vehicle container shipping

vehicle container shipping

Transporting vehicles across long distances or overseas can be a complex task. One method that has gained popularity in international logistics is vehicle container shipping. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding the ins and outs of this shipping method. From the basics of how it works to the benefits it offers, we’ll explore all the essential aspects of vehicle container shipping.

What is Vehicle Container Shipping?

Vehicle container shipping is a method of transporting vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, and even boats, in specially designed containers. These containers are typically made of steel and come in standard sizes, such as 20-foot and 40-foot lengths. The vehicles are securely loaded and positioned inside the container, ensuring their safety during transit.

Key Differences Between RoRo and Container Shipping

When it comes to shipping vehicles overseas, there are two primary methods to consider: Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) shipping and container shipping. While both options serve the purpose of transporting vehicles, there are key differences between the two.

RoRo shipping involves vehicles being driven onto a specialized cargo vessel, where they are secured and transported. This method is suitable for regular-sized vehicles and offers a quicker turnaround time. However, it does not allow for personal belongings to be transported with the vehicle.

On the other hand, container shipping involves loading vehicles into steel containers, providing added protection and flexibility. This method allows for personal items to be shipped alongside the vehicle. It is particularly beneficial for transporting high-value or vintage vehicles that require extra care and security.

How Does Vehicle Container Shipping Work?

The process of vehicle container shipping involves several steps to ensure a smooth and secure transit of the vehicles. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. Vehicle Pickup: The vehicles to be shipped are either delivered by the owner to a designated terminal or collected by a domestic transport service and transported to the terminal.
  2. Container Loading: At the terminal, the vehicles are carefully driven into the container and positioned securely. The container’s dimensions allow for various types of vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, motorcycles, and pickup trucks.
  3. Securing the Vehicles: Once inside the container, the vehicles are properly braced and lashed to prevent any movement or damage during transit. Soft straps are used to secure the four wheels, and additional measures, such as front and rear towing eyelets, can be employed for non-four-wheeled vehicles.
  4. Additional Cargo: If the container has available space after loading the vehicles, it can be utilized to transport personal belongings, spare parts, or even household goods. This flexibility is a significant advantage of container shipping.
  5. Container Transport: Once the vehicles and any accompanying cargo are securely loaded, the container is sealed and transported to the port for loading onto a vessel. The container’s sturdiness protects the vehicles from external elements and potential hazards.
  6. Ocean Transit: The container, with the vehicles inside, is loaded onto a suitable cargo vessel for transportation across the ocean. The vessel’s size and capacity enable the shipment of numerous containers, offering a cost-effective solution for vehicle transportation.
  7. Destination Port: Upon arrival at the destination port, the container is unloaded from the vessel and undergoes necessary customs clearance procedures. The vehicles and any accompanying cargo can then be retrieved by the owner.

Benefits of Vehicle Container Shipping

Vehicle container shipping offers several advantages that make it an attractive option for transporting vehicles internationally. Here are some key benefits:

1. Enhanced Safety and Protection

One of the primary advantages of container shipping is the enhanced safety and protection it provides for vehicles. The vehicles are securely loaded and braced inside the container, minimizing the risk of damage during transit. The container’s steel construction shields the vehicles from external elements, such as inclement weather or road debris.

2. Flexibility to Transport Personal Belongings

Unlike RoRo shipping, which strictly focuses on vehicle transportation, container shipping allows for the inclusion of personal belongings. If there is unused space within the container after loading the vehicles, it can be utilized to transport additional items, making it a convenient option for those relocating or needing to transport goods alongside their vehicles.

3. Worldwide Availability

Container shipping is a widely available method for transporting vehicles across the globe. Whether you’re shipping to major port cities like Boston, New York, Los Angeles, or smaller destinations, container shipping covers a vast range of routes and countries. This worldwide availability ensures that vehicles can be transported to various destinations with ease.

Major Ports for Vehicle Container Shipping

Vehicle container shipping operates through numerous ports worldwide. Some of the major ports that facilitate this shipping method include:

  • Boston
  • New York
  • Baltimore
  • Charleston
  • Savannah
  • Miami
  • New Orleans
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • Seattle

If your vehicle is not located near any of these ports, you can engage the services of an automobile shipping company to transport your vehicle from your location to the nearest port.

Vehicle Eligibility for Container Shipping

Most types of vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, motorcycles, and pickup trucks, are eligible for container shipping. The standard sizes of containers accommodate these vehicles comfortably. However, there are limitations for oversized vehicles such as farm machinery or excavators that exceed the given container dimensions. Inoperable vehicles can also be shipped via container as long as they meet certain requirements, such as being able to roll, steer, and have working brakes.

Cost Considerations for Vehicle Container Shipping

The cost of vehicle container shipping can vary depending on several factors. These factors include:

  1. Container Size: The size of the container required for shipping the vehicle affects the overall cost. While a 20-foot container may be sufficient for a single vehicle, larger vehicles or multiple vehicles may necessitate a 40-foot container.
  2. Distance: The distance between the origin and destination ports plays a significant role in determining the shipping cost. Longer distances generally incur higher shipping costs.
  3. Additional Services: Additional services, such as insurance coverage, door-to-door transport, or expedited shipping, may incur additional charges.
  4. Customs Fees: Customs fees and charges associated with import/export regulations vary from country to country and can impact the overall shipping cost.

To obtain an accurate cost estimate for vehicle container shipping, it is advisable to request a customized quote from a reputable shipping company. They will consider the specific details of your shipment and provide you with an all-inclusive cost breakdown.


Vehicle container shipping offers a secure, flexible, and convenient method for transporting vehicles internationally or over long distances. With the ability to transport personal belongings, enhanced safety measures, and worldwide availability, container shipping provides peace of mind for vehicle owners. Whether you’re relocating or need to transport a high-value or vintage vehicle, consider vehicle container shipping as a reliable and efficient solution.

Remember to research shipping companies thoroughly, ensuring they have the necessary expertise and experience in handling vehicle container shipments. By entrusting your vehicle to a reputable shipping company, you can rest assured that your vehicle will reach its destination safely and securely.

If you’re ready to embark on your vehicle container shipping journey, contact a reputable shipping company like Cargoux Shipping Inc to receive a customized quote and expert guidance throughout the shipping process.

Cargoux Shipping Inc.

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Cargoux Shipping Inc.

Tel. 905-829-4224
Fax 905-829-5112

Mailing Address:
2916 South Sheridian Way unit #200
Oakville, Ontario
L6J 7J8, Canada

"We will make your car shipping experience easy, convenient and hassle free. There are NO HIDDEN FEES. Our own dispatch department can arrange pick up from any city in the USA or Canada, either from an auction, a dealership, or even private residence."
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