5 questions to ask before shipping your car to the US

Picture of two cars

If you’re planning to ship your car to the US, it’s crucial to ask the right questions before you start. Whether it’s for a move, sale, or extended stay, understanding the process can save you both time and money. Today, we’ll cover essential questions to ask before shipping your car to the US, ensuring your vehicle arrives safely and without unexpected costs. Let’s get started, and remember, professional cross border moving from Canada to US can provide expert guidance every step of the way.

Question 1: What are the total costs?

One of the first questions to ask before shipping your car to the US should be about the costs involved. It’s not just about the shipping fee; there are several other expenses to consider. These include:

  • Port fees at both your departure and arrival points
  • Comprehensive insurance to protect your vehicle during transit
  • Customs duties and taxes once your car arrives in the US

For example, customs duties can be a significant expense, depending on the value of your vehicle. Organizations that specialize in car shipping from Canada can give you a detailed quote so there are no surprises.

Also, keep in mind that costs can vary widely based on the size of your vehicle and the distance it needs to travel. A compact car will generally be cheaper to ship than an SUV because it takes up less space. Having a clear breakdown of all these costs will help you budget properly and avoid any last-minute financial surprises.

Picture of a piggy bank
The question about costs is the most important of the questions to ask before shipping your car to the US

Question 2: Is my car eligible for import?

Ensuring your car is eligible for import into the US is crucial due to the country’s stringent environmental and safety regulations. Here’s a deeper look into what these regulations entail:

  • Safety Standards: The US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) set minimum safety performance requirements for vehicles and their parts, including brakes, tires, lighting, airbags, and safety belts. Your car must comply with these standards, which are designed to reduce accidents and protect passengers.
  • Environmental Standards: Emissions regulations are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are some of the strictest in the world. These regulations aim to reduce air pollution and typically focus on the emission of pollutants like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Vehicles must meet specific emission standards for their model year and vehicle type.
  • Import Approval Process: To start, you will need to provide documentation that your vehicle complies with these standards. This often involves an independent inspection and certification process. Vehicles that do not meet these criteria might require modifications, such as updates to emission systems or safety features.
  • Cost of Modifications: Modifying a vehicle to meet US standards can be costly and time-consuming. For example, updating an emission system can cost upwards of several thousand dollars, depending on the extent of modifications needed.

It’s wise to check these regulations early in the process to ensure your vehicle is compliant. Non-compliance can lead to significant delays, additional costs, or even denial of entry, which requires you to ship the car back at your own expense. Thorough preparation and compliance verification are essential if you want to avoid such disruptions.

Question 3: What shipping method will be used?

The next on the list of questions to ask before shipping your car to the US is what method to use. Typically, you have two options:

  1. Roll-on/roll-off (RoRo)
  2. Container shipping

RoRo is generally less expensive and is a good option if you’re okay with your car being exposed to the elements. Your vehicle is driven onto the ship, parked, and then driven off upon arrival.

On the other hand, container shipping offers better protection for your vehicle as it will be secured within a container. This method is particularly advisable if you’re shipping a luxury or antique car that needs extra protection. The cost difference can be significant, so weigh the pros and cons carefully based on your vehicle’s value and your personal preferences for safety versus cost.

Picture of a person asking the questions to ask before shipping your car to the US
There are various shipping methods that you can choose from

Question 4: How long will the shipping take?

Understanding the timeline for shipping your car is crucial, especially if you’re planning your move or travel. Typically, the transit time from Canada to the US can vary depending on the departure and arrival ports, but here’s what you can generally expect:

  • East Coast to East Coast: Approximately 1-2 weeks.
  • East Coast to West Coast: About 2-3 weeks.
  • Central Canada to Anywhere in the US: Ranges from 1-3 weeks.

Therefore, if you’re moving from Toronto to Orlando, you might be looking at the shorter end of this range. Always check with your shipping provider for the most accurate estimates and plan accordingly. This will help you manage without your vehicle and arrange for alternate transportation if needed.

Question 5: What is the insurance coverage?

Lastly, understanding insurance coverage when shipping your car is vital to ensure it’s protected during transit. Here’s a detailed look at what you need to consider:

  • Basic Coverage: This is often included by default and typically covers major damages and total loss. However, it usually has a cap on the maximum payout. So it might not cover the full value of your car, especially if it’s a high-value or luxury vehicle.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage is recommended for broader protection. It safeguards against all potential risks during shipping, including minor dents, scratches, and even theft. This type of insurance is crucial if your vehicle is expensive or has sentimental value.

The cost of additional insurance can vary. Typically, you might expect to pay between 1.5% to 2.5% of your vehicle’s declared value. For example, if your car is valued at CAD 68,000, insurance can cost between CAD 1,000 and CAD 1,700. It’s a worthwhile investment for peace of mind.

You can usually purchase this insurance from the shipping company itself. However, for the best rates and coverage options, consider shopping around or consulting with an insurance broker who specializes in vehicle transit.

Ensure you fully understand your policy’s contents, including deductibles, limits, and exclusions. In the event of damage, knowing how to file a claim efficiently and the required documentation will significantly streamline the process, ensuring quick compensation and less hassle.

Picture of a person researching insurance options
Never skip insurance for your car

Ask the right question at the right time

Knowing the right questions to ask before shipping your car to the US is essential to ensuring a smooth experience. Ideally, you should do this two months before your planned shipping date. This way, you will have time to make different arrangements if needed. Each step is crucial, from understanding all costs involved to ensuring your vehicle is properly insured. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Miracle Movers Toronto for detailed advice tailored to your specific needs.