Overland Vehicle Shipping

Our import service:

Because we understand that travellers want to begin their trip without delay,  we will handle all import formalities on your behalf including customs inspections and unloading of vehicles from containers or un-crating of motorcycles, ready for you to drive away.

We recommend that travelers obtain a Carnet De passages en Douane document for their vehicle arriving by sea or air freight. You can plan the arrival or your vehicle before your own arrival and if we have your Carnet document by courier, you will be able to come directly from the airport to collect your vehicle from our warehouse.

No waiting around in a hotel room or waiting around at a container depot for your vehicle to become available.
Without a Carnet document, customs will require a deposit to cover duties / taxes as a temporary import, which is refundable when your vehicle exits South Africa.

Be aware that this refund can take up to 3 months to process. For vehicles this deposit is between 50% and 80% of the vehicle value and for motorcycles this deposit is between 22% and 25% of the value. For those arriving in South Africa via a land border, please insist on a temporary import permit at the border.

Our export service:

If you are ending your African overland journey in Cape Town and need your vehicle or motor cycle shipped back to Europe, the USA, South America, Australia or elsewhere, Econo Trans will offer you a most competitive and speedy solution.

For vehicles shipping per container, we will place the container on the ground in our depot, and although the loading and customs inspection procedure can take as quick as one hour, there will be no rush as the container will be available for a full day. Should you need to remove roof racks, tents etc, we have a forklift and labour available to assist at no extra charge.

Motorcycles are crated by our own carpenters in our warehouse and as shipping charges are based on the size of the crate, we will always aim to make your crate as small as possible.


We therefore recommend removing your screen, mirrors and pannier boxes, which are then placed next to the motor cycle on the base of the crate. Our export service includes all customs formalities and inspections. Fuel must be drained and batteries disconnected ( with terminals taped ) to render the vehicle non hazardous, thereby reducing shipping charges. We offer a weekly worldwide shared and and own-use container departure service from Cape Town. These containers are normally packed on Thursdays or Fridays and transit times to London Gateway, Rotterdam and Hamburg are only 19 to 23 days, from where trans-shipment into other European destinations are then arranged.  Shipments to South America, Australia and USA take +- 35-45 days.

We look forward to adding your name to our many happy African over landing customers.


How can you ship my vehicle or motor cycle?

Vehicles are typically shipped in an own-use container and motor cycles are crated for shipment per shared container.

Who will secure my vehicle into the container?

Our quotation will include this service.

Will Econo Trans crate my motor cycle?

Yes, this will be done in our warehouse by our own carpenters, using pre-treated timber. We offer this as a professional service and this will automatically be inclued in our quotation.

Can I pack goods inside my vehicle or motor cycle crate?

Yes, as long as a list of the items is supplied to us.

Will customs inspect my vehicle or motor cycle for export?

Yes, but only for Carnet shipments and temporary exports, and we will make all these arrangements for you and return your stamped Carnet or temporary export clearance. Customs will not inspect vehicles cleared for permanent export, but for customs clearance you will need to obtain a police clearance certificate. An export permit is also required but we will obtain this on your behalf.

Can I share a container with a fellow overland traveller?

Yes, this is often done. We can fit 2 motor vehicles into a 40 foot container. For motor cycles we can fit 5 or 6 into a 20 foot container and 11 or 12 into a 40 foot container depending on the sizes.

Must I drain my fuel and disconnect by battery?

This is not compulsory but always recommended to render the vehicle non-hazardous for shipping. If the vehicle is classed as hazardous, the shipping fees are higher and shipping lines often take days to approve bookings.

Can I crate my own motor cycle?

Yes, but this is not recommended, and will generally not save you anything.

How can I pay for my shipping?

Payment can be in cash (Rands, US Dollars or Euros), by credit card although this attracts a 3%-5% processing fee, or by bank transfer.

Can my motor cycle be shipped via air freight?

Yes, but although shipment will only take a few days, it will be much more costly than sea freight.

Can you store my vehicle or motor cycle?

Yes, please check with us for current storage rates.

What documents will you need from me for an export shipment?

For vehicles with a Carnet, we will need the original Carnet and a copy of your passport. For temporary exports of South African registered vehciles we will need your original registration document and a copy of your passport. These documents will be returned to you after customs inspection and clearance. For permanent exports of South African registered vehicles we will need a copy of your registration document, a copy of your passport and your police clearance certificate.

What documents will you need from me for an import shipment?

For vehicles with a Carnet document we will need the original to effect customs clearance and inspection, as well as a copy of your passport. We will also ask that you email these to us ahead of time. If your vehicle will arrive in Cape Town before you, please courier your carnet to us so that we can have your vehicle cleared and ready for you when you arrive.
For temporary imports of vehicles arriving by air or sea freight without a Carnet document we will need a copy of the vehicle registration document, a copy of your passport and 3 valuations. These can be formal dealer valuations or printed off internet vehicle sites. The highest of the valuations will be used by customs to calculate a deposit that will be payable to cover duties and taxes, which is refundable when the vehicle exits South Africa. This refund can take up to 3 months to process.

What will your import clearing or export shipping quotes include?

For imports our quote will inclde ALL services needed from the time that the vessel with your shipment arrives in port, until you can drive away. For exports our quote will inlude all required services from our depot, until your container or crate arrives at the destination port or container freight depot.

Request a Free, No Obligation Quote