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Can You Ship a Car to Another State with an Expired Registration?


Talk to any auto transport company and they’ll mention certain car shipping rules you must comply with. If you want your car shipping experience to be a smooth, safe, and secure one, you’ll need to provide certain documentation, but is any of it mandatory? 

In this post, we’ll answer one very important question, “Can you ship a car to another state with an expired registration?” In addition, we’ll look at other aspects of how to ship a car.

What documents are needed when shipping a vehicle out of state?

When you use an auto transport company, certain documents are required to ship a car. You must provide these documents because it allows the auto transport company to verify that the car belongs to you, and you have insurance. You will have to provide the following when you’re shipping a vehicle within the United States:

  • Original title and registration: The original title and registration should accompany your vehicle when you ship it, along with written permission from the lien owner, if this applies. 
  • Insurance: You may also have to provide proof of unexpired insurance for the vehicle you want to ship. 
  • Photo identification: You should provide either an unexpired state driver’s license, passport, or ID. 
  • Special considerations: If you’re not the owner of the car, you’ll need to provide a notarized letter that includes specific information: The transport company name, and the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the vehicle being transported. 

It’s a very good idea to have all the documentation ready to hand if you’re planning to have your car shipped. However, it’s important to note that the only thing that’s mandatory to provide is the VIN of the vehicle and to complete the shipping paperwork. 

In answer to the question in the title of this post, it is permitted to ship a vehicle with expired registration or no registration paperwork at all. 

In other words, the answer to the question “Does a car have to be registered to ship?” is No!

Why don’t shipping companies require title and registration?

We’ve already mentioned that the title and registration are important documents but now you’ve also realized that a car doesn’t have to be registered to be shipped, you’re probably wondering how that’s so. Let’s try and explain.

A shipping company must ensure they’re shipping the right vehicle and the best way to do this is with the VIN. No two vehicles have the same VIN, so this is why it’s the only mandatory information you need to provide. 

Another reason why an auto transport company doesn’t require title and registration is that people and businesses ship vehicles for a variety of reasons. They might not be in a position to produce such documents.

Let’s share a few examples. Cars are often shipped by junkyards who don’t have the documentation and will be using the vehicles just for parts. Likewise, a person who has purchased a vehicle from someone out of state might not possess the title yet and is waiting until the vehicle arrives to register it. 

One important thing to note is that while it may be acceptable to ship a car without title and registration, you should never attempt to drive it on the highway. If you get pulled over, you will face a hefty fine for not having up-to-date registration.

Can you ship a car that’s not in your name?

It is quite common for a car to be shipped that’s not in the person’s name. For example, a parent might arrange and pay for the auto shipping, but the car is registered in their son’s or daughter’s name. 

If you want to move a vehicle on behalf of someone who has entrusted you to set up shipping for them, it’s fine. However, to avoid any confusion, it would be good to have a letter of authority, allowing you to arrange shipping.  

What you’ll need to do when your car arrives

If you’re shipping a car across state lines without the title and registration paperwork, there are some things you’ll need to do when it arrives. It’s worth updating all of your car’s documentation as soon as possible because failing to do so in a timely fashion could result in penalties. For example, in New York, you have 30 days to transfer your out-of-state license (in person at the DMV) after moving to the state. 

In most states, if you want to change the title and registration of a vehicle, you must pay a fee and show proof of ownership, proof of insurance, proof of inspection, a government-issued ID, and a utility bill that’s proof of your address. You can find the requirements for out-of-state title transfers for each state here. If you need more information about registering your vehicle in your new state, check here.

You should be able to make some of the changes online, though what you can do virtually varies from state to state.   

What documents are needed to ship a car overseas?

If you’re shipping a car to another country or overseas, you’ll need to provide additional pieces of information and documentation:

  • Original title or registration
  • Insurance
  • Photo identification
  • Bill of sale
  • Sales tax proof
  • Import duty
  • Original power of attorney 

Shipping a vehicle with expired registration is a very simple process. Registration and title are not mandatory if you want to ship a car. 

Want to learn more about what you need to ship your vehicle to another state? Find everything you need to know here.

If you’re ready to make your auto transport arrangements, please give us a call at (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. 

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