How to ship a car to another state

How to ship a car to another state


Have you bought a new car online and need to get it home? Perhaps you’re moving to a new state shortly and want to take your vehicle. Whether you’re moving south for the winter, heading north for the summer, sending your kids off to college with their car, or want to ship a vehicle because you recently had a job transfer, shipping cars from state to state can be a challenge.

Finding the right state to state car transport company

Cross country car shipping

When you want to transport a car from state to state, there are several options, some of which we’ll look at later. One of the most popular, however, is state to state auto transport.

When moving your car from state to state, you must find the most reliable company possible. You need to feel confident in the service. You don’t want to lie awake at night worrying about a late delivery, overcharging, or damages. A professional company is what you need. They should be able to handle your shipment, possess the necessary knowledge and training, and provide a smooth and stress-free service.

Companies that tick all these boxes do exist, but first, you have to find one. So what should you be looking for? 

  • Experience: A company’s years of experience are a good indicator that shipping your car to another state will be a positive experience. At least 5 years in the business is a good rule of thumb.  
  • Professional Staff: When you’re trusting a company with one of your most valuable possessions, it’s vital to check on its progress at all times. Good customer service includes timely updates, 24/7 availability, prompt communication, and putting the customer first. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions or get clarification for any issues you don’t understand. 
  • Affordable Rates: Price is important, but don’t base your choice on this factor alone. You must have heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for.” This applies in the vehicle transport industry, just like any other. It’s much better to look for a company that offers quality service at an affordable price, rather than the cheapest option. 
  • Trustworthiness: Visit the company’s website. Does it look professional? Can you find the information you need easily? Other features that indicate the trustworthiness of a company are 24/7 communication, swift responses to any queries, and a quote process that is uncomplicated. You should also check out reviews, ratings, and existing customer stories. Spend some time looking over the website. It can be a good indicator of a company’s trustworthiness and credibility. 
  • Company Registration: All car shipping companies have to register with the United States Department of Transportation. When you contact a state to state shipping company, be sure to ask for their MC or US-DOT number. You can then check the status of the company's registration by visiting the DOT website. You’ll also find information relating to the company’s safety record. 
  • Transparency: Transparency is an important factor. You should know everything you can about the auto transport service before you make a booking. Things such as full insurance coverage, $0 upfront payments, and no hidden fees are benefits to look for. Any promises made should also be met.    

When you want to ship a car to another state, it’s essential to focus on what the company can do for you regarding the auto transport service types and quality of service. Once you’ve got a few names on your list, you can spend some time requesting quotes, talking to the company representatives, and asking questions. Then you can narrow down your search. 

What are the benefits of auto transport if you’re moving a car between states?

Benefits of auto transport if you’re moving a car between states

If you’re wondering how to transport a car from one state to another, let’s look at some of the benefits of auto transport. They include:

  • Saves time: Shipping from state to state is the best option because it saves time. On the other hand, driving yourself can take days, possibly a week or more, depending on the distance. Have you got the time to spare for such a long journey? With auto transport, you can schedule your shipment at a time that suits you and make sure you’re available at the final destination to accept delivery.   
  • Less stress and planning: An auto transport company makes all the necessary arrangements on your behalf. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed or stressed about planning a road trip or preparing your vehicle for such a long trek. There’s always the option of enclosed shipping for even more peace of mind. An enclosed trailer protects your car from traffic and road debris, and the elements. 
  • Your vehicle is protected: If you drive your vehicle hundreds of thousands of miles, that’s a considerable amount of unnecessary wear and tear to your car. Ultimately, this means a reduction in the vehicle’s resale value and the addition of costly repairs. Ship a car to another state and you avoid the extra mileage. 
  • It’s safe and convenient: Driving long distances puts you and your family at risk of an accident. Sitting for long hours in one position also puts your back under intense pressure. Moving a car between states with a car carrier means you get to relax during the journey, safe in the knowledge that your vehicle will arrive safely. 
  • Saves money: Add up all the costs of a long-distance car journey, and you could save money if you ship a car to another state instead. You won’t have to pay as much in travel expenses, and there will be no repair or maintenance bills to pay. In addition to that, you won’t be forced to take time off work, lose wages, or use up your valuable vacation days. 
  • Cost of insurance is lower: Car insurance rates tend to be based in part on the number of miles you drive. Your premiums could increase following a long-distance road trip. Find yourself involved in an accident during the road trip, and the premiums could increase even more. Insurance cover is provided by the auto transport company when you ship your car.  
  • Ships from door-to-door: Door-to-door pick-up and delivery are now offered by many car shipping companies. The truck driver will come as close as they can to your home to pick up your vehicle. They will drop it off as close to your chosen destination as possible.  
  • You can move more than one vehicle: Ship a car out of state with an auto transport provider, and you have the option of including more than one vehicle in the shipment. Most households in the US have more than one car, so this is an attractive feature of the auto transport service. 
  • Reliable and professional service: Carriers used by companies such as us are subject to various background checks. You can trust that your car is being shipped safely and securely, that the carrier uses the right equipment, and treats your vehicle with care. You also know that your car will arrive on time without any complications.  
  • Competitive rates and attractive discounts: Many car shipping companies provide competitive rates and offer attractive discounts. Here at SGT Auto Transport, for example, we offer discounts for members of the military and upon request for returning snowbirds.  

How much does it cost to ship a car to another state?

On average, the cost to ship a car to another US state using an auto transport company is a little under $3 per mile. This rate applies if the shipping distance is less than 200 miles. For distances of 1,000 miles or more, the rate drops to $0.78 per mile. This is, however, only an average figure. The actual cost to transport a vehicle from state to state is determined by several factors, including distance, type of service, make, model, and vehicle year. 

Let’s look at these factors in more detail.


Distance is the main factor an auto transport company uses to determine the cost of moving a car to another state. The rate per mile is lower for longer distances, but the overall cost is higher.  

Pick-up and delivery locations

There are typically more car transport trucks available for urban or metropolitan areas, which means the cost tends to be lower than in rural locations. Extra fuel and time are required if the carrier has to add a rural stop to their delivery schedule. 

Vehicle make and model

Vehicles come in many shapes and sizes. When a car is larger or heavier than your average motor, the transporter has to move fewer vehicles to keep within weight restrictions

Type of auto transport service

There are many types of auto transport service to choose from. The most popular is open auto transport. Enclosed car transport is a service that offers added security and protection but at a higher cost. Other options include guaranteed pick-up, express car shipping, door-to-door, or terminal to terminal. We’ll look at these a little further down the page. 

Condition of the vehicle

You’ll be asked whether your vehicle is operable or inoperable when requesting a quote. If your car is in working condition, the cost to transport a car to another state is more affordable. Carriers have to use specialist equipment to load and unload an inoperable vehicle, which adds to the overall cost. 

Time of the year

It costs less to ship a car to another state during the summer months. Many states in the United States experience snow and ice during the winter months, which leads to increased prices.  

Request a quote

If you want to know the exact price for shipping your car from one state to another, use our instant quote calculator. Alternatively, pick up the phone, dial (864) 546-5038, and speak directly with our shipping advisors or use our Live Chat.  

How long will it take to move my car from state to state?

State to state car transport takes anything from 1 to 6 days, depending on the pick-up and delivery locations. It is usual for a driver to be able to cover around 500 miles in one day. There are, however, factors that can affect the timeline. They include:

  • Distance: The longer the route, the longer it’ll take to deliver your car.  
  • Location: If the pick-up or delivery location is in or near a metropolitan area or along a major interstate, it's much easier and quicker for a carrier to ship your vehicle. 
  • Weather: The weather can affect the speed at which a carrier can transport your vehicle to another state. Inclement weather such as ice, snow, hail, thunderstorms, a tornado, or a hurricane along the route can affect the flow of traffic. 
  • Issues on route: Heavy traffic, detours, or road construction can hamper the driver’s progress. 
  • Driver’s hours: Truck drivers are only allowed to be on the road for 70 hours per week. This limit is set by the Department of Transportation and ensures truck drivers are well-rested and safe to drive.     

What are the transport options?

Most auto transport companies will give you the option of open or enclosed auto transport, but which one is right for your car and your needs? 

Open car transport

Open car transport carriers are the ones you see on the highway countless times. Open car shipping accounts for around 90% of car transport services and is one of the cheapest ways to ship a car from state to state. 

Open car carriers transport vehicles in an open-air trailer. Carriers can move as many as ten cars at the same time. The vehicles on the trailer are exposed to the elements, road, and traffic grime, but it is still a very safe and secure way of shipping your car to another state.   

Enclosed auto transport

Choose enclosed auto transport when you want to send a car to another state, and your car is completely protected from weather conditions, debris, dirt, and other elements. This service costs between 30%-40% more than open auto transport but is recommended for owners of unique cars such as classic, vintage, custom, luxury, or high-value vehicles. 

Other auto transport service types

Other options include:

  • Express car shipping: If you need to move a car from one state to another at the last minute or be at a specific location by a deadline, this is the service that will meet your needs. When time is of the essence, and you want your vehicle shipped super quick express car shipping means a carrier will pick your vehicle up in 1-2 business days.   
  • Guaranteed pick-up: You make your booking with a 24-hour window, which is perfect if you need to make specific arrangements or are pushed for time.  
  • Terminal to terminal: For this type of service, a carrier transports your car to a storage facility, where it is kept until the customer collects it. A big downside with this option is that you’ll need to get your car to the terminal first and arrange for a ride home. You also need to get to the terminal to collect it after delivery. It’s not a service we’s recommend and if you want to know more you should read our blog post about Terminal-to-terminal car transport vs. door-to-door car shipping.  

Getting your car ready for state to state auto transport

Prepare car for state to state auto transport

Once you’ve made your booking, there are some things you need to do to prepare your vehicle. 

Clean the interior and wash the outside

While you’re giving your vehicle a spring clean, you’ll be able to spot any dings, scuffs, scratches, cracks, and other blemishes. Make sure you take pictures of these for your records.

Fill your gas tank to around a quarter full

A quarter tank should be enough to get from the trailer to your home and allow for safe loading and unloading of your vehicle. It also benefits the car shipping company because it reduces the truck’s payload as it drives from one state to another. 

Remove personal belongings

Always remove any personal belongings from your vehicle, not forgetting to empty the glove compartment and the trunk. These items add weight to your car, and they’re not included in the shipping company’s insurance coverage. 

It’s also a good idea to remove any toll road beepers and parking passes.

Perform a maintenance check

Your vehicle must be in a safe, working condition, even though it’s not going to be driven much during the transport. Always check:

  • Tires are properly inflated.
  • Fluids such as brake fluid, washer fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, oil, and power steering fluid are correctly topped off. 
  • Brakes are operational, including the emergency brake.
  • There are no leaking fluids. 

What documents do I need to move my car to another state?

Here at SGT Auto Transport, we require no paperwork if you want to ship a car to another state. However, there is one exception. If you want to ship your vehicle from Hawaii to the mainland, you need to provide the following:

  • Ownership documentation: This might be a copy of the ownership document or title of the vehicle. If the car is still under a lien, you may need a letter of permission from the bank or dealership. This letter confirms you’re allowed to ship the vehicle. 
  • Registration and insurance: You must provide valid registration and insurance documentation. 
  • Identification: You must provide a valid picture ID or identification card, together with your booking reservation number. 
  • Power of attorney: This applies if you’re unable to be present when your vehicle is shipped. 

What to do when your vehicle arrives

Ship your car from one state to another with a reputable company, and they’ll keep you informed of the whereabouts of your vehicle throughout the shipping process. 

When your car arrives at its final destination, the carrier’s driver will check your ID to make sure it matches the name provided to the shipping company. 

Once the carrier unloads your vehicle, be sure to do a complete inspection of the car’s interior and exterior together with the car shipping company driver.

It’s also a good idea to take pictures because you might miss a small dent or ding that you spot a couple of weeks later. The photos you take will be photographic evidence that the damage occurred while your car was on the trailer. 

After the inspection, you can sign the bill of lading to accept your car. Keep this document safe, on the off chance you might need to file a claim. That being said, it’s important to point out that claims are an infrequent occurrence as the majority of vehicles arrive without any issue.  

What are the other options if you want to move a car from state to state?

Move a car from state to state

Auto transport with a car shipping company is by far the most popular option, but it’s not the only way to transport a car from state to state. Let’s look at some of the alternatives. 

Driving yourself

Driving your car yourself seems like the most obvious answer, but there are many reasons why it’s not the best. 

It’s a good idea if you’ve got the time and the cost is on the cheap side. However, extra charges have to be factored into the equation. Unless you’ve got someone to share the driving, you’ll need to take regular stops along the way. Overnight accommodation might also be required, and then you’ll need to eat and drink. Other costs include filling the gas tank and possibly road tolls.

Something else you need to think about is that driving long distances can be stressful. The risk of being involved in an accident also increases. 

How long you take to drive several hundred or a few thousand miles will depend on the weather, traffic, and road conditions. Have you got the time to spend a week or more on the road?  

Using a car trailer or dolly

If you’ve got more than one vehicle you want to transport, this might be an option. One advantage of using a car trailer or dolly is that you might be able to carry extra cargo. 

There is, however, a huge disadvantage. Have you ever towed a car before? It’s not something you should attempt without any experience. Towing a vehicle takes a lot of getting used to. Reversing and maneuvering take a lot of practice and skill to get right.

Towing a car involves additional costs. Like driving a car yourself, there will be gas, food, and accommodation costs to consider. Plus, you’ve got to pay to hire the trailer.  

Hiring a driver

You can hire a professional driver to drive your car from one state to another. You can hire someone directly or use a third party company. 

The difficulty is finding an individual or company you can trust with what is probably one of your most expensive possessions. 

The cost of hiring a professional driver is higher than using an auto transport company. There’s also the hidden cost of unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle. 

By train

Did you realize you can ship a car by train? The cost is often cheaper than some of the other options we’ve mentioned, but not when you compare it with booking an auto transport service. 

One big downside of using a train is that you have to get your car to a station and then collect it at the other end. Both these additional journeys will add to the overall cost.

Another downside is the time it will take. Shipping a car from state to state by train typically takes a long time and is not as flexible as using an auto transport service.   

What should you do after shipping your car from state to state? 

Your car has been delivered, you’ve completed the inspection with the driver, so what else is there left to do?

If you’re relocating to a new state, you must contact the local DMV to update some important information concerning your vehicle. This information includes:

  • Driver’s license: You must update your driver’s license to reflect your new state of residence. The length of time you get to do this varies from state to state. In general, it is between 10 and 30 days. 
  • License plates: You must also register your vehicle in a new state within a certain number of days. The timeframe is typically longer, between 30 and 60 days. You might also need to surrender your old plates. 
  • Inspections: This point depends on the state where you’re moving to. In California, for example, your vehicle must pass an emission inspection.  
  • Car insurance: You should inform your auto insurance company when you move to another state. It may be necessary to adjust your coverage. 

SGT Auto Transport is a nationwide auto transport management company with years of experience in the industry. We’ve been shipping cars across state lines for several years. If you want to make arrangements to ship a vehicle to another state, get in touch today. 

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