Car from the container. How to transport cars from the USA?

When speaking about passenger car transport, you almost automatically imagine a car transporter – one for only one car or another able to carry more than ten. This is just the easiest way to transport cars by land. If, however, you want to buy a car from the USA, transport in a container is then the most common way. What costs should you consider? How to organise sea transport in the easiest way?

The attractiveness of cars imported from the United States results from the prices, which seem to be amazing bargains for Europeans. You can purchase wherever, however the most popular is a Copart auction. It offers mostly damaged, repairable cars offered for sale by insurance companies.

When you buy a car considering only its purchase price, you may be unpleasantly surprised by, for example, costs which were not taken into account while estimating what you actually pay for the car.

VAT, excise duty and customs are not everything

If your car arrives at a port in Poland (Gdynia), you will pay 23% VAT. If you choose a port in Germany (Bremerhaven), you will pay 19% VAT, but then you will have to bear further transport costs to Poland. However, you will probably have to transport it from Gdynia to your destination also (your home or workshop), so it may turn out that having your car shipped to the port in Germany may be worthwhile – especially with more expensive cars.

Another important expense you have to incur is excise duty. As many American cars, especially sports cars, have got engines of capacities above 2,000 cm3, you will have to pay excise duty of 18.6 percent instead of the 3.1 percent payable for cars with smaller engines up to 2000 cm3.

The third of the non-negotiable fees that should be added to the car price is customs which amounts to 10 percent of the value of the car.

Still that is not the end of the cost story. You have to pay auction fees when you want to bid in an auction in the US which is usually 10 percent of your maximum bid. This deposit you pay is security for the auction company in case you do not want to complete the transaction after you have won the auction. The amount is refundable to your account after the transaction is finished or when during the auction the price has exceeded your maximum bid.

Roll on – roll off, or the cheapest freight

The price of sea freight for a passenger car starts at about 700-800 dollars. The cheapest option is the roll on – roll off car shipping (ro-ro), which means that the car is driven on and off the ship on its own wheels. In this way you are not paying the price for the empty space in the container or charges for its loading and unloading. You do not have to wait for the container to be filled which may significantly delay the start of the car’s shipment. However, major disadvantages are no additional load in the car and the increased risk of damage during shipment.

To have it all you have to pay. The best, but also the most expensive option for car freight is renting a small container (20-foot), in which you usually manage to pack one car and quite a lot of luggage. This is a great way for shipping luxury cars for those rich customers who are able to pay for the car’s maximum safety or for those who want to carry various other small loads together with their car. However, with proper preparations you may manage to fit more than one car in such a container. Of course when none of them is a big SUV.

Shipment in a 40-foot container is much cheaper as you may “squeeze” more cars in it – in the case of compacts and smaller antique cars even up to six, of course if they are also stowed appropriately.

Ten thousand dollars and here we go

If you are a really wealthy person and your car is an antique or at least a premium class vehicle, or for some reason the time of delivery is crucial, then you can use air transport.

You have to pay about 10,000 dollars to ship your US-bought vehicle to Europe by air. Of course, you always can pay more.

Air shipment of cars became so popular among multi-billionaires from Dubai, that Emirates airlines has launched a specialised transportation product for high-value automobiles aptly named Emirates SkyWheels. This service enables shipping a car to be serviced or delivered to your holiday destination.

Transport costs to the port and from the port

After you win the auction, you will have to pay for car delivery to a chosen port. Even if your car is fully functional, it has to be transported only on tow trucks or in containers – it cannot go on its own wheels.

You will have to pay for this transport in the USA from 150 up to 1,000 dollars – depending on the distance to be covered and on the car size. Then you have to pay at least a few hundred zlotys for transporting your dream car from the port of Gdynia or Bremerhaven (of course, you may choose another port, but these two are the most beneficial in terms of price) to your address in Poland.

Insurance and commission for the importer

If you want to protect yourself against unforeseen accidents during transport, you should think about insurance – which means another amount to be added to the price of an otherwise cheap car.

If you cannot or do not want to deal with the car’s transport yourself, you can use numerous specialised logistics companies. You may buy your own peace of mind while your car is being delivered to your address in Poland for at least 2,500 zlotys.

So, it may turn out that the total price of a car imported from the USA inclusive of all the necessary fees to be paid, may vary significantly from the price you bid. Usually, you should expect an increase of about 50 percent. However, this refers only to undamaged cars. If you buy a damaged, repairable vehicle, you have to add repair costs. Of course, these may be even higher than expected, if a lot of damage is revealed only after a thorough inspection in the workshop.