Vehicle Shipping Tips

December 16th, 2014

Helpful tips to keep in mind when shipping a car overseas

Shipping and Preparation

You should receive a bill of lading receipt when shipping your vehicle. The receipt is proof that you tendered the vehicle to the carrier and that the carrier is responsible for the vehicle. The receipt contains an inspection of the condition of the vehicle at the time of shipping. All non-factory accessories and personal effects should be listed on the report. The inspection is the prima facie proof of the condition of the vehicle at the time of shipment. The receipt should also contain shipping instructions name of the person receiving the vehicle at the destination, the destination city and state and a contact phone number.

Auto Shipping Scheduling

Schedule your auto shipping at least 4 weeks before you move, giving enough time to arrange for a car mover carrier to pick up your vehicle. Basically, the more advance time the better. If you are not available, please arrange an alternative authorized party such as neighbor, friend or relative you can trust to transfer the car to the car mover. Most automobile shippers offer door-to-door service. However, in many residential neighborhoods it may be difficult to drive in a large truck carrying your vehicle. Because of potential difficulty in getting the truck into your neighborhood, the car mover may ask you to meet them at a nearby local shopping center or garage for pick up of your vehicle. The same will apply for the delivery.

Inspect Your Car Before Auto Shipping

It is advisable that in addition to receiving a condition report document from your car mover detailing any pre-existing damage to your car, that you take photographs of the car, date the photos, and attach them to the condition report provided by the car mover for your records. You must have a detailed description of the condition of your car prior to shipping. The condition report or other document used by the car mover should include: current mileage, pre-existing damage of any type including: glass, scratches, paint, dents, and so on. This report is important in case any disputes arise.

Make Sure You Are Properly Insured

Make sure your car is adequately insured by the car mover for relocation. Upon pick-up, the driver will do a condition report (bill of lading) for any scratches or damages on the vehicle which should be signed by both parties. The same will occur upon delivery; make sure you check vehicle before signing. Reporting any damages or claims at a later time is not advisable.

Your vehicle should be insured against damage and theft by your car transport or auto shipping company. Ask for a copy of the car mover’s insurance coverage. Find out how the car mover’s insurance works with your own insurance in the event of damage during car transport. Additionally, find out if there is any kind of damage deductible and the amount. Everything pertaining to the car move should be in writing. Your own car insurance policy may cover your vehicle in transit; make sure to contact your insurance company to find out. It is advisable that you do not leave any personal items in your car when it is shipped; items left in the car may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.


U. S. Coast Guard regulations require that vehicles going over water shall be tendered with less than one-quarter tank of fuel. If there is more fuel, it may be drained at the owners expense.

Vehicle Registration Papers

The vehicle registration should remain in the vehicle and be available at time of shipment.

Check Car Moving References

It is important to verify the good standing and valid licensing of any car moving company or auto shipping service. We urge you to contact your local Better Business Bureau as well as to verify that the shipper’s license is valid and active with the appropriate transportation agency (such as the state or federal Department Of Transportation). Mover MAX does its best to make sure that we list only quality service providers. However, we cannot guarantee the quality of service of any car moving or auto shipping company. It is important that you take the time to check references and get all services agreed to by the company in writing.

Transportation and Delivery

Have a copy of the origin inspection when you receive your vehicle at it’s destination. Upon delivery, inspect the vehicle thoroughly. In the event there are problems with the vehicle, you must make a note on the delivery receipt at the time of delivery. The notation must be specific and outline all damage and severity. The delivery receipt is the prime evidence of the condition of the vehicle at destination. If the specific problem is not noted on the delivery receipt, a claim will most likely not be honored. You are not obligated to take receipt of a vehicle during hours of darkness. It is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to see that the person receiving the vehicle is competent to inspect and receive on behalf of the owner. If no one is available to sign receipt for the vehicle, e.g. at airport parking, the driver will conduct a delivery inspection that will constitute the evidence of condition of the vehicle at destination. All damage discovered after delivery is the responsibility of the consignee.

Get Both Pick Up and Delivery

Get the estimated pick-up and delivery dates and times from your car mover or auto shipping company. Make sure to get a 3 day guaranteed window for the pick-up and delivery dates of your car, as suggested earlier get everything in writing. Once pick-up is made, your car mover or auto shipping company should be able to provide you with a specific delivery date. If you require a specific date for pick-up, many car moving and auto shipping companies can accommodate you and store your car at a terminal for an additional charge.

Auto Shipping Delivery

Make sure that if you or an authorized party is not available to receive your car, that it will be stored in a secure storage facility where you will be able to pick it up at a more convenient time. This may be subject to additional charges.

Vehicle Delivery Inspection and Acceptance

When your car is delivered, make sure to methodically inspect your car. Use the condition report given to you at pick up and go over all of the details. Look for damage not on the original report. Check for changes in mileage and check every part of your car carefully including the roof and under your car. Look for obvious damage or changes to the car’s condition that may have occurred during the shipping. If there are any discrepancies, make sure to note them on the condition report you received on pick-up of the car, and have the driver sign the document. Please be advised that you should avoid accepting your vehicle at night or at a location that does not permit you easy access to inspecting all parts of your car. It is absolutely essential that you perform a thorough examination of your car as described above. Remember that once you have accepted your car, your signed documentation is what protects you. If problems arise, reputable car moving and auto shipping companies will work out disputes with you in an amicable fashion, but you must have documentation.

The Transportation Contract

Vehicles are shipped subject to carrier’s tariffs shown on the date of the receipt of the vehicle described on the Bill of Lading. The tariff contains the prices, rules and regulations that govern the transport of the vehicle. It spells out the obligation of both the carrier and the shipper. The tariff specifies the nature of liability of the carrier and the liability that the shipper assumes. A copy of the tariff is available for review at terminals. The Bill of Lading, the Contract Terms and Conditions on the back of the Bill of Lading, and the tariff constitutes the agreement between the shipper and the carrier.

Cost and Payment

Unless otherwise approved by Cartwright, vehicles are moved on a prepaid basis with payment by certified funds, cash, or approved credit cards.

Auto Shipping Cost

When working with a Car Mover, confirm what the total cost of the shipping will be. As you obtain quotes from several car transport and auto shipping companies, be prepared to provide:

  • origination/destination
  • approximate departure date
  • type of vehicle(s)
  • type of car transport service desired (e.g., door-to-door car transport vs. terminal-to-terminal)
  • special car mover or auto shipping requests (eg., deliver at a location other than your home vs. at your home)

Paying For Shipping Your Vehicle

While some car movers and auto shippers may not require payment in advance, others require a deposit, or full payment in advance. If a deposit is given, amount due is always required at time of delivery – oftentimes with a cashier’s check or cash. If full payment is required prior to car transport or auto shipping service, consider using a credit card so that charges may be disputed if circumstances warrant such actions.

Household Goods and Personal Effects

As a general rule, it is against the law to ship personal belongings in your vehicle because vehicle transporters do not have a license to transport personal or household goods across state lines. Whenever a vehicle is on the transport truck or ship or inside storage, the keys must remain in the ignition and the doors remain unlocked. All compartments of the vehicle must be accessible while on the ship.

Personal Items

Do not leave personal possessions of any kind in your car. Of course spare tires, car jacks, and other standard items that can be found in a trunk of a new car are not a problem. Make sure anything left in the car is tied down securely.

Prohibited Items

The following items may not be shipped within vehicles: commodities requiring temperature protection, drugs (prescription and illegal), ammunition, firearms, hazardous materials (such as poison, compressed gas, explosives, flammable gas or liquid, corrosive, oxidizers, combustible liquid), hazardous waste, liquids, live animals, perishable commodities, property of extraordinary value (e.g. money, bonds, etc.).


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