10 Things You Should Know about Shipping Heavy Equipment Internationally

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Reviewed by:

Maryana Serafinas

Maryana Serafinas


Shipping heavy equipment internationally can be a complex process involving multiple parties, regulations, and logistical challenges. However, with proper planning and preparation, it can be a smooth and successful operation.

The following ten basic concepts will teach you how to ship heavy equipment and ensure that international movement is efficient and error-free.

What Is Heavy and Oversized Equipment?

Heavy equipment refers to large, powerful machines that are designed to perform tasks in construction, agriculture, mining, and other industries. Heavy machinery can be used to move earth, dig foundations, transport materials, lift heavy objects, and perform various other tasks. Examples of agricultural, construction and industrial equipment include: Tractors, combines, sprayers, cotton pickers, bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, cranes, and loaders. These machines are essential for many industries and are often expensive to purchase and maintain. 

Generally, heavy equipment can weigh anywhere from several tons to over a hundred tons. For example, a small excavator might weigh around 5 tons, while a large bulldozer could weigh up to 100 tons or more. The weight of heavy equipment is an important factor to consider when transporting and operating it, as it can affect the type of transportation, handling equipment, and permits required.

Types Of Heavy and Oversized Equipment

Many types of heavy and oversized equipment are designed for a specific task. Some examples of heavy equipment include:

  1. Excavators are large machines for digging, lifting, and moving heavy materials.
  2. Bulldozers are used for grading and leveling earth and pushing large materials.
  3. Cranes are designed for lifting and moving heavy loads, such as construction materials and equipment.
  4. Loaders move materials, such as dirt, sand, and gravel.
  5. Tractors pull heavy loads, such as trailers and plows.
  6. Combines are used in agriculture for harvesting crops.

Freight Protection For Industrial Equipment Shipping

Freight protection is a must for the safe transport of heavy equipment. There are several ways to protect the equipment during shipping, including:

  • Wrapping and Padding: Use bubble wrap and padding to protect the equipment from scratches and damage during shipping.
  • Crate the Equipment: Use a wooden crate to protect the equipment during shipping. This is especially important for fragile equipment.
  • Tie-Downs: Use tie-downs to secure the equipment to the transport vehicle and prevent it from moving during shipping.
  • Use Shock Absorbers: Use shock absorbers, such as a multidirectional plywood foam pad, to protect the equipment from shocks and vibrations during shipping.

How To Prepare To Ship Heavy Equipment?

Preparing for heavy equipment shipping can ensure smooth and successful transport. Some things to consider when preparing for heavy equipment shipping include:

  1. Cleaning: Clean the equipment thoroughly before shipping to ensure it does not contaminate other cargo.
  2. Documentation: Ensure you have all documentation, including the Bill of Lading, commercial invoice, import/export licenses, permits, and insurance certificates.
  3. Inspection: Conduct a thorough equipment review to identify any damage or potential issues before shipping.
  4. Securing: Ensure the equipment is securely fastened to the transport vehicle using high-quality, heavy-duty chains, straps, or cables, as well as ratchet binders or tensioning devices to prevent movement during transport.
  5. Communication: Communicate with the shipping provider to ensure they have all the information they need to safely and efficiently transport the equipment.

Heavy Equipment Shipping Overseas: Rules And Regulations

Before shipping heavy construction, agricultural, or industrial equipment internationally, knowing the rules and regulations governing heavy equipment transport is essential. Each country has its own rules and regulations, and it is vital to check with the relevant authorities to ensure compliance.

Some standard rules and regulations include:

  1. License: Many countries require licenses for the transport of heavy and oversized equipment. These permits specify the transported equipment’s route, weight, and dimensions.
  1. Import and Export Permits: For importing or exporting oversize equipment several types of regulations may apply:
    1. Engine emissions
    2. Fumigation
    3. USDA wash and inspection
  1. Escort Vehicles: All countries require escort vehicles to transport heavy equipment. These vehicles help to ensure the safety of the equipment and other drivers on the road.
  2. Weight Limits: Many countries have weight limits for vehicles and loads. For example, in Europe, the maximum combined vehicle and payload limit is 40 tonnes. It is crucial to ensure that the weight of the equipment and the transport vehicle does not exceed these limits.
  3. Road Restrictions: Some roads may be too narrow or steep to transport heavy equipment. It is important to plan the route carefully to avoid road restrictions.


Shipping heavy equipment internationally can be risky, and you need adequate insurance coverage in case of damage or loss. Oversized equipment export shipping insurance is specifically designed to cover heavy equipment transport.

This type of insurance typically covers the following:

  1. Damage or loss during transport
  2. Theft or vandalism
  3. Natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes

Cargo insurance does not cover anything that the shipper has control over that may have caused damage or loss. This can include but is not limited to improper packaging, shipping delays due to poor planning, and not securing the cargo correctly.

Cost Of Heavy Equipment Transportation

The cost of exporting heavy equipment can vary widely depending on several factors, including the distance of the shipment, the weight and size of the equipment being transported, the mode of transportation, and the level of service required. Here are some of the factors that can affect the cost of heavy equipment transportation:

  1. Distance: The distance of the shipment is one of the most significant factors affecting the cost of transportation. Generally, the longer the distance, the higher the cost.
  2. Weight and Size: The weight and size of the equipment being transported will affect the cost of transportation. Heavier and larger equipment will require more specialized transportation, which will be more expensive.
  3. Level of Service: The level of service required will also impact the cost of transportation. For example, if the equipment requires specialized handling or if it needs to be transported quickly, it will likely be more expensive.
  4. Insurance: The cost of insurance will vary depending on the value of the equipment being transported and the level of coverage required.
  5. Customs and Duties: Customs fees and duties may also apply to the transportation of heavy equipment, increasing the overall cost.

Heavy Equipment Shipping and Removal Methods

There are several methods of shipping heavy equipment, containerization, flat racks, and rigging and crating. The method you use will depend on several factors, including the weight and size of the equipment, the distance to the destination, and the urgency of the shipment. Some standard methods of shipping out of gauge and heavy equipment include:

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo): This involves driving the equipment onto a specialized vessel for transporting heavy equipment. The RoRo method is cost-effective for shipping self-propelled and towable cargo.

Lift-On Lift-Off (LoLo): Shipping heavy cargo using LoLo requires ships with onboard cranes that lift oversized or heavy cargo on and off.

Flat Rack: Flat rack shipping uses a specialized container to transport heavy equipment. The equipment is loaded onto the container and secured with tie-downs. This is a good option for oversized or out-of-gauge cargo.

Containerized: Container loading can be a great way to ship small and medium-sized heavy equipment. The equipment is dismantled and loaded into the container. This provides an added layer of security and protection against the elements.

Breakbulk: Breakbulk shipping requires using a specialized vessel to transport heavy equipment that cannot be transported using standard containers. The equipment is loaded onto the ship using cranes and secured with tie-downs.

International Heavy Equipment Shipping Issues

International heavy equipment shipping can be more complex than domestic shipping. Keep up to date on the regulations and procedures governing international shipping. Some things to consider when shipping heavy equipment internationally include:

  1. Customs Brokerage and Clearance: Each country has its own customs regulations, and you check them at your destination to avoid delays or penalties.
  2. Documentation: Make sure all documentation, such as bills of lading and commercial invoices, is in order.
  3. Language Barriers: Language barriers can be challenging when shipping heavy equipment internationally. Work with a shipping provider with international experience and can provide translation services if necessary.

How To Choose A Freight Forwarder to Export Heavy Equipment?

Choosing the right heavy equipment shipping provider will minimize delays and make the process run smoothly. Here are some things to consider when choosing a shipping provider:

  1. Experience: Look for a shipping provider that has experience in transporting heavy equipment and can provide references.
  2. Licensing and Certifications: Ensure the shipping provider is licensed and certified to transport heavy equipment.
  3. Insurance: Ensure the shipping provider has adequate insurance coverage for transporting heavy equipment.
  4. Additional Services: Look for a shipping provider that has additional services such as Loading and Disassembly, Rigging and Crating, Customs Brokerage, EPA and DOT Import Compliance

Transport Your Heavy Machinery With Atlantic Project Cargo

Shipping heavy equipment internationally can be a complex process, but with the proper preparation, documentation, and shipping provider, it can be a smooth and successful experience.

Atlantic Project Cargo is a US-based logistics provider for oversized agricultural and construction equipment. With 20 years of experience, we have completed over 100,000 projects for 20,000 clients globally. We have a network of 11 warehouses and over 100 vehicles, including refrigerated trucks, for transportation and storage.

If you need to ship heavy equipment internationally, contact Atlantic Project Cargo for a free quote. We offer customized, hassle-free, and transparent service to ensure the success of your business.

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