I am moving back to Germany from the USA and I am shipping my car in a container. The shipping company asked to send

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Customer: Hi, I am moving back to Germany from the USA and I am shipping my car in a container. The shipping company asked to send them the original car's title. This seems a bit strange to me, hence my questions:
1. Is it necessary for the shipping company to have the original version of such a document for an overseas shipping?
2. More generally, is it safe to give someone the title of a car? E.g., can they claim property of the vehicle or claim it as their own with such a document (and maybe some simple forgery)?
Thank you in advance.
Answered by Kenneth in 7 hours 1 year ago
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Kenneth
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Kenneth, Expert

Hello, I am a 30+ year attorney and have represented both auto dealerships and individuals in litigation involving automobile and vehicle transactions for many years. I will be happy to assist you with your questions. Please give me a few minutes to prepare my answers to your questions. Thank you for your patience while I do so.

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Kenneth, Expert

Thank you for your patience while I prepared my answer to your questions. First, your concerns about surrendering the title to your vehicle to a vehicle transporter (or any third party for that matter) are valid and your instincts about doing so are correct. You should NEVER surrender or otherwise deliver the original title to a vehicle which you own to any one- PERIOD. The transporter, under your facts, has no need to possess the title to that vehicle and should never ask you to deliver the original title to it. The fact that the transporter is asking (actually demanding) that you surrender title to the vehicle is a clear indication that the entire transport operation is very likely a fraud and if you were to actually surrender your original title to the vehicle to the transporter, you would very likely never see your vehicle again and be left with no real legal way to sue the transporter or ever find your vehicle. This is a very common scam in which a vehicle owner is told that the title is needed by a transporter to ship a vehicle overseas. Once the transporter (fraudster) is in possession of the original title document, the vehicle is containerized and shipped to another country where it is sold to a buyer with your title being used to do so.

The answer to your second question is unequivocally " NO"- it is never safe or advisable to give someone the title to your vehicle - and, yes, anyone in possession of the title can easily claim ownership of the vehicle and with simple forgery either sell or register the vehicle in their name or that of a third party and you will then first need to attempt to locate the vehicle and sue the person who then is the titleholder to the vehicle in order to retrieve your vehicle. Never, under any circumstance surrender the original title to any vehicle which is titled in you name. No one has any legitimate legal reason or justification for asking you to do so and anyone who does has only ulterior and criminal motives for doing so.

I hope I have answered your questions and provided you with an explanation you were seeking. Thank you for allowing me to assist you with this matter. Apologies for the rather long answer, however, I wanted to provide you with the benefit of my many years in handling such matters in my private practice.

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Kenneth, Expert

Thank you for allowing me to assist you with your questions.

Please remember to rate this question by clicking the stars above (3-5 stars is appreciated) and then SUBMIT so I get credit. It does not cost you anything to rate.

I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

Customer
Dear *****neth, given your expertise, if you do not mind I would like to follow-up on the title and shipping issue. Following your recommendation, I wrote back to the shipping company claiming a refund, to which they replied including a link to the CBP website (https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/export-docs/motor-vehicle) with the relevant rules for vehicle exporting (Please find below the email exchange with the shipping company for more details). This raises the following questions:
1. does this imply that any other company would nevertheless ask for the same documents (or a certified copy thereof)? and if so, would a certified copy entail analogous risks as the originals?
2. although they keep insisting for the original copy of the title, let's assume that they eventually accept a certified copy; would this change your belief about the fraudulent nature of the services provided by the shipping company? (of course I do not expect you to have a crystal ball, but I would appreciate your intuition on the whole thing).
Thanks again for your insightful replies and should you have any additional suggestions (e.g., the list of documents necessary and sufficient for the shipping), please do let me know.
Best,
CesareEMAIL I SENT TO CONTAINER SHIPPING
Gabriela,
Customers are not legally required to surrender a vehicle’s title to the transporter for said vehicle to be containerized. Once the original title to a vehicle is surrendered to a transporter, customers can be left with no real legal way to sue the transporter, or ever find their vehicle, should this go missing during the shipment.
I thereby urge Container Shipping to promptly refund my $500 reservation payment. Should you fail to refund my $500 deposit, I intend to file a claims action in court and report your action to the office of the state attorney general for prosecution.
Regards,
Cesare PariseREPLY OF CONTAINER SHIPPINGGood afternoon Cesare,
As per customs regulations, it is a requirement to present an original title to customs when exporting a vehicle from the US. You are not providing a title to the transporter, but to the ocean freight forwarder, which is us. We will be sending the title to US Customs and Border Protection to validate the title on behalf of the shipper (you). Without original title validation, vehicle will not legally be allowed to leave the US. Please see below for link from CBP section 2 line 1.
https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/export-docs/motor-vehicle
After reading the section above, if you still are looking to export the vehicle, please send us the original title so that we can prepare the paperwork for US Customs
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Kenneth, Expert

Greetings-

Given your circumstances I would offer the following thoughts:

First- providing a certified copy of the vehicle title is much different than providing the actual title as the certified copy is just that- a copy certified as being a copy of the original. You may also be able to use a notarized bill of sale along with a certified copy of the title document because the true intent of the legal requirements by Customs is to attempt to ensure that the vehicle is not stolen. Those documents should be sufficient based upon my review of the legal requirements for shipping a vehicle overseas from the US. If that is acceptable to the US Customs folks, then you can have some protection that the title will not be transferred to an unknown third party. If that is not acceptable and the Customs official is demanding the original hard title, then you should do two things- use a reputable shipper to handle the entire process and require that the transporter provide you with the declarations page of its' insurance policy showing that they have fully paid up insurance against loss or damage to your vehicle during transport. Second, I suggest that you contact your insurance carrier here in the US and discuss the shipment of the vehicle and find out if your policy here covers any loss or damage in transit. If not, I suggest you inquire as to the cost of such coverage and from whom that coverage is available. I would not release the vehicle or documents to anyone until you have bound coverage on the vehicle by a reputable insurance carrier you can reasonably expect to pay the claim for any damage or theft during transport. I would also personally call the US Customs office where the vehicle is to be shipped from and speak directly with the agent in charge and determine if he will accept the copies of the documents mentioned above AND if you can deliver those to him directly without the transporter ever having possession of those documents- you can express your concern about theft because the overseas shipment of stolen vehicle is such a huge multi-billion dollar industry now. I hope that helps.

Thank you for allowing me to assist with your new questions.

Customer
Dear *****neth,
the shipping company that tried to scam me is not willing to return my deposit (see attached their email below). Note that although they claim that I have lost my title, that is not true: I still have it. Also, for completeness, the contract that I signed with them can be downloaded from this link (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iAddIam8mxI62TWd7Ll9DG_tU4IpJEMt/view?usp=sharing). Any tip on how to reply would be great.Dear Cesare,
In response to your email, it seems there are some misunderstandings you have about us and the services we are providing.
1. We are a licensed ocean freight forwarder and it is part of our service that we provide customs with all the documentation pertaining to your shipment (export).
2. We collect and submit proper documents regarding your shipment to U.S. Customs. We need your full compliance in order to do that. As you can see from the government website, in order to export a vehicle out of the United States, shipper must provide original title or a certified copy. A certified copy is issued by the DMV in a case that the original title has been lost by the owner. It looks very similar to the original title. It is a substitute to the original title. You did not notify us that you have lost your original title, therefore, certified copy option was not advised to you. We have been trying to reach you for the past few weeks in regards ***** ***** documentation.
https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/export-docs/motor-vehicle
3. According to your booking contract, you have not provided us with proper documentation in the requested time and have been continuously pushing off your loading date. Due to the lack of compliance on your part, please understand that as a result you have forfeited your deposit of $500.00.
Please see copy of your booking contract attached to this email and let me know if you have any other questions.
Best regards,
Gabriela
Export Documentation
Direct(###) ###-####ext. 109
Fax(###) ###-####**@******.***
Customer
I would also share with you this link with reviews from other customers of the same company where previous customers describe their modus operandi: https://www.google.com/search?q=container+shipping+llc&rlz=1C1VDKB_enUS933US933&oq=container+shipping+llc&aqs=chrome..69i57j46i175i199j0i22i30l5j69i61.5765j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#lrd=*****************1:*****************d,1,,,
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Kenneth, Expert

Greetings - I will be happy to help you- If you wouldn't mind opening a new question since this question has been closed out by the system.

You can ask specifically for me (just type "For Kenneth Only") and I will do my best to respond quickly since I am familiar with your situation with this shipper and the title issues you have been dealing with. Thank you very much.

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