Auto Transport Services in California

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Safe And Reliable California Car Shipping Services By A-1 Auto Transport

The Golden State is home to some very huge American mainstays: Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, Venice Beach, some of the most beautiful beaches AND west coast mountain scenery on this side of the world and a huge and diverse mix of towns/large cities. Thousands, if not millions of people relocate to California each year and it’s easy to see why. Commerce is booming, new businesses open every day and the entire state is one big draw for tourists. Therefore, California auto transport is equally big out there, since people want to be able to get around whether they are visiting or relocating for good. California.

Table of Contents

  1. California Cost & Time To Ship Your Car Examples
  2. Car Shipping Companies In California
  3. Tips For Using California Car Transport Companies
  4. Long Distance Auto Transport to/from California
  5. International Auto Transport from/to California
  6. Cheap Car Transportation Options in California
  7. Shipping Luxury and Classic Cars in California
  8. California Special Discounts
  9. Safety Measures
  10. California Auto Shipping Video
  11. How to Request a Price Estimate
  12. California Auto Transport Companies Directory
  13. California Car Registration
  14. Changing Registrations From Non-Transferable to Transferable
  15. California Car Registration for Military Members
  16. California Automobile Registration Fees
  17. Fees for late registration
  18. California Smog Inspections and Checks
  19. Weight Certifications in California
  20. License plates in California
  21. Other California Resources

Cost & Time To Ship Your Car Examples

Shipping To/FromCostDistanceEstimated Time
In Transit
Los Angeles to San Jose$340340 miles2 – 4 days
San Diego to Phoenix, AZ$355355 miles2 – 4 days
San Francisco to San Diego$377502 miles2 – 4 days
Portland, OR to Los Angeles$723964 miles3 – 5 days
Los Angeles to Houston, TX$9291548 miles5 – 7 days
Louisiana to California$11411901 miles5 – 7 days
California to Illinois$10422083 miles6 – 8 days
Michigan to California$12012402 miles7 – 9 days
New York, NY to Los Angeles$11162790 miles7 – 9 days
California to Miami, FL$11802950 miles7 – 9 days

*Prices and times are estimated. They can vary depending on the season and what type of vehicle you are shipping.

Car Shipping Companies Near Me

Looking for auto transport companies near you in California? Did you know, driving from San Diego to the California/Oregon border alone is over 800-miles? That is about 13 hours in the car, notwithstanding any stops. No matter where you’re taking your vehicle, instate or out, we have the resources you need to transport your vehicle with confidence. Our experts, logistics teams, and multiple offices across the country can plan your entire journey. Head to A1 Auto Transport to compare brokerages and carriers with trucks in your area right now.

Tips For Using California Car Transport Companies

Since many people use their vehicles and trucks to relocate or visit Cali, there are several options to keep in mind when it comes to California auto shipping.

  • Get quotes and compare prices from California auto transport companies around the state: Since the state is so massive, you need to get quotes from places nearby where you plan to be, always looking for seasonal discounts and specials to save you cash. California vehicle shipping companies are situated around the state and many have multiple offices, so keep that in mind anytime you submit for a quote for auto shipping. Be sure to check the BBB accredited review of any company that you are planning on shipping with. Online car shipping reviews can bring you some insight on which companies are good and which shippers you should steer clear of.
  • Prepare your car or automobiles for the long haul: Particularly if you are coming from the other side of the country, check your fluids and make sure your car has enough gas to get where you are going on the other end of the trip. This is important since it will be making quite a long haul for shipping purposes.
  • Pinpoint a good drop-off delivery point that is easily accessible to where you are headed: If you are scheduling for terminal-to-terminal California automobile transport, then make sure that the terminal of your choice is nearby the area where you plan to be once you arrive in the Golden State.

California auto transportation ensures that you can ride up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in your own vehicle, without worry about returning a rental car or borrowing someone else’s car for the journey. As you feel the ocean breeze and get from one point to the next in this massive state, you’ll be thankful that you utilized California auto transport for your car shipping needs.

Visit the California Department of Transportation website for more information on shipping your automobile to California.

Long Distance Auto Transport to/from California

When moving to another state for studies or a new job, bringing your car along with you may help you adjust faster. However, make sure your vehicle complies with your new state’s regulations. You may also need a new driver’s license if you’re moving permanently.

If you’re moving abroad, the above is just as important. Your auto transport company may have information on these issues, so consult with them before the move. Settle on a budget for your shipping and think of how and when you’d like to transport your car, so the conversation runs smoothly. If you find any of this difficult, call our office, and we will guide you through each step.

International Auto Transport from/to California

Depending on the country you’re moving to, you may need the help of carriers and a ship to transport your automobile. Planes are also an option, but they’re usually too expensive, while trains are limited in the places they can reach.

A1 Auto Transport can help you with the entire process, including dealing with customs, providing a carrier to pick up your car, booking a ship to take it overseas and selecting another carrier to take it to its destination from the dock.

All you have to do is prepare the necessary paperwork and follow our instructions. We also recommend you check the import taxes of the country you’re moving to. Some countries charge as much as the car’s value to discourage foreign vehicles from coming in.

Cheap Car Transportation Options in California

With our seasonal offerings, special discounts, and time tested transportation system, our rates are usually reasonable for anyone. However, if you’re facing financial difficulties, here’s how you may lower them further.

Use one of our open carriers for your shipment. Although enclosed carriers are said to be safer due to the car being covered during transport, open carriers are the best option for most shipments. An occasional pebble or bad weather may damage the paintwork slightly, but this is a risk your car faces every day you drive it.

Another way to lower costs is by using our terminal to terminal option. You will have to drive or transport your car to a terminal and pick it up from another near your destination, but it is much cheaper than the door to door service.

If your car is broken, you may be able to get a friend to tow it. If for whatever reason you can’t get to one of the terminals, you can opt for a door to terminal or a terminal to door service.

Shipping Luxury and Classic Cars in California

Bringing a luxury or classic car to California may damage it if you choose the wrong transportation method. Although open trailers are perfectly safe in most cases, unpredictable road and weather conditions may result in bumps or scratches on your vehicle.

Fortunately, cars transported with enclosed carriers are protected from outside elements (road debris, rocks, dust, bugs, rain) by the sides and top of the trailer. Your antique, exotic, classic, or luxury vehicles will arrive in exactly the same state they were in when they were picked up.

California Special Discounts

Special discounts are offered to all seniors and students that choose to transport their vehicles with our carriers. Military members are honored as well with a preferential price if they wish to use our services. You may also benefit from a seasonal discount even if you’re not from the groups mentioned above.

Auto Transport Safety Measures in California

During transport, your car is protected through several safety measures:

  • The carrier is designed to not allow cars to move while on it.
  • Beams and other vehicles protect it from the elements and from road debris.
  • On the top rows, due to the higher ground clearance, there’re less chances of pebbles flying into them.

If you want complete protection against the elements, you can opt for our enclosed carriers. However, even on an open one, you car will be much safer than when driving it.

Services And Information


A-1 Auto Transport ships vehicles worldwide. Click here or call 1-800-452-2880 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote to ship your car.


How to Request a Price Estimate

Our website contains an online form our clients can use to get a price estimate. All the fields must be completed, though they aren’t many and they don’t take much time to fill in. Follow all the steps and we’ll send you a quote soon.

Some past customers have saved as much as 15% by calling our office directly. The number is in the upper right corner of the screen. We’re available anytime, so don’t hesitate to contact us.

California Auto Transport Companies Directory

AmPm Auto Transport

If you plan to take a spin to see the stars, allow AmPm to ship your vehicle for you, so you can make it happen on your own terms. This licensed and bonded company offers all types of transport options for vehicle shipping.

2870 Los Feliz Pl. #101

Los Angeles, CA

877-241-2676

Nationwide Transport Services, LLC

A national transport service with offices in the Los Angeles region, this company might be optimal for you if you have plans to move cross country and need a company with offices where you are starting from and where you are going.

3183 Wilshire Blvd

Los Angeles, CA

877-278-3135

Lepke Auto Transport

Lepke has been in the business for quite some time and has a high rating of customer satisfaction and diverse California auto shipping options. With this company, you can ship your vehicle in or out of California.

445 South Figueroa Street #2700

Los Angeles, CA

877-733-3479

Global Auto Transportation

Global offers all auto shipping types and is a fully-insured company that provides transport for dealerships, individuals and online car buyers alike, helping cars to move in and out of California, depending on the need. Will ship vans, SUVs, boats, motorcycles and more.

2870 Los Feliz Place

Los Angeles, CA

818-476-5005

First Class Auto Transport, Inc

First Class offers first class friendly drivers and some of the most affordable auto shipping rates in the industry. This is a perfect option for those that need top rate auto transport at a price they can afford. Ships all makes and models to Hawaii, Alaska and all United States destinations.

2202 South Figueroa Street

Los Angeles, CA

Tollfree – (800) 405-2494

San Francisco Auto Transport And Car Transport Service

Getting around San Francisco is no easy task; much less if you are trying to get your vehicle in or out. You might not have a clue of where to start when transporting your vehicle into the Bay area, but San Francisco Auto Transport does and can help you get the job done.

268 Bush Street

San Francisco, CA

415-230-2089

Elite Auto Shipping

Elite Auto Shipping is just as the name implies; this company specializes in shipping cars of all types, but specifically classic and custom cars that require a special level of handling when engaging in California auto shipping.

200 Sagamore Street

San Francisco, CA

415-707-3794

Pavel & Sons Auto Transport

Family owned and operated, Pavel and Sons provides California car shipping of all types, including enclosed and can ship vehicles in and out of the state.

7612 Glenmont Way

Antelope, CA

916-476-8331

Berkfield Auto Transport

Berkfield is a long-standing California automobile transportation organization in the Sacramento area. This company is insured and prides itself on a long record of first-rate customer service. Offers military discounts.

7324 Bradshaw Road

Sacramento, CA

916-769-6000

Tow Auto Transport

If you need your vehicle shipped and would like quotes that offer a variety of ways in which to do so into or out of the capital city of the state, then this might be your chosen company in which to do so.

8876 Vintage Park Drive

Sacramento, CA

877-574-3576

California Car Registration

To register a car in California, there are a few basic steps you must follow:

  • Go to the DMV office in California.
  • Have your smog certificate and ownership proof with you.
  • Prepare your car insurance and ID.
  • Complete the 343 REG Form (a registration and title application).
  • Pay the needed taxes and fees.

If you’ve just moved to California, you have 20 days to register your car. You are a California resident as soon as:

  • You get employed in the state.
  • Ask for a tax exemption on your CA home.
  • You lease or rent an apartment or home.
  • You send the state an application for a document, like a voter registration, driver’s license, etc.
  • You enroll yourself or your children in high school, grade school, college, etc.

Military members who live in another state and their families are exempt from these rules.

If you’ve become a resident of California and wish to register a car, you must go to the DMV with the following:

  • 343 REG Form (a registration and title application) signed and containing the lienholder’s information (if there is one).
  • 4008 REG Form must be completed if you have a commercial automobile.
  • 4017 REG Form must be completed if you’re registering a trailer.
  • Vehicle insurance proof.
  • If you are moving a title to CA, you must provide it as well.
  • Registration from your home state.
  • If necessary, a weight certificate.
  • If needed, an emissions and smog certificate.
  • All taxes and fees must be paid.

An employee of the DMV will inspect your car physically and check the VIN. Upon a successful registration, the registration stickers, certificate, and license plates will be provided.

The registration process differs when your car was bought from an individual as opposed to it being purchased from a dealership. Turning a non transferable car registration into one that can be transferred is another process altogether.

Dealership purchased vehicle registration

The car dealership usually handles the registration documents in your stead. They will also provide a temporary certificate to use until you receive the official registration. License plates may be issued or not depending on each dealership’s process.

Individual purchased car registration

Cars bought from private individuals must be registered within 10 days. You must go to the DMV in your local area and provide the following:

  • The title of your car. If your car is a decade old or less, you must also present its odometer reading.
  • If you do not have the car’s title, complete a 227 REG Form.
  • A smog certificate. For vehicles older than four years, the seller must provide this certificate.
    • A smog certificate is valid for just 90 days.
    • If the registration was renewed for 2 more years before selling you the vehicle (within a 90 day margin), you don’t need a smog certificate.
    • Submit a 343 REG Form.
    • Pay the taxes and fees.

Changing Registrations From Non-Transferable to Transferable

If you cannot provide ownership proof on a vehicle from another state that you’re trying to register in CA, the registration you receive will not be transferable. Because of this, such a car cannot be transferred, sold, or receive a car title in California.

To convert your registration into one that’s transferable, you must go to the DMV office with the following:

  • The current registration.
  • The car’s last title.
    • If it’s not in your possession, you must complete a 227 REG Form or speak to the DMV if the car was not titled originally in California.
  • A registration or title application and a sale bill, if the car was bought from an individual.
  • For cars younger than a decade, an odometer statement must be provided.
  • If necessary, a smog certificate,
  • If the car registration should be renewed in 30 days or less, you must pay the renewal fees.
  • You must pay outstanding citations and the transfer fees if they apply.

California Car Registration for Military Members

The process for registering a vehicle differs slightly if you are a member of the military. This depends on whether you are or aren’t a California resident.

Non-residents: If you’re stationed in CA as a member of NATO or of the United States Armed Forces, you and your family do not have to register your cars in California. To drive legally, you must have the following:

  • Auto insurance from California.
  • License plates from your last country/state.
  • Registration in your spouse’s or your own name.

Registrations made in another country/state must be properly renewed in the country/state they were first issued in.

You may be exempt from paying a fee for the car license if you register it in California or you bought it there.

Residents of California who are part of the military

If you’re stationed in another state, you may register a vehicle there. Upon your return to California, you can register it back.

If you’re stationed in California, regardless if you’re a member of the same state or not, you may receive a fee exemption on your car license. To get it, go to the DMV in California and complete a 5045 REG (for military members) or a 5046 REG form (for NATO members).

Members of the military with a California residency that are stationed in another state may not benefit from a fee exemption for their automobile license.

California Automobile Registration Fees

If you went to a dealership to buy your car, fees and taxes will be included in its complete price. If it was bought from an individual, you must pay them yourself at the DMV in CA.

Fees for late registration

You must register your car at most 20 days after your residency was established. If you are late, you will have to pay additional taxes. If you’ve bought a car from an individual, you must register it within 10 days or risk having to pay extra fees as well.

California Smog Inspections and Checks

Most cars in CA must go through such an inspection before they can be registered. In certain areas, smog inspections must done on a 2 year basis. Instead of a certification from the smog inspection, new vehicles must pay a yearly $20 fee for smog abatement in the initial six years of being registered.

Weight Certifications in California

To register certain trucks and pickups in CA, you need a weight certificate. It can be obtained from a mover with a car scale, or you can use a public one instead. Weighing your truck requires the payment of a fee that differs from one location to another and according to your tuck’s unladen weight.

A weight certificate is needed for commercial trucks whose operating weight is less than 6001 pounds. A 256 REG Form must be completed to estimate its weight.

A weight certification is not needed for:

  • Pickups and trucks registered in CA if the registration shows the truck’s weight.
  • Pickups and trucks, who when empty, weigh less than 6001 pounds.
  • 2-3 axle trucks that weigh more than 10000 pounds.

License plates in California

License plates and registration stickers are mandatory in California. When the car is sold, the plates will go to the new owner, unless the seller specifically expresses his will to keep them.

Other California Resources

California.gov – official government website for the state of California.
California Wikipedia Page – everything you need to know about the state of California.
University Of California – The 10 campuses of the University of California open their doors to all who work hard and dream big. Through its teaching, research and public service, UC drives California’s economy and leads the world in new directions.
California State Parks And Recreation
California On Craigslist – local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events.

Related Information & FAQ

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

Reviews from Customers in California

  • Too bad there isn’t a star rating on this site, because I would give it 5 stars with no hesitation.

    I and my family had to move to New Jersey due to my job relocation. We first tried a broker for our car, at the recommendation of the agent in charge of our move. The company had problems, and we should have done our research better. The truck arrived on time, but it never got to its destination.

    We later learned it was stuck in a Los Angeles, California lot. We called, but instead of answering our questions, they just hung up. We were already in New Jersey, with no way of going back at this point.

    Joe guided us through this situation and got our car unstuck. We managed to transfer its transport to his company. He got a truck to pass by the lot and pick it up. They were at our doorsteps a few days later.

    The car was a bit dirty from sitting around for so long, but in great shape otherwise. We’re really happy with the service. I and my family couldn’t recommend A1 Auto Transport more. Thanks Joe!

    - David S.
  • The plan was to ship my car from California to Utah. I went through nearly 20 quotes after using an auto shipping site which linked to a bunch of brokers. Finally, I found A1 Auto Transport, a company with its own trucks with great reviews. I was sold.

    Joe was very competent, gave off the impression he’d done this a million times, and it really showed throughout the transport. He listened to my request carefully, offered me several options, stayed in touch during the transport, and made sure I was happy with everything. Overall, a great company which I would definitely recommend to others!

    - Ian V.

Auto Transport Services in California

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