Differences Of Shipping A Boat Vs. Shipping A Car

Domestic USA & International Auto Shipping
Quote Calculator

Differences Of Shipping A Boat Vs. Shipping A Car

If you have previously bought either a boat or a car, you may be wondering whether the processes are similar. In this article, we look at the differences between transporting a boat and a car.

In general, shipping both cars and boats requires a documentation process. However, there are certain procedures that differ. These are the preparation processes, shipping methods, restrictions, and costs.

The preparation process

Most of the preparations for both boats and cars are similar except for;

  1. While a boat should have all the fuel and water tanks drained, a car can have its gas tank at not more than a ¼ tank full.
  2. A boat requires winterization when transported during winter months. A car does not.
  3. You will need to measure your boat size before shipping it. On the other hand, for cars, all that is considered is the manufacturer’s specifications.

Differences Of Shipping A Boat Vs. Shipping A Car

Shipping costs

When considering the shipping costs, distance is the most important factor for a car. For a boat, the shipping costs largely depend on the vessel’s size.

To estimate the shipping costs of a car, most companies provide an estimate depending on the type of car, delivery options, vehicle manufacturer, shipping route, and destination. On the other hand, estimating the shipping costs of a boat depends on several factors. Hauling companies require that you provide details of the boat size, place of origin, route, and location for a cost estimate.

Shipping restrictions

Depending on the size of the boat, certain restrictions may apply. Oversized boats may not be transported at night and may need special permits. Contrary, transporting cars is much easier with no restrictions on sizes.

Routing for cars is determined by you or your company based on preferences. Although you may choose your preferred routes, boat specifications may override your choice.

To reduce the height of a boat, you may consider dismantling certain attachments. In contrast, a car is transported without any alterations.

Transporting salvage vehicles

You can ship a salvage boat or a salvage car at a premium cost. Normally, a boat will attract a higher cost than a car.

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.

Shipping services

Due to their sizes, cars and boats have different shipping options.


  1. Open air transport service is where several cars are shipped in a multi-carrier.
  2. The enclosed transport provides cover for cars during transport. The cover can be soft-sided where a canvas or a vinyl is placed over the vehicles. A hard-sided cover can also be used where the car is completely enclosed.
  3. The terminal to terminal shipping options requires a client to take their car to and from a terminal.
  4. Cars can also use the door to door services. Here, the transport company takes cars to the owner. It is a much faster option but it is also more expensive than the alternatives.


  1. Shrink wrapping is where a boat is covered to protect it from salt damage.
  2. Overland transport services allow you to transport a boat from an inland location to a shipping port.
  3. International yacht services deliver boats outside the United States.
  4. The full service moving involves shipping under special requests of private owners, brokers, or manufacturers.

Special transportation arrangements

You may want to choose your preferred shipping method for cars. However, your transport company should advise you on the best shipping arrangement for a boat. Here are some options you may receive from your hauling company.


If you have a luxurious car such as an SUV or Mercedes, you may request for special services such as:

  1. Secure fitting of the vehicle using the wall and floor brackets.
  2. Loading and offloading precautions using the hydraulic lift gate.
  3. Enclosed transportation to provide extra protection.
  4. Air freight shipping where your car is shipped by air.
  5. Air ride suspension.


Large boats often require different shipping options from normal-sized boats. Here are some options;

  1. Delivery captain: Here, a professional sailor delivers your boat by cruising in it. Although you have to deal with the wear and tear, a reliable yacht captain will deliver your large boat safely.
  2. Flat rack: a large boat may require a custom made cradle. This special cradle is shipped together with the boat.

As you can see, there are quite some glaring differences between shipping a car and a boat. If you have a good transporting company, however, either process should be easy.

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.

Ship Your Vehicle With A-1 Auto Today

Get an Instant Free Quote Now

Or Call Us Today and Speak to Directly to Our Sales Team:


Inc. 500 Company
American Moving and Storage Association Member
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Secured by Verisign Inc.