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Bringing Classic Cars to Europe

Thanks to the internet, classic car enthusiasts can find the car of their dreams with just a few quick clicks on a sales site or by joining online classic car groups where others may have vintage cars for sale. This means that whether you are already in Europe or a returning European citizen or are planning to make a move across the ocean from the USA to live in Europe, you may need to find a reliable way to move your classic overseas. Bringing a classic car to Europe can be a daunting task, but one that can be handled easily with the proper plan in place. The Classic Car Company works with some of the top transporters worldwide to assist our customers with bringing those classic beauties to Europe safely and as quick as possible. 

Whether you already own a classic car or you are just now purchasing one, you need to make sure you have all the proper sales and ownership documentation in order before trying to have it imported.




One of the first things ever asked by a classic car owner is “What will it cost to ship my classic car to Europe?”. While this is an important question, the answer will depend on various factors.

One of the most important will be how the car is shipped. If you plan to ship by air to get the car delivered fast, you can expect to pay anywhere from €5000 and €10000 depending on the port you ship to and from. For container shipment, you may pay between €2000-€4000 or more and for standard RORO shipment, you can often find services ranging between €800-€2000 or more depending on the size of the car and the distance it will ship.

A word of advice on shipping from the port. If a price seems a little steep to you, ask your agent if there may be a less expensive port option and if it is possible to have your car delivered to the less expensive port to save a little money. Bear in mind however that there may not be a port with a lower cost, but it surely does no harm to inquire about it when possible.


U.S. Exit Ports


There are many ports along the U.S. east and west coast, but here are some of the busiest that ship to Europe:

  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Oakland, California
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Houston, Texas
  • Miami, Florida
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • New York City, New York
  • Savannah, Georgia

If you have easy access to one of the ports, you can save a little cash by driving the car or hauling it to the port on your own. The Classic Car Company can also help you with arrangements to have a local auto transport company right in the USA deliver it to the port for you so you won’t have to worry about taking time from your already hectic schedule or other travel plans to shuttle the car to an exit port if it is not convenient to you to do so. 




Classic car owners will need to supply some important documentation before they can bring a car overseas to Europe. These documents include:

  • Bill of Sale
  • Vehicle Title
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Proof of Insurance
  • License Plates (Be sure to remove the plates from the car prior to shipping as US tags are a hot commodity in Europe for collectors and they tend to get swiped from cars when a chance arises)
  • Passport
  • Declaration of Dangerous Goods
  • Direct Representation Form (This one is only necessary if you are having the car shipped through an importer)
  • Customs Exemption of the import duties (This is necessary if you are moving and will have your household goods imported at the same time as the car)
  • Shipper Export Declaration

You will also need to pay your import duties and taxes to have the classic car imported into Europe.


Classic Car Import Duty Cost


You are in luck if you are importing an American classic car to Europe. While most cars will incur a 10% import fee, American classic cars can be imported without paying a duty at all. To qualify as a classic, the car must be at least 30 years old and no longer be in production. The car must also be in original condition with no modifications to the steering, chassis, brake system or engine.


Types of Overseas Transport


Now that you understand that there will be taxes and duty fees and that you will need to supply some specific paperwork to have the classic car moved to Europe, you should also know the different types of overseas transport that will be available to bring your car across the ocean. Be advised that it can take between 10 and 20 days or possibly longer to have the car delivered from the U.S. to Europe. This varies depending on the coast that the car ships from as well as weather and sea conditions and the overall mechanical soundness of the ship itself.


Roll on-Roll off


When it’s time to have a car transported to Europe from the United States, a large majority of people try to find the most reasonable rates available to make sure shipping is as little cost as possible.

Roll-On Roll-Off, also called RORO, is the cheaper alternative to bringing a car to Europe. The car is driven on and off the ship, which makes it easier to load than when using a container and RORO loads can be unloaded and inspected at customs quicker than cars inside containers.

RORO is the most popular choice for many car owners when bringing a car to Europe. There are some disadvantages to RORO however and that includes the car being fully exposed to the elements during shipment including wind and water as well as people. To use RORO, you will need to see if the port you are shipping to accepts RORO vessels or if they only accept container ships. Some accept both but there are others that only accept one of the two.


Container Shipping


Container shipping can be an ideal option for shipping if you need to pack household goods and ship them at the same time. They are also ideal for cars, such as classic cars, that need a secure shipping environment to keep salt water, animals and possible thieves or vandals from viewing the vehicle. While container shipments cost more than RORO, you will have the ability to load personal goods and the car will be secured from danger during the move overseas.

You can choose from 20 or 40-foot containers when shipping a classic car. 20-foot containers are great for a single car while 40-foot containers are perfect for two cars. Both options will also provide room for household goods that may be needed to import at the same time.




Many classic car owners need safe storage space once their cars arrive here in Europe. We offer access to specialist secure storage, so be sure to inquire about this before you have the car shipped.

During the time a car is in storage, it may be a good time to also consider some of the cosmetic or mechanical upgrades your car may need. We can assist with a complete restoration if the car is need of a little TLC before showing it off. Restoration of a classic car can be a magical time for the owner as they watch their prized possession transform into the beauty they knew it could be and The Classic Car Company ensures all work is handled professionally by qualified restoration pros throughout Europe. 




Classic car owners who have their car imported to Europe must register it before it can be driven. Classic cars, and most other U.S. made cars will need to be modified to conform to European vehicle safety standards. Again, The Classic Car Company can handle the registration on your behalf.

4th January 2018 Uncategorised Author: Adam Smith
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