Shipping your vehicle to Central America, Latin America, the Caribbean, or Puerto Rico? Tical Shipping can handle it. We ship all types of vehicles, including luxury and collectible autos, motorhomes, and boats, from the Port of Miami and other U.S. ports to all destinations in the Western Hemisphere as well as worldwide. We can ship one car or a hundred cars easily and efficiently at the best rates with hands-on personal service.

The Experience to Get Your Auto To Its Destination Safely

Many people drive into Central America from the States as part of a road adventure or when relocating. Except for a 30-mile gap between Colombia and Panama, the entire network of roads in Central and Latin America are interconnected. Known as the Darien Gap, this 30-mile chasm is a dangerous stretch filled with unsavory types. Travelers are advised to avoid it and to take a plane or boat from Panama City to Colombia instead of crossing overland. 

Vehicles need to be transported by boat. The cheapest way is for you or a staff person to drive your car onto a container ship (RORO), but your car will not be in a container and you will need to hand over the keys. You will also need to remove everything of value from your vehicle. RORO is the best ocean freight option for vehicles that are taller than 2.9 yards, due to height limitations of a container. If you are concerned about security, a hi-cube container is the size of a 40-foot container with a higher roof. RORO is the cheapest option, but it is not the best way to protect your vehicle from exposure to the elements.

Container shipping costs are based on shipping two vehicles per container. If you have only one vehicle, the costs will be higher unless your shipment can be consolidated with another vehicle. Happily, this is something Tical Shipping manages all the time. It is also important to select the correct shipping line, as some are far more responsive and cost-effective than others. If you are trying to ship your vehicle yourself, RORO (roll on roll off) is usually less bureaucratic and less costly.

Working with Tical Shipping is much easier than shipping yourself and surprisingly will have minimal costs. Most important, you avoid the headaches that go along with auto shipping:

Headache #1: The Wrong Auto Shipping Schedule

Adventurous types frequently try to save money by planning their own shipping. Because they are inexperienced, they can wind up with significant delays… for example, their car may be delayed 5 weeks or longer. It is important to know what shipping routes are available and when they are available. Depending on seasonal demand, it may be nearly impossible to find a shipping company to take your auto from your origin point to your destination. On the other hand, if you know the business, you can get a vehicle loaded and shipped on a return trip, when most containers are empty, at a fraction of the regular cost. Most shipping lines have their shipping timetables online, but this is no guarantee of arrival times. There are many factors that require ongoing involvement in the industry to be aware of. For example, a shipping line may suddenly face port strikes, rendering it useless to the time-sensitive shipper. As an experienced Latin American freight forwarder, Tical Shipping is on top of these factors.

  • Some ports are easier and cheaper to ship to than others
  • Some ports are safer than others
  • Some shipping lines go between a limited number of ports, while others stop at many distant ports
  • Some ports are higher fees and more red tape than others
  • Quality and reliability vary widely among shipping lines
  • If budget is your main priority, prepare to be flexible about timing

Headache #2: Failing To Secure The Auto Properly In The Container

Your auto has to be securely lashed in the container. This process involves nailing wooden blocks behind the wheels and tying the vehicle down with ropes. Accessories, such as roof racks, should be properly strapped to the container walls. If your vehicle is not securely lashed, it will not survive tossing about in a storm unscathed. It is extremely important that reliable people do the lashing and that your vehicle is never left unattended until the container is sealed. This prevents someone from hiding contraband in your vehicle, which could lead to tremendous trouble at your port of destination. You as the shipper are responsible for everything shipped in your container. If contraband is found, you will be blamed.

Headache #3: Shipping To The Wrong Port

Some ports are nightmares where others are relatively trouble-free. It is important to know which is which before you ship your vehicle. Buenos Aries (Argentina), Montevideo (Uruguay), and Ecuador are all considered good ports. Customs clearance has a logical procedure and is handled relatively smoothly if you have the correct documentation. Shipping to Brazil, on the other hand, can be a costly and lengthy procedure without the right connections. Ports are greatly affected by political and economic instability in their countries. This can change almost as quickly as the weather. Some ports charge “facilitation fees,” which is another term for bribes. Overall, we avoid these ports.

Headache #4: Having The Wrong Documentation

Your vehicle is not going to clear customs without the right documentation. The most important paperwork is your bill of lading, but you need everything that is required. Different ports have different requirements, which makes the issue more complex. At minimum, you will need:

  • Bill of Lading issued by the shipping line when your container or vehicle is loaded on board; this provides proof of ownership
  • Delivery Order issued by the shipping line after arrival in the destination port
  • Car documents such as registration and insurance papers
  • Valid driver’s license, passport, and visa

You may not need to work with a customs broker, but you run the risk of paying the price of ignorance. A customs broker will usually save you a lot of time and stress as well as over-the-top charges. A customs broker will help you clear customs quickly. Some ports require that you work with a customs broker.

If you work with a freight forwarder (such as Tical Shipping), the freight forwarder will have a network of customs broker-partners. This is one more advantage of selecting a freight forwarder to ship your vehicle vs. going it alone.