There are a variety of reasons to ship your car across the country. Maybe you’re a vintage car enthusiast, you’re gifting a car to someone out of state, or perhaps you’re moving. Whatever the reason, shipping a car to another state can be a daunting task.

While it’s far less complicated than shipping a car overseas, it still requires numerous important steps in order to do it right.

This guide will show you how to make this process as smooth and affordable as possible. 


Research transport companies

Doing your homework is the first, and most crucial step in this entire process.

Although you could simply ship your car by train or drive it yourself, these aren’t the safest options. You want to find a trusted shipper that specializes in vehicle transport. Depending on where you are living, your options will vary.

Nevertheless, always make sure that the company you choose to work with checks the following boxes:

  • Must be licensed and insured for interstate moves
  • A good rating with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that you’re dealing with a reputable vendor
  • Positive online reviews

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few options that seem to suit your needs, you can start comparing prices.


Calculate costs

The cost of shipping your vehicle differs according to many factors. These may include your vehicle’s classification, age, model, and destination. Whether or not you have additional insurance coverage can be another factor.

If you know someone who has shipped a car to another state, consider asking them which shipping company they used and how their experience was.

Beyond that, you’re going to have to research each company’s prices online, by calling, or by visiting the actual locations.

Another practical resource available is using an online quote calculator to help you get fast and accurate quotes in seconds.

For example, a 2019 Porsche 718 moving from New York City to Los Angeles in an enclosed trailer will cost you a minimum of $1,670.

On the other hand, a 2019 Toyota Camry also moving from New York City to Los Angeles in an open-air trailer will cost you a minimum of $1,095. 

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Check insurance coverage

Even though U.S. shipping companies typically have acceptable insurance policies, you are responsible to check for verification and coverage limits. You must make sure that their policy will cover your vehicle’s value (especially for luxury and exotic vehicles) in case of loss.

In addition, you should inquire about damage coverage and supplementary options that are not offered by all car carriers.


Choose your type of transportation

There are two types of transportation when it comes to car shipping: enclosed transport and open-air transport. Which one you choose depends on your car and your needs. An uncovered carrier will usually be less expensive, but your vehicle will be more susceptible to damage.

Another reason for the lower price is that open-air carriers transport nearly a dozen vehicles at a time.

Meaning, they’re usually making multiple stops, therefore delaying the arrival of your vehicle. It also may mean that your car is dropped off at a central hub in your area instead of directly at your door. 

Alternatively, a covered carrier gives you the most protection, but the average cost is around 50% more.

Since enclosed carriers offer better protection, they are typically used to ship high-value or classic cars.

enclosed truck driving on a road in the middle of a road

Statistically, open-air transport has proven to be nearly as safe for your vehicle as enclosed transport.

Generally, the rule of thumb for deciding which way to transport your car to another state is that if you are feeling on the fence, then just go with open-air transport.


Prepare your car for shipping

Once you have chosen a car shipping company and a method of shipping, you are going to need to prepare your vehicle.

Keep it clean

A reliable car shipping company will advise you to clean your vehicle properly and take pictures of it before it is shipped.


This is so you can have documentation of what your car looks like at its very best.

If any damage is done, you’ll have proof of your car’s actual condition. 

Make a copy of your key

This is a step many people tend to overlook. But, if keys are misplaced or lost during the move, they will be extremely hard to find. So, it’s crucial to keep one copy for yourself and give the other to the truck driver. 

Schedule ahead

Arrange for someone to pick up or drop off your car ahead of time of your departure date. Some companies will pick up directly from your home, others will designate drop-off locations. The approximate time frame for transporting cars long distances are:

  • 100 – 500 miles = 1 – 2 days
  • 500 – 1000 miles = 2 – 3 days
  • 1000 – 1500 miles = 3 – 4 days
  • 1500 – 2000 miles = 4 – 5 days
  • 2000 – 2500 miles = 5 – 6 days
  • 2500 – 3000 miles = 6 – 7 days

Shipping times will vary between shipping companies, regions of the country, or specific times of the year. Typically, the company you decide to work with will provide you with an estimated arrival date when you make your booking. 

Leave some gas

Make sure your vehicle is completely empty of all personal items. The only thing you should leave in your car is a quarter tank of fuel so that your car doesn’t get stuck when it’s time to leave the carrier. 


Gather essential documents

For interstate shipments using an auto transport company, you must provide documents proving the car belongs to you. Within the U.S., all car owners are required to provide an auto carrier with the following:

  • Original registration and title
  • A copy of your car insurance (cannot be expired)
  • Photo identification in the form of a driver’s license or a valid passport from your country of origin
  • If the car is not registered in your name then you must provide a notarized letter written by the owner stating their name and VIN (vehicle identification number) of the automobile


What to do when your car arrives

a man carefully inspecting a car

Once the car arrives, the driver will check the ID of whoever is picking up the vehicle to make sure that it matches the name you have provided to the shipping company.

As soon as your car touches the pavement, be sure to carry out a complete inspection of the car’s interior and exterior. Take lots of pictures because maybe you won’t notice a small dent until later on. 


Additional transport methods

When it comes to interstate car shipping, you have plenty of options. You may want to consider hitching your car to a moving truck. Check with a nationwide truck rental company to see if it’s something that they allow.

Keep in mind that this will add a bit more of a challenge to your drive in terms of mobility.

If you don’t want to deal with the added stress and you’ve got a flexible budget, you can also hire a driver.

Also, concierge transportation or professional driving companies will allow you to hire a driver to make the trek for you in your car. A lot of them will even take your pet along too, so don’t forget to ask! 


Other things to consider

a stylish living room from an apartment by Blueground

Whether you’re moving across the country or just the next state, lots of work needs to be done.

To save yourself the hassle of having to move your entire home, consider a much more practical alternative option. Blueground is a property management company that provides furnished, equipped, and move-in ready apartments for a minimum of 30 days.

All you have to bring is a suitcase with your personal belongings, and your car of course, and the rest is taken care of. You can find Blueground apartments in some of the most sought after areas of the country’s most desirable cities. 

Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.

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