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What is required to ship my car from the USA for touring in Europe?

We are attending the Best of Europe in 21 days this summer, and as Rick always suggest, assume you will return so you don't get to harried trying to get your fill of the visit.

I am going back in November for a business trip and thinking it would be great to ship my car and travel around before/after the business trip.

I'm thinking it would require:
1. Shipping the car there and back
2. Registration (or would my US registration be valid)?
3. Drivers license (or would my US Drivers License be valid)?
4. Insurance (in case my US policy doesn't cover, then what are options there?)
5. Gas (well, this one I'll just have to uh "gulp" buy on the road.


Posted by
1003 posts

wow! I can't even imagine how much it would cost to ship your car to Europe!! Plus I'm not even sure if it is legal? We have all kinds of different requirements for a host of things. But I shipped my car from Boston to LA 3 years ago and it was like $2,000, took days, and came back with a big scratch down the side that we couldn't get them to pay for. Honestly I cannot imagine it would be worth the hassle of doing this. I mean unless you're talking about being there for months and months, I'm sure it would be less expensive and MUCH easier to just rent a car there.

Posted by
69 posts

Wouldn't even consider it, especially if you have a leviathan gas guzzler. First, if it is one of those wasters, you will have enormous problems trying to manuever in narrow laned villages. Second, (and this is only if you really have a huge monstrosity)you would be a classic advertisement to the Europeans of what they conceive of as another wasteful and arrogant American.
Of course if you have an economic vehicle ignore all that, but I do feel it would be much more cheaper and efficient to rent a car over there.

Posted by
389 posts

Actually, Rick Steves took his van over a couple of times, so I would suggest contacting the office; they might be able to put you on the right track. My brother lived in Hungary for 5 years and took his vehicle, shipped from New York to Bremerhaven Germany. They did get licensed there since they were staying so long, but I've seen a number of vehicles with US licenses over there. I think the biggest drawback is the length of time to ship. After getting the car through customs I beleive it was 3 weeks until they could collect it. Depending on where you will be you might want an international license to drive your own vehicle and I'd check with your insurance co. They are the ones who will determine if you need extra insurance. Also, for the price of shipping etc. you might look into either leasing a car in Europe or buying a new one through many of the co. based there. They figure the shipping into the price and let you use it there. Hey, have a great time!

Posted by
6037 posts

Military personnel (cost included in transfer) are about the only ones that come out ahead in that one. You could easily lease or buy/sell a car for much less. You would require 4 to 6 months there to begin to see a savings.

Posted by
265 posts

Technically, it's legal to drive your own car with your own registration in any country that has ratified the Geneva convention on road traffic from 1949 if the stay does not exceed 1 year. Your US registration is valid. You should bring your drivers llicense as well as an IDP, your registration certificate and equip your car with the USA oval sticker according to the convention. Also you should bring proof of insurance.

However, it's very time consuming and expensive to ship the car over, but I have a few times seen a US registrered car in Europe, so it's actually done sometimes.

Posted by
1589 posts

Freight one way from the East coast is about $3,000.00. Make other plans.

Posted by
1819 posts

Consider leasing a car overseas for the time you will be there. That would be a lot less expensive, and fun to drive a different type of car. If you have $$, you could lease a BMW or Volvo, MB, etc.

you should be able to get a short term lease (month, week?) And renting a car is also a better idea if it's just a week. Plan ahead and rent from the US, pay up front before you go.

Why worry about damage to your car in transit back and forth?

Posted by
3 posts

Many thanks for the insights, and alternatives!

Cheers, Caesar.

Posted by
1 posts

I don't know if you're in the market for a new car, but you could consider taking European Delivery of a new BMW, Saab, Mercedes, etc. and then they take care of shipping arrangements to get it back to the USA.

I wouldn't do it just to have transport for your trip, but if you're considering purchasing one anyway it might be fun!