Shipping a Car From Virginia to California: What to Expect

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

People want to move to California for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the sun-kissed weather, sandy beaches, the glitz, and the glamour. For others, it’s the delicious food, a diverse population, incredible cities to live in, and thriving movie, tech, and music scenes. 

The Pacific Coast Highway is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful drives in the US, and to enjoy it you’ll need a car. You should seriously consider taking your car with you when you move, but should you drive it there or is there another option?

Well, actually there is. 

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How to ship a car from Virginia to California

From Virginia to California is a distance of around 2,600 miles, depending on your final destination. That’s a long way to drive if you’re moving there. 

Luckily, you can ship your car from Virginia to California and it’ll be much less hassle. If you’ve never shipped a car before you might be a little apprehensive. However, once you know how easy the process is you’ll be on the phone to our shipping advisors to make your booking.

To ship a car from Virginia to California takes just three steps. Keep reading to find out what they are.

  • Step 1: Get a quote and make your booking
  • Step 2: A carrier picks up your car
  • Step 3: The carrier delivers your car

Sounds pretty simple, right? Let’s give you a few more details.

Getting a quote and making a booking

The first step of the process is to get a personalized quote. You can usually do that online, by (864) 546-5038, or by using Live Chat

To get an accurate quote you’ll need to provide some details, such as the pick-up and delivery city/state, the make, model, year, and condition of the vehicle, and what type of transport you require. You’ll also need to provide the first date your car will be ready for the pick up. 

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If you’re happy with the quote, you can go ahead and make your booking. 

A carrier collects your car

A carrier will come to you and pick up your vehicle at the pre-arranged time. You can expect a call from the carrier a few hours ahead of the scheduled pick up. They’ll be calling to confirm the arrangements. 

When the carrier arrives, you and the driver must inspect your vehicle’s condition. Any existing damage such as chips, dents, dings, or scratches must be noted on the Bill of Lading

Once the paperwork side of things is complete, the driver will load your vehicle and be on their way. 

The carrier delivers your car

There are around 2,600 miles between Virginia and California, so you can expect the trip to take a few days. As the carrier gets close to the delivery location, they’ll contact you again.

This is to check that you’re available to accept delivery of your car and to confirm the logistics of the delivery. For example, are there parking restrictions the carrier needs to be aware of? Are there any low power lines or hanging tree branches? 

If any of these apply, you’ll need to discuss a more suitable location with the driver. Rest assured, they’ll try to get as close to your chosen location as possible.

How much to ship a car from Virginia to California

Our shipping advisors often get asked, “How much does it cost to ship a car from Virginia to California?” We thought we’d try to explain here in this post. 

It’s very difficult to be exact about the cost of auto transport because there are many factors that must be taken into account. 

When a California car shipping company is calculating the cost, they must take the following into consideration:

  • The pick-up and delivery locations, as well as the distance between these points
  • The type of transport service (we’ll explore your options next)
  • What type of car you want to transport and how old it is
  • Whether your vehicle is inoperable
  • What time of year it is
  • Whether you’ve chosen a popular route

What transport options are there?

Whether you book with a Georgia car shipping company or a provider in another state, it’s likely there will be two options to choose from: open car shipping and enclosed auto transport. 

These are two very different auto transport services, and understanding what the service entails will make your choice easier. 

What is open car shipping?

Open car shipping is when your car is shipped out in the open or in a multicar trailer that has no exterior covering. Trailers of this kind can transport up to 10 vehicles simultaneously, however, it depends on the size and weight of the vehicles and demand. 

Open auto transport is far more common and tends to cost less than enclosed auto transport. You can expect to pay between 30% and 40% less.


  • More affordable and faster
  • Fuel-efficient carriers
  • There are more open transport options which makes the service easier to book and secure your preferred shipping date and time


  • No protection against the weather and road debris
  • Less protection and security for high-value vehicles  

What is enclosed auto transport?

Enclosed car shipping is a transportation method most commonly used for high value vehicles. Vehicles are transported inside an enclosed trailer, which tends to be smaller. On average, an enclosed trailer can haul no more than three cars at once.


  • Complete security and protection during the shipping process
  • Carriers are typically more experienced with high-end vehicles
  • The risk of damage because of bad weather or road debris is completely removed


  • The cost to ship a car from Virginia to California will be 30% to 40% more than open car shipping
  • The transport service might take longer
  • The carriers are less fuel efficient

As well as the two different types of car shipping services mentioned above, there are a couple more we should mention.

Express auto transport

If you need to ship your car in a hurry, this might be the car shipping service for you. There is a standard timeframe in the auto transport industry, but carriers can make last-minute pick-up arrangements if you’re making last-minute arrangements.

A carrier will be able to pick your vehicle up within 1-2 business days. This is perfect if you’re moving urgently for work, for example. 

Guaranteed pick-up

This service is another one that will suit you if you're pushed for time. Rather than the standard pick-up window, you can make a booking with a 24-hour window. This is going to be perfect if you’re busy and need to make arrangements that fit in with your schedule. 

How long does it take to ship a car from VA to CA?

To ship your car from Virginia to California could take a few days, but it’s difficult to be exact about the timeframe. This is because there are many variables that can affect it.

A reliable auto transport carrier can cover several hundred miles in one day. Therefore, the time it takes to ship a car from VA to CA varies, depending on the distance the carrier has to travel. 

The table below gives you some average transit times for a range of distances. If you’re shipping a car from VA to CA, the last section applies to you.



Average transit time in calendar days

0-200 miles

1-2 days

200-600 miles

2-4 days

600-1000 miles

3-5 days

1000-1500 miles

4-6 days

1500-2000 miles

5-7 days

2000-2400 miles

6-8 days

2000+ miles

7-9 days


The factors that affect the timeline include:

  • Distance: The longer your car has to travel, the more time it will take
  • Location: It is much quicker and easier for a carrier to make a pick up and delivery if the locations you choose are in or near a metropolitan area or along a major interstate
  • Issues on route: A carrier’s progress can be slowed down if there are detours, heavy traffic, or road construction
  • Weather: The weather can affect how quickly a carrier can deliver your car. Thunderstorms, tornados, hurricanes, ice, snow, and hail can all affect the flow of traffic and hold up your delivery
  • Driver’s hours: For safety reasons, the Department of Transportation sets a limit on the number of hours a truck driver is allowed to be on the road. The current limit is 70 hours per week. 

What you need to do after shipping your car from Virginia to California

So, you’ve accepted delivery of your car, completed the inspection with the driver, and paid the final balance, if there is one. Is there anything else you need to worry about?

If you’re relocating to California, you must contact the local DMV and update important information relating to your vehicle. The following needs to be updated:

  • Driver’s license: In California, you have 10 days in which to update your driver’s license so that it reflects your new state of residence.
  • License plates: You also have 20 days in which to register your vehicle. 
  • Inspections: In California, your vehicle must pass an emission inspection.
  • Car insurance: When you move to another state, you must inform your auto insurance company. Also, be aware that you may need to adjust your coverage. 

SGT Auto Transport is a nationwide auto transport company with years of industry experience, including shipping cars from Virginia to California. We’ve been shipping vehicles across the country for many years and if you want to make arrangements to ship your car from Virginia to California, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. We have a dedicated (864) 546-5038 or you can use our Live Chat option.  

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