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Can You Ship a Non-Road Legal Car?

Published by Tamar Hela.

Can You Ship a Non-Road Legal Car?

In the world of automotive enthusiasts, non-road-legal cars hold a special allure, but what, exactly, qualifies a vehicle for this category? From cars that don't meet emission standards to those without necessary safety features, these machines are confined to closed circuits, private property, or specific events.

In this article, we’ll drive through the maze of legal considerations, potential risks, and shipping options to transport non-road legal cars safely. Let’s dive in.

What Is a Non-Road Legal Car?

When looking at the almost endless amount of vehicles manufactured around the world, we come across a specific category known as a “non-road legal car.” These vehicles are not designed for travel on public roads due to a variety of reasons, such as their make, purpose, or compliance with safety standards. They can’t be registered for road use as is typically required for standard passenger or commercial vehicles. This type of vehicle is often limited to operation on private property or designated areas specifically intended for use.

Definition of a Non-Road Legal Car

A non-road legal car is one that, according to manufacturer specifications and regulatory standards, is primarily built for use other than on public roads. This could be because the vehicle does not meet the necessary safety, emissions, or design criteria that public road vehicles are mandated to adhere to. In some territories, the classification of these vehicles is governed by regulations highlighting the criteria for road usage.

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Examples of Non-Road Legal Cars

The list of non-road legal cars varies and includes both factory-designed and modified vehicles that fall outside the perimeters of legal street use. For example, vehicles with certain structural modifications, like expanded tire widths that extend beyond the fenders without proper extensions, are deemed illegal for road travel. This is because of the danger they pose in terms of covered wheel tread and potential road debris projection.

Moreover, specialized heavy machinery such as earth-moving equipment—think of bulldozers or excavators—is categorized as non-road due to its design being unfit for public road infrastructure.

Additionally, non-road motorcycles are a prime example. Lacking essential components for road safety—such as directional indicators, mirrors, or license plate fittings—these motorcycles don't qualify for road registration. Even if a vehicle is used off-road, its design features as specified by the original manufacturer are what determine its classification as non-road legal, not simply the owner's intended use.

Shipping Non-Road Legal Cars

Shipping non-road legal cars can be complex, but it’s entirely possible with the right approach and consideration of certain guidelines. Whether you're dealing with a vehicle not designed for road use, like a farm vehicle or a racing car, or a standard vehicle modified away from conformity with road legality – the process for shipping differs from their roadworthy counterparts.

Special handling is often required to transport non-road legal cars. Non-running vehicles, for instance, need transporters equipped with powered winches to facilitate loading onto a shipping truck or container. Despite the typically limited availability, some roll-on roll-off (RORO) services might accommodate these types of vehicles for shipping, providing they can roll and steer.

Modifications, an intrinsic aspect of many non-road legal cars, add extra layers to the shipping process. Take, for instance, wider tires without the necessary fender extensions. Such alterations may not only make a car illegal for public road use but can also mean complications during transportation due to size constraints and legal factors. Compliance with shipping regulations is crucial to avoid any legal barriers that may crop up during transit.

Risks and Challenges of Shipping Non-Road Legal Cars

Shipping vehicles that aren't road-legal carries its unique set of risks and challenges. From functional aspects such as the necessity of a fully operational steering mechanism to legal hurdles, the transporter must be prepared for hurdles. Anticipating additional costs for collection and towing is crucial, as is understanding the nuanced requirements for shipping a non-road vehicle to its destination safely.

Shipping Methods for Non-Road Legal Cars

When considering shipping non-road legal cars, there are a few transportation methods to think about. Owners and shippers can choose between container shipping services—either dedicated or shared—understanding that RORO options are limited. Vehicles must be equipped with a fully functioning steering system for effective and safe loading onto and securing within the carrier, regardless of the chosen method.


Air Freight for Shipping Non-Road Legal Cars

For the quickest shipping of non-road legal cars, air freight services stand out as a premier solution. This premium mode of transport is generally reserved for high-value vehicles or circumstances where speed is the ultimate goal.

Despite being the costliest option, air freight's expedited service ensures a shorter transit time. Carriers may require that the vehicle's battery be disconnected before the flight to comply with safety regulations. Overseas shipping will largely depend on whether speed is a priority over cost, with air freight offering the fastest option at a higher price point. For those opting for this method, insurance is necessary and can be arranged through specialized third-party companies catering to air freight shipping.

Ground Transportation for Shipping Non-Road Legal Cars

Ground transportation for non-road legal cars has several options. For non-running vehicles, specialized transporters with powered winches allow these cars to be loaded onto carriers safely and effectively. Container shipping services accommodate these non-runners, providing either a dedicated container for a single vehicle or a shared container for multiple cars.

Regardless of the container type, additional towing and collection fees should be anticipated at both the origin and the destination. It's important to ensure that the vehicle's steering mechanism is fully operational for loading purposes and to comply with safety standards during transit. Ocean freight, which includes container and RORO options, offers an alternative for vehicles needing overseas transportation where ground options are simply not an option.

Shipping Containers for Non-Road Legal Cars

Container shipping offers a secure method for transporting non-road legal cars. Vehicles can be driven into the container via a ramp and later anchored down with ratchet straps to prevent movement during transit. Shipping companies must carry insurance by law for all goods transported, ensuring a degree of protection for your vehicle.

When considering international shipments, insurance options such as All-Risk or Total-Loss-Only policies are available to cover potential damages. Although air freight is available, its high cost makes it less common for non-luxury or less urgent shipments. Before the vehicle is loaded into a container, some shipping companies might request the disconnection of the car's battery, so be sure to verify the carrier's specific policies in advance.

Ensuring Safety and Compliance

When transporting non-road legal cars, adhering to safety and compliance regulations is of the utmost importance to ensure a secure and legally compliant shipment process. Special handling is needed for non-running vehicles, which can’t independently load onto the shipping service's mode of transportation.

Safety Standards for Non-Road Legal Cars During Shipping

Adhering to safety standards during the shipping of non-road legal cars is critical. Non-running vehicles, in particular, can be shipped but require meticulous handling and support features, such as winches or forklifts, during the loading process. One constant, as previously mentioned and regardless of the cargo method, is the requirement of functioning steering to ensure the vehicle can be moved safely onto the carrier and securely fastened for the journey.

For non-running vehicles, bear in mind the inevitable added expenses, especially collection and towing charges. Northbound shipments into Canada, moreover, are subjected to specific conditions whereby individuals or companies may request temporary importation for non-compliant vehicles for special purposes. This reflects Canada's regulatory landscape and its accommodation of such situations under controlled circumstances.


Liability and Insurance for Shipping Non-Road Legal Cars

The responsibility of adequately insuring non-road legal vehicles during shipping lies with various stakeholders in the transport chain. Shipping companies are required to have insurance coverage for all transported goods.

However, the same obligation may not extend to direct brokers or private sellers arranging for vehicle shipment, underscoring the need for the vehicle owner to verify that adequate coverage is in place. To ensure optimal protection while transporting an expensive or valuable vehicle, it is essential to not only secure appropriate insurance coverage but also to verify the documentation from the insurance provider before moving forward with the shipment.

Shipping Non-Road Legal Cars Is Possible

Shipping a non-road legal car is definitely possible, provided that certain considerations and regulations are taken into account. Whether the vehicle is intended for private property use, such as a farm or racing vehicle, or is an antique collectible not suited for public roads, it's essential to know the specific requirements for the type of vehicle being shipped.

Ultimately, whatever type of non-road legal car you’re transporting, proper planning, and adherence to regulations are crucial for a successful shipment. That’s why it’s always your best bet to consult with professionals who know what they’re doing.

Transport your non-road legal vehicle with peace of mind by calling the experts at A1 Auto Transport.

For over 25 years, we've helped thousands of customers safely transport their cars across the country or overseas without incident. Our team handles every shipment with extreme care and diligence from start to finish. You'll receive real-time updates and have total visibility of your vehicle's journey.

Whether cross-country or international, let A1 Auto Transport handle your non-road legal shipping needs. You won't find better service, coverage, or peace of mind anywhere else. Book your vehicle shipment today by calling or visiting us online. With us, your car is in safe hands.

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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