Everything you should know about RoRo shipping; Tips, benefits, process, and a lot more

Harish Makam

27 Oct 2022 1 month ago


There are a few options for shipping goods by sea: Ro-Ro shipping, container shipping, and LCL shipping. Ro-Ro shipping is the most common form of sea freight, and it’s also the cheapest. RoRo shipping is short for Rollon-On/Rolloff, which refers to using trailers or containers to transport cars from one place to another. If you’ve ever wondered what RoRo shipping is or whether it would be the right shipping method for your needs, this blog post is for you! We’ll cover everything you need to know about RoRo shipping, from the benefits and process to top tips for making the most of this shipping method.

What is Ro-Ro shipping?

Shipping cars by sea is a common and reliable way to transport vehicles around the world. Ro-Ro shipping, or Roll-On Roll-Off, is a specific type of auto transport that uses this method. Ro-Ro shipping can be described as a form of ocean freight that utilizes ships specifically designed to carry cars and other large trucks. This type of transportation is often more cost-effective than other forms of auto transport, such as trucking or rail transport. Ro-Ro shipping is also convenient because it allows the vehicles to be stored on board the ship, which saves time and money compared to other forms of auto transport. Cargo is often measured in metric tonnes across the transportation business, while in RoRo, it is calculated in lanes in meters (LIMs). These measurements are derived by adding up the number of decks in the ship and the length and width of the load corridors (where the vehicles are loaded). RoRo boats are not limited to civilian use; they are also used in the navy sector to deliver vital naval equipment.

The benefits of RoRo shipping

The benefits of using a RoRo service for shipping your vehicle are many. Not only is it cheaper than shipping by air, but it can also be faster and easier. Plus, the carrier will take care of all the logistics, so you can focus on what’s important – taking care of your car. Here are some reasons to use RoRo shipping to transport your vehicle internationally.

  • Affordability: Auto transport services using RoRo vessels offer consumers affordability and flexibility. Companies can configure these containers to hold a wide variety of cargo, from small items to large vehicles, making them ideal for transporting goods across international borders.
  • Less Handling: Since cargo is driven on and off the vessel, minimal handling is required. This reduces the risk of damage during transit.
  • Flexible Loading: RORO vessels have large ramps and doors that allow easy loading and unloading of cargo. This also makes it possible to load odd-shaped or oversize items that may need to be able to fit into standard containers.
  • Flexibility: You can choose which port your vehicle will arrive at, and you can also choose the timeframe in which the transport will take place. This can be great if you want to ensure that your car arrives in perfect condition without any delays or issues.
  • Safe and secure: It is much safer than lifting on or off the ship since the cargo remains within the boat until it reaches its destination. Professionals will safely and securely store your car on the ship during the journey, so you don’t need to worry about it being damaged or stolen. You can rest assured that the shipping company will handle your vehicle with the utmost care. Companies have years of experience shipping cars and know exactly what to do to ensure your vehicle arrives in perfect condition.  
  • Insurance benefits: Many RoRo shipping services offer additional benefits such as insurance coverage and customs clearance on arrival, making your overall experience more convenient and hassle-free. RoRo shipping is easy to arrange: Arranging RoRo shipping is also effortless. You can contact a shipping company directly or use an online service.
  • Quick turnaround time: RoRo shipping offers fast turnaround times, meaning that shipments can arrive at their destination within a few days. This makes it an attractive option for businesses that need quick delivery times or want to minimize the time their vehicles are in storage.
Benefits of RoRo shipping

Different RoRo types  

There are a few different types of RoRo shipping services. Here’s a quick rundown of all the available options:

Exclusively Cargo Carrying RoRo Vessels

While a PCC (Pure Car Carrier) is a specific kind of RoRo ship designed to carry only cars, a PCTC (Pure Car and Truck Carrier) can transport not only cars but also trucks and other types of wheeled vehicles. The size and sight of these ships on the ocean are equaled only by their toughness. Their primary function is to transport brand-new automobiles to their designated export terminal.

Container Vessel + RoRo (ConRo) Ship

Container vessels and RoRo ships are both essential for transporting large loads. However, there are times when more than one type of vessel is needed. This is where ConRo vessels come in. These vessels are a combination of container vessels and RoRo ships and can carry both loads. The loads are evenly distributed and balanced. It means that the vessel is less likely to tip over. The maximum load that ConRo vessels can carry is between 20,000 and over 50,000 deadweight tonnes (DWT). This is a considerable amount of weight, and the vessel must be able to carry it safely.

General Cargo + RoRo Ship (GenRo) Ships

The word “GenRo” refers to a regular cargo ship with incorporated RoRo capability. The GenRo is a little more compact and smaller category of wheeled cargo carriers that can tow loads with estimated deadweight tonnes (DWT) ranging from 2,000 to approximately 30,000.

RoPax Vessels

RoPax is slang for a ship that transports cars but also has accommodations for its passengers. Although RoPax is primarily a technical name, the boats that carry automobiles and people over river docks are more frequently known as ferries.

The process of Ro-Ro shipping

Shipping by Ro-Ro vessels is a standard vehicle transport mode between different ports. The vessels are used explicitly for carrying wheel cargo. The process of shipping by Ro-Ro vessels is simple. The cargo is loaded into the vessel, and the vessel sets sail. The voyage is usually uneventful, and the ship arrives at its destination without any problems.

  • The cargo is driven or towed up a ramp and into the ship.
  • Once on board, cargo is secured so it doesn’t move during transit.
  • Once all the cargo is loaded, the ship sets sail for its destination port.
  • Upon arrival at the destination port, the shipment is offloaded via a ramp and continues to its final destination.

Top tips for using Ro-Ro shipping

Shipping a car can be daunting, but with the right tips and resources, it can be a simple and painless process. Here are some tips for sending your vehicle through RoRo shipping:

  • Do your research. Many RoRo shipping companies are out there, and it cannot be easy to decide which one is the best fit for your vehicle and your needs. Make sure to research and find a company with a good reputation that has been in business for a long time.
  • Choose the right shipping company. There are many different types of RoRo shipping companies out there, so make sure to choose the right one for your needs. Some companies specialize in moving large items, while others are better suited for smaller items.
Tips-shipping
  • Check experience: RoRo shipping is typically used for larger vehicles, so keep this in mind when choosing a shipping company. Make sure the company you choose has experience shipping RoRo and can provide you with a quote that includes all fees.
  • Prep your vehicle. Make sure to pack your car well and prepare it for shipping. You may need to be ready with the car, insurance information, and a copy of the vehicle title.
  • Arrange for prompt delivery: Once your car has arrived at its destination. Many RoRo shipping companies offer a 24-hour delivery window, so contact them in advance if you need your vehicle delivered sooner.
  • Get quotes from different companies. Once you have chosen a company, get quotes from various providers to see which one is the cheapest and has the most flexible schedule.
  • Finally, be prepared for some additional cost to ship a car associated with RoRo shipping. These may include port fees, customs duties, and other associated costs. However, the process is usually cheaper than shipping a car through a traditional carrier.

How to prepare your vehicle for RoRo shipping

RoRo shipping is a great way to get your vehicle from one place to another. However, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your car for RoRo shipping. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your vehicle is prepared for transport. This means ensuring it’s clean and empty of all personal belongings or cargo. The less weight your vehicle has, the lower the shipping costs. You should also disable any alarm systems to avoid them going off during transit.
  • Your vehicle will be exposed to the elements during transit, so it’s essential to protect it adequately. This means ensuring that any valuable items are removed from the vehicle or adequately secured. It would help if you also considered buying insurance to cover your car in case of damage during transit.
  • Ensure the battery is disconnected and there is no fuel in the tank.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork ready before starting the RoRo shipping process. This includes your vehicle’s registration, insurance proof, and other required documents.

What are some of the challenges of using RoRo shipping?

There are a few challenges that should be considered when using RORO services:

  • Security: Since cargo is loaded onto the vessel without being enclosed car shipping like in a container, it can be more vulnerable to theft or damage.
  • Weather: Inclement weather can delay loading and unloading operations and impact transit times.
  • Specialized Equipment: Some types of cargo may require special handling equipment to be loaded onto the vessel safely.

Questions to ask a roll–on a–roll-off shipping company (With answers)

Before you book with a roll on – roll off shipping company, it is essential to ask them a few key questions. Here are five questions that you should always ask, along with the answers you should be looking for:

1. What is included in the price?

When getting a quote from a shipping company, find out precisely what is included in the price. Some companies will include fuel surcharges and other fees in their quotes, while others will not. You want to be clear on what you are paying for so there are no surprises later.

2. What is your transit time?

The transit time is the time it will take for your shipment to reach its destination. Make sure to find out the transit time before booking so you can plan accordingly. Most companies will have an estimated transit time listed on their website or when you get a quote from them.

3. What is your cancellation policy?

If you need to cancel your shipment for any reason, it is vital to know the cancellation policy of the shipping company. Some companies will charge a fee if you cancel, while others will not. Make sure to ask about their approach so you are aware of any potential charges.

How do you handle damaged goods?

If your shipment is damaged during transit, it is crucial to know how the shipping company will handle it. Some companies have insurance they can file a claim with, while others do not. Be sure to find out their policy so you can plan accordingly in case something happens to your shipment.

Do You Require A Minimum Weight For Shipments? 

Yes, most roll–on–roll–off shipping companies require a minimum weight for shipments. The minimum weight is usually around 10,000 lbs. (4,536 kg). You may be charged a higher rate if your shipment does not meet the minimum weight requirement.

What Are Your Hours Of Operation? 

Most roll–on–roll–off shipping companies are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, some companies may have limited hours of operation. Be sure to ask about their hours before scheduling your shipment.

Do You Offer Discounts For Military Personnel? 

Yes, many roll–on–roll–off shipping companies offer discounts for military personnel. Some discounts are only available for active duty military personnel, while others are available for active and retired military personnel. Be sure to ask about their policy so you can take advantage of any potential discounts.

Offer discounts

Major shipping ports in the USA

A number of ports in the United States are well-suited to ship a vehicle through RoRo shipping. The most popular ports include Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach, and Seattle. Each of these ports has significant infrastructure and capabilities, making it an ideal location for auto transport. Each port has specific advantages that make it an even better choice for your vehicle shipment. For example, Los Angeles is the largest port in the country and is well-connected to other major shipping hubs worldwide. It’s one of the world’s busiest ports. This makes it a great option if you need to send your car overseas or if you want to transport it through multiple states before reaching its final destination.

  • Port of CORPUS CHRISTI (Texas, USA)
  • Port of South Louisiana (Laplace, USA)
  • Port of Houston (Texas, USA)
  • Port of BEAUMONT (Texas, USA)
  • Port of New Orleans  
  • Port of New York, NY, and NJ
  • Port of Long Beach (Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, USA)

Common questions about Ro-Ro shipping

What types of commodities can be transported via RoRo vessels?

Heavy duty equipment such as construction machinery; mining dumpers & excavators; large road tractors & trailers; all types of oversized loads. In addition to these break bulk cargoes, Project cargoes like Power plants equipment, Steel coils, Prefabricated homes, Marine Vessels, Oil rigs, Airplanes, Railway locomotives, Windmills, and any oversize or overweight shipments can also be transported using RORO services.

What are the most popular trade lanes involving RORO Shipping?

North America – Europe North America – Australia/New Zealand Japan – Hawaii Europe – West Africa Southeast Asia – Middle East Southwest Asia – IndiaSouth America – West Africa.

Which shipping lines offer RORO services? 

Almost all major steamship companies are operating in the international shipping market offer RORO services.

How is Ro-Ro cargo loaded onto the vessel? 

Loading typically occurs via integrated ramps at the stern or bow of the ship, allowing vehicles to drive directly onboard. Once all cars have been loaded aboard, they are securely lashed down to prevent movement during transit.


Harish Makam