Taking your caravan abroad

Most travellers hire a van when overseas, but if you want to take yours with you, it can be done, albeit with difficulty.

It’s not an easy task and some might say “why bother?”. But if you’re going to travel for a long time, you might find the effort worthwhile. Here’s what’s involved in taking your caravan overseas with you.

It is quite expensive and, in addition to the physical shipping, there is a lot of red tape to deal with in both directions. Complicating the matter is the lack of information available, given it’s quite rare to import a vehicle on a temporary basis. Most of the information available is geared towards permanent imports.

Here’s an example if you want to take a modern van to New Zealand. The caravan sleeps two and has a toilet and shower. It measures 8.1L x 2.5W x 2.8H, or about 56m3 (shipping is based on volume), has a 2800kg tare and is valued at $74,000. It will be shipped inside a shipping container.

You will face caravan transport costs for shipping, including customs, quarantine and port fees on both sides, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries fees and an inspection by the New Zealand Transport Agency. You’ll also have to cover transit insurance and possibly road freight from the ship to the container terminal for collection. Remember, there is a risk of damage during loading and unloading. An indicative total cost each way is between A$4000 and $6000.

Interestingly, you can hire an equivalent van for about $250 per week, or $6500.

Other costs you need to consider when transporting your van include:

  • Temporary Vehicle Import;
  • Quarantine;
  • Registration (if not registered in Australia for the duration of the trip);
  • Re-importing an ‘Australian Plated Vehicle’.

So if you’re willing to tackle the red tape, time and costs involved to ship your caravan with you, be patient and do your research. Shipping costs will vary by supplier and by the departure and arrival ports.