If you are considering relocating to St. Croix, shipping a vehicle may be required. You can buy a new or used vehicle on the island, but if you have a good, reliable vehicle you may want to consider shipping it to the island. If you choose to ship a vehicle to the island, there are several shipping and cargo companies that can ship it to the island for you out of a major port, such as Miami or Jacksonville, FL. You can drive the vehicle to the port yourself, or hire a company to transport it for you.
In order to ship your vehicle you will need to properly prepare it, make sure you have all of the required documentation, and be prepared to pay all of the applicable taxes and fees. The shipper/cargo company you choose will provide the documents you need to fill out and sign in order to transport the vehicle, and will confirm the specific requirements when you are ready to ship your vehicle. As a general reference, here is a list of the basic requirements for shipping:
- Vehicle must contain ¼ tank of gas or less (if vehicle is loaded in a container, fuel tank must be drained and battery disconnected)
- Propane tanks must be empty
- Remove all loose items and personal effects from the vehicle, including the trunk.
- Any part/item that would normally be permanently installed in/on the vehicle, but is loose or not bolted in, should be removed.
- Anti-theft Alarm Systems must be disengaged.
- Keys must remain with the vehicle (Note: U.S. Customs inspects all compartments of your vehicle and will place a Customs Hold on any vehicle without a key to a locked compartment.)
- Vehicle should be in running condition. Vehicles must be in a safe, drive-able condition, capable of normal operation on public streets or highways when tendered for shipment to be considered an ‘operable vehicle’. Non-operable vehicles that have been accepted for shipment will be loaded into a container with the use of a forklift, and a Hold Harmless Waiver for Non-Operable Vehicles must be signed before the vehicle is loaded.
- Vehicle should be clean and free of dirt and debris.
- Vehicle will be inspected at time of delivery.
- A booking reservation should be made prior to delivery of the vehicle to the port.
Document & Information Requirements:
- Vehicle Declaration Form
- Electronic Export Information (EEI) – or a Letter of Authorization (LOA) Form if your shipper will preparing and submitting the on your behalf
- Master Bill of Lading
- Hold Harmless Waiver – if your vehicle is classified as a ‘non-operable’
- Title or Original MSO (Manufacturer Statement of Origin) – Three (3) copies, front and back
- Bill of Sale – if the vehicle is a new purchase
- Motor Vehicle Reassignment Form – if the back of the vehicle title is full of the names of previous owners
- If a Lien Holder is recorded on the Title, then a notarized letter from the Lien Holder on their company letterhead is required, authorizing export, and certified copies of the title must be certified and notarized in the state where the vehicle is titled. Copies must be certified and notarized on both the front & back of the document. Three (3) sets are required.
- If the vehicle belongs to a Company, the person signing the Vehicle Export Power of Attorney must also provide a letter on company letterhead, stating that they are an officer of the company and are authorized to sign the Power of Attorney
- Copy of Photo I.D.
- Contact Information – Name, mailing address, and phone number of the shipper and consignee. (The consignee is the person to whom the vehicle is being shipped. The shipper and consignee can be the same person.)
- Vehicle Information – year, make, model, license plate number, VIN number, and current value
- Port of discharge – the port your vehicle is being shipped to
- Shipping Fees – For vehicles (8) eight model years and older, ocean freight charges must be paid in advance; prior to the vehicle being exported per USVI requirements. You shipper will give you this total.
Once you arrive on St. Croix, and your vehicle is ready for pick-up, you will need to take care clearing customs and getting it registered. Here are the basic steps you will want to follow:
- Customs: Clearing customs and paying duty is usually done at the customs office near the shipping dock. The duty collected is based on country of origin of the car and is calculated using the book value or Bill of Sale, whichever is greater. The VIN number is used to determine the country of origin: if the first digit is 1, 4 or 5 it is a U.S. car and there is a no duty owed. VIN numbers starting with 2 or 3, there is a 6% duty. VIN numbers starting with 6 or with a letter are charged a 3.5% duty. The U.S. Customs Office will accept personal checks, cash, certified checks and money order. You can call the Customs Office at (340) 714-1600 for more information.
- Road Tax: You must get a Bill of Lading from the shipping agent when the car arrives in the USVI. Take the Bill of Lading to the Bureau of Internal Revenue Office is Sunny Isle to pay the rod tax, which is 16 cents per pound of vehicle weight. Your title may have the weight on it, if it doesn’t you can look up the weight on-line and print that page to show when paying the road tax. For more information call Bureau of Internal Revenue office at (340) 714-9332. You can use cash, certified check, or money order to pay this tax.
- Insurance: Insurance is required in the US Virgin Islands. You must get your vehicle insured before requesting a moving permit from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (‘BMV’) and register your vehicle. Compulsory Auto Liability Insurance is the law in the Virgin Islands; it requires that every registered vehicle have auto liability coverage. Once you have obtained a policy, get a certificate of insurance which provides details of your vehicle and coverage dates. A copy of your insurance card should be kept in your vehicle, a second copy is needed to register your vehicle.
- BMV Moving Permit: Go to the BMV to get a moving permit. Moving permits are $5 and allow you to move a non-registered vehicle from one point to another and only between those two points. This permit will allow you to move your vehicle from the dock to the BMV for inspection and registration.
- Inspection: Take your vehicle to the BMV for inspection. Bring with you your road tax receipt, the vehicle title or notarized letter indicating why you don’t have the title, proof of insurance, and your driver’s license. (Note: You do not need a VI driver’s license, you can use your stateside driver’s license. A new resident has a 90 day grace period to get their VI driver’s license.) You may be asked to show the moving permit you obtained in Step 4. There is a $10 inspection fee.
- Registration: Necessary paperwork for first time registrants are: completed inspection form, road tax receipt, title or notarized letter indicating why you don’t have the title, proof of insurance, and driver’s license. You may be asked to show the moving permit you obtained in Step 4. The cost of registration is based on the weight of the car and can vary from about $35 to $90. When you complete the registration you will be given VI plates, a registration sticker for your windshield, and a registration form. (Note: Your VI plates and windshield sticker must be visible at all times.)
This list may seem daunting, but just take it one step at a time. Your shipper will help you quite a bit with your documentation, and can likely help you arrange transport to the port in Florida if you need it as well. Once you vehicle is on the island, plan on spending a full day getting your vehicle cleared through customs and registered once your vehicle arrives on St. Croix. Believe it or not, while the process is a bit tedious it is not difficult (I know because I’ve done it). Good luck!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor