Paycheck Chronicles

Take A Car Overseas: Pros and Cons


Every year, thousands of US military families move to locations Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS).  In most cases, the OCONUS orders authorize the shipping of a privately owned vehicle (POV) to the OCONUS location.  Should you ship a car oversea, or not?  What factors do you need to consider when making your decision.

For the record, my family have shipped cars OCONUS three times, once from the mainland to Hawaii, once from Hawaii to Australia, and once from DC to Italy.  We've had pretty good experiences, but I'm still not 100% sure that they were the right choices.  It's so complicated, and there is no single right answer.  For starters, you need to know the rules.  We've got an excellent run-down here at, Shipping A Car Overseas.


Shipping a car overseas allows means that you don't have to sell a car before you leave and purchase a vehicle when you arrive.

 If you are purchasing a vehicle before leaving, you will find a much better selection while still in the US.

It is nice to have a car you know well when you are navigating new and possibly challenging driving situations.

The military pays for it, not you.


Vehicles with US specifications may require modification to conform to local regulations.  These modifications can be cheap and easy, or super-expensive.

Shipping times can be lengthy, meaning that you'll have to either ship your car early or go without a vehicle at your destination.

Vehicles can be damaged during transit.

Larger American cars can be tricky in areas with small roads, and parking spots tend to be smaller OCONUS.

Some lenders will not permit you to take vehicles out of the US, so you would either have to refinance with another lender or pay off the car loan.

Warranties very rarely cover work done overseas, and some warranties become completely invalid once the vehicle leaves the US.

Higher insurance costs may mean that you would prefer to have a less expensive car overseas.

High fuel costs may mean that would prefer to have a less expensive car overseas.

Parts can be difficult to obtain if your vehicle is not sold locally.  Depending on circumstances, locally sourced tires may not be approved for return to the US.

Some vehicles are clearly American, which can be a security issue.

I am sure that there are 100 things I have failed to mention, so share your thoughts in the comments.  Together, we can help other military families make fully informed decisions about taking cars overseas.






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