The purpose of this article is to give the reader important tips and key information connected with the domestic transporting and export of a vehicle from the United States.
So, lets get started.
Transport carriers fall under basically two designations. Interstate and intrastate. Interstate transporters are legally authorized to do business within all of the United States. Intrastate transporters are legally authorized to operate within a particular state. Interstate transporters are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Of course there are non regulated operators and like anything else in the majority of the cases, you get what you pay for.
Most Domestic vehicle transport carriers do business through what is known as a transport broker. Auto transport brokers are also regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and are in the business of negotiating a lower price for you, their client. They usually have a network of transporters who bid for your business. Some brokers get high marks and some do not. It is recommended that you do some research on the one you intend to use. There is a website called “transport reviews.com” where you can start.
It would be a good idea to check with the transporter prior to committing to an agreement or contract to determine what is required of you as the shipper. If there are unique circumstances, the question as to whether or not the transporter is equipped to handle them should be addressed. For example: Does the transporter have the resources to handle a meticulously restored antique car, open hot rod, or any other vehicle where the interior is exposed to the elements? Evaluate your situation and compose a list of the questions you might have. Also make sure you understand how payment is to be made.
The following is a pre-transport checklist of some of the things a transporter may require of you and concerns you might want addressed.
1. Removal of all personal items or household effects from the vehicle including any custom made or after market products such as removable cd players, dvd players and televisions or similar items not built into your car by the manufacturer.
2. Making sure the battery is fully charged and securely mounted.
3. Making sure all tires are properly inflated.
4. Check for and make known any mechanical issues with your vehicle and notify the broker or carrier before hand. Remember that it will have to be driven on to their truck.
5. If the vehicle is a convertible, notify the transporter beforehand. You may want to opt for an enclosed container.
6. Make sure all fluid levels are topped off.
7. Make sure your gas gauge level meet the requirement of the transporter. Call them beforehand if there are any questions.
8. Disable the vehicle’s alarm system.
9. Retract or remove any exterior antennas.
10. Fold down any side mirrors.
11. Thoroughly wash and clean the exterior of the vehicle and make notes of all nicks and scratches.
12. Have available two sets OK keys. One for you to keep and one to travel with the vehicle.
13. If your vehicle is not operable, is oversized, or has any special exterior modification, let the transporter know before entering into an agreement.
14. What is the insurance information of the transporter in relationship to the service that you are requesting. Are they bonded and insured? If so, what is the limitation of their liability? Will this information be included in any agreement you accept and sign?
The above checklist is for informational purposes only. Some of the points mentioned are those that a broker/carrier may or may not require you to consider and some are those that you may want explained to you.
At the time of pickup or delivery of the vehicle to be transported, an inspection report should have been generated that reflect whether or not the vehicle is operable and whether or not there are any dents, scratches, or other noticeable discrepancies. The report should then be signed by both the transporter or their representative (usually the driver) and the shipper. If there are no changes in the condition of the vehicle or circumstance such as late delivery not the fault of the shipper, signatures of release are in order after all agreed upon fees and cost due the transporter/broker are paid. If there are any problems, make notes and first file a complaint with the responsible party that you hired to arranged the service for you and go from there. Take pictures if possible that includes the transport vehicle. You may have generated a check list and asked the driver to sign it at the time of pickup. Ask for a signature acknowledging the discrepancy at the time of delivery. In either case you will more than likely have to pay any remaining balance to get your car released.
If your vehicle is being exported out of the country, I would recommend using the services of an international freight forwarder who’s services include the handling of vehicle export transactions. They should be able to handle any Customs formalities for you so long as you provide them with the required information needed. If you use their services then they should be the recipient of the vehicle on your behalf here in the US.
When a vehicle is delivered to the forwarder, you should have provided him with the original or a duplicate copy of the title certified by the state DMV in which the vehicle is currently registered. The current market value of the vehicle, if it is fully operable, should be provided (the Kelly Bluebook would be a good source of reference if this is not a current sale). If the export is the results of a sale, the invoice should be provided where the invoice price is in line with the current market value of the vehicle if it is fully operable. If a vehicle has been in an accident and is in a salvageable condition, a salvage title should be presented. If the original title is being held by a lien holder such as a finance company, permission to export the vehicle must be given by the company on it’s official stationary which should be signed by an authorized representative of the company. The address and contact phone number should also be included. Your freight forwarder will advise you of any additional documentation needed to expedite your vehicle through the Custom’s export process. Communicating with them on this matter is of the utmost importance prior to you having the vehicle delivered. Once the vehicle is delivered, the meter starts to tick. For example any delays caused by your action or inaction can run up storage cost.
We hope this article have answered some of your basic questions. As you can tell, this article is geared more towards personal use of a vehicle. More specialized discussions are forthcoming in future articles.