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What documents do I need to ship a car from California?

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Essential Documents for Car Shipping from California
  2. Detailed Explanation of Each Document
  3. Preparing Your Car for Shipping
  4. Choosing the Right Car Shipping Company
  5. Conclusion
What documents do I need to ship a car from California?

When it comes to shipping a car from California, whether you're relocating, selling, or sending a vehicle to a loved one, understanding the process is crucial. A key aspect of this process is knowing what documents you need to prepare. This isn't just about compliance with legal requirements; it's about ensuring your vehicle's journey is smooth and stress-free. Car transport companies often provide guidance, but having a clear checklist can save you time and prevent any last-minute hiccups. In this article, we'll dive into the essential documentation you'll need for car shipping from California, ensuring you're well-prepared for this task.

Essential Documents for Car Shipping from California

When planning to ship a car from California, the documents you'll need are crucial for a seamless process. Here's a straightforward list to keep you organized:

  • Title and Registration: The car's title and registration are fundamental, proving ownership and the legal right to ship the vehicle.
  • Proof of Insurance: Having valid insurance for your car is mandatory. This assures the auto transport company that your vehicle is covered in case of an incident.
  • Photo Identification: A government-issued ID (like a driver's license or passport) is required to verify your identity as the car's owner or authorized shipper.
  • Bill of Lading: This is the shipping contract between you and the car transport service, detailing the condition of the vehicle and terms of transport.
  • Power of Attorney: If you're not personally overseeing the car shipping, a Power of Attorney may be needed to authorize another individual to act on your behalf.

These documents are your passport to a hassle-free car shipping experience from California, ensuring that both you and the shipping company are protected throughout the process.


Detailed Explanation of Each Document

  • Title and Registration: The title proves ownership, while registration shows the vehicle is legally allowed on the road. If you've misplaced these documents, contact your local DMV as soon as possible to obtain replacements. Without these, auto transport services may refuse to ship your car due to legal constraints.
  • Proof of Insurance: Auto transport companies require proof of insurance to ensure that your vehicle is covered under your policy during transport. This doesn't just protect you; it also minimizes liability on their end. It's wise to check with your insurance provider to confirm that your policy covers long-distance car transport.
  • Photo Identification: A valid photo ID is necessary for the auto transport company to confirm your identity. This step is crucial for security reasons and to prevent fraud. Ensure your ID is current and clearly shows your name and photo.
  • Bill of Lading: This document is both a receipt and an inspection report. When your car is picked up, the carrier will inspect the vehicle with you and note its condition on the Bill of Lading. Both you and the driver will sign this document, which then serves as a binding agreement for the condition of the car before transport. It's essential for resolving any disputes about damages that might occur during shipping.
  • Power of Attorney: If you cannot be present during the pickup or delivery of your vehicle, a Power of Attorney (POA) allows someone else to sign documents on your behalf. This legal document should clearly state that the individual has the authority to act for you in matters related to the car's transport. Ensure it's properly executed; a notarized POA is often required by the best auto transport companies for verification purposes.

Understanding these documents and ensuring they are in order before handing your car over to a car transport service will help make the shipping process from California as smooth as possible.

Preparing Your Car for Shipping

Before you hand over your keys to an auto shipping company, there are several steps you should take to ensure your car is ready for its journey. First, give your car a good clean, both inside and out. This isn't just about courtesy; a clean car makes it easier to spot any dings, scratches, or damage that might occur during transport. Next, remove all personal items from your vehicle. Transport companies typically prohibit personal belongings in the car for safety and insurance reasons.

Check your car for any leaks and make sure that the battery is charged and that tires are properly inflated. It's also wise to have just a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle; this is sufficient for loading and unloading while keeping the weight lower for transport.

Documenting your car's condition is a crucial step. Take photos from various angles and note any existing damage. This will be important when you inspect your car upon delivery to ensure no new damage has occurred during shipping.

Lastly, disable any alarm systems and secure or remove loose parts and accessories. Providing your auto transport company with a set of keys is also necessary. Following these steps will not only prepare your car for a safe journey but will also align with the shipping company’s requirements for a smooth door to door delivery process.


Choosing the Right Car Shipping Company

Selecting the right company to ship a car is vital for a stress-free experience. Start by looking for transport companies with a strong reputation and positive reviews from previous customers. A reputable auto transport company will be transparent about their insurance policies, so ask about their auto insurance coverage to ensure your vehicle is protected against any potential damage during transit.

It's also important to compare quotes from multiple shipping services to find the best rate for your car shipping needs. However, don't choose a transport company based solely on price. The cheapest option isn't always the best when it comes to safely shipping your car.

Check for registration with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and ensure they offer the specific services you need, such as door to door delivery or open versus enclosed transport options. A good transport company will be happy to answer all your questions and provide clear communication throughout the shipping process.

By taking the time to research and select the best auto transport company for your needs, you can trust that your car will be in good hands and arrive safely at its destination.



Shipping a car from California requires careful preparation, starting with gathering the necessary documents like title and registration, proof of insurance, photo ID, Bill of Lading, and possibly a Power of Attorney. Preparing your car for transport and choosing the right shipping company are also crucial steps. Following these guidelines ensures a smooth and stress-free car shipping experience.

Ready to ship your car from California with ease? Contact A1 Auto Transport, your trusted partner for all your car shipping needs. Our team of professionals is here to provide you with a seamless transport experience, backed by comprehensive insurance and support. Visit us at A1 Auto Transport or call us today to get started on your stress-free car shipping journey.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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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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