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5 Costs To Consider When You Buy And Import A Car From Overseas

No one likes surprises, especially when it comes to buying their dream car overseas. Because of the many parties involved in the purchase and import process, you can easily lose track of potential fees and charges. We do our best to offer a one-stop shop when it comes to buying, shipping, and importing a vehicle from the US. However, if you’re trying your hand at the process alone, here are the extra costs to consider.

International bank fees

Paying for vehicles or services from an international bank account can result in additional bank fees. While domestic wire transfers range around $20 to $30, an international wire can cost over $50. It is also common for smaller international banks to reroute the funds through numerous banks, resulting in more fees. You can read more about bank fees here.

You can save on bank fees by sending payments from a US based account, or by using a one-stop shipper who can provide the full service of buying the vehicle, shipping, and clearing import customs. Resulting in one total charge.

Ground Transport

Chances are you want to keep the vehicle in the same condition it was purchased in. While most regular cars are perfectly fine to get transported on an open auto carrier, vehicles in pristine shape are best moved using enclosed carriers. Your vehicle will be protected from the weather, road conditions, rock chips, and in the rare event where your vehicle is on the truck underneath another car which can leak oil, coolant, or other pain damaging fluids.

Enclosed transport rates usually run around 1.5 to 2 times the cost of an open car carrier. You can get rates instantly by using our online calculator.

Cargo Damage Protection

Believe it or not, ocean carriers carrying shipping containers are rarely responsible for damage during the journey. If a container is dropped, dinged, or even falls off the ship, the marine line is legally limited to reimburse up to $500. Anything past that falls on the shipper. This is why optional cargo damage protection is always recommended for shippers.

Rates on optional cargo damage protection are 2%, or $20 for each additional $1000 with a $200 minimum.

Customs Inspection Fees

No one likes to have their container pulled for a random inspection by customs, but it can happen. When customs does take the container for inspection, the shipper is left paying all inspection fees.

Customs inspection fees range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. And even if your container passes the inspection, you remain responsible for all fees. However, the chances of a random customs inspection are rare. We estimate that only 1 in 500 containers is ever pulled for a random inspection.

Destination charges

We bring up destination charges because most customers are unaware of destination charges due upon the vehicle’s arrival overseas. This is because many shipping companies only provide a rate on port to port shipping, without including the charges due at landing.

Destination charges can include container collection from the port, trucking to the warehouse, unloading the vehicle, and storing it until your arrival. Fees vary based on the destination country and the agent accepting the vehicle. Charges are typically around $500 to $1,000. Note that this does not include import duties which vary by the vehicle year and engine displacement.


Contact us with any questions on shipping your vehicle overseas. We’re here to help.