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How to Ship a Boat Overseas

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If you own a boat, then you know it takes a fair amount of time and money to keep that boat in proper working condition. Boats are some of the most expensive, large, and fragile items people own. Moving a boat overseas is a challenge, despite the fact that they are designed to be in the water. It takes planning, preparation, and knowledge of your shipping options to move your boat to another country safely.


Before you do anything else, you need to contact the embassy or the consulate of the country you are shipping to and find out what the customs regulations are for personal boats. There could be restrictions on the boat size or type allowed in the country, or you could need additional import documentation to clear the boat through customs. Remember that you need a copy of your boat title, as well as all of the insurance and moving documentation.

TIP: It is good to do this before you prepare to move your boat. If the regulations and restrictions are too overwhelming, you may decide to not move your boat at all.

Inspecting and winterizing:
To prepare your boat for shipping, you must inspect, clean, and winterize it for insurance purposes, just like any other vehicle shipment procedure. Be sure to remove any loose parts or items from the ship, as well.

Winterizing doesn't necessarily mean preparing the boat for cold weather, it means making the boat safe for storage. International shipments can be at sea for a very long time, so winterization is key to keeping your boat safe. Here's a quick list of things to do to winterize your boat:
  • Fill the fuel to just under full
  • Add gas stabilizer to prevent degradation and corrosion
  • Close the fuel valves
  • Disconnect engine wires after coating the spark plugs
  • Change the engine oil
  • Remove the battery
  • Clean the exterior
  • Cover/shrink wrap the boat
Find a shipper
After you are certain you want to move your boat to another county, it is time to contact an international shipping company. You need to be diligent in finding movers who can move boats internationally. Be sure that the shipper is registered by the FMC or FIDI because international shipping can only police itself. Compare a few quotes and the services of different shipping companies to choose which option is best for you.

Different methods for shipping boats overseas

To make an informed decision when shopping for a boat shipper, you need to understand what methods are available for boats shipped overseas.

  • Roll-on roll-off: This method uses a trailer or cradle to simply roll the boat onto a ship. It is then secured and shipped to the destination. This is a common method for smaller boats.
  • Lift-on Lift off: This method is very similar to RORO but instead a crane lifts the boat either directly from the water or from a terminal onto a cradle in the deck of the shipping vessel. This may be done if a trailer is unavailable.
  • Container: This is usually the cheapest method for shipping a boat overseas. However, the 40-foot by 8-foot by 8-foot standard containers may not fit your boat if it is large. Remove any antennae before shipping your boat to avoid charges for a larger container. An antenna can add an extra foot or two to the boat's height.
  • Flat Rack: This option is for bigger boats that need to be shipped in their own custom cradles. The flat rack is an open trailer that can be loaded on the shipping vessel. This can be expensive, and you will be charged based on the size of your boat.
  • Submersion: Your boat is in the water and guided to a transport ship that is partially submerged. Once your boat is in place, the ship comes out of the water, scooping up your boat for transport.

Additional things to remember

  • No matter what shipping method you choose, you will be charged more if your boat is heavy or large. It pays to remove anything you can from the boat, including the bridge on bigger boats.
  • Be sure to inquire about the different insurance options available with your shipper. Your regular boat insurance will probably not cover the shipping process and there is no automatic insurance for international shipping.
  • Be sure to document the condition of your boat before and after shipping for insurance reasons. This may include a detailed description of each component's condition and accompanying photographs. 
  • Remember to inspect your boat thoroughly when picking it up. You have a limited time to file a damage claim if there is any damage and international movers can be hard to track down.

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on August 19, 2014 - Moving Expert
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