What Documents Do You Need to Ship Your Car?

Ship Your Car

It may seem like shipping a car requires extensive paperwork, but in reality, if you know the two key documents you need and a few others you might want to keep handy, it’s relatively straightforward. 

Follow this quick guide to be aware of the papers that you’ll need and the purpose that each document serves. 


Necessary paperwork for a car shipment

If you’re using a professional car transport service, there are certain documents that you have to produce for the company to ship the car legally. 

Depending on where you’re shipping from, here’s what you’ll need.

Bill of Lading Always
Insurance Terms and Conditions  Always
Lienholder Authorization Only if shipping from Hawaii
Absent Owner Authorization Only if shipping from Hawaii
Title and Registration If requested by the company
Proof of Car Insurance If requested by the company
Photo Identification If requested by the company

Document breakdown and use

Here’s a brief description of each document, so you’re aware of why you need it. 

Bill of lading (BOL)

This is the most critical piece of information that you’ll need to ship your vehicle. The bill of lading provides proof of delivery, and it records the condition of your car when it gets picked up and when they deliver it. 

If the owner doesn’t note any damages on the BOL, you won’t be able to request compensation from the insurance company because you won’t have proof.

Insurance terms and conditions

The automotive transport company must have proof of insurance to ship all vehicles. The prices can fluctuate, so ensure that your chosen company has adequate insurance coverage. Review the terms and conditions before signing the contract. 

Lienholder authorization

If the car or truck has a lien, the customer must get the lienholder to give them a notarized letter with permission to ship the vehicle. This document is only necessary at ports.

Absent owner authorization

This document, in particular, is only required if your car has to be shipped through a port. This document is necessary only if you want another person other than yourself to pick your car up at the destination port. An example is if your friend is picking up your car because you’re moving to a new state

Title and registration

Your registration validates that your vehicle has all the legal documentation required in your state of residence. Your title shows that you are the owner of the car.

The main reason auto transport companies do not require registration or title is that businesses ship vehicles for any number of reasons and cannot always produce these documents upon request.

Proof of car insurance

The customer doesn’t have to show proof of car insurance, though some companies may request the document. While the transportation company must carry insurance, the individual driver does not have to furnish evidence to ship their car.

Photo identification

A photo ID is rarely required to ship a vehicle. This requirement will all depend on whether or not the company wants to keep the information for its internal records. If a photo ID is required, a driver’s license will be sufficient.

Final thoughts

The following documents will always be involved when shipping cars nationwide: The bill of lading and the insurance terms and conditions.

The other documents, such as absent owner authorizations and lienholder, are necessary when your car has to go through a port via a boat instead of a truck.

There are some situations where you will be asked to provide information like registration, title, photo ID, and proof of insurance. However, none of these documents are required legally to ship your car.

Rizwan Ahmad
Rizwan Ahmad

Rizwan is an avid mobile geek and a gaming lover. He loves to keep a tab on new tech and loves to share the latest tech news and reviews on Smartphones, Gadgets, Apps, and more.


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