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6 Things to Know About Shipping a Car Overseas

Moving overseas can be an exciting adventure for military families, but you will need to do a little additional work and planning if you are going to take your privately owned vehicle, or POV, with you. Generally, the government will pay to ship one vehicle to your final destination if your overseas installation allows it, but don’t assume you can take your specific car or truck with you or transport a vehicle that you purchased overseas easily back into the U.S. Do your homework and know the limitations on vehicles at your new duty station well before you begin to move.

Here are six key points that will help you ship your car overseas:

  1. Limitations — You will be limited by your vehicle’s size. The government will pay to ship a vehicle up to 20 metric tons at the government’s expense. For any vehicle that exceeds the size limitation, you may incur excess cost. Your family sedan will usually pass the test, but you may have to pay the excess costs for an oversized truck, SUV, camper or recreational vehicle.
  2. Modified vehicles — Many military members take great pride in personalizing their vehicle by adding fun modifications to it. Those modifications, completed using local standards and laws, may not be legal in other countries. Additionally, some non-factory modifications must meet special requirements to be shipped. The regulations vary, so be sure to check with your local transportation office for information specific to your new duty station.
  3. Time limits — While you may have to follow a strict timeline while relocating, there are multiple time limits when shipping your POV. Departure and return shipping times vary by your branch of service so be sure to discuss the terms with your local transportation office and plan accordingly.
  4. Items that can be shipped in your vehicle — You may be tempted to load your vehicle with personal belongings instead of waiting for your household goods shipment to arrive, but in general you are only allowed to ship items that are meant for operating the vehicle or transporting passengers. Some of those “operational” type of items includes jacks, tire irons, tire chains, spare and snow tires, jumper cables and luggage racks. “Transporting” type of items includes first aid kits, portable cribs, children’s car seats and strollers. For a complete list, please read the Defense Transportation Regulations, Part IV, Appendix K-3.
  5. Licensing — Once you reach your destination, you will need to follow local licensing and registration laws. These laws vary significantly from country to country, and deadlines for registering your vehicle tend to be tight. Review these guidelines with your Military and Family Support Center so that you can plan accordingly and avoid fines.
  6. Buying a car at your destination — For some families, two vehicles are simply a requirement. For others, the lower sticker price for a foreign car is too good to pass up. Whatever the motivating factor, many people opt to purchase a car while overseas. Keep in mind that the regulations listed above also apply when moving back, and converting a foreign car to U.S. specifications can be expensive. Different countries have different standards and some vehicles in foreign countries — even American cars — may not be legal to drive in the United States. If you purchase a car overseas, do your research so you don’t get stuck when you return home.

Still have questions or need help finding resources? Learn more in these FAQs for shipping POVs. You can also contact your local transportation office or visit the International Auto Logistics website at PCSmyPOV for more information.

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