This is a very common question posed when arranging for international auto transport, but the answer is not entirely straightforward. Short answer is yes, you can ship household goods in your vehicle during international shipping, but it is greatly discouraged. You are more than welcome to include a suitcase in your trunk weighing up to 100lbs for free, but anything more than that comes with additional costs and inherent risks. The following is a list of reasons why you should not exceed that 100lb suggestion.
Transport trucks are uniquely calibrated to hold the a certain amount of weight and anything above that weight limit can pose a safety risk. It also carries hefty fines if a truck is found to be in excess of the maximum weight allowance. If you vehicle is filled with heavy personal items, you can expect to pay additional fees to the moving company as well, so it is a costly decision, in addition to a potentially dangerous one.
An auto transport carrier rarely takes a straight route from point A to point B when shipping your vehicle, in order to allow for additional cars to be loaded and unloaded as necessary. These multiple stops, and in very long distance transports, overnight stays, allow for the probability of theft of valuables. Although not extremely common, the threat is real and a vehicle packed full of expensive household goods makes a very obvious target. All the more reason to avoid packing household goods in your vehicle during transport.
A trip aboard a transport truck is far from a smooth ride, which is why you don't see people riding along with their vehicles. It is bumpy and items inside are subject to vibrating and shifting along the way. This is why it is recommended your 100lbs be confined to the inside of a suitcase. Not only would a heavy item moving in the back seat potentially cause damage to your vehicle, but the item itself could break in transit as well. It is also important to note that although your vehicle is fully insured, any personal or household goods inside are not. Also, if your vehicle suffers damage, ie broken window or the like, and it is determined to be caused by the items inside, then you will most likely be denied an insurance claim and left to pay for the cost to fix the vehicle out of pocket.
If after hearing all the reasons why it is not in your best interest to pack household goods in your vehicle during transport, you still want to do so, then remember to adhere to the strict rules of conduct.
- Make sure all items stay below window level. This will help guard against potential theft and damage that can be sustained if and when your personal belongings shift. Even better, the trunk is a safer option, because it is impossible to see inside and greatly reduces chance of theft. More often than not, theft occurring on a transport vehicle is a crime of opportunity, motivated often by valuables being in plain view of a passerby.
- Leave driver's seat and floorboard completely empty. This will allow for easy access during the loading and unloading process. If you have opted to use the RORO method, this will allow the transport driver easy access in order to perform this common transport procedure.
- Recognize that you are fully responsible for anything transported inside your vehicle. As previously stated, your vehicle is fully insured by your international auto transport company, but anything you pack inside is not. This means that if something were to happen, the shipper will take no responsibility for your personal items or household goods.
- Consider utilizing closed container transport. Although usually reserved for higher-end vehicles or classic cars, enclosed car shipping is a viable option if you do choose to fill your vehicle with household goods. This adds an additional layer of safety from theft and keeps your entire vehicle out of public view, which in turn will likely keep your belongings better protected. Keep in mind that enclosed car shipping is pricier than open carrier, so you will see a significant cost increase if this is the route you choose to take.
- Reconsider your decision. Although it seems like it would make sense to have your personal belongings and household goods ride along with your vehicle, since they will eventually end up at the same place anyway, in this situation, the risks far outweigh the benefits, and it is your best interest to make alternative arrangements. Ask your international auto transport company for suggestions if you are having a hard time finding another option. Many companies provide all-inclusive moving packages where they can also handle the transport of all your personal items, valuables, and household goods in additional to transporting your vehicle.
- Federal Maritime Commission- shipping your vehicle overseas
- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol- Exporting a Motor Vehicle
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.