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What You Need to Know Before Shipping Your Car from Canada to the USA?

Shipping a car from Canada to the USA can be a complex process that involves several steps and considerations. Whether you’re relocating, selling a vehicle, or simply need to transport a car across the border, understanding the requirements and best practices is crucial. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to ensure a smooth and hassle-free car shipping experience.

Understanding the Basics

Why Ship a Car from Canada to the USA?

There are various reasons why you might need to ship a car from Canada to the USA, including:

  • Relocation: Moving to the USA for work, study, or personal reasons.
  • Sale: Selling a Canadian car to a buyer in the USA.
  • Seasonal Travel: Snowbirds transporting their vehicles to warmer climates.

Key Considerations

Before you begin the shipping process, it’s essential to consider the following factors:

  • Cost: Shipping a car can be expensive, with costs varying based on distance, shipping method, and additional services.
  • Documentation: Proper documentation is required for customs clearance and legal compliance.
  • Regulations: Understanding both Canadian and US regulations regarding vehicle importation.

Step-by-Step Guide to Shipping Your Car

  1. Choose the Right Shipping Method

There are two primary methods for shipping a car:

  • Open Transport: The most common and cost-effective method, where your car is transported on an open trailer.
  • Enclosed Transport: Offers protection from the elements and road debris, ideal for high-value or classic cars.
  1. Research and Select a Shipping Company

Choose a reputable shipping company with experience in cross-border vehicle transport. Check reviews, compare quotes, and ensure they have the necessary licenses and insurance.

  1. Prepare Your Car for Shipping
  • Clean the Car: Both the interior and exterior.
  • Remove Personal Items: Personal belongings should not be left in the car during shipping.
  • Check for Damage: Document any existing damage with photos.
  1. Gather Necessary Documentation

Ensure you have the following documents ready:

  • Proof of Ownership: Title and registration.
  • Bill of Sale: If applicable.
  • Customs Documents: Required for both Canadian and US customs.
  1. Understand Customs Regulations

Both countries have specific regulations for vehicle importation:

  • Canada: Ensure your car meets Canadian safety and emissions standards.
  • USA: The car must comply with US safety, bumper, and theft prevention standards.
  1. Arrange for Delivery

Coordinate with the shipping company to ensure timely pickup and delivery. Be present during both pickup and delivery to inspect the vehicle.

Cost Considerations

Shipping a car from Canada to the USA can vary greatly in cost. Factors influencing the price include:

  • Distance: Longer distances generally result in higher costs.
  • Shipping Method: Enclosed transport is more expensive than open transport.
  • Season: Prices can fluctuate based on demand and seasonal factors.

Average Costs

On average, you can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the specifics of your shipment.


Shipping a car from Canada to the USA involves careful planning and attention to detail. By understanding the process, choosing the right shipping company, and preparing your vehicle properly, you can ensure a smooth and successful transport. Always research thoroughly, gather all necessary documentation, and be aware of the costs and regulations involved.


  1. How long does it take to ship a car from Canada to the USA?

The shipping time can vary based on distance and shipping method, but it typically takes between one to two weeks.

  1. What documents are required for customs clearance?

You will need proof of ownership, bill of sale (if applicable), and specific customs documents for both Canada and the USA.

  1. Can I leave personal items in my car during shipping?

It’s generally advised not to leave personal items in the car during shipping as they are not covered by insurance.

  1. Do I need to be present during pickup and delivery?

It’s recommended to be present to inspect the vehicle for any damage and to ensure all documentation is in order.

  1. What are the main factors affecting the cost of shipping a car?

Distance, shipping method, time of year, and the specific shipping company you choose are the main factors that will affect the cost.