Shipping an RV Overseas

Shipping an RV from the US to Spain

Author: Katrina Dill, Owner of Premium Logistics North America, LLC
Date: November 24, 2014

Traveling the world from the comfort of your home on wheels is the adventure of a lifetime. But what happens when you need to ship the RV back across the ocean while you and your family enjoy the comfort and speed offered by air travel? The process to ship an RV from the US to somewhere like Spain can be relatively simple, as long as you are prepared and work with a logistics provider that specializes in shipping this type of cargo, like my company, Premium Logistics North America, LLC.
Today I am going to take the time to outline the process and give some helpful hints. This is based on my experience in shipping many RV's around the world.

Step One: Determine what is important to you.

Ask yourself and your family what is more important to you; money, time or convenience. Of course, all three are important, but I am sure at least one of them is vital. Be sure that your logistics provider (aka forwarder) knows and understands what your priorities are. If money is important you will want to be flexible on where you drop off your RV and pick it up, as well as the transit time. This flexibility allows the forwarder to select from a variety of steamship lines to shop the most competitive rate. Some popular east coast ports to ship from are Brunswick, Baltimore, Newark and Halifax. If time is important to you then you need to do some homework on sailing schedules and speak with your forwarder. They can help you pick a port combination that minimizes the transit time by avoiding trans-shipments and long routes. If convenience is the most important, be prepared to pay a little extra for it. Premium Logistics North America, LLC will complete documents on your behalf, use their relationships with terminal handlers and steamship lines to arrange the easiest possible drop off and pick up and be just a phone call or email away to answer your questions. Once you have your priorities figured out you can work with a forwarder like Premium Logistics North America, LLC to plan the best shipping option to meet your needs.

Pick your ports
Prepare the RV
Complete documentation
Forwarder will book shipment & provide drop off instructions
US Census Bureau requires AES filing
US Customs requires Export Validation
Drop off the RV
Origin Be prepared for transit to take Four to Ten Weeks
Shipping RV Arrives and is discharged from vessel
Customs Clearance Required
Possible VAT or Duty Fees
Terminal & Customs Release
Pick up your RV

Step Two: Planning the Logistics

For every international shipment there is an origin, a destination and a shipping method. RV shipping can really be as simple as three steps. Using a forwarder like Premium Logistics North America will ensure that all of the regulations are followed, documentation is handled properly and your RV ships on time to the right destination. The following outlines the basic steps that should be followed at each of these three steps. Premium Logistics North America provides assistance for all steps highlighted below.

Step Three: Pricing

Pricing is an important factor for all adventurers. Premium Logistics North America has negotiated discounted rates with steamship lines for destinations all around the world. There are several fees that shippers should be aware of. The following outlines a shipment of an RV from Baltimore, MD to Barcelona Spain. The charges listed are subject to change and are provided as a guideline for the fees typically charged by Premium Logistics North America. You can request a quote for your shipment at
Origin Fees AES filing: The US Census requires that certain data about shipments be filed with them electronically. Premium Logistics North America Fee as of November 2014 $20.00 Export Documentation& Validation: US Customs has particular documentation requirements, some ports require originals and that they be presented in person. Premium Logistics North America Fee as of November 2014 $145.00 Booking & Bill of Lading Issuance: Booking cargo with the steamship line under a competitive contract price, preparation and issuance of a Bill of Lading is required for all international shipments. Premium Logistics North America Fee as of November 2014 $70.00
Shipping Fees Ocean Freight, inclusive of Fuel Surcharge. This is the cost for the transportation of your RV over the ocean. Some forwarders itemize the fuel surcharge. Premium Logistics North America includes the fuel surcharge in the fee. An average fee to transport a 24 foot caravan RV from Baltimore, MD to Barcelona, Spain would be approximately $2,890.
Terminal Handling. The ports have areas managed by terminal operators. These are the companies responsible for getting your RV from the port onto the ship. Depending on the size of your RV or if it is a carvan and therefore a towable unit these fees will range from $100 to a few hundred dollars.
Additional Marine Insurance. Protecting the value of RV is the primary benefit and value of insurance. It is possible to send your RV without any insurance, but in the event of damage of loss, you would bear the entire financial cost. To prevent that from happening, there are two types of coverage available, All-Risk and Total-Loss-Only.
All-Risk insurance provides full coverage and is the broadest form of shipping insurance. It covers any physical loss/damage from any external cause other than any listed exclusions not covered. If you are concerned about the contents, a rider may be added to cover them. Keep in mind that minor scratches, nicks or dents will not be covered. Total-Loss-Only provides coverage only in the event of total loss, such as a container going over board or an agent declares a total loss. Thus, it does not provide coverage any claims for damage.
Premium Logistics North America offers additional marine insurance based on the value you wish to insure. This could range from $4 per $1,000 of coverage up to $7 per $1,000 of coverage.
Destination Fees Most companies do NOT include these in your quote unless you specifically ask. They will be the terminal handling at destination and any agent fees to clear your RV once it arrives in its destination country. The fees are typically similar to those charged at origin.

Step Four: Prepare your RV for shipment

These basic steps cover almost everything you need to do to prepare your RV for international shipment in a safe and compliant manner. Special items and exceptions could apply.

    1. Ensure motorhome is clean of all debris and dirt inside and out
    2. It is allowable to keep articles in a motorhome that would normally be kept there. It may not be used as a packing container. It is your responsibility to secure items in the RV to prevent them from moving during transportation
    3. Remove all loose and personal items from the RV to prevent damage
    4. Remove mirrors and pictures from the walls
    5. Close and latch all the doors and windows
    6. Ensure exterior mirrors are pulled in towards the motorhome and not left extended out in normal position
    7. All antennas, as well as all propane and other gas bottles should be removed
    8. No hazardous materials may be left in your RV during transport including gas or oil tanks, ammunition of any kind, or any other materials, which may be considered hazardous
    9. Disconnect any non-essential electronic devices
    10. Ensure that tires and wheels are in good condition
    11. Check the tow bar and hitch are properly installed, latched, and in good shape
    12. Check that the signal lights are working properly (turn signals, breaks, headlights, and indicator lights )
    13. Check fluid levels, including transmission, power steering, brake fluid, coolant, and also check for leaks
    14. Prepare a full set of keys and a list of special instructions if applicable that can be reference in the odd case that it is necessary
    15. Ensure there is no more than tank of gas
    16. Ensure the vehicle is in working and running condition, unless otherwise stated to Premium Logistics North America, LLC
**Special NOTE for campers All of the above apply except item 14 & 15 **Special NOTE for motorhomes that are not in running condition RV must have working steering mechanisms and brakes as a condition to be accepted as a towable unit. Shipper must provide an adequate description of vehicle running status at time of quote requests, as additional charges do apply for non-running vehicles.

We wish you much luck and hope you consider contacting us, Premium Logistics North America to assist you further with your RV or Caravan shipment. Premium Logistics North America, LLC 5520 Research Park Drive Suite 100 Baltimore,MD 21228 410-202-2903 or 800-680-7410