Is It Legal to Ship Personal Items in Your Car During Auto Transport?

When it comes to shipping your car, understanding the rules and regulations is crucial. Many auto transport agents may tell you it's acceptable to include personal items in your vehicle, but this is often not the case. In our latest blog post, we break down why shipping household goods in your car during auto transport can lead to complications for both you and the carrier. We highlight the risks, such as potential delays and penalties, and share important tips to ensure a smooth transport experience. Don't take unnecessary chances—learn how to prepare your vehicle properly and avoid costly mistakes! Read on to find out what you need to know before shipping your car.

4/16/20244 min read

It is important for customers to understand the rules and regulations surrounding auto transport, especially when it comes to shipping personal belongings in their vehicles. Many auto transport agents may suggest that it's acceptable to ship household goods in your car, but this is actually not the case. In this blog post, we'll explain why shipping personal items in your vehicle during auto transport is not legal and what you need to know to avoid potential issues.

1. Federal Regulations:

Auto transport companies are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which prohibits the transport of household goods in vehicles being shipped. Transporting personal items in a car can violate these regulations, leading to fines and penalties for the transport company. Carriers are not household goods movers this is a different license with the FMCSA and insurance. Their license is for a common carrier of property only. This does not include household goods.

2. Insurance Concerns:

Auto transport companies carry insurance that covers the vehicle being transported, but it does not extend to personal belongings inside the car. This means that if your items are lost, damaged, or stolen during transport, you will not be able to recover your losses through insurance.

3. Increased Risk of Theft:

Shipping personal items in your car can attract unwanted attention and increase the risk of theft during transport. Thieves may target vehicles with visible personal belongings, leading to potential damage or loss of your possessions.

4. Potential Weight Issues:

Adding extra weight to your vehicle can affect the transport company's ability to safely and efficiently move your car. It may also lead to additional charges if the weight exceeds the carrier's limits. The carriers can only haul a certain amount of weight. When they accept the contracts for transport of vehicles they know how much each car weighs. If each car puts hundreds of pounds in the car that could potentially cause the carrier to lose a full car space which is alot of money. This is why many carriers will not break the rules and allow it or they will only allow 100 pounds inside the car below the window line.

5. Customs and Border Control:

If your car is being shipped internationally, customs and border control agents may inspect the vehicle and find personal items. This can result in additional inspections, delays, and even fines for the transport company or you as the owner.

What Should You Do?

- Remove Personal Items: Before shipping your vehicle, remove all personal items and household goods from the car. This includes items in the trunk, backseat, and glove compartment.

- Communicate with Your Agent: Confirm with your transport agent that you understand the regulations and guidelines surrounding the shipment of your vehicle and the risks.

- Plan Ahead: If you need to ship household goods, consider using a professional moving company that specializes in transporting personal belongings.

When you call auto transport companies, you may not be speaking with an experienced broker who is familiar with the laws and regulations governing auto transport. Instead, you might find yourself talking to an unskilled telemarketer who may not fully understand the legal requirements. This can lead to misinformation about the permissibility of shipping personal items in your car during transport. In fact, if you google can you ship personal items in the car over 90% of the auto transport companies online are unaware of the Federal rules about shipping personal items.

Adding to the confusion, many carriers and drivers are also not fully aware of the rules surrounding the transport of household goods in vehicles. Some drivers may knowingly or unknowingly break the rules and allow up to 100 pounds of personal items in your car, as long as the items are below the window line.

However, shipping personal goods in your car can lead to serious consequences for both you and the carrier. The carrier can be stopped by an FDOT inspector and told to remove your car from the truck and leave it in a parking spot, only returning to retrieve it later. This not only causes delays and inconvenience but can also incur additional costs and penalties for the carrier and you.

As the customer, you are taking a risk by allowing personal items in your vehicle during transport. If the car is removed from the truck due to the presence of goods, you could face further delays and the hassle of dealing with the situation, potentially affecting your plans and schedule.

How to Avoid These Issues:

- Clear Out Your Car: Before shipping your vehicle, remove all personal belongings and household goods from your car.

- Double-Check with the Company: Verify with your auto transport company assigned to you if they will allow any items in the car. The unspoken rule is no more than 100 pounds but again this is breaking the law and many carriers will not take items at all. Again, if the carrier allows it and most do understand you are taking a risk as explained above. Enterprise Auto Transport is not responsible for any fines or delays caused by people not following the rules. The majority of people who respect the fact that the carriers are not supposed to take personal items and at least follow the rules of no more than 100 pounds and remember to have the items below the window line face no problems.

By understanding the potential risks and following the rules, you can help avoid complications and ensure a smooth auto transport experience. Always prioritize working with reputable companies that comply with regulations and provide clear guidance on preparing your car for transport.

You can read the law here