Shipping your classic overseas: here’s how it works

  • Image gallery
  • Video
Shipping your classic
We look at the process of shipping your classic vehicle to a buyer overseas...

With the international market paying top dollar for classic cars, selling yours to a buyer abroad is a lucrative option…

How the shipping process works

There are a number of reasons to move a vehicle abroad. You could be embarking on an overland adventure in your own 4×4, relocating to another country or selling to an international buyer. With the global demand for classic cars on the rise, the latter is gaining momentum as South African owners are able to take advantage of our poor rand versus the dollar/euro/pound and sell their vehicles abroad for impressive sums.

We visited Antony Ashley from Seabrook Forwarding and Handling in Cape Town, a specialist vehicle importer and exporter, to learn more about the process

1. Finding an international buyer

The most common way of finding an international buyer is to advertise on a global website like eBay. Interestingly, many international buyers scan our local classifieds websites regularly and may contact the owner directly. Once you have a buyer, it’s important to stipulate which party is responsible for the shipping costs when agreeing on a sale price. Never hand over your vehicle for shipping before the entire asking price is received.

2. Documentation required

The vehicle’s registration papers in the owner’s name and ID are required. You will need to present these to the traffic department when applying for a request for police clearance (RPC) form that states intent to export the vehicle.

Data-dotting the vehicle and gaining police clearance are the next steps before getting the clearance form stamped. The VIN and engine numbers must match the registration document. You will then need to apply for an export permit at the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) before it is legal for the vehicle to leave the country for good.

Lastly, the vehicle needs to be deregistered at the traffic department. You can decide to either do the paperwork yourself, or the shipping company may offer the service at a cost.

3. Preparation and loading


With the vehicle now handed over to the shipping company for preparation, the first step is to photograph it from all angles to prove its condition before shipping. The fuel must then be drained – this prevents it from being classed as ”hazardous”. A specialist shipping company should then clean and wrap the vehicle with protective plastic before it is loaded into the waiting container.

In order to prevent damage during transit, it is critical to securely affix the vehicle to the container floor. This is done by a combination of wooden blocks and straps. In the case of a shared container load where a vehicle needs to be lifted to create more space, wooden ramps are built specifically for that vehicle. This is a specialist job requiring skill and attention to detail.

4. Insurance

The shipping company may offer a default insurance option, but it may not be enough to cover the replacement cost of the vehicle. You can take out additional insurance for comprehensive cover.

5. Cost examples

The following approximate cost examples exclude local charges for documentation (around R3 500) and insurance at 0,7% of the vehicle’s value.

1. 1989 Ferrari F40 to Europe (Rotterdam) to attend a track day. In a container by itself (20-feet full-container load; FCL).
2. 1992 Land Rover Defender 110 SW to the US (New York) for an overland trip. Shared container (less-than container load; LCL).
3. 1970 Ford Escort sold to a buyer in the UK (Southampton). Shared container (LCL).

Shipping Destination
cost clearing costs
Total
1. €2 300 €1 200 R46 856
2. $2 500 $1 000 R45 080
3. £1 300 £390 R23 148

Choosing a shipping company

Before you hand over your pride and joy, it is important that the company…
1. Is experienced in handling and shipping vehicles
2. Has a secure and covered holding area for the vehicles
3. Includes all the costs, such as destination charges, in the quote
4. Fully understands the documentation and legal process
5. Has good relations with the agent at the destination port (or, even better, a branch)

Thanks to Antony Ashley from Seabrook Forwarding and Handling. More info at seabrookfandh.com

Author: Nicol Louw