Guide to shipping your vehicule from Europe to South America

After 39 days without her finally we can meet.

To send the van to another continent is not simple, and of course it is not cheap.

The first thing you have to do is to find a company that provides the service, and despite the fact that hundreds of vehicles are sent by vessel from one continent to another in a daily basis, it is not an easy task.

The second task is to be lucky and find a serious company, or at less one that seem to be professional.
Our first thoughts was to ship the van in a container, because despite being more expensive, it seem much safer as no one is going to have access to it, and therefore you don`t have to worry about personal belongings being stolen.

After sending quite a few emails to different companies we only got a reply from 2 of them. For some reason one of them only replied to the first email.

The other company was Seabrigde which do not offer a container service. They operate with Grimaldi shipping Company and they are specialized on shipping vehicles using RO-RO.

RORO is an acronym of the English term Roll On-Roll off, which is used to define the vessels that carry wheeled cargo, such as trucks, cars…

The process is quite simple, you choose the destination and Seabrigde gives you budget. The price depends on two things; the port of destination and the size of the vehicle.

For instance, to send it to North America will be cheaper than to send it to South America, and as SeaBridge told us the chances of someone to break into your car while the car is on the vessel are also lower.
The price to pay will be determined by the size of your vehicle; over 18 cubic meters or if it is higher than 2,10 meters the price will be bigger. The difference is about 800 euros.

The great disadvantage of this kind of transport is that the shipping company has the key of the vehicle throughout the journey; they drive the van in and out of the vessel, having free access to the inside. Grimaldi and SeaBridge are NOT responsible of any damage whatsoever that may occur to the vehicle along the trip.

Once the reservation is made Seabrigde send you the documents with all the necessary information for both; delivery and collection of the vehicle. They also attached some additional information with hotels and campsites for you to stay while waiting for the vehicle, insurance companies to arrange your car insurance and a description of how you should prepare the van for the trip; both the inside and the outside.

All documents are in English, except the instructions to board the van If you decide to do it from the port of Hamburg, which come in German. We do not know why. If someone needs them translated in Spanish we can send them over 😉
The other port where you can ship the campervan from is Antwerp (Belgium). The price is the same in one port or the other.

The reservation can be canceled before the vessel departs with no penalty fee.

To collect the vehicle in Montevideo (Uruguay) Seabridge recommend you to recruitment a port agent, to whom you have to pay about $150 for his services, which mean he will handle all the paperwork for you. Although you do not speak the language (Spanish), there is NOT need to hire this person as the process is not complicated and it can be done by yourself, even faster than with the agent.

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Steps to follow to collect the vehicle in Montevideo

First payment. Several days after the vessel departs Seabridge email you the invoice to pay. This invoice is called B/L (Bill of Lading). You can choose to receive such invoice in the offices of KMA in Montevideo or in your home. It is advisable to get it in Montevideo since they have to stamp it once the ship arrives. Without this document WE CANNOT REMOVE the vehicle from the port.

When we arrived in Montevideo we must go to the immigration office in order to get the “certificado de llegada”. The office is located in Missions Street 1513.

a. Get a number when entering the building and wait for your turn.
b. When you are called you have to show the passport with the stamp of entry into the country.
c. Later, we have to make a payment of 198 Uruguayan pesos and they give us the “certificado de llegada”. Essential to collect the van.

Second payment. If it is possible, before the vessel arrive to port we will go to the KMA office, which is located on the 9th floor of building “Imperium Building”, 25 Mayo Street number 713. Here we make a payment of 666 US dollars. Fix payment.

The day after the vessel arrives to port we have to go back to the KMA office to collect our B/L already stamped. The Office opens at 9 in the morning. IT is essential TO REQUEST THE STOCK NUMBER. They have to give it to you.

Afterwards we must head to Aduanas (Customs). It is the big buidiing located on the left hand side right at the entrance of the port. Here we will be given a form to fill out, to with we should attach:

  • Original and photocopy of passport
  • Original and photocopy of the vehicle documents
  •  Original and photocopy of B/L (ask in KMA to give you a copy)
  •  Original and photocopy of MERCOSUR insurance (car insurance)
  •  Original and photocopy of the “certificado de llegada”
  •  Original and photocopy of the international driving license.
  •  Stock number

Third payment. Given all of the above we must wait about 20 minutes to get our record (case file) . With our record we go to the ADP building. It is a white big building located on the other side of the road. Enter the building and go to the last office on the right hand side, here they ask us for the value of the vehicle, which will determine the amount to pay.

For example:
Value of 4000 € – payment of 280 €
Value of 1500 € – payment of 48 € 😂

Once you have make this payment you have to go back to the Aduanas (customs building). This time we have to go to the office number 005 where we must show our record.

Later on we must go to Buquebus building. We find this building within the port, it is brown and you can spot is far at the end on the left hand side. Once there we ask were the custom office is.

Again, we return to the office 005 to pick up a paper.

This is the last document we need to collect our van.

With this, we go to the Rilcomar office, it is inside the port, very easy to see, right in front of the main door of the port. There is a visible sign with the name on it. Rilcomar is the warehouse where our vehicle is kept. We hand them our record and finally we get out campervan.

Finally, with our van we go back to the customs office in the brown building Buquebus, where they check the inside and give us the car import permit.


Time to enjoy!

It seems a complex process, but it is not. Buildings and offices are easy to locate.


  • Try to separate the rear area from the driver area, and if it is possible to unable any possible access to it. Like that our personal belongings will be safer.
  • Do not forget to bring copies of all documents.
  • Have in mind that the ship is can be delayed. Delays goes from 3 days to 3 weeks. For us it was 2 weeks.

There is a possibility of traveling in the boat with the van. The price is around 1700€ per person and meals are included. We find 2 main advantages when travelling on board;

  • We do not have to pay the 666 Dollars (at least it is what we were told in KMA office)
  • A Grimaldi agent will be waiting for you on the arrival, she will be responsible for the formalities and you will be able to remove the vehicle immediately.

The inconvenience;

  • The time that you spent in the boat.
  • The high price of passage.

In the glovebox of our campervan we left some CDs and a bag with the ugliest scarf ever seen, to see if they took the trouble to steal it. They broke the bag where the scarf was, took it out of the bag and left. They didn’t like as we expected.

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8 comentarios en “Guide to shipping your vehicule from Europe to South America”

  1. Incredible guide!! Do you have any idea of the reverse import? From South America to Europe (lets say Portugal, because its closer, might be cheaper?). Great job with the post! Kind regards!

  2. Very valuable information. Thank you!
    A question regarding the 3rd payment – it seems to be a percentage of the value of the car right? So can you say any amount and they will accept it without checking model year etecetera? My worry is that I have a new 2020 VW California Ocean that is worth over 70k Euro. I don’t want to pay like 5-7% of that value of course. Just say whatever value? Any recommendations?

    1. vantravellers

      Thanks. Yeap, they dont check. We said our van was worth around 500€ . I would say for yours maybe 1000 or 2000 but more…depends on you. Enjoy the trip and let us know ir you need any other info. All the best

      1. Estimados , gusto en saludarlos
        Les quería preguntar si los 2000 euros fue el costo total desde que embarcaron hasta que salieron del puerto? , qué porcentaje sería lo de aduanas y seguros de Mercosur ? Saludos

        1. vantravellers

          Hola Claudio.
          Los 2000€ fueron los gastos del transporte de furgoneta y papeleo necesario para sacarla de puerto. Ahora es algo más caro.
          El precio de los seguros es aparte. En la web puedes encontrar un precio de los seguros para Sudamérica.

          Un abrazo y buenas rutas

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