International Car Shipping — Roll on Roll Off Versus Ocean Transport Container

Cargo sea port. Sea cargo cranes. Cars.

Are you shipping your car overseas from the United States? If you are, the first step is usually to decide if you want to use roll on roll off (RORO) service or an ocean transport container. Both options offer advantages along with a disadvantage or two, so it is important to consider both choices carefully to ensure your transportation needs are fully met. A third option, shipping by air freight is possible, but it is so costly that most car owners choose to ship using roll on roll off or container service. Here is a look at the first two auto shipping options to help you in making an informed decision.

What is Roll on Roll Off Service?

Roll on roll off service is one of the options you have when looking to arrange international car shipping. This type of service involves having your car loaded onto the transport carrier and unloaded once it arrives at your chosen destination.

Two options exist for getting your car onto the transport. First, you can drive your vehicle to the port terminal yourself, which allows you to minimize the cost of your shipping services. The second option involves hiring a domestic pickup service to deliver your car directly to the port terminal from which your car is departing. No matter which option you choose to deliver your car to the shipping carrier, you will need to arrange for an international pickup service to get your vehicle and deliver it to its final destination.

Once your car arrives at the departure terminal, it is stored outside unless the car carrier is ready, at which time the car is driven directly into the carrier’s hull. The car is secured using specialized braces to assist in keeping it safe during the transport.

How Does Car Shipping with an Ocean Transport Container Work?

If you choose container transport for international car shipping, you have the same two options to get your vehicle there as you do with RORO service. You can simply drive your vehicle to the shipping company’s warehouse if you are close enough or you can hire a domestic pickup service to do so for you. The first option involves your time, while the second one costs you money.

When you choose to ship your car internationally from the United States, you can select an individual transport container or one that holds multiple vehicles. Choosing the multi-vehicle ocean container gives you access to shared costs, effectively reducing the price you’ll pay. Every car owner using the container shares in the overall cost of the ocean transport, port fees, and customs clearance expenses. Depending on the size of the vehicles, the container might hold three to four cars. With a single-use container, you incur all of the cost yourself.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Choosing Roll on Roll Off Services

A few advantages and disadvantages are attached to your selection of RORO car shipping services, including:


  • Less expensive than ocean transport container
  • Car ships as soon as the transport carrier is full


  • No vehicle inspection report is taken
  • Full insurance coverage is recommended
  • Limited number of routes
  • Not available in small international countries

Benefits and Disadvantages of Choosing Ocean Transport Container

A few advantages and disadvantages are attached to your selection of ocean container services for auto transport, including:


  • Faster shipping if you select individual container
  • Enhanced level of safety since container is sealed


  • More expensive than RORO
  • Not available at some destinations
  • Slower transport if you choose multi-vehicle transport

If you need to ship your car internationally from the United States, you should consider all of your options to ensure you are comfortable with your final selection. Some options are more expensive than other ones, but all of these choices will get your car to its intended destination.