in Baltimore. To be able to declare the temporary import to the customs and the Environmental Protection Agency for your vehicle, you need to fill, sign and send back to the forwarder the ISF-form, the DofE-form and the EPA-form. The temporary import of the vehicle is valid for 12 months only in the US and Canada.

Dangerous goods: Antwerp port (like most) inspects dangerous goods during delivery, including gas cylinders, flammable, corrosive or hazardous substances, pyrotechnics flares, oils, paints, solvents, pressurized cans or containers of any kind, medical supplies or equipment, firearms or ammunition of any kind (even deactivated weapons or spent shells), perishable goods or food stuffs, plants or vegetation. Gas cylinders and gas tanks can therefore only be shipped, if a gas-free certificate is available which is not older than 48h! But it’s so expensive that we preferred to leave ours home and buy a new one in the US.

Vehicle insurance: since European car insurance (green card) is not valid overseas, you need to arrange insuring your vehicle for liability through a local company, despite this is not controlled at the port. Seabridge has sent us a list of local companies to contact directly, because Due to the European data protection regulations 2018, they are not allowed to pass on personal data to the insurance company. We have received the following companies to contact: Thum Insurance Agency, L.L.C., Brokerlink Inc. (US, Canada) and Segurogringo (Mexico)

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