Car Shipping from Canada to Europe: A Comprehensive Guide

Taking your car to Europe? Here's a quick guide:

  • Speedy vs. Budget-friendly? Choose air freight (fast, expensive) or sea freight (slower, cheaper).

  • Protection Priority? RORO is cost-effective but exposes your car to the elements. Containers offer maximum protection but cost more.

  • Get Your Car Ready: Ensure it's serviced, tires inflated, and interior secured. Pack documents in the glove compartment and fill the gas tank partially.

  • Extras to Consider: Deactivate the alarm (optional), add a car cover (optional), and get marine insurance (recommended).

  • Customs in Europe: Gather paperwork, expect fees, and cooperate with potential inspections. A customs broker can help.

  • European Road Rules: Headlamp adjustments, safety checks, and emission testing might be needed depending on the country.

  • Final Step: Registration! Register your car in your chosen European country with proof of ownership, insurance, and passing any inspections.

Understanding Your Shipping Options (Air vs. Sea) for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

Choosing the right shipping method is crucial for your car's journey across the Atlantic. Here's a breakdown of air and sea freight options for car shipping from Canada to Europe:

Air Freight: The Speedy Choice

Ideal for:

  • Urgent situations: Need your car in Europe ASAP? Air freight delivers in days, perfect for tight deadlines.

  • Irreplaceable vehicles: For classic car enthusiasts or owners of high-value vehicles, air freight offers the fastest method to minimize risk.


  • Blazing Speed: Get your car to Europe in a matter of days, the fastest option available.

  • Direct Delivery: Air freight usually involves a direct flight, minimizing handling and potential for delays.


  • Sky-High Costs: Air freight is significantly more expensive than sea freight. Prepare for a hefty price tag.

  • Size and Weight Restrictions: Airplanes have limitations on vehicle dimensions and weight. Large SUVs or trucks might not be suitable for air transport.

Sea Freight: The Budget-Friendly Option

Ideal for:

  • Budget-conscious shippers: Sea freight offers a cost-effective way to transport your car across the ocean.

  • Most car types and sizes: Sea freight accommodates a wider range of vehicles compared to air freight.


  • Cost-Effective Choice: The most affordable option for car shipping from Canada to Europe.

  • Flexible for Vehicle Sizes: Sedans, SUVs, and even some trucks can be shipped by sea.


  • Longer Voyage: Prepare for a wait of 4-8 weeks, depending on the destination port in Europe (East Coast ports typically faster).

  • Exposure to Elements: Your car will be exposed to the elements during transport. While secured, it won't have the same level of protection as air freight.

The Verdict: Speed vs. Savings

The choice between air and sea freight boils down to your priorities:

  • Need for Speed: If getting your car to Europe quickly is paramount, air freight is the way to go.

  • Budget Conscious: Opt for sea freight for a more cost-effective car shipping experience.

Choosing the Right Shipping Method (RORO vs. Container) for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

Once you've decided between air or sea freight for your car shipping from Canada to Europe, the next step is to choose the loading method within your chosen option. Here's a breakdown of Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) and containerized shipping:

Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) Shipping: The Drive-On, Drive-Off Option

  • Pros:

    • Budget-Friendly: The most cost-effective method for car shipping from Canada to Europe.

    • Efficient Loading/Unloading: Faster loading and unloading times compared to containerized shipping.

    • Suitable for Most Vehicles: Accommodates a wide range of cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

  • Cons:

    • Slower Transit Times: Shares space on a large ferry, potentially adding to overall transport time.

    • Exposure to Elements: Your car will be exposed to the weather during transport.

    • Limited Protection: While secured, your car is susceptible to minor bumps or external factors compared to a container.

Containerized Shipping: The Ultimate Protection

  • Ideal for:

    • Luxury Cars: Offers maximum protection for valuable vehicles.

    • Classic Cars: Provides a secure environment for these irreplaceable treasures.

    • Peace of Mind: For those who prioritize the utmost security for their car during the voyage.

  • Pros:

    • Maximum Protection: Your car is encased within a secure container, shielded from the elements and potential external damage.

  • Cons:

    • Higher Cost: Containerized shipping is more expensive than RORO.

    • Slower Loading/Unloading: The process of loading and unloading a container takes longer.

    • Limited Availability: Container space can be limited, so booking in advance is crucial.

Choosing Your Ideal Match

The best method depends on your priorities:

  • Budget and Speed: For a cost-effective and efficient option for most vehicles, RORO is a solid choice.

  • Maximum Protection: If safeguarding your car is paramount, especially for luxury or classic vehicles, containerized shipping offers superior security.

Preparing Your Car for its Transatlantic Journey for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

Ensuring your car is in top shape is vital before its voyage across the Atlantic. 

Give Your Car a Pre-Shipment Service

  • Oil Change and Fluid Check: Schedule a recent oil change with fresh oil and filter to ensure smooth engine operation during transport. Top up all other fluids like coolant, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

  • Leak and Mechanical Issue Check: Address any existing leaks or mechanical issues before shipment. A thorough inspection by a trusted mechanic can identify potential problems and prevent them from worsening during the journey.

Tire TLC (Tender Loving Care)

  • Tire Inspection: Meticulously inspect your tires for any signs of wear and tear, including cracks, bulges, or uneven tread wear. Replace any damaged tires to ensure a safe and smooth journey.

  • Proper Inflation: Inflate your tires to the manufacturer's recommended pressure for car shipping from Canada to Europe. This optimizes fuel efficiency and prevents uneven tire wear during transport.

Secure the Interior for a Smooth Ride

  • Pack it Tight: Secure any loose items in the trunk, glove compartment, and interior with straps or bungee cords. This prevents them from becoming projectiles during transport.

  • Valuables at Home: Remove all valuables, personal belongings, and important documents from your car. It's best to keep these with you during your move to Europe.

Documentation Ready for European Customs

  • Easy Access Envelope: Prepare a sealed envelope containing your car's registration documents, ownership proof (title), and a copy of the bill of sale (if applicable). Place it securely inside the glove compartment for easy access by European customs officials upon arrival.

 Partially Fill the Gas Tank

  • Fire Safety First: Most shipping companies require a partially filled gas tank (typically ¼ to ½ full) to avoid fire hazards during car shipping from Canada to Europe. An empty tank can pose a safety risk, while a completely full tank can expand in hot weather and cause leaks.

Considering Additional Services for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

While the core preparation steps ensure your car is ready for its transatlantic journey, there are optional services you can consider for added peace of mind during car shipping from Canada to Europe:

Alarm Deactivation: Silence the Siren

  • Inform Your Shipper: If your car has an alarm system, notify your car shipper from Canada to Europe.

  • Consider Deactivation: Discuss the possibility of deactivating the alarm for transport. This can prevent accidental triggers due to movement or bumps during the voyage.

Car Cover: A Shield Against the Elements (RORO Only)

  • Open-Air Protection: Consider adding a car cover for additional protection against dust, salt spray, and minor scratches, especially if you're opting for RORO (Roll-on/Roll-off) car shipping from Canada to Europe. While RORO is a budget-friendly option, your car will be exposed to the elements on the open deck of the ship. A car cover can provide an extra layer of defense.

Marine Insurance: Invest in Peace of Mind

  • Financial Protection: Marine insurance for car shipping from Canada to Europe offers financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances during transport. This could include damage caused by theft, collision, fire, or natural disasters. The cost of insurance varies depending on the value of your car and the level of coverage you choose.

Choosing What's Right for You

These additional services are optional and depend on your car's value, your risk tolerance, and the chosen shipping method (RORO vs. container). Discussing these options with your car shipping company from Canada to Europe will help you determine what's best for your specific needs.

Navigating Customs Regulations in Europe for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

Once your car arrives in Europe, you'll need to navigate customs regulations to clear it for entry.

Gather Required Documents: Have Everything at Hand for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

  • Car Registration: The original car registration document proving ownership of the vehicle.

  • Ownership Documents: Proof of ownership for your car, such as the title.

  • Bill of Sale (if applicable): If you purchased the car recently, a copy of the bill of sale is needed.

  • European Import Permit: This permit is obtained beforehand and authorizes the import of your car into a specific European country. Contact the embassy or consulate of the destination country in Canada to inquire about obtaining this permit.

  • Clean Bill of Lading: A document issued by the shipping company from Canada to Europe, acknowledging receipt of your car and confirming its condition upon shipment.

Be Prepared for Customs Fees: Paying Your Dues for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

  • Import Duties and Taxes: Expect to pay import duties and taxes levied by European customs authorities. These fees are typically based on the car's value, engine size, and the specific regulations of the destination country. Be prepared to present proof of value for your car, such as a recent appraisal or purchase documentation.

Potential Car Inspection: Cooperate for a Smooth Clearance Process

  • Inspection by Customs Officials: European customs officials might request to inspect your car upon arrival to verify its condition and declared value. This inspection may involve checking the vehicle identification number (VIN) against your paperwork and ensuring it matches the car's physical description. Cooperate with the inspection process to ensure a smooth clearance for your car shipping from Canada to Europe.

Streamline the Process with a Customs Broker for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

Navigating customs regulations in Europe after car shipping from Canada can seem daunting. While you can manage the process yourself, for many individuals, a licensed customs broker can be a valuable asset.

Expertise for a Smooth Journey:

  • Expedited Clearance: Hiring a customs broker can significantly expedite the customs clearance process for your car shipping from Canada to Europe. Their familiarity with import regulations and experience dealing with European customs authorities can help ensure a smooth and efficient handover of your vehicle.

  • Paperwork Perfection: Customs brokers ensure all your paperwork is in order and meets the specific requirements of your destination country in Europe. This includes verifying documents like car registration, ownership documents, import permits, and bills of sale (if applicable), and ensuring they are properly completed to avoid delays.

  • Knowledge is Power: Customs brokers possess extensive knowledge of import regulations and can navigate the complexities on your behalf for car shipping from Canada to Europe. They can advise on potential challenges, anticipate any questions customs officials might have, and represent your interests during the clearance process.

  • Save Time and Hassle: The process of clearing customs can be time-consuming and involve complex procedures. A customs broker can handle the paperwork and interactions with customs officials, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your move to Europe after car shipping from Canada.

Cost vs. Convenience:

Hiring a customs broker comes at an additional cost. However, for many individuals, the convenience, time savings, and peace of mind gained from their expertise can be well worth the investment, especially for those unfamiliar with European import regulations or who value a smooth and stress-free experience.

Modifications for European Roads (17-19) for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

There are a few potential modifications you might need to consider to ensure your car complies with European regulations:

Headlamp Conversion: Seeing Clearly on the Left Side

  • Regulation Requirements: European regulations are designed for left-hand traffic. Headlamp beams in North American cars are typically angled outwards to illuminate the right side of the road. To ensure proper visibility and avoid blinding oncoming traffic, headlamp adjustments or replacements might be necessary for your car shipping from Canada to Europe.

Safety Feature Checks: Meeting the European Standard

  • Safety First: European safety standards differ slightly from North American standards. Ensure your car meets these regulations for safe driving. This might involve checking features like:

    • Seatbelts: The number and type of seatbelts required in Europe may differ from Canada.

    • Airbags: European regulations regarding airbag functionality and deactivation might differ.

    • Brake Lights: Ensure your brake lights function correctly and meet European visibility requirements.

Emission Testing: Keeping the Air Clean

  • Environmental Regulations: Depending on the specific European country you're moving to, your car might need to pass an emission test to meet their environmental regulations. These tests measure pollutants like hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide.

Planning Makes Perfect

  • Research is Key: It's crucial to research the specific regulations of your destination country in Europe well before car shipping from Canada. This will give you ample time to understand any modifications or inspections that might be required.

  • Consult a Mechanic: A certified mechanic familiar with European regulations can inspect your car and advise on any necessary modifications for car shipping from Canada to Europe.

Registering Your Car in Europe for Car Shipping from Canada to Europe

Now, it's time to make it street legal!

Registering Your Car for European Roads

The final step involves registering your car in your chosen European country. This process typically involves:

  • Proof of Ownership: Present the original car registration documents and ownership proof (title) you used for customs clearance during car shipping from Canada to Europe.

  • Valid Insurance: Demonstrate that you have valid car insurance that meets the minimum requirements for your European country of residence.

  • Passing Inspections: Depending on the country, your car might need to pass a safety or emissions inspection before registration.

Congratulations! By following this comprehensive guide, you've ensured a smooth and stress-free experience when shipping your car from Canada to Europe.:

  • Research is Key: Always research the specific registration requirements for your destination country in Europe well before car shipping from Canada to Europe. This will help you understand the process, any potential fees, and the documents you'll need.

Choose Wisely: Select a reputable car shipping company with experience handling the logistics and paperwork involved in car shipping from Canada to Europe. They can guide you through the process and ensure a smooth transition for your car.

Car Shipping from Canada to Europe: A Comprehensive Guide (FAQ)

You can choose between air freight (fast, expensive) or sea freight (slower, cheaper).

Consider your budget and timeline. Air freight is the fastest option but also the most expensive. Sea freight is more affordable but takes longer.

Get your car serviced, ensure proper tire inflation, secure the interior, and remove valuables. Consider optional services like alarm deactivation, car cover (for RORO), and marine insurance.

You'll need car registration documents, ownership proof (title), bill of sale (if applicable), European import permit, and a clean bill of lading.

What are the potential customs fees?

Expect to pay import duties and taxes based on your car's value and the destination country's regulations.