How do you ship a vehicle?


When you decide to embark on an overseas trip with your vehicle, you will sooner or later be confronted with its inevitable shipping. Depending on one's budget, we can essentially decide between 2 modes of shipping.

For those who might wonder how it is possible to literally ship a vehicle to the other side of the world, rest assured, anything is possible! I will try to explain the different modes, variations, risks and of course its costs. As complicated as it may sound, shipping a vehicle is not that difficult.

Air variant:

Every day and without realizing it, the skies around the world are filled to overflowing with planes. Some of these are commercial flights, others tourist, military and so on. Shipping goods by air clearly turns out to be the fastest way to reach any part of the world in a relatively short time. Among these goods we often find motor vehicle transports whether cars, motorcycles or even trucks. These methods of transportation obviously involve some consistency in terms of their costs. In fact, shipping a vehicle by air can easily reach costs starting from 20,000 CHF to over 60,000.

Understand then, that this mode of shipping remains a solution reserved for a certain "category" of people. However, its great advantage remains the possibility of being shipped anywhere in the world without major restrictions, and with precisely a timeline of at most 2 days.

By ship:

For those who are in no hurry and do not want to spend a lot of money, the affordable solution still turns out to be shipping by sea. This type offers different methods and consequently different prices. We can safely divide ocean shipping into 2 different categories, namely, relying on the mode via Container, or the Ro-Ro (Roll on - Roll off) mode.

The mode via container turns out to be in one respect quite secure, in fact, by choosing this method, you will have the opportunity to literally place your vehicle inside a container that will later be sealed, thus remaining protected from the weather and possible theft. In addition, to further lower costs, you can share a container with other travelers. There remains, as always, a margin of risk that must be taken into account; in fact, from testimonials, it is possible for the vehicle inside a container to be secured incorrectly or even without anchors. Understand for yourself that a vehicle at the mercy of the ocean for three to four weeks of sailing is subject to inevitable jolts and bumps, with sometimes major consequences.

Regarding Ro-Ro shipping, this type involves leaving the vehicle in port a few days before the ship departs. In this case, the vehicle will then be taken over by a port operator who will physically drive it onto the ship. In fact, once the customs paperwork and related checks have been taken care of, (at which you must be present) you will be obliged to leave the keys of your vehicle inside it. Speaking of safety, Ro-Ro shipping carries, as always, risks. At each port of call that the ship will make during its crossing, there will be movement of vehicles being unloaded and loaded, this resulting in the risk that something may happen to your vehicle. Although, from testimonies, the port operators and its respective drivers, are professional and careful with the "goods." As for the financial aspect, Ro-Ro shipping turns out to be the cheapest. This, clearly related to a whole series of port operations much more expeditious than a shipment via Container. In fact, the big saving lies in the complete absence of the physical handling of a normal container, which instead requires docking, lifting, transporting and finally loading onto the ship. All these operations performed by port personnel, added to the cranes and various machinery, make the cost of container shipping more expensive. In addition to the cost factor, the disadvantage of container shipping turns out to be the time factor. It becomes clear that all the handling and respective customs clearance of a container takes time, and "time costs," which is totally absent with regard to a Roll on Roll off shipment.

One wonders if on the subject of safety it is not worthwhile to rely on insurance companies. There are a variety of them and it is certainly worth taking out at least one. The most important turns out to be insurance that can cover "transportation," and that is, the time your vehicle will be in the navigation phase. Beware, however, this insurance does not, under any circumstances, cover the time the vehicle is stopped in the port parking lot or during the loading and unloading of the vehicle.

For the cost factor, it is possible to reduce the amount considerably by trying to do all the administrative and bureaucratic paperwork by doing it ourselves. Or, if we want to save ourselves all the trouble, we can safely rely on shipping firms that specialize in this type of shipment. Speaking of figures, the actual costs are around 4,000 CHF / 5,000 CHF. Price variations are clearly related to the type of vehicle you are going to ship. In fact, many shipping companies charge based on size and not weight, so whether your vehicle is 3.5t or 18t doesn't matter.

Size is in many cases the deciding factor in choosing a vehicle for traveling; in fact, many travelers choose their vehicle based on the expedition they are going to make from it. Many feel more comfortable knowing that their vehicle will fit into a container and consequently will outfit their vehicle on the basis of a commercial vehicle whether it is a van or a small van. This is definitely a factor that needs to be paid special attention to and deserves a couple of thoughts in this regard: is it worthwhile for me to outfit a "small" vehicle just to put it in a container? Once on the road will I regret not building a larger one just to save a few hundred dollars on shipping? Warning!!!

In my opinion, the choice of one's vehicle should in no case be constrained by the shipment itself. Instead, the choice of vehicle should be aimed solely at the type of trip we are going to take.

Contrary to what you might think, payment for such a shipment is usually made the moment your vehicle has arrived at its destination, and not before, and to make matters worse, payment must be made in cash. This detail involves a caveat that should not be underestimated so that you do not find yourself in "trouble." What is the foreign currency with which you will have to pay in the destination country? Will you have the option of withdrawing from a regular ATM or will you have to go into a bank? Is the maximum limit of your card sufficient to withdraw the required amount? In case I am unable to withdraw, how can I pay?

It seems obvious, but these tricks will save you time and allow you to withdraw your vehicle without running left and right.

Just think.

You're on the other side of the world, your English is not the best, you're a little stressed, the shipper called you and told you the ship will be 10 days late, it's raining outside, and the sea is pretty angry. You hope the ship doesn't have a breakdown and you hope that during the voyage your truck hasn't been broken into. You meticulously check the documents needed to clear the vehicle through customs, you don't know if everything will go smoothly or you forgot an important form....

In the end, you try to stay calm and not think about too many things all at once, you think everything will be fine and in a few days you will be driving your truck to South America. After a few days, your truck has finally arrived at the port, it looks in one piece, and nothing is missing. Customs clearance went smoothly without a hitch, the customs officer is in a hurry and doesn't even greet you wishing you a safe journey. You finally sit behind the wheel of your vehicle, close the door and check that everything is in place. You look outside, turn the key, and with a nice black Diesel smoke you drive out of the harbor into the unknown. You've been studying the route on Google Maps for days so you know where you need to go, but you realize that getting out of the harbor is harder than everything else. You've made it, you're driving into Uruguay in your truck you built yourself, you look around and you don't know anything about anything. Slowly you get out of the city and leave the chaos of downtown behind you, you start looking for a place where you can stop for the night, and fortunately you find a parking lot where you can squeeze in your almost 9-meter vehicle.

Have a great trip!