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How to Ship a Boat Overseas

Posted on August 21, 2014, 12:13 PM, by Ana Ferrer under International Moving Services

Moving overseas doesn't have to keep you away from your boat. Shipping a boat internationally is possible, but there are different options that you'll need to explore. Read on for more information on shipping to a new country  to enjoy your life on the high seas after your international move.  

Different shipping methods for boat shipping

Just as when shipping a car or another vehicle overseas, there are different options to explore when shipping your boat overseas. The methods are all similar to shipping a car: roll-on/roll-off shipping, container shipping, flat rack shipping and submersion. 

  • Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) shipping: Your boat will stay on a trailer, either your own or the carrier's for the entire trip. RO/RO shipping is one of the most common ways to ship a boat internationally. It's best to reduce the overall height and volume of your boat when shipping, so you remember to remove radar towers, antennas and to lower booms. This will help reduce the cost of shipping since many companies will measure the overall height of the vessel including the trailer. 
  • Enclosed trailer shipping: Most large shipping vessels carry enclosed containers. If your boat fits the standard container dimensions (40' long, 7'10" tall, 7'8" wide) then this option may best suit you. Containerized services can be less expensive than RO/RO services but the height measurement includes any trailer height as well. 
  • Flat rack shipping: This method is reserved for oversized boats. The boat is shipped in its own custom cradle, strapped to the flat rack and secured to the vessel. It's recommended that any bulky items be removed from the boat to reduce the cost of your freight. 
  • Submersion: Your boat is loaded and unloaded directly from the water. 

Before shipping anything overseas, you must remember to prepare any legal documentation or customs documents ahead of time. If you're unsure of where to look for customs information, you should begin by visiting embassy or consulate websites for the country to which you're shipping your boat. Doing this in advance will save you time and stress later. 

Prepare the boat

It is strongly recommended that you winterize your boat before shipping overseas. Winterizing your boat prior to shipment will help protect the engines and the interior from damage. You could shrink wrap your boat to keep it clean and safe and provide a small level of security while your boat is in transit. Consider shipping your electronic boating items separately to prevent them from being "lost" during transit. 

How to ship the boat

If you're buying your boat internationally, you should use the services of a freight forwarder or licensed NVOCC (non-vessel operations common carrier). They will reserve space for your boat aboard a ship, book transit, do all the necessary paperwork and charge you a fee for the service. Both freight forwarders and NVOCCs are governed by the Federal Maritime Commission. 

To find a company to ship your boat, start with one that is registered with the Federal Maritime Commission. Note their history and longevity--if they've been around for a longer time period, chances are they are financially strong.

Another option is to work with a yacht broker. A yacht broker's main function is to bring buyer and seller together. The buyer is the shipper of the goods, the boat owner and the seller is the shipping company or carrier in this case. The broker will take inquiries from buyers and pass them onto carriers to find the most affordable or convenient option for the buyer. The boat owner will pay a commission for the service along with the shipping fee. 

Both a broker and forwarder will create and process the proper paperwork to ship the boat. A reputable freight forwarder and yacht broker will ensure that their client has enough insurance coverage. The freight forwarder should have similar cargo insurance coverage to a motor carrier which should cover your investment in the event of a problem. Remember that your yacht insurance policy won't cover the vessel when it's shipped. 

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