Car Shipping from USA to the UK

Whether you are moving to the UK from the USA and need to ship one single car or have a fleet of several vehicles to import, it’s a lot easier than you think. So long as all documentation is in place and you have enough time, it’s a fairly straightforward process.

We have multiple locations in the USA located close to major departure ports to choose from, so you’ll never be short of departure location choices.

In the following sections we’ll cover some of your options for shipping a car from the USA to the UK and provide a rundown on the key documentation you will need, as well as information on the mutual recognition policy that will affect those who wish to ship a car from the USA to the UK.

Car Shipping from USA to UK via Container CFR Rinkens

Car Shipping Costs to the UK

The cost to ship a car to the UK is dependent on factors such as the vehicle model, your location and the nearest USA departure port, as well as the shipping method you choose, the availability of slots and your final destination.

Ports in the UK we ship to include:

  • Felixstowe
  • Southampton
  • Tilbury
  • Liverpool
  • Grangemouth


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The guide below discusses car shipping to the UK from the USA. For general information and to view common questions about shipping a vehicle, visit this page.

**Our warehouse locations include Los Angeles, Miami and New York**

There are two key methods for car shipping to the UK: by using a containerized service or a roll-on/roll-off service. Here is some information that can help you decide which service to use.

There are two ways to ship a car to the UK using a container—individually, or in consolidation with other vehicles. We specialize in consolidation and believe it is a great, cost effective method for car shipping to the UK.

Your car will be loaded into a 40ft container together with multiple vehicles being sent to the UK. This not only reduces the cost to ship the car to the UK by sea but also helps you save on unloading and destination fees.

One benefit of container loading is the added security it offers. When we receive the vehicle, we will photograph it as well as the loading process. The container is kept locked all the way up to arrival at your destination, when it is opened and the vehicle is photographed as it is unloaded. The vehicle is secure and can contain other items to be shipped, although it is advisable to pay close attention when loading and packing these items as we will not be responsible for any loss or damage sustained.

If you prefer to ship a vehicle to the UK individually, you also have the option of using a smaller 20ft container. You will end up paying more in fees, but you’ll get to shorten the duration between departure and arrival. In addition, if you’ve got household goods to ship, you can place them in the container as well.


Using ro-ro or roll-on/roll-off to ship a vehicle to the UK is another option. Your car will need to be in working condition in order to ship via this method, as it will have to be driven onto a shipping vessel.

Depending on where you wish to depart from and which arrival port you would like to use, you may actually end up paying less in single vehicle rates, however you won’t be able to transport anything inside the car and a longer time may be required to cross the ocean.

How long it will take, the cost and other details will depend on which method you choose and the type of vehicle you are shipping. The fastest way to know what is involved is to call us at 1-888-886-6683.

How do costs vary based on the method of shipping?

Roll-on/roll-off – With this method of shipping, cars are driven into a ship with a cargo area similar to a sizeable parking garage. This option tends to be more inexpensive, as only customs clearance charges, port charges and the shipping charge are payable.

Shared container service – Your vehicle will be shipped together with multiple others in one container. There will be a wider range of fees payable than with roll-on/roll-off shipping, which are to be shared between all the people using the container, such as a terminal handling charge, trucking charge, charge for unloading the vehicles at a bonded warehouse and customs clearance charge.

One of the downsides of the shared container service is having to wait a longer time for shipping, as the container can only depart when it has a full load.

Full container load – This shipping method resembles the shared container service, except that your vehicle will be the only one in the container. Similar fees to those charged for the shared container load are collected, however these are borne by only one client rather than divided between several.

This method tends to result in quicker transits, since weekly departures are possible. With ro-ro services, departures are often not as frequent.

Instead of wood ramps which other companies use, we rely on a steel loading system, which is more effective at preventing loss and damage.

Additional services

Escrow services – We collect monies from buyers of a vehicle and then check the vehicle condition and complete paperwork before releasing the money to the seller of the vehicle when we collect the car.

Sourcing vehicles – Our many car buyer contacts make it easy for us to find and buy vehicles on behalf of overseas clients at a commission or additional fee to be paid to the car buyer.

For a quick quotation, please visit our Rate Request page.

Things to Consider


When shipping a vehicle to the UK, you will need to furnish international auto transporters with the original documents pertaining to exporting the vehicle from the US as well as importing it to the UK, such as:

  • original title
  • certificate of origin
  • bill of lading
  • doc receipt

In order to ship a car from the USA to Ireland or Northern Ireland, you will first need to determine whether you are permitted to ship the vehicle in the first place.

Important Information

Mutual Recognition and Why It’s Important

Only cars originally registered in the EU that are now being shipped to the UK qualify for mutual recognition.

It is crucial to know when your car is eligible for mutual recognition, as this can save a lot of time and effort in determining whether the vehicle conforms to UK roadways. For more information, visit this link. It is a good idea to either contact the DVLA in Great Britain or the DVA if you would like to import a vehicle that is more than 10 years old, to ensure all requirements have been met in order to obtain permission.

The charges you’ll have to pay upon arrival will depend on various factors and circumstances, such as whether you’re effectively relocating to the UK with a change of primary residency, whether your vehicle was previously exported or whether you are merely temporarily importing it to the UK. Read on for more details.

Instances Requiring VAT and Vehicle Tax

In the following scenarios, you will be subject to VAT and vehicle tax.

  • Your vehicle is relatively new and has been driven for less than 6 months.
  • You normally live outside the EU and plan to remain in the UK for more than 12 months.
  • You previously got a refund on VAT or sales tax on the vehicle.
  • You bought the vehicle duty free or tax free.
Instances not requiring VAT and Vehicle Tax
  • You live in the EU and are only importing the vehicle temporarily.
  • You are relocating to the UK and are eligible for residency transfer.
  • You are not from the EU and are importing the vehicle to use temporarily. To be eligible you must satisfy the following conditions:
    • You must be visiting the UK.
    • You must only be using the car for a period of 6 months.
    • The vehicle must be registered and taxed in its home country.

If you are a student or employee who is not living in the UK, you qualify for a period that’s a bit longer.

Do contact the HMRC in advance and get hold of the official documentation for proof of customs relief.

UK Vehicle Import Taxes

If you do not meet the above criteria, then import duty and VAT tax will be payable to customs. You must also ensure your car is validly insured.

Here are the relevant figures:

  • Import Duty: 10%
  • VAT: 20%
  • Import Duty for Collector’s Vehicles: 5% with no VAT

For more details pertaining to car shipping from the USA to the UK, please see the website of the government of Great Britain, where the rules pertaining to vehicle importation are set out.

How long it takes

Any timeframes you receive usually measure how long it will take to transport your vehicle from one port to another. Please ensure that all necessary documents are presented to us on the spot to avoid delays, and that your vehicle is ready for immediate departure. If more than one vehicle is being shipped in your container, arrangements should already have been made for them.

Depending on which European destination you are headed for, there might be several available ports, and the exact time frame will depend on which port is being used.

Our team of auto shipping experts can make your move to the UK a simple and stress-free procedure. If you have any other questions about shipping your car to the UK, get in touch with one of our specialists or get a free estimate using our quote form.

If you need additional information for vehicle shipping overseas, we’ve prepared these convenient online vehicle shipping guides with info specific to each country, including steps when shipping your vehicle overseas, as well as customs and vehicle homologation info.
Don’t see the country you’re looking for? We work with shipping agents all over the world and can assist you with all your worldwide vehicle shipping needs. Request a quote above, or give us a call at 1-888-886-6683.


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