What Are You Allowed To Keep In Your Car When Shipping It Across Country

shippingCan you pack your car with items when your shipping it to another state? This can be a difficult question for many people, and the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. The truth is, it all boils down to what your carrier allows or prohibits. However, regardless of the carrier’s policy, it’s typically recommended that you don’t pack anything inside your car because of safety concerns and potential damage that may occur. But if you want to stay informed, here’s everything you need to know about what’s allowed in your car during transit.

But First, Is It Legal?

This one’s a tricky question to crack. Although the Department of Transportation strongly advises against placing items in a car during transport, it hasn’t announced explicitly that it’s illegal if carriers choose to do so. In the end, everything ultimately comes down to how much risk your shipping company will be willing to take.

So, What Can You Keep in Your Car?

Generally, the primary reason you might want to stow items inside a car that’s about to be shipped is when you’re moving. It’s a great way to save money and squeeze in more things to bring along with you. That said, some Key Items to Leave in the Car include:

  • Clothes and laundry
  • Boxes filled with toys
  • Shoes and slippers
  • Boxes with non-breakable kitchen utensils
  • Books and suitcases
  • Household items that can fit in

What Can You Not Keep Inside?

While you can store any belongings you have in your car, there are limits that your carrier will enforce. They’re trying to avoid as much liability as possible, so they probably won’t let you put:

  • Personal items
  • Important documents like birth certificates, visas, and passports
  • Electronic gadgets, such as laptops, iPads, and smartphones
  • Sentimental stuff 


  • Jewelry and guns

Things to Consider When Shipping Items Inside a Car

The reason why the DOT discourages storage during car transport and why many carriers prefer not to is because of the risks involved. 

  • First of all, the chances of theft is high, especially when you’re shipping your car via an open-air truck. And a thief sees lots of belongings inside an imported vehicle, he’ll be more tempted to perform an evil act.
  • Next, you have the ‘below the window rule’ to be wary of. Carriers will typically ask you to pay $100 or $200 to ship a 100-pound suitcase, depending on your vehicle’s size. The smaller, the cheaper. That’s because the items inside must be within or below the window level of the car. Why? To prevent disasters since thieves won’t think that there are belongings inside.
  • Car shippers also impose a weight limit. However, this normally depends on the carrier. If your luggage goes past the weight limit, you will have to pay extra. 
  • The excess weight might damage your car. All the boxes and stuff stowed inside might vibrate, rattle, and shift during transit. Not only that. Even if your ride is fully insured, the carrier will not pay for any damage to the items inside.

What’s a Good Alternative to Shipping Items Inside a Car?

Time and countless moves have both proven that shipping items inside a car is not the best idea. You’ll either be compromising your car’s safety or the integrity of your belongings. It’s better if you just choose to transport them separately. Ship the car alone while your belongings will be bound together with the rest of your stuff in the moving truck.

How to Prepare Your Car if You Choose to Proceed

Still keen on transporting items together with your car? Not a problem. All you must do now is make the necessary preparations to secure a smooth transit as much as possible. Start by discussing things with your carrier. Let them know about your plans so you can work on how many items you’re going to put in and how much extra charge they’ll ask for. Next, clean your car before putting the items in to prevent unwanted stains. Finally, arrange the things inside neatly and keep a list of the inventory. This will help you check for missing items upon arrival.


Car shipping exists to bring a vehicle from Point A to Point B. Moving companies also exist for a relevant reason – to get your belongings to your new home. These two operations work best on their own rights. It’s better not to combine the two or risk encountering issues later. But if you truly want to do it? Make sure you find a reputable carrier that knows how to handle such a process.


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