How To Ship a Car to Puerto Rico (2024 Guide)


Shipping a Car to Puerto Rico

You might expect shipping a car to Puerto Rico to be easy since the Caribbean island is a U.S. territory, but there are special considerations. You won’t have to deal with a foreign customs office because Puerto Rico is a self-governing territory and it has a convoluted procedure for registering cars. To drive your car legally in Puerto Rico after shipping, you’ll be required to pay tax on the vehicle, have it inspected, buy temporary insurance and register the vehicle.

Unfortunately, paying taxes, completing the vehicle inspection and buying insurance will not take place at one office. If you arrive at a busy time and aren’t familiar with the area, it may take a few days for you to complete each step before getting your car. It may be a good idea to get a rental car during the transition.

Required Documents To Ship a Car to Puerto Rico

There are many steps to bringing a car into Puerto Rico. To ensure a smooth process, have the following information handy:

  • Your driver’s license
  • The clean title to the car
  • The shipping company confirmation number
  • Excise tax papers (received after paying tax in Puerto Rico)

Process for Shipping a Car to Puerto Rico

Now let’s get into the details on how to ship a car to Puerto Rico.

1. Decide To Drive or Ship to a U.S. Port

Auto shipments to Puerto Rico leave from ports in Jacksonville, Fla., or Philadelphia. You may need to ship your vehicle over land to the departure port. Or if you live near one of these areas, you can drive your car to the port and save money. 

2. Mind the Weather

Summertime is a popular time for people to move. Unfortunately, hurricane season in Puerto Rico runs from June 1 to November 30 with peak activity in September. Hurricanes and tropical storms can halt shipping for weeks, so keep this in mind when making plans.

3. Choose a Shipping Company

Compare multiple free quotes and pick the best option for your needs. Book your shipment two to four weeks in advance to get the best shipping rates. Look for vehicle transport companies that offer port-to-port or door-to-port services. 

Be aware that not all car shipping quotes online include Puerto Rico rates so you might need to call the shipping company instead. You also have the option of using two shipping companies: one to transport your car to the port and a cargo company for the overseas passage.

4. Prepare Your Vehicle 

Remove all personal items from your vehicle and leave it with a quarter tank of gas. Some auto transport companies allow you to ship a suitcase in your trunk on land, but this isn’t permitted with ocean transportation. 

5. Deliver Your Car for Shipping  

You’ll sign a bill of lading (a cargo shipping document) at the port or when the carrier picks up the vehicle. The document notes the car’s current condition and contains details about where the vehicle is being shipped to. You can also use the bill of lading later to file a claim against the carrier or auto transport company in the event your vehicle arrives with new marks or damages.

6. Receive Your Car at the Port of San Juan

The transit time for Puerto Rico car shipping can vary from two to four weeks depending on the origin. Plan your travel to arrive in Puerto Rico before your car is delivered. The carrier will unload your vehicle into a secure lot and notify you when it’s ready to be picked up. 

The next steps are complicated but should be followed in this order: 

  1. Get proof of inspection. Go to the carrier’s office at the Puerto Rican port. Check in with your driver’s license and shipping confirmation number. The office should provide you with paperwork stating your car has been inspected. If not, you’ll have to wait for the inspection to be complete.
  2. Pay taxes. Go to a Puerto Rico Hacienda (Department of the Treasury) location to pay excise tax on the vehicle and supply proof of inspection at the port. 
  3. Get your car. Go back to the carrier’s office at the port and provide proof that you paid taxes on the vehicle. Once verified, you’ll be allowed into the carrier’s lot to find your vehicle.
  4. Get temporary insurance. At the carrier’s office, ask to be directed to the building where you can buy temporary auto insurance. You’ll need proof of insurance before you can register your car and receive a new license plate. 
  5. Register your vehicle. You have to register your car within three days. To do so, go to a DTOP office (Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas) and request an emissions test. You’ll get a form for the test and a fee to pay to the Hacienda. Get the test at the specified location and pay the fee at a Hacienda location. Then take the receipt back to the DTOP for vehicle registration.

Be prepared to wait at least an hour or two at each office you visit. The process can take a few days so don’t schedule anything else for yourself when your car arrives.


Cost To Ship a Car to Puerto Rico

How much auto shipping costs to Puerto Rico will depend on many factors. In general, you should budget around $1,000 to $3,000 for car shipping and another $1,000 to $2,000 for taxes and registration fees on the island.

Average Cost To Ship a Car to Puerto Rico

Including taxes and fees, the average cost to ship your car to Puerto Rico can be between $2,000 and $5,000. Consider this carefully if you’re planning on relocating a vehicle to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Car Excise Taxes

You’ll pay an excise tax to bring your car into Puerto Rico. This is calculated based on the value of the vehicle. The Puerto Rico Hacienda has an online portal you can use to estimate what you’d pay. Below are two excise tax estimates our team received for different vehicles. Note it costs much more to bring in a newer car than an older one.

Vehicle Car Value Excise Tax Estimate
2015 Honda Civic $17,875 $2,506
2005 Honda CR-V $8,678 $893

Depending on your vehicle, the excise tax could double or even triple your overall transport costs.

Cheapest Way To Ship a Car to Puerto Rico

The most cost-effective way to ship a car to Puerto Rico is to drive it to the port in Philadelphia or Jacksonville. From there, choose a company that offers overseas roll-on/roll-off (RORO) vehicle shipping services. 

RORO vessels have large decks that carry many vehicles at once. While underway, your car will be  exposed to the elements, similar to land-based open trailer transport. Alternatively, you can use container shipping and reserve a partial or full container for your car. This protects the vehicle during transport on the ocean but costs more.

If you must ship your car to reach a U.S. port, the cheapest option is to use open transport. With this method, your car is shipped on an open trailer that can haul around 10 vehicles. The other option is to use enclosed auto transport. This protects your car from the elements on the road, but it can add hundreds to the overall cost of Puerto Rico auto transport.

A car shipping calculator can help you estimate the cost of shipping a car over land. Use Jacksonville or Philadelphia as your destination to estimate the cost of the first leg of your car’s journey to Puerto Rico. 

What Affects the Cost of Car Shipping to Puerto Rico?

The main factor that affects car shipping costs to Puerto Rico is distance. Auto shipping from Philadelphia will cost more than a car shipped from Jacksonville. Likewise, you’ll pay more if you first need to ship your car from a western state like California to station the vehicle at a U.S. port. If your car is already in Florida and you can drive to the departure port, you’ll save some expense. 

Besides distance, here are a few more factors to consider:

  • Type of land transport: Open shipping is cheaper than enclosed shipping, but your vehicle is exposed to the elements. 
  • Type of ocean transport: RORO is the cheapest ocean transport option, but you can use container shipping for more security.
  • Fuel costs: As the price of gas and ship fuel increases, so does the average cost of shipping a car to Puerto Rico.
  • Type of vehicle: On average, compact cars are cheaper to ship than SUVs or trucks.
  • Vehicle operability: If your car isn’t driveable, the shippers will need to use winches and cranes to move your car between checkpoints. You’ll pay more for this transport service.

Is Shipping a Car to Puerto Rico Worth It?

It’s not worth shipping a new or luxury car to Puerto Rico because the tax will be quite high (and the road conditions take a toll on new cars). The best scenario would be if you have an older vehicle that is reliable and paid off. Similar to international car shipping options, relocating your vehicle to Puerto Rico may be worth it if you’re staying for at least a year. 

To Ship or Rent?

If you’re staying in Puerto Rico for a short time, you might want to rent a car instead. Let’s say you pay $4,000 to ship your car round trip — to and from Puerto Rico. Average SUV rental prices can reach $50 per day, according to Kayak.com. In total, you could get 90 days of a rental car for $4,500. Renting an economy car would be even cheaper. For temporary stays, it’s cost-prohibitive to ship your car from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico.


Ship a Car to Puerto Rico: The Bottom Line

Shipping a car to Puerto Rico is possible, but it won’t be worthwhile in every situation. If you proceed, spend time researching the process of registering your car on the island as you only have a few days and the paperwork is daunting. 

Best Companies To Ship a Car to Puerto Rico

Choosing the right auto shipper is key to a smooth journey. From our industry-wide review, our top picks for shipping a car to Puerto Rico are Montway Auto Transport and uShip.

Montway Auto Transport: Best Customer Experience

Montway Auto Transport offers many auto transport services, from open to enclosed shipping to door-to-port auto transport. The company works with a network of over 15,000 carriers to move vehicles across the U.S. and internationally. The company has delivered over 1 million vehicles and has agents available 24/7 to help you track your vehicle. Montway also offers fast online quotes to easily see how much the shipment would cost.

Read more: Montway Auto Transport Review 

uShip: Easy Online Marketplace

uShip is a good option for comparing multiple quotes quickly as you prepare to ship your car to Puerto Rico. The website connects customers with auto-shipping carriers. You can post a job listing to the site and watch as carriers bid against one another to win your business. Our review gave uShip 9 out of 10 and the platform earned our Easy Online Marketplace award. 

uShip has global carriers so you can arrange a shipment from the U.S. or another country to Puerto Rico through the site. If you use uShip, spend a little time researching each carrier that bids, as the platform doesn’t evaluate carriers itself. The marketplace has a 4.09tar rating by customers on the BBB.

Read more: uShip Review


Car Shipping to Puerto Rico: FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about shipping a car to Puerto Rico:


It can cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to ship a car to Puerto Rico using the cheapest shipping methods (land-based open transport and RORO overseas shipping). You’ll pay more if you use enclosed transport or container shipping.


You can’t pack anything in your car when you ship it to Puerto Rico. Government officials will inspect the vehicle and require it to be completely free of personal items.


Many companies ship cars to Puerto Rico including American Auto Transport and uShip. Other popular options include Puerto Rico Car Transport and Latin American Cargo.


With good weather, it can take two to four weeks to ship a car from the U.S. to Puerto Rico. However, hurricane season (June to November) can cause delays.


Our Methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car shipping companies. We collected data on dozens of auto transport providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the companies that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Cost (33% of total score): Auto shipping companies with affordable rates, locked-in pricing and discount opportunities score highest in this category.
  • Customer Experience (25% of total score): This score is based on customer satisfaction ratings and the availability of extras like GPS tracking. We also consider the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each transporter’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.
  • Reputation (22% of total score): Our research team considers availability, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Shipping Methods (10% of total score): Companies that offer a variety of choices for car transport and added benefits are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Logistics (10% of total score): A smooth shipment is all about the details, which is why we look at how long it takes providers to pick up and ship vehicles, whether they include additional insurance coverage and more.

Our credentials:

  • 200+ hours researched
  • 20+ companies reviewed
  • 2,000+ consumers surveyed

*Data accurate at time of publication.


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