Choosing A Car Shipping Company

You might be taking an extended trip to South Africa, moving there permanently, or returning to the country that you call home – whatever your circumstances if you require a car shipping to South Africa there’s plenty to do before it’ll be ready for travel.

For starters, no car can be brought into South Africa from the UK without two things. The first is an Import Permit from the Department of Trade and Industry, which can be obtained from ITAC (the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa). The second is a Letter of Authority from the South African Bureau of Standards – this will confirm that the car is up to South African standards.

As far as home affairs go, first and foremost you must inform the DVLA of your intention to take the car out of the UK. You can do this simply by filling in the relevant section of your Registration Document and sending it to your DVLA Local Office. In its place, you’ll get a Certificate of Permanent Export –as with any kind of official documentation, make sure everything is kept safe.

If you’re taking your car out of the country on a temporary basis (anything shorter than 12 months) then you just need to make sure you take your original Registration Document or Certificate with you. The direct.gov.uk website says ‘If you take your vehicle abroad, it must be continuously taxed’, so make sure you’ve got someone at home that can take care of that for you or remember to renew by phone or online.

If you’ve lost your Registration Document or Certificate you’ll have to apply for a new one at your DVLA Local Office – this will incur extra costs, but more importantly it can take up to 14 days, so don’t leave it to the last minute.

Of course, however, many forms you fill and documents you acquire, the most important thing is finding the shipping company that is right for your needs.

If you’re looking for a company that specialises in car shipping to South Africa, top of your priority list will be to find a reputable service provider who can guarantee you a safe passage. So how can you make sure you choose a trustworthy company?

Well for starters you could check to see if they are affiliated to any industry bodies such as the British International Freight Association or the British Association of Removers. Businesses will often have to meet certain requirements to become members of such organisations, so you can be confident of receiving good service.

The next thing to consider is whether you just need your car transported or whether you also have household effects that need shipping. If it’s just your car that’s headed to South Africa any company that offers RoRo Shipping (that’s Roll on Roll off) will do just fine. If you’ve got lots of extra luggage that won’t fit in your car you might want to consider a container, which are usually sized 20ft or 40ft – just don’t forget that anything else you import to South Africa could also be subject to customs and further regulations!

Talking of all those regulations, if you’re having a hard time acquiring the necessary documentation or permits you might want to pick a shipping company that can help out with these. Some will be able to do almost all of the legwork for you, leaving you to take care of other aspects of your trip or relocation. However, everything comes at a price, so do expect them to charge you for this service.

In fact, there are lots of ‘extras’ that could mount up if you’re not careful. Make sure you don’t fall for a shipping company that promises a low price only to attach costs for all manner of services. Make sure you know exactly what services you’re getting and for exactly what price and you won’t have any nasty surprises.

So you’ve got your Import Permit, Letter of Authority, Certificate of Permanent Export (if necessary), and you’ve booked a space with a reputable shipping company to transport your car to South Africa – what’s next? While it might sound obvious, you’ll want to make sure you’ve made the necessary arrangements to get your car to the port in time for departure if this isn’t a service your chosen service provider offers!

The next thing to do is make sure you clear any outstanding payments. While some companies that carry out car shipping to South Africa might wait until the car is transported before requesting money owed, others may require a deposit or payment before it’s exported. Make sure you keep on top of these payments, as failing to do so may result in further financial penalties or the delay of your shipment.

Once you’ve got all this essential stuff out of the way you can get around to things like cancelling your breakdown cover, arranging a rental vehicle for your remaining days in the UK or simply relaxing before your own journey.

Finally, prepare yourself for potential VAT and duty costs – while the amount will depend on the value of your vehicle, customs duty on cars is currently 36 percent while VAT is 14 percent. Some people are exempt from payment – for example, tourists can drive an imported vehicle for up to three months without needing to pay duty or VAT, at which point they can extend this period by another three months (a provisional payment may be needed, however). Meanwhile, if you’re permanently changing your residence to South Africa you may also be exempt although you’ll have to prove your status to the Department of Home Affairs.

Although there’s quite a bit to do and get your head around it’s really important that you take the time to make sure it’s all done correctly. Remember your shipping company can always help if things get on top of you, allowing you to get your car to South Africa with minimal fuss.