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Military Vehicle Shipping: What You Need to Know

Resources > Military Vehicle Shipping: What You Need to Know
If your family is about to embark on an overseas posting, then Military Vehicle Shipping will be on your checklist at some point.
Published: March 10, 2020
Last Modified: August 28, 2023
Author: Ask Truckload

If your family is about to embark on an overseas posting, then Military Vehicle Shipping will be on your checklist at some point. It takes a little planning, but it is possible to take your vehicle with you for the ride. In fact, the government will pay for the shipping and handling of one vehicle per family to your end destination in most circumstances. 

If you need military vehicle shipping, there are important details to keep in mind. First, if you received a PCS (Permanent Change of Service) order, the military will cover the costs to ship your POV (Privately Owned Vehicle). You'll also need to complete form DD Form 788 and ensure that your vehicle has less than 1/4 of a tank of fuel.

Should I Ship My Car Overseas?

Arranging to ship your car can be an important part of the process when arranging your family's move. Having that ability to drive in your new location can make all the difference to how easily you settle in. And the first step is finding United States shipping services to help you make that transition. There are lots of factors to think about at a time like this, and you need to ensure that you work with a car transport service that has a track record of working on car shipping for military services. 

Working towards getting your vehicle shipped to a military base is quite a different process which needs to be handled carefully. Various host counties have their own standards, and there will be limitations on vehicles at your new duty station to abide by. Moving a Privately Owned Vehicle, or POV, to a new country is different in each case depending on the destination and their own rules and regulations. Usually you may ship one family-sized car, but anything oversized or recreational will not be allowed. 

What Paperwork Do I Need?

In order to do so you will need to obtain paperwork for your permanent change of station (PCS) orders, which are handled through Vehicle Processing Centres (VPCs). This is where Military Vehicle Shipping can get fairly complicated, so working with a specialist firm with great customer service to ship your vehicle will help a lot. 

Did You Receive a PCS?

Arranging the paperwork to move your Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) overseas is a complex exercise and you will need lots of information gathered together when filling all of it in and making sure everything is in order. Be sure to keep a good track of all the reminders and directions in one place. The main form you will need to complete is the DD Form 788 - Private Vehicle Shipping Document for Automobiles. There is also the DD Form 788-1 if you are intending to ship over a van, or the DD Form 788-2 for motorcycles. 

When preparing all your paperwork, you will need to have the following documentation in hand to refer to and these conditions will have to be met:

  • Have your valid driver's licence, your proof of ownership for the vehicle and a form of photo ID inhand 
  • Copy down your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) - this can usually be found in the ownership papers
  • Advance written approval from the vehicle leasing company if you do not own the car outright
  • If the vehicle is delivered by someone other than the service member (other than a spouse named on the PCS orders), then you will also need to provide a signed letter of authorization along with a certified copy of members power of attorney as well. 

Shipping a POV Internationally

shipping a POV internationally

In addition to all of the requirements relating to the documentation for shipping your vehicle overseas, there are also strict requirements involved in preparing the vehicle itself to be shipped. You will need to work through these procedures in order to make sure that your POV is accepted for shipping. 

  1. Make sure your vehicle contains less than one-fourth of a tank of fuel (either diesel or gasoline) 
  2. If your end destination is remote, then make sure you contact your VPC prior to shipping for additional arrangements
  3. When delivering to the VPC, you must have a full set of keys. You should also keep a complete set of duplicate keys to use when you pick up your vehicle at the other end 
  4. Make sure that the alarm and any other anti-theft devices are disconnected prior to turning in your POV - the owner's manual should show you how to do this 
  5. Your vehicle should be in safe, roadworthy and operable condition when you hand it in for processing
  6. Similarly, make sure that your vehicle is clean - the VPC will not accept private vehicles which are covered in dirt and mud and this includes the underside of the vehicle too
  7. Make a list in advance of any personal items that you wish to remain in the POV during shipping so that you can check they are still there upon arrival at your destination. 
  8. Empty all other pockets and storage compartments before submitting the vehicle for processing 
  9. Write down the make, model, year, color and serial number of your POV. Shipments to some countries require a motor number on company letterhead
  10. Note down the vehicle mileage at the time of processing 
  11. Give a destination address, telephone number and email where you be contacted overseas to get notified when your POV is ready for collection. 
  12. Make sure that your vehicle meets any emissions and safety standards required by your host nation - your sponsor and local transport office should be able to advise on this prior to deployment 
  13. Safeguard your cooling system from freezing temperatures during shipment or storage in terminal using a permanent-type antifreeze solution. If you are being stationed to an Arctic region, contact your transportation office to find out if any additional protection will be required
  14. Add in rust protection and undercoating prior to shipping to guard your POV against weather conditions in your host country which may accelerate vehicle deterioration

Your vehicle is now fully prepped and ready to be submitted for inspection. This is the first step in military car shipping door to door. 

Will the Military Ship my Car For Free?

will the military ship my car for free

In order to be able to ship your POV for free, you must meet the following conditions:

  1. Be an active duty serving member of the US military
  2. Be an authorized retiree
  3. Be a DoD civilian with the right orders 

Shipping a POV will only be paid for by the US military for those who have been given orders for a permanent change of station to or from overseas destinations, and for those in the naval service who have had the home port of their assigned vessel changed. You may only ship one POV for your own personal property that you own or lease - and if you lease it, you will need signed authorization from the leasing company to get it shipped. If you do want to ship an additional POV, you may be asked to pay import duties on that vehicle.

Car Shipping Military Discounts

Since the government will only cover the expenses to ship one POV, many transportation companies will offer military members discounts to ship additional vehicles. A broker, like R+L Global Logistics will search for companies that provide discounts. 

Contact your logistics company well in advance to arrange the vehicles you want to ship and negotiate a bulk discount.

Do you need help moving a 4-wheeler? Learn how to transport an ATV.

Need Help Shipping Your Vehicles?

If you need further help with getting your POV to your destination, there is lots of information out there for members of the armed forces. Especially useful is the checklist on which details exactly what you may ship with your vehicle and provides a handy checklist to ensure you follow the process with no problems. Working with a specialist to ensure your Military Vehicle Shipping process goes smoothly will give you peace of mind that your car transport is in hand and your privately owned vehicle will reach your destination without a hitch. We also handle specific requests and are experts at chemical shipping regulations.

Give us a call at (866) 353-7178 for a free freight shipping quote. We can help you today with all of your truckload shipping needs and we have trucking lanes all over the country, including freight movement in Southern California.

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