If you are shipping your automobile internationally, you have a few service options to choose from. There is roll-on roll-off service, container service, and air shipping. This guide will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of roll-on roll-off shipping. Is it the right shipping service for your vehicle?

Roll-on roll-off service involves movers driving or rolling your automobile up a ramp into the cargo deck of a ship. The car will then be secured next to many other cars inside the cargo deck for the length of the shipment. When the ship ports, the car will be rolled or driven down a ramp to its destination port.


  • Price: Roll-on roll-off service is one of the cheapest international shipping options. Exclusive container service is usually more expensive, while air shipping your car is always several times more expensive.
  • Preparation: Preparing for RORO service takes the least amount of time of the international shipping options. Your car may need to be driven up and down the ramps for loading and unloading so it will need some gasoline in it and the battery attached. Other shipping methods that don’t require the car to be functional usually require that you remove all gasoline from the tank and disconnect the battery for safety reasons. Just remember that if the movers plan to literally roll your vehicle on or off the ship, you may still be required to remove possibly dangerous materials like batteries and gas. Ask your movers what will be required before the move so you can prepare your car accordingly.
  • Convenience: RORO service allows your car to be available and drivable as quickly as possible after a seafaring international move. The loading and unloading process is simple and quick compared to the sometimes tedious process of loading and unloading a car in and out of a container. You may even be able to drive your car right from the destination port if you had enough gas left in the tank.


  • Availability: Not every international mover or country has RORO service available at their ports. Customs regulations in the destination country need to be relatively relaxed and efficient in order to allow for RORO shipping. Different origin and destination ports may not be able to accommodate RORO service, so you need to contact the international moving company/freight forwarders to inquire about the the availability of RORO services at the specific ports you may use to ship your vehicle.
  • Speed: ROR shipping can take a very long time. Shipping anything overseas could take months. Air shipping will only take a matter of days in comparison.
  • Safety: RORO shipping affords less protection to your vehicle than container shipping or air shipping (which also usually involves a container.) Your car may need to be unlocked and driven by a shipping worker. There is a chance that there could be an accident during this process. Once the car is secured in the ship, It will be exposed to the environment of the cargo deck. It will also sit on the deck for a long time and possibly experience extreme temperatures and rough waters that may test the cargo deck’s restraints.
  • Your vehicle needs to drive or roll: Some vintage vehicles are not necessarily in functional condition, but you still may want them shipped to another country. Because the car needs to be able to be steered and rolled up and down ramps for RORO service, some nonfunctional vehicles will need to use another service option. This also may mean that gas and batteries need to be in the car, which increases the risk of spilled gasoline or battery acid which could even possibly cause fires during shipping.

Is RORO service right for you?

The bottom line is that RORO service is an economical option for shipping your vehicle overseas, but it won’t provide the same level of protection or availability as container shipping services. It is only marginally cheaper than shared container service, but many times cheaper than air freight services. Asking for additional insurance in combination with choosing RORO service may be a good idea. If you are comfortable with your car being rolled up and down ramps and in an open deck environment, then finding an international moving company that offers RORO service may be a good option for you. Just be sure that the both the departure and arrival ports that you choose offer it as an option.