Home > Moving Guides > Auto Shipping > Preparing Your Vehicle > How to Ship a Luxury Car

How to Ship a Luxury Car

3.4  3.4/5 based on 358 visitor(s)
views  9,726 Views
The "finer things" in life can vary from person to person, but when you have invested a significant amount of money into collecting or driving a specialty or luxury car, you want to protect that investment - especially when it comes to moving. Putting your trust in a company to safely transport your Lamborghini Aventador can be a nerve-wracking process, so let this guide offer you some helpful need-to-know information and tips on getting the right auto shipping service.

What is a Luxury Car?

The term "Luxury Vehicle" is used as a blanket term to cover that of many different vehicles. The term itself suggests higher quality equipment and parts, optimized performance, detailed design, impeccable construction and generally innovative in one way or another. The bottom line: you will have paid top dollar for a vehicle under these parameters. There are many companies that supply such luxury vehicles, like BMW or Mercedes, while other luxury vehicles are categorized as such based on monetary value and public opinion, regardless of the manufacturer.

In the U.S., a luxury car is classified based on segments: entry-level, mid-level, high-end and ultra. Mid-level cars include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Jaguar XF and the Lexus GS, for example. Examples of ultra-luxury cars would be brands like Rolls Royce, Maybach, Bentley and Maserati.

Types of Shipping Options

Unless you are moving down the street, you probably won't be driving your luxury vehicle yourself. This also means you most likely won't be trusting another person to drive your car to your new home, as you would with a driveaway service, nor would you have your expensive vehicle transported by train. So, you'll need to hire a company to ship your vehicle for you. This way, your vehicle will be in the hands of experienced auto shippers that handle your car professionally, carefully and responsibly.

If you choose to have your vehicle shipped via trailer (for those who have vehicles that need to be shipped domestically), you have two options:

Open Air Trailer

These trailers are usually around 70 to 80 feet long, and have multiple vehicles, usually two vehicles high, securely chained to the trailer that is pulled by a large truck. While this is the least expensive option, your vehicle will be exposed to the elements, and can be vulnerable to various road debris and extreme weather conditions. Therefore, this option would not be recommended for your higher end luxury car, but if you do choose this method, be sure to look into any added insurance so the company will take responsibility for any damage that may occur during transportation.

Enclosed Trailer

For your luxury, antique or sports vehicle, this shipping method provides added protection and security for your one-of-a-kind vehicle. These containers have four walls and a roof, and are built with shockproof materials to withstand any damage caused by outdoor elements. They are also made to withstand high pressure.

More often than not, luxury vehicles are shipped via air freight or by boat when being shipped internationally, as many people do not ship luxury cars domestically:

Air Freight Shipping

You can ship your luxury vehicle by air internationally or domestically, and your automobile will end up at its final destination much quicker than shipping it by ocean. For very timely and specific shipping needs, you may even be able to ship your vehicle by charter plane instead of potentially having your vehicle delayed in transit for various reasons. While this option can cost thousands of dollars, it is an option that provides a very exclusive and speedy experience, ensuring your exotic vehicle will reach your destination unscathed.

Ocean Freight Shipping

This method is used for shipping most vehicles overseas, and generally takes place in two methods: a roll on/roll off service, or container service. The roll on/roll off service is when your car is driven or rolled onto the ship, then securely fastened within a containment desk. The container service, however, offers added protection by putting your automobile inside an enclosed container, then rolling the container onto the ship before leaving. For more information about these two methods of ocean freight shipping, go here.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Shipping

Unfortunately, you won't be able to simply pass the keys over to your freight company and say "see you later" when shipping your vehicle. There are a number of important steps you will need to take prior to your vehicle being transported.
  • Your car must be completely empty. This means any personal belongings or non-factory equipment must be removed prior to shipping. Remove all items from any consoles or glove boxes.


  • Protect or remove any loose items on the car, like the antenna


  • Wash your vehicle to allow for an accurate inspection of any preexisting damage


  • If you are using a roll on/roll off service, your vehicle must be in running condition, and you will need to provide a set of keys to the auto transport service. Make sure you have an extra set of keys for yourself as well.


  • Generally, your car must not have more than ¼ to ½ tank of gas in it.


  • If you are shipping your vehicle overseas, customs requires you to have three notarized copies of the vehicle title. If you have any liens on the vehicle, you will need a notarized letter from the lien holder authorizing the vehicle to be exported - all of these documents must be present at the port the vehicle will be leaving from


  • Record any and all damage already existing on your vehicle prior to scheduling your shipment (if any).


  • It is a good idea to perform any regularly scheduled maintenance on your car before transporting it—this includes topping off fluids, checking brake lines, ensuring a fully charged battery, etc.


  • Turn off any anti-theft system installed in your vehicle


  • Go over your shipping company's policies to make sure you are being compliant with the company.

Tips to Know

  • Most car transport companies have high-tech GPS tracking devices so they can keep you informed about your vehicle's location at any time.


  • Your car insurance does NOT cover your vehicle while being shipped. Read more about different insurance options available to you here. Be sure to ask your potential auto shipper about different coverage options as well.


  • Make sure your potential auto shipper is insured and registered with FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and also with the U.S. Department of Transportation.


  • It usually takes about two or three weeks for your vehicle to arrive at an overseas destination— make sure you plan your move accordingly. Some companies may expedite your shipment for an additional fee.


  • Make sure you know what questions to ask your auto shipper while getting your estimate - this will help you get the most accurate information and estimate possible.

Average Cost to Ship

The cost to ship your automobile is based on the size of your vehicle, the value and how far it will be shipped. If you need to compare quotes, start here at Movers.com by filling out a free quote form. For domestic shipments, you should expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $2,000 to ship your luxury vehicle with door-to-door service. To transport an Alfa Romeo from New Jersey to Miami, for example, would cost approximately $900 in an enclosed container. Shipping a Bentley from San Diego to Miami would cost approximately $1,700.

Shipping your luxury vehicle by air will cost considerably more, and can range from $15,000 to $18,000 depending on the distance. Many cars being shipped using this method are put in auto shows or are used for racecar events.

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on May 28, 2013

Rate this guide How to Ship a Luxury Car