How Do You Ship a Car from One State to Another?

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How Do You Ship a Car from One State to Another?

Shipping a Car from One State to Another

Shipping a car isn’t as hard as it seems. That is of course if you do a little research before trying to do so.

A lot of people make this one big mistake

They load Google and type, “How do you ship a car from one state to another?” The results page is a mixed bag of goodies, some useful and some not so useful. So, how do you weed through the nonsense?

How Do You Ship a Car from One State to Another?

Here’s how

You need to consider several important things when you are looking to ship your car domestically in the United States:

  • How do you want to ship your car?
  • Where are you trying to transport your car?
  • Does the state you are taking it to have any specific regulations?
  • Do you have proper documentation showing ownership or the right to transport the vehicle?
  • Do you plan to buy additional insurance to protect your vehicle during transportation?
  • Are you going to hire an experienced company to facilitate the move?

All of these questions are important to ask. Shipping a car can be time consuming if you don’t do it right. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can simply call a shipping company and load their car on a truck. It’s not that easy.


A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. 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.


  1. How do you want to ship your car?

There are a few different methods that you can use to ship your vehicle across state lines. They all differ in price and delivery time.

Ship Your Car by Rail

This is the most expensive option, but generally the quickest way to ship your car. You should choose this method if:

  • You want your vehicle to be shipped fast
  • Price isn’t an obstacle

Ship Your Car by an Open Truck

You’ve probably seen transports lugging a rack full of cars before if you’ve driven on any major American highway. This is one of the most common and cheapest options available.

Keep in mind that if you use this method, your vehicle is exposed to the elements, debris, and anything else the road throws at your vehicle.

Ship Your Car by an Enclosed Truck

The only difference between this and the open truck shipping method is that the trailer is enclosed. This option is typically more expensive than open truck, but it does provide your vehicle an added layer of protection.

You won’t believe how many people believe they can drive their car across the country on their own. We’ve had customers make it seem like it’s easy to drive from New York City to Los Angeles.

Don’t make this mistake

Trust us, you don’t want to drive 2,797 miles. That will take you over 41 hours of pure driving. You are probably wondering how much this will cost you. There are no one-size fits all answers to this question.

The main things that tend to influence price the most are:

  • Distance
  • Shipping method
  • Turnaround time
  • Size
  • Fuel prices

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to shop around for quotes. One of the easiest ways to get a quick price is to use our shipping cost calculator. Why would you want to pay more?

  1. Where are you trying to transport your car?

This is an important question to ask because it will dictate how long and how much it will cost to ship your car.

Here’s a few tips to lower your cost:

  • Make sure your car is ready to go come shipment time.
  • Try and transport it along major shipment networks
  • Be aware of fuel prices
  • Try and avoid shipping at the start and end of winter

These suggestions may seem like commonsense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand why. There is a lot of competition in the auto shipping industry.

But that’s a good thing for you

That means that you are often getting the best price because these companies fear that they will lose your business to their competition. Just follow the rules we listed above and you’ll be fine.

  1. Does the state you are taking it to have any specific regulations?

This is a difficult question to answer without knowing what state you are moving to. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll more than likely need to do the following in your new state:

  • Register the vehicle
  • Provide proof of ownership
  • Show that the vehicle is insured

Every state has its own set of complicated rules. Your best bet is to call the DMV in the destination state and ask them about any special steps that you need to consider when shipping your car. You can also give us a call if you need help figuring your situation out.

  1. Do you have proper documentation showing ownership or the right to transport the vehicle?

This one sounds obvious, right? You wouldn’t believe how many people improperly buy a vehicle.

Don’t be that guy

Shipping companies aren’t stupid. They know when you are trying to illegally ship a vehicle because it is their job to know.

It happens all the time

Look, we know that shipping a vehicle is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it any harder by trying to skirt the law. If you want to do this properly, make sure you have the following:

  • The Original registration and title for the car
  • A notarized letter from a bank for a car that has a lien on it
  • Proof of current insurance for the car
  • I.D.

Shipping a car is serious business and there are a lot of strict rules that must be completed before any shipment can take place.

  1. Do you plan to buy additional insurance to protect your vehicle during transportation?

The answer to this is yes and no.

Confusing right? Let me explain

We recommend that you start by asking the following questions:

  • What type of damage does the company cover?
  • Do they only cover specific sections of the vehicle?
  • What is the minimum coverage?
  • Do they have a deductible?
  • If so, how much is the deductible?
  • Will they cover damaged accessories like spoilers or mirrors?

Auto shipping companies are obligated by law to carry some form of minimum insurance. This insurance covers the cost of damage for most vehicles.

If you are shipping an extremely valuable or rare car, you will want to upgrade your insurance to keep your vehicle safe.

Accidents happen and there is no way to predict when the unexpected will take place.

Here’s what we recommend

Take the time to read the insurance policy of the shipping company you are looking to hire. If they avoid letting you look at it, RUN!

The company will more than likely share it with you if they stand by their reputation and are serious about what they do.

In most cases, your default car insurance will also cover certain types of damage. Take the time to call your insurance provider to see what they cover and if you can upgrade your insurance during the shipment.

You can also try this

The best form of insurance is to be thorough. We always recommend that you take photos of your vehicle and document any dents and scratches before shipping your car.

You will also want to make sure that your auto shipping company documents your concerns in order to create a paper trail.

This will help you prove any damage that may have been caused during transportation.

How Do You Ship a Car from One State to Another?

One more thing!

A lot of people make the mistake of trying to ship their car without cleaning it.

All reputable shipping companies will refuse to ship your car unless it is completely empty. It has nothing to do with an obsession with cleanliness and more to do with reducing liability and increasing safety.

Shipping a car is tough. The last thing a shipping company wants to deal with is multiple damaged cars because something inside of your car smashed through the window and damaged another car.

Let me explain

You will need to do the following in order to ship your car:

  • Give it a solid wash to remove all dirt. This will help you identify any dents and scratches.
  • Document all damage.
  • Clean the interior of your car, trunk included!
  • Inflate your tires and charge your battery
  • Top off your fluids
  • Drive your car to near empty to reduce weight
  • Report any mechanical problems before shipping
  • Secure your hardtop if you are shipping a convertible
  • Fold your side mirrors in and retract your antenna

This may seem like a lot, but doing your due diligence will save you a lot of potential trouble and make your shipping company happy.

We don’t enjoy being bossy, we just want to make sure that everyone’s car makes it safely and on time.

  1. Are you going to hire an experienced company to facilitate the move?

There is nothing wrong with trying to ship your car on your own. It can be done, but it is challenging.

Shipping companies spend decades building networks, competing on price, and have deep insights into their industry.

You paid a lot of money for your car – protect it

Here at A-1 Auto Transport, we understand that you worked hard to buy your vehicle.

It doesn’t matter if you are transporting a Nissan Leaf or a classic 1970s Ford Mustang. We treat all cars the same because your car is special to you.

If you are nervous about the process, don’t have the time to coordinate the shipment, or just want peace of mind, hire a professional car shipping company.

Shipping a car across state lines is fairly easy when you have a company with decades of experience overseeing the shipment.

Still feeling overwhelmed?

No problem. We’re here to help. Give us a call today!

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 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, Inc., 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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