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I’m looking at my Car Shipping Contract, and it’s got all the details of my deal with the auto transport company. It doesn’t matter if I’m working with a Shipping Broker or directly with a Carrier; I know I’ve got to read this whole contract before I sign off on anything.

The team at Nationwide Auto Transportation has all the latest info on what I need to know about these agreements. They’ve put together this guide to walk me through the industry jargon and usual terms, making sure I get the hang of it all.

What to Know About Car Shipping Contracts

Most people never think about what are the best car shipping companies to use for long distance auto transport, or things like car shipping contracts. This is until they need to relocate and search, ‘how to ship car across country’! (our Ultimate Relocation Guide by Nationwide Auto Transportation is a handy read).

To help our first time shippers, I have compiled a little glossary of common car shipping terminology that you’ll find in your entire car shipping contract – and by the way, did you know that if you are a first time customer at Nationwide Auto Transportation, you get a whopping 20% discount on your car shipping costs? 

car shipping contracts

Understanding a Car Shipping Contract | A Quick Glossary

ShipmentThis is your vehicle that needs shipping.
ShipperThat’s you, asking to ship your vehicle, or it could be the company doing the shipping. Always double-check in your contract.
CustomerThat’s also you, looking for the shipping service.
Carrier/TransporterThis is the company physically moving your vehicle. They’re all licensed by State and Federal Departments of Transportation.
Carrier FormsThese are documents the carriers use, like Shipping Orders, Bills of Lading, Inspection Reports, and Receipts.
BrokerThis is someone who sets up the shipping deal between you and the carrier.
Customer’s AgentIf you have someone over 18 handling things on your behalf, they’re your agent.
OrderThis is your official request for vehicle hauling services.
Order ConfirmationThis document means you’ve agreed to the terms and the order is ready to go.
Bill of LadingIt’s a legal document from the carrier detailing the shipped goods and confirming delivery.
C.O.D.Stands for Collect on Delivery or Cash Payment on Delivery.
Point of OriginYou choose the pickup location for your vehicle, known as the point of origin.

Request clarification before you sign anything. Once your car shipping contract is signed, any terms within it are assumed to have been reviewed and accepted.

Master Your Car Shipping Contract | Know What to Expect

When I look at my car shipping contract, it clearly outlines the services I’ll get. I’ll know exactly what’s happening, from start to finish.

Now, if I’m working with a Broker, things are a bit different. They find the best carrier for my needs. Once they hand off my order to the carrier, their job is mostly done. But I’m not left alone; I get full Customer Care support, all the way until my car is safely delivered.

The carrier’s contract comes as a Bill of Lading, a crucial piece of the puzzle. I make sure to read it thoroughly because it’s the foundation of my legal protection. I won’t sign unless everything checks out—this is my safeguard.

In the auto transport world, things like truck availability, transport costs, and delivery times can shift. Good car shipping contracts will be upfront about this, noting that estimates can change.

I need to be savvy about what’s included in my contract. Once I sign with my chosen car shipping company, the agreement kicks in, and so does the service. And it’s not just cars they handle.

Own a boat and need it somewhere else? Our blogpost All the Ship you Need to Know About Boat Shipping – and Then Some, is for your interest.

Clarifying Your Role in the Car Shipping Contract

Understanding Your Responsibilities

For a smooth car shipping experience, transport companies need a few things from me:

  1. Accurate Information – It’s on me to give the transport company correct details about my car. If I slip up, it could mess with the cost, timing, the type of carrier they use, or even the route.
  2. Prepping My Car – I need to get my car ready for its journey. If I don’t follow the contract’s prep instructions, I might have to cover any damages that happen because of it.
  3. Vehicle Inspections – When my car’s picked up and dropped off, I—or someone I trust—have to sign off on a Bill of Lading. It’s super important to read it closely and watch the inspection. This document is basically the official agreement between me and the carrier.
  4. Personal Items – I can pack up to 100 pounds in my car’s trunk, but I should remember the carrier’s insurance won’t cover these items. The contract will mention this, so I’m fully aware of the risks.

Each step is vital, ensuring my car’s trip goes off without a hitch.

Planning to ship your car this year? It’s crucial to grasp the nuances of your car shipping contract. The FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, continues to be a key player in regulating auto transportation in the USA. To ensure a smooth experience, acquaint yourself with the FMCSA’s latest guidelines and regulations. Stay informed and maximize your auto transportation journey in the United States.

Prohibited Items

NB! An order may be cancelled without compensation if the following are found in their vehicles:

  • Flammable materials
  • Weapons and firearms
  • Explosives and Ammunition
  • Narcotics and Alcohol
  • Animals or plants that are alive
  • Whatever is considered illegal to possess 
auto transport
What are the Shipping Company’s Responsibilities?

A car shipping contract tell you what to expect, it also outlines the carrier’s responsibilities. Brokers have traditionally been responsible for arranging logistical details regarding client shipments. Carriers on the other hand, are responsible for implementing these arrangements according to the contract.

To summarize, the auto shipping company is responsible for

  1. loading and unloading shipments as close as possible to the points of origin and destination
  2. Communicating any updates or unforeseen circumstances efficiently to the client
  3. At the time of pickup and delivery, a Bill of Lading should be issued. This is a legally binding contract between the client and the shipping company.

If all of this sounds like just too much to handle, you could sell rather than ship. If this is you, my post What are the Best Ways to Sell Your Car for the Most Profit?, was written just for you. Read on to learn more about what all of this may cost.

Cancellation and Refund Policies, Fees, Payments, and Cancellations

Typically, fees and payments sections outline specific regulations that vary from company to company. They have the right to cancel a shipment if the vehicle has not yet been assigned to, or picked up by, a carrier.

car shipping contracts

Feel Free to Ask Questions About Car Shipping Contracts

A reputable auto transport company will assist you with any car shipping contract questions you have. You may want to have someone with legal expertise review some of the legal information if you are unsure what it means.

At Nationwide Auto Transportation, our dedicated team of transport consultants provides you with expert advice throughout the shipping process. We are here to answer any questions that may arise during the process.

Our Customer Service department provides additional support if your consultant is not available right when you need them. Call our number 800-311-7073 for car shipping peace of mind or for any questions about your entire car shipping contract.