A couple getting carton boxes in the car

Can You Ship a Car Packed With Your Belongings?


A common question from prospective customers who get in touch is “Can I pack my car when shipping it?” This is a perfectly valid question to be asking, but giving a straight answer is not quite so easy. 

When you’re moving, it makes perfect sense to look for ways to cut costs, and shipping a car and belongings together sounds like a money-saving idea. 

If you’re relocating and want to know more about how to ship a car with stuff in it, you’re in the right place. 

Is it legal to ship a car with belongings in it?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to ship a car that has belongings in it across the country. However, individual companies tend to have their own rules when it comes to how it can be done.

Some companies prefer not to allow such an option because there’s always the risk of damage or theft of the items during the car shipping process. Most companies recommend that all personal items be removed from your vehicle before it’s shipped.  

Shipping a car with household goods in it can cost more

Something to bear in mind is that you may have to pay more for your car shipping service if you decide to leave some of your personal items inside the car. 

This is because every car shipment has a weight limit that’s based on a vehicle’s make and model. If you exceed these limits, it could increase the price you pay for your auto transport service. Worst case scenario it could mean your vehicle is rejected by the carrier. 

If you want to know how much it will cost to ship your car, we have an online instant quote calculator at your disposal. Just click on the link at the bottom of the page.

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Why shipping a car with items in it can be risky

Many auto transport companies ask that you keep any personal items left inside the car below the window lines or inside the trunk. This is to reduce the risk of theft. 

Shipping items in your vehicle can increase the risk of burglary. Carriers tend not to go from one destination to another straight through. Along the way, they will make stops to fuel up and at rest areas. People passing by will be able to see your car is full of personal items and for some people, this will be very tempting and an opportunity not to be missed. It could lead to broken windows, pried open trunks, and doors which you will be personally liable for. 

When you think about this realistically, the same rules apply if you’re parking your car in an empty parking lot. It’s advisable that you lock your doors, leave nothing in sight, and hide any valuables. 

Things to consider when shipping a car and belongings

If you want to ship some of your belongings in your car, there are some things you should consider.

Lack of insurance

When deciding whether to ship personal items in your car, bear in mind that any belongings inside your car are not covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. Any personal items are shipped at your own risk. The carrier is not responsible for any damage that might occur to those items or their theft.

The following limitations also apply:

  • Any items stored inside your vehicle must be below the height of the window. 
  • Certain items are prohibited such as flammable items, firearms, alcohol, drugs, explosives, and other illegal items. 
  • The items you want to ship with your car must not exceed a total weight of one hundred pounds. 

If you’re willing to accept the risk, make sure you let the carrier and the driver know about the items. If you choose a reliable and professional auto transport company, they will do everything they can to keep your belongings safe, although ultimately, they’re not bound to insure those items. 

Place items in the trunk

It’s recommended that you place nothing in your vehicle’s cab. Your vehicle has windows and anyone who wants to peek inside will see what you’ve left in there. Seeing such items could be very tempting for some people.

Keep the front and rear seats empty, as well as the front seat floorboards. If you want to keep your items as safe as possible, place them in a box or suitcase and lock them in the trunk of your car. 

If you choose enclosed auto transport, you will be able to ship certain items in the trailer, outside of your vehicle. However, they must be crated. 

There is an exception to the personal items shipping rule. If you’re shipping a vehicle to or from Hawaii, you’re not allowed to ship anything inside your vehicle. 

Increased risk of vehicle damage

When a vehicle is transported on a trailer, there is a certain amount of shifting around. While your car is secure and covered by the carrier’s insurance, the same can’t be said for any personal belongings inside. 

It’s recommended that belongings are secured in a bag, box, or suitcase because that will stop them from shifting around and causing damage. The items could also break, which means you’ll be faced with a bill to get them repaired or replaced. 

Top tips for shipping items in your car

  • Never leave valuables in your car when shipping it
  • Any suitcases, boxes, or bags should be visible from the window
  • Don’t pack fragile items
  • Don’t pack too many items as this may take your vehicle over the weight limit
  • Never pack flammable items, liquids, or firearms
  • Speak with your shipping company before packing items in your trunk

To speak with our shipping advisors, call (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option 


Can you put your belongings in a car when shipping it?

Placing belongings in your car when shipping it is perfectly legal. However, not all companies allow it because there is a risk of damage to the items or theft. The recommendation is that all personal items be removed before shipping your car. 

Is it better to ship a car open or enclosed?

Enclosed transportation is safer than open car shipping, however, it does cost more. 

How much can you pack in your car when shipping?

Most car shipping companies allow you to pack up to one hundred pounds of personal items in your vehicle. However, these companies do not accept any responsibility if the items go missing or get damaged. 

How do you ship a car with personal items?

The safest way to ship a car with personal items is to pack the items in a single box or suitcase that you leave in the trunk of the car. 

Does a car have to be empty to ship? 

Your car does not have to be empty when you ship it, however, there are certain rules you must follow. Many companies recommend that you remove all personal items because that removes the risk of damage or theft. 

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