Members of the military have to get used to moving base regularly. If you’re assigned to a new duty station, there isn’t much you can do about it other than pack up and ship out. For that reason, you need to know how to make the move as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Never more so than if you want to ship a car along with your belongings.
That’s where the ultimate auto transport guide comes in.
This article digs into the basics of shipping a vehicle for military personnel, and offers tips on how to ship your car safely and what to look for in a shipping company.
The Types of Military Car Shipping
Most permanent change of station (PCS) moves occur during the summer. You’ll be assigned a new base, often at short notice, and be left with the task of packing everything and moving out. Having a shipping checklist helps you to get organized. But you need to know what your car shipping options are before you figure out to best way to go.
Military personnel have two ways to ship a vehicle:
- Government-Issued Transport
- Personally Procured Move (PPM)
This is the ultimate car transport choice for people who don’t want to handle the process on their own. Assuming your orders authorize the shipping of a privately owned vehicle (POV) to your new base, you can ask the government to ship the car for you.
What does that entail?
The government will cover the cost of shipping a single POV up to a weight of 20 metric tons (MT). If your vehicle weighs more than 20 MT, you’re required to pay any additional costs related to transporting the vehicle. For reference, the average compact car weighs in at about 9 MT, with a normal-sized car typically being 15 MT.
Your vehicle must be in safe operating condition and you’ll have to provide a full set of keys for the transportation company. Other regulations may apply, depending on where you’re shipping out to. For example, you may find that your destination country has rules about the types of cars that can enter, which may prevent you from using your POV.
Assuming you get through all of the regulatory red tape, the military will pay to ship one POV per year. You’re responsible for covering the costs of shipping additional POVs, should you need them.
Personally Procured Move (PPM)
If your orders don’t allow for government-issued transport, you may still be able to arrange vehicle shipping personally. With a PPM, you’re responsible for every aspect of getting your POV to your new base. That means you have to research transportation companies to find the ultimate shipping carrier for your needs. You’ll also pay every fee related to transporting the vehicle, in addition to being responsible for putting together a shipment checklist.
Think of this as the do-it-yourself option.
A PPM can add a lot of stress to your move. If you’re already juggling a delivery truck checklist, finding new accommodation, and preparing your family for the move, adding a transport vehicle checklist into the mix may feel overwhelming. But at the same time, many people trust the carriers they find themselves ahead of those the military provides. You may want to use the PPM option if you have a classic, antique, or otherwise valuable vehicle.
How Much Does Military Auto Shipping Cost
If you have the government ship your POV, you won’t have to pay a dollar assuming you meet the relevant criteria. But if you opt for a PPM, you’ll generally find the cost of military vehicle shipping is similar to that of standard car shipping.
If you’re shipping the vehicle within the continental United States (CONUS), you don’t have to worry about air freight or transporting the vehicle over water. In that respect, the per-mile fee is the biggest issue. Expect to pay between $0.40 and $1 per mile, depending on your carrier and the distance the vehicle needs to go. Note that your per-mile cost usually decreases as the distance required increases.
Shipping outside the continental United States (OCONUS) tends to cost more. You may pay anywhere between $900 and $2,000 to transport a standard vehicle to another country. Of course, the price increases based on the shipping distance and the size of your vehicle.
Factors That Affect Your Costs
Beyond the distance traveled and weight of your car, several other factors affect how much you pay:
- Choosing enclosed shipping over open transport can add up to 50% to your overall cost.
- Current gas prices may increase your per-mile rate. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this as you won’t be able to delay your military move until prices go down.
- The drop-off and delivery locations affect more than just the distance traveled. You may also have to pay fees to get your vehicle through customs, depending on the country.
- Summer shipments may cost more due to the increased demand carriers face. However, you might end up spending more on a winter shipment if conditions make it difficult to transport your vehicle.
The Documents You Need When Shipping a Vehicle to a Military Base
You can’t rock up to a new military base with your car and expect them to let you in. You have to bring a ton of documentation along with you. Some of these documents help you get your POV through customs, while others demonstrate your ownership or show you’re entitled to government-provided shipping. Think of this list as a vehicle delivery checklist of documents you’ll probably need:
- Proof of entitlement to ship your POV to your need base
- Your vehicle registration
- A lien holder authorization letter if a lien applies to the vehicle
- Proof that the vehicle is held in your name
- A government or state-issued form of identification that proves who you are
- Your car insurance policy details
Beyond this checklist for new car delivery to a military base, you may have to provide further documentation in the following circumstances:
- If you’re exporting a vehicle that has a lien outside of its country of origin, you’ll need to contact your lien holder for an authorization letter.
- A certified and signed power of attorney may be needed if anyone other than the service member registered to the vehicle transports it.
- You may think that you’ve found the ultimate car rental or lease deal. If you don’t own your car, however, you’ll have to get a letter that authorizes the transportation of the vehicle outside the United States from the owner.
Finally, you’ll likely need to provide your destination address, an email address, emergency contact information, and a notification address to your base before shipping.
How to Choose the Ultimate Car and Truck Shipping Company
If you go down the PPM route, you’ll need to find a good carrier to transport your vehicle safely. These quick tips ensure you work with a company that knows how to handle military shipping procedures.
Tip No. 1 – Always Look for Experience
Visit the websites of every carrier you come across when doing your research. If you don’t see any mention of a specific military car shipping service, cross that carrier off your list. Though military car shipping has many similarities to regular vehicle transportation, there are some issues a carrier needs to understand. For example, they’ll have to know how to deal with customs if you’re shipping to an OCONUS station. Plus, the shipping company should ideally be able to tell you about any rules you have to follow to ensure your POV is allowed on base.
Inexperienced carriers may not know about these details, which can cause delays in your shipment.
Tip No. 2 – Look for Reviews
Social media, Google, and forums should lead you to plenty of reviews about the carrier you’re considering using. Ideally, you’ll see plenty of five-star ratings and glowing feedback from past customers.
However, online comments are the ultimate transport reviews.
If you’re looking for the ultimate auto transport reviews, you need to speak to friends and family members who’ve used the carrier you’re considering before. This provides you with accounts of what it’s like to deal with the company from sources you can trust. If a friend or family member had issues with a carrier, that’s a major red flag suggesting you should avoid the company in question.
Tip No. 3 – Collect Plenty of Quotes
You’re likely shipping a ton of household goods along with your POV when you move to a new duty station. Naturally, you want to keep your costs as low as possible. You may not do that if you accept the first quote for vehicle shipping that you receive. That choice may lead to you missing out on better deals.
Try to collect quotes from at least five carriers. Make it more if you have the time. The more quotes you have, the easier it is to determine the average cost of shipping your vehicle. Eliminate any companies that charge significantly more than this average. Also, be wary of any that charge a lot less, as they may sting you with hidden or additional fees once you’ve signed a contract.
As a side note, don’t pay a deposit to get a quote. Move on to the next company if a carrier won’t give you a quote unless you pay them first.
Tip No. 4 – Trust Your Gut
Sometimes a carrier will say all of the right things. And yet, you still don’t feel right about them. Your instincts keep telling you to look elsewhere.
If that happens, listen to your gut.
Trust plays a huge role in the car shipping process. You’re leaving one of your most valuable possessions in the hands of other people. If you don’t trust those people, you’ll only create more stress for yourself as you worry about what’s happening to your POV.
Preparing Your Vehicle
So far, this car shipping guide has identified your options and offered tips for choosing a carrier. All that’s left is to ensure your vehicle is ready for the shipping process. Follow these quick steps to prepare your POV:
- Clean your vehicle inside and out. Focus on the wheel wells, fuel intake, door jambs, and motor compartment specifically. Many countries have rules that guard against flora and fauna from other countries arriving on their shores. If your vehicle isn’t clean, it may not get through customs.
- Remove personal items from your vehicle. This is particularly important for government-aided transportation. You’re only allowed to leave vehicle-specific tools, such as tire irons, a spare tire, child seats, and hand tools with a value up to $200 in your POV.
- Create an inventory of existing damage and scuff marks. Timestamped photographs are useful here. You can then check these photos when you receive your vehicle to confirm no additional damage occurred during shipping.
- Create a company vehicle checklist for all of the documents you’ll need when shipping your car. Speak to your supervisor and your shipping company to ensure you don’t miss anything. One forgotten document could delay the shipping process by days.
Get Ready to Ship Out
While the prospect of moving between different locations is one of the more exciting aspects of being in the military, the moving process itself is stressful. If you’re shipping a car between bases, you have to take care to ensure you find an appropriate carrier.
In many cases, the military can handle the hard work for you. Take advantage of free POC shipping whenever it’s available to keep the cost of the move as low as possible. However, if you’d prefer a PPM move, follow the advice in this article to find a military car shipping company that serves your needs.
Now you’ve finished reading the ultimate auto shipping guide for military personnel, all that’s left is to find the right car transportation company.
Military Car Shipping should be at the top of your list.
We have over 30 years of experience in transporting vehicles and household goods for members of the military. With our help, you can handle a CONUS or OCONUS move with ease and will feel confident that your POV is in the right hands.
Would you like to learn more?
Call 888-230-9894 or get in touch with us online to get a free auto transport quote.