How to Ship a Car You Bought Online

Car Shipping

The Internet has changed the world of e-commerce.

Now you can contact an online dealer to buy a car from another country and have it delivered to you.

Buying a car online offers you a variety of car models available to you. In some cases, the car purchase price is cheaper when you have it shipped. However, shipping a car from another country presents a number of unique challenges. This article shows you how to do this.

How to Ship a Car You Bought Online

1. Carrier

Car Shipping

Your car can come through either a covered or uncovered carrier. If the carrier is insured, you will pay more for the car and have the certainty that you will be compensated for the loss or damage to the car if anything happens to the carrier. The uncovered carrier has the advantage of being cheaper, but you will face an unexpected loss if the car is damaged during transport.

When you buy a car online, you must be careful which carrier you use. Conduct online research to identify carriers with positive ratings. Check that they are licensed and insured.

2. Car delivery takes time

The advantage of buying a car from your local car dealer is that you will have the vehicle delivered the moment you meet the payment terms. You can even drive off with your car on the same day. Shipping takes time, and depending on the country you are shipping from, it can take up to six weeks before the car is physically in your possession.

Once the car arrives in the country, a truck is used to transport the car to your location.

3. Vehicle inspection

The shipping company often prepares an inspection report before sending the car via truck to you. In this case they check the car for visible dents and scratches. You must confirm that the contents of the report correspond to what you received. First, have the online car dealer send you photos of the car before shipping.

This will help you to substantiate your claim for damages after you have received the car. You will be asked to take out insurance when the car is shipped. This is to compensate you in case something happens to your car during transport.

4. Negotiate the purchase price

Car Shipped

The prices listed on websites of online car dealers are often negotiable. Don’t just accept the quoted price. You can check several online sellers and compare their prices. Take shipping costs and insurance into account. You might also want to know what it costs to add features to your car.

These include options for leather seats or air conditioning. You can call the office phone numbers or alternatively send an email. Find out if there are any hidden charges before you pay for the car.

5. Seek help from courier services

This is often the easiest way to inspect your car. The courier company offers valuable information if you cannot physically see the car. However, you will need to find a trustworthy and reliable courier. Some courier companies may not give you accurate information because of repeat business with the online seller.

Most courier companies have websites where you can get an online quote. Check for hidden costs and compare prices between different companies.

6. Fly to the seller’s location

Some people may choose to fly personally to the seller’s destination to physically inspect the car and arrange for shipping. While this gives you a certain feeling of security, it is expensive and time-consuming. The physical flight to the seller’s location helps you inspect the car and request add-ons.

Flying can be useful if the vehicle is of high value and you want it to reach you in the best possible condition.

7. Location matters

Many online sellers have pre-defined routes and schedules that they use when shipping cars online. You might want to find out if your city is one of them, otherwise, you might have to rent another truck to make the trip to where you are. If your location is far from the seller, the price of the car will increase.

When you make an online purchase of an item, the weight determines the shipping cost. However, when shipping cars, weight is not an issue and you should not think about it too much. There is also the option of driving the car yourself instead of shipping it. You have to weigh up how far away the seller is and how much the fuel costs are while driving. Take into account the cost of wear and tear while driving and the time spent. Can you afford both?

8. Seasons

The demand for cars has seasonal peaks, which lead to an increase in transport prices. During these periods, enormous traffic jams often occur on certain routes, which contributes to an increase in transport costs. You should do your research and identify off-seasons when the demand for cars is the lowest.

During the low season you will benefit from reduced shipping costs. In some countries the low season periods are in winter.


Progress in Internet technology has created trading opportunities for car dealers. In this day and age, you can log into your computer to identify a car model that you like, make an online purchase, and have it delivered to you. Shipping is subject to many variables. The carrier may be lost at sea or your car may be damaged during transport.

Getting an insured carrier means you are protected from damage, but it increases your shipping costs. There are those who choose to travel to the seller’s location and take physical possession of the car. This is time-consuming and expensive, but it is practical for those who buy expensive car models with many extras. If you want to reduce your shipping costs, research the various shipping companies online. Often you will then receive a quote and can compare prices.

Have the car inspected before shipping. You can then compare the condition before and after shipping. This will help you in the assertion of claims for damages. If you can, it is advisable to buy a car during the low season. Very few people buy a car in winter.

Written by: Magnus Sellén

Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.