Do Moving Companies Ship Cars?

If you have moved your home more than once, you already know that hiring professionals to do the work for you makes sense. Professional movers are experts at preparing goods for shipping and take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of your property so that it arrives in the same condition it left your home but the question is do moving companies ship cars?

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Do Moving Companies Ship Cars?
Do Moving Companies Ship Cars?

Whether you are moving to another state, across the country or overseas to a new international location, you need a service provider for secure shipping for your vehicle. We know that Americans want an affordable solution to allow them to take their vehicle(s) anywhere they move to. And that’s why you can trust our team because we specialize in treating your vehicle with love and protecting it throughout every stage of consumer or commercial freight forwarding.

Do Moving Companies Ship Cars with Household Furniture?

You can definitely find a moving company that will be willing to carefully load your vehicle on a truck, surrounded by furnishings, and boxes of your possessions. But if that is already sounding like a bodywork or repair bill waiting to happen, trust your instincts. It is never a good idea to ship your car with other cargo.

No matter how a mover guarantees to pad and protect your vehicle, they cannot assure that it will arrive without any damage. You see, when you are using a container and heavy truck (assuming your goods will be driven to the destination), it is hard to control how heavy cargo shifts in transit.

If the truck has to stop suddenly, the mass of your cargo may shift unexpectedly. That coffee table that the mover tied securely with straps to the sidewall of the container, is now on top of the hood of your car. We have been in this industry for a long time, and we’ve heard stories from both customers and shippers that are pretty heartbreaking (for anyone who loves their car or truck).

Can you find someone to pack your prized vehicle in with all the other boxes? You can! But it’s really not a good idea. And auto insurance companies are sticklers when it comes to compensating you for damage. Your insurer can decline a portion or all of your compensation for damages if they feel you did not take appropriate measures to protect your vehicle during shipping.

That can leave you with a damaged car and an unexpected out-of-pocket repair bill.

Another consideration is security. Unfortunately, moving trucks are susceptible to theft. They are an easy target for criminals, who can wait for movers at truck stops or motels when they are resting after a day of driving. You see, they know that there are valuables in the truck (particularly a large container), and they are skilled at the break and enter, and removing property quickly, without being caught.

The household goods including furniture, jewelry, and electronics are at the top of the list for cargo thieves who can turn your property into fast money. While it may seem like a good idea to consolidate your shipment to save costs, when you think about the potential for damage and loss, it’s not the best strategy to make sure everything makes it to your new destination in good order.

How Hard Is It to Ship a Car to Another Country?

When you have been transferred by your employer to a new country, or have decided to move your family, you may think that shipping your car to an international destination is pretty straightforward. Simply pack it up, pay for the freight, and have it driven to your home or pick it up at the nearest drayage Port to your new location.

There are actually a number of legal steps you have to take, to successfully ship a vehicle from the United States to another country. Believe it or not, you have to get approval on both sides to export and import a vehicle and assure regulatory agencies that your vehicle is not stolen, and that it meets all safety requirements. If that paperwork is not in order, property owners can find their vehicle impounded with a lot of extra red-tape and costs to navigate in order to regain access to their car or truck.

1. Consult the U.S. State Department Regulations

Vehicle owners must call the U.S. State Department hotline, to learn whether their vehicle is approved for export to the destination country. Some countries have strict limitations on the age, model or make of the vehicle that would make it illegal to take possession of your car or truck after shipping. In some countries, aftermarket accessories like darkly tinted windows, or white headlights are prohibited.

American travelers who are moving abroad, also have to get their International Driving Permit (IDP). Many countries do not accept a driver’s license from another foreign country, but the majority of countries do allow for the IDP. This will keep you driving your vehicle legally, and allow you to qualify for new insurance coverage at your destination (which you can arrange before you go, with coverage starting the day you accept personal possession of your vehicle).

2. Proof of Ownership Documentation

Anytime you travel outside of the United States with a vehicle, you must have proof of ownership. These documents must be original (photocopies are not permitted), or where the original ownership title to the vehicle is not available, they must be legally certified copies.

If you do not own your vehicle outright, and you are still ‘paying it off’ with a loan from a dealership, bank or private lender, you must also provide a legally notarized lien holder approval to remove the car or truck from the United States. If the vehicle was a gift and has no outstanding lien against it, you must ensure that title and ownership are transferred to you, before attempting to ship your vehicle to another country.

3. Have Your Vehicle Inspected for Safety and Emissions

Many European countries have very strict environmental protection laws, and they apply to the emissions performance of your vehicle. Get a mechanic to do a tune-up of your vehicle and emissions test, and organize the receipts, proof of emission test results, and any repairs that you made with your proof of vehicle ownership and title information.

There is a zero-tolerance policy for any vehicles that are imported. The last thing you want to experience is having your car permanently impounded, or to be fined and forced to upgrade your emissions at a big additional expense.

4. Freight Forms for U.S. Customs

Going through customs can be hard enough for people who are crossing the border, but it is even more difficult for vehicles on both the export and import side of the equation. You will need to include all ownership documentation and the V.I.N. number of your car or truck, as part of filing customs paperwork. Consult with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency for resources and more information.

You will be required to pay an AES port filing fee. This is the charge for shipping with the Automated Export System, which tracks goods in and out of the United States. The original documents you provide to U.S. Customs will be returned to you by courier, but you will also have to pay a small fee for that service.

5. Marine and Motor Vehicle Insurance

It may surprise you to know that you will have to purchase additional insurance for your vehicle when you are exporting it from the United States. The insurance premiums you have been paying for damage and liability in the United States are no longer applicable, once the car or truck leaves the country.

Don’t make the mistake of acquiring vehicle insurance coverage later. Anything can happen to your car during shipping, and while damage and theft are rare, it is a possibility that you need to consider. Make sure that you have your insurance premium paid so that it takes effect the moment you regain possession of your vehicle, in the new foreign country.

Remember that with roll-on, roll-off drayage delivery, only the actual vehicle is insured (not the belongings). Avoid packing things like electronics, jewelry or other property into your vehicle. If it is damaged or lost, the value of the contents will not be compensated to you.

When you have safely arrived at your new destination, you will be required to pick up your vehicle in person. As a precaution, make sure you have retained all copies of your title and ownership, vehicle identification number (V.I.N.) and be prepared to show vehicle insurance that is valid in your destination country.

If all your documentation is in order, and your car or truck has arrived safely, you can literally drive it to your new home. Allow for ample time at the Port of destination, because pick-up of vehicles can take several hours, depending on the volume of cargo that day.

Navigating all the legalities and documentation requirements for shipping a car or truck overseas can be time consuming and difficult. Consult with an expert auto transportation service, to learn how they can manage all the hard work for you. It is worth it.

Written By:

Joe Webster
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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.

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