Shipping a Personally Owned Vehicle Overseas

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Things to Consider When Shipping a Vehicle Overseas

  • Only one (1) vehicle may be shipped at government expense.
  • Insurance rates can be very high, double to triple your current rate ($2,000-$3,000 per year)
  • Small parking spaces and narrow roads are the norm.
  • Cars will get dinged up and minor accidents are not uncommon
  • Private garages are meant for small cars (sedan-size or larger cars may not fit)
  • Fuel economy: gas is expensive without fuel coupons. You won’t be able to use coupons when traveling outside of Italy or if your vehicle fails inspection.
  • For those with more than one (1) vehicle: you only receive fuel coupons for gas or diesel, NOT both. Whichever vehicle is listed as your “primary vehicle” will be the one you receive gas coupons for.
  • Vehicle maintenance on the economy is much more costly and time consuming than in the states. The auto care center on post only provides basic tune up services.
  • Blending in: car colors in Europe are very neutral (black, silver, white, navy blue). Europeans do not normally drive mini-vans, SUV’s, or pickup trucks. Most American brand cars besides Ford make it easy to identify you as an American.

To ship or not to ship? I would highly recommend shipping at least one vehicle over with you rather than holding off to buy a vehicle once you are in Italy. The USED car selection is very small, old, ill maintained, and over-priced. Finding a used AUTOMATIC car is even more difficult when manuals are the norm. Buying a NEW car in Italy is a big investment with even bigger insurance rates, damage is bound to happen, and the value instantly depreciates. I would suggest sending at least one reliable car from the states. If you find something better when you arrive, there are always tons of eager buyers looking for a used car here!

Is my vehicle too big? Whether or not to bring a truck, van, or SUV over is quite debatable. European roads were built for small cars, although some with larger vehicles argue that they have never had any problem getting around. As far as ease of driving on narrow roads, weaving in and out traffic, finding parking, and gas prices it makes the most sense to leave big vehicles in the states.

Should I ship a second vehicle? Some people decide to pay out of their own pocket to ship a second vehicle over. It is possible to get by with one vehicle, but having a second vehicle could be advantageous for those with children or having a back up in case one vehicle fails. Also finding a second reliable vehicle in Italy can be difficult. Keep in mind you will have to pay road tax on the second vehicle and gas coupons are based off of your primary vehicle. You cannot purchase both gas and diesel fuel coupons, only fuel coupons for your primary vehicle. Choosing to live within public bus route areas, close to base, and near grocery stores, etc. could help eliminate the need for a second vehicle.

Do I need all weather tires or snow chains? During the winter months it is a requirement on the autostrada and some other countries to have either all weather tires installed or snow chains in the trunk of the car. They do have random check points and you can be fined for not having them. In some other European countries you might need to have a certain type of all weather tire or snow chains. It may be best to have both all weather tires and snow chains to make sure you are following regulations in each country. All weather tires can take 6 weeks or more to be ordered. If you do not already have all weather tires before coming over to Italy, I would suggest purchasing some before you get here (especially if you are arriving in the fall/winter).

Should I have repairs done on my car before I arrive in Italy or after? Any work that needs to be done on your car should be done before you send it to Italy, especially if it is needed to pass inspection. Mechanics are expensive in Italy. Parts have to be ordered from the states, adding to the cost and time it takes to have your vehicle repaired. It could take a month or more to have your vehicle repaired in Italy.


Steps to Shipping Your POV

  1. Schedule an appointment for drop off at your nearest vehicle processing center
  2. Gather all of the required documentation for vehicle turn in.
  3. Prepare your vehicle for shipping/storage
  4. Turn in your vehicle at the VPC.


Vehicle Drop Off Day

  • Fill out shipping paperwork with a shipping specialist. You will be given an expected arrival date.
  • Wait in line for inspection: they will note any pre-existing damage to your vehicle, have you review the list, and sign it if you agree.
  • You will not be allowed to ship your vehicle if do not bring the required documents or your POV does not meet shipping standards.
  • Depending on the number of people preparing to ship their vehicles the entire process can take a few hours or it can be a lengthy process. Avoid scheduling a flight the same day you plan to drop-off your vehicle.
  • Automobile Insurance must be current and valid at least through the expected arrival date of the vehicle in Italy.
  • Save the receipts involved with driving your car to the shipping location and any other related expenses for reimbursement.

 

Steps After Shipping

  1. Find an insurance carrier to insure your vehicle in Italy (USAA and  GEICO are the most common).
  2. Take the driver’s orientation and pass the test for a SETAF license
  3. Register your vehicle in Italy
  4. When your car has arrived overseas, the local vehicle processing office will contact you to pick up your vehicle at the local vehicle processing center.
  5. Pass a vehicle inspection
  6. Turn in your inspection form to vehicle registration and obtain your gas card
  7. Turn in your gas card to customer service at the PX  in order to purchase fuel coupons

 

Vehicle Pick Up

  1. Receive a notification via e-mail from the local VPC that your vehicle has arrived and is ready for pick up.
  2. Schedule an appointment (if necessary) to pick up your vehicle. (The on post bus provides transportation from Caserma Ederle to the VPC several times throughout the day)
  3. Bring the required documents to the VPC
    • In Italy you will need a SETAF Driver’s License in order to pick up your vehicle and drive in Italy.
    • Vehicle Registration and Insurance. You must have vehicle insurance and vehicle registration before it will be released to you. You will first need to visit the registration office to fill out a registration form and receive your new license plate number. Immediately call your Insurance company and tell them the new Italian license plate number. If you have USAA, they will overnight mail your insurance card for sticking to the the windshield. You will pick up the insurance card at another facility and then return to the registration office to complete the registration process.
      • If you have Geico car insurance you should be bale to pick up the insurance card from their office that very same day and then return to the registration office.
  4. Pick up your vehicle at the VPC
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