Are you the kind of person who can’t bear the idea of letting your car go? Maybe you finally found the vehicle of your dreams—the one you’ve always wanted to call your own. Maybe your car is a reliable workhorse you can always depend on. Or, maybe your vehicle is just a comfortable, familiar one that you’d hate to part with.
No matter the reasons, many people consider shipping their car when they move to and from Guam. If you find yourself in this position, we’ll show you everything you need to know. We’ll cover your options for shipping, how to prepare your car for its journey, what paperwork you need, how the process works from start to finish, and how to find the right shipping company to assist you.
We’ll start with the very first question you should ask yourself—before you dive into the process.
Should You Ship Your Car?
When you move all of your earthly possessions, you’ve got a golden opportunity to consider downsizing. By selling, giving away, or trashing the things you no longer need, you’ll lighten your load before the big move. That means fewer items to pack and fewer items to relocate, which can save you significantly on your relocation.
Sentimental attachments aside, your car is no different. Before you start the process of shipping your car, truck, or SUV, you’ll want to consider whether you should:
- Sell your vehicle in your current location and buy another car at your destination.
- Ship your car along with the rest of your household possessions. In our experience, it’s not always cost-effective to ship your car separately if you’re not already moving other possessions along with it. (One of our experts can explain this in more detail, so feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss!)
As you consider your options, think through factors such as:
- How many years do you have left on your car? If it’s coming to the end of its time with you, you might want to consider selling it, rather than shipping it to or from Guam.
- Island life can be tough on a car. Between the salt spray and the roads on Guam, you can expect more wear and tear on your vehicle than you’d see in the continental U.S. So if you’re considering a temporary relocation to Guam, you might want to leave your car in storage on the mainland, rather than ship it to Guam. Alternatively, if you’re leaving Guam, are you sure that your car still has enough life in it to justify shipping it to your new home?
- If you’ve got an unusual make or model, how easy will it be to get service on Guam—or at your destination? Within the continental U.S., you’ll have access to a hefty roster of mechanics. Although Guam has a number of dealerships and mechanics, your options can be a little more limited, especially if you’re driving an uncommon make or model. It’s worth checking this detail within your destination before you decide to ship your vehicle.
- Will you have to pay duties/taxes? If you bring a vehicle to Guam that’s less than 90 days old, you will be required to pay a 4% use tax on the vehicle. Alternatively, if you purchased your vehicle on Guam and you’re moving it to the mainland, you will also need to pay duties/taxes. (Even though Guam is a U.S. territory, it’s considered a foreign country when shipping personal effects or vehicles.) Make sure you price this out before making your final decision.
Finally, a note if you have a motorcycle you want to take with you from Guam: Your moving options will be a little different, as will the procedures for shipping your bike. We’ll run you through everything you need to know in this article: Leaving Guam? Here’s How to Ship Your Motorcycle Safely and Easily.
What to Expect When You Ship Your Vehicle to or from Guam
Once you decide that you do want to ship your car, truck, or SUV, it’s important to understand how the process works. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect. You’ll also be positioned to make a more informed decision when you choose a provider. (More on that in the next section!)
Drop-Off, Pickup & Delivery Options
Depending on the shipping company you use—and your location—you’ll have a few options for turning over your car and receiving it on the other end:
- Door-to-door service: Some providers will pick up your car at your home, make all the arrangements in between and drop it off at your destination (or as close as possible, depending on your locations). This option is often the most expensive. However, it’s also the most convenient—and perfect if you’re short on time.
- Door-to-port service to Guam: If you’re headed to Guam, this will be one of the options you’ll be offered. Your provider will pick up your vehicle from your home (or as close as possible), handle the shipping, then clear your vehicle through customs on Guam. Once your vehicle clears, you’ll arrange to pick up your vehicle from the port. As with door-to-door service, there’s an additional charge for pickup at your residence. That said, pick-up can certainly help relieve some of the stress around moving.
- Port-to-port service: If you’re more of a DIY kind of mover, you can choose port-to-port service. You’ll drop your car at the nearest port, where it will be put on a ship bound for your destination. Then, you’ll pick it up at the port on the other end. If you live near a port on both ends of your journey, this can be a fairly simple process. However, if not, this option will require either 1) driving time on your part or 2) hiring help to move your car to the port.
Once you decide which service is right for you, you’ll need to start preparing your car for shipping. Depending on whether you’re shipping your car to Guam or from Guam, there are a couple of different items you’ll need to check off. First, we’ll walk you through what you need to know when Guam is your destination.
Preparing Your Car to Ship to Guam
To get your car ready to head to Guam, you’ll need to take care of the following items:
- Clean everything out: Most shipping companies will require your car to be empty of all extraneous items before they take possession. Additionally, the shipping company will not accept responsibility for lost or stolen goods, so make sure everything is cleaned out before you turn your vehicle over. Don’t forget to double-check your trunk and your glove compartment!
- Wash your car: A clean car will make it easier to identify any scratches or dings caused by the shipping company.
- Take photographs: Once it’s clean, inspect your car and take photos from each angle, looking carefully for existing damage. That way, you’ll be able to easily recognize if your vehicle is damaged during shipping. Additionally, having these photos will make it much easier to work with an insurance company to repair any problems.
- Check that all glass is intact: If you have any chips or cracks in any of the car’s windows or windshields, they must be repaired before the shipping company will take possession of your vehicle.
- Lower antennas: Lower any antennas and remove any temporary ones you can detach.
- Turn off your car alarm: It will be a huge hassle if your car alarm is constantly going off during its journey across the Pacific. It will also drain your car’s battery. Do yourself (and the boat crew!) a favor by disconnecting it ahead of time. If you aren’t able to disconnect it, give detailed instructions to the shipper on how to turn it off, just in case.
- Lower your gas tank level: You’ll need to make sure your gas tank is no higher than a quarter of a tank when you turn it over.
- Remove any racks: Any non-permanent luggage, bike, or ski racks should be removed.
- Keep your keys: You’ll need to provide the shipping company with a copy of all of your keys, including any glove box or trunk keys. Your best bet is to keep the originals and turn over a set of copies.
There’s also some paperwork you’ll need to prepare and present during the process:
- Registration, Title, Current Insurance Card, and Photo ID: You’ll need to have these items handy—both when you ship your car and when you pick it up. Make sure you don’t pack them in your shipped belongings. Instead, keep everything with you.
- Financing: If your vehicle is being financed, you’ll need to obtain a letter of authorization from the lender that gives you permission to ship your vehicle to Guam. You’ll also hear this referred to as a “lienholder authorization.”
- Clearance on Guam: Once the vessel carrying your car arrives on Guam, you’ll be able to get what’s called a Temporary Permit A from the Guam Department of Motor Vehicles. This temporary operating permit allows you to operate your vehicle for five days while you complete the full registration process. You’ll need this document before the car can get clearance on Guam.
Finally, because Guam is a U.S. territory, there’s a list of paperwork you’ll need to assemble if you’re shipping your car to the mainland:
- Current Guam registration – Additionally, if the vehicle was previously registered on the U.S. mainland, proof of registration will be helpful. (It will also eliminate the need for item #4 below!) Note that U.S. registration cannot be used in place of the current Guam registration
- Title or release from the lienholder if the vehicle is financed.
- Bill of sale, if available.
- Letter of Certification/Compliance – This certification/compliance must be obtained from the manufacturer of the vehicle (not the local dealer). The letter certifies that your specific vehicle complies with or meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) emission standards.
- Photo of the EPA sticker, located on the underside of the hood.
- Photo of the DOT sticker, located on the door jamb of driver’s-side door.
- Vehicle Recall Letter – This letter must be obtained from the dealership or manufacturer, certifying there are no outstanding recalls on your vehicle.
- A clear copy of the picture page of your passport, as well as your completed outbound documents, which include all U.S. customs, EPA, and DOT forms.
You’ll want to start this process early, since all documents need to be completed and submitted two weeks before the vehicle will be turned in for shipping. (And if you have any questions about the paperwork and procedures, our experts can help!)
Inspection on Arrival
Once your car, truck, or SUV is prepped and on its way to your destination, your next step will be to wait until you’re notified of its arrival.
When your vehicle arrives, the shipping company will do another inspection to see if it was damaged during the shipment. You should inspect the car alongside the inspector and take good notes of any damage, comparing it to the photos you took prior to shipment. If there are any damages, insist on having the inspector sign your notes and have them print you a copy of the inspection report. Promptly contact the company and provide the evidence in order to get their insurance to cover the damages.
Picking Up Your Car
Finally, it’s time to once again take possession of your beloved vehicle. Remember to bring all your documentation to prove ownership: registration, title, insurance card, and photo ID. Make sure you also bring any local documentation, such as proof of insurance or your temporary permit from the Guam Department of Motor Vehicles. Exact documentation will vary depending on your final destination.
How to Find the Right Company to Ship Your Car
Now that you understand everything involved with shipping your car to or from Guam, you’re ready to start looking for the right company to assist you.
Start by getting estimates from three different shipping providers. This will give you a good lay of the land for the cost and the services available at your origin and destination.
As you talk to each of these providers, ask the following questions to get a broader sense of how they operate:
- How long will it take for my car to arrive at my destination?
- What kind of pick-up/drop-off options do you offer?
- Can you store my car if the pick-up or delivery dates do not work for me?
- Will you provide a full vehicle inspection?
- What level of insurance is provided? Is it primary or secondary insurance?
- Do you have any references?
- Are there any extra fees such as insurance and fuel surcharges?
Before you make a final decision, you might want to run a quick check with the Better Business Bureau. On the BBB website, you can review any complaints, as well as how the company resolved them.
Based on the quote, the services you’re looking for, and the answers you get to these questions, you’ll be ready to make a well-informed decision.
Shipping Your Car, Truck, or SUV Safely and Easily
There’s one final reason people get so attached to their cars: Having your own transportation means freedom. It offers you the ability to explore your new home at your own pace and on your own schedule. If you can’t imagine tooling around your future destination in anything other than your current car, truck, or SUV, then the decision to ship your vehicle will be an easy one for you. Plus, with this article in hand, you’ll know everything you need to ensure that your vehicle makes a smooth transition.
If you need some help shipping your car to or from Guam, we’d be happy to assist you! Just reach out to one of our experts. They’ll answer any questions you have. They can also give you the guidance you need to make sure your vehicle makes a safe, easy, and affordable move to your new home.
Tell us about your move!