How to Ship Your Car by Plane

So you’re moving across the pond and you want to take your car with you. Is it possible? Yes it is! And it’s less of an ordeal than you may think. Some things you should consider:

  • For most cars, the cost to ship it across the country via plane would exceed the value of the vehicle itself. However, for rare, exotic, or other highly valuable cars, shipping by plane could be the best method.
  • Shipping a car in a plane is safe, fast, and reliable. With road or sea shipment, you have a higher risk of your car incurring some physical damage because these rides tend to be a little more turbulent than air freight. On a plane, the risk of turbulence is reduced.
  • Another reason shipping a car on a plane is safer than road or ocean shipping is that air shipments are usually destination-direct. Your car will most likely be loaded at one end and the plane will only stop at your final destination. With fewer stops made midway during shipment, your car won’t be left unattended.
  • Air freight can be faster than transport via truck or ship depending on the destination, but it’s not always the case. All forms of shipping require that your car is handled by the transport crew and almost all types of shipping methods offer delivery on a certain day, as long as the day isn’t tomorrow.

If the above sounds good, here’s the step-by-step list for you and your car transport by plane:

  1. Do your research – make sure your car is street legal in the country you’re shipping it to. You can find this information in the U.S. State Department’s hotline for international travel. Some countries have entry restrictions on certain make/models of cars. Some features such as tinted windows and flash headlights may be prohibited overseas as well.
  2. More research – get custom quotes for your vehicle from companies that specialize in vehicle transportation by plane and make sure you read online reviews about the carrier. Also, it would be a good idea to look at the carrier’s insurance certificate and safety records. You do want to be sure your car gets to the destination in one piece. And if it doesn’t, you have recourse.
  3. Proof of ownership – be sure you can prove the car is yours by providing the original, or a copy of your vehicle’s title.
  4. It’s always a good idea to have a mechanic take a look at your car before you ship it off – checking brakes, the exhaust and battery is always wise. You don’t want to the car to arrive at the destinations and unable to be moved off the airstrip.
  5. It would also be wise to purchase additional insurance for your car – just to be sure it’s covered should anything happen during transport.

Here’s a great table to give you an idea of the cost and time needed to get your vehicle transported via plane. Keep in mind, prices and times are estimates. Actual details can vary depending on the season and type of vehicle. Be sure to do your own research and get accurate quotes from transporters who specialize in the industry. The below is offered for research purposes only.

To/FromEstimates CostEstimated Time
New York, NY to Germany$1,200++19 days
Los Angeles, CA to UK$3,700++32 days
Las Vegas, NV to New Zealand$2,400++26 days
Columbus, OH  to Spain$1,400++19 days
Detroit, MI to Argentina$3000++26 days
Dallas, TX to Australia$1,025++30 days

The idea of shipping your car isn’t new. After World War II, a Royal Air Force pilot and Wing Commander named Taffy Powel hacked a Bristol 130 Bombay bomber plane for an unusual purpose: Carrying cars across the English Channel.

Have you transported your car by plane during your move? If so, let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear about your experience.

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