How long does it take to ship a car? Shipping a car is very different than shipping a package FedEx. There are many factors involved that affect both travel time and cost. To fully understand what goes into shipping a car, let’s get into some of the details.

Pick Up and Delivery

When you receive a quote from a transport company, it only includes the transit time. It does not include the time between reservation and pick up.

Once you make your reservation, assuming you did not book in advance, it can take 2- 7 days for vehicle pick up. If you reserved Express shipping, then pick up could be in 1-3 days after reservation.

If your vehicle is traveling a long distance, it will be carried on a 7-10 trailer. This trailer can carry between 7-10 cars and must be full before transport. Because of this, drivers must go to several locations to pick up other vehicles. A driver can spend several days in a city filling up a car hauler. Pick up and delivery of each car takes up the majority of a drivers transport time.

If you are only going a fairly short distance, a small car hauler will transport your car. Pick up and delivery times are usually much quicker as there are fewer cars to deal with.

Keep in mind too, that the bigger the vehicle, the longer a transport can take. This is for a couple of reasons. First, a car hauler can only fit four large trucks or SUV’s. Which means there might be a longer wait to get a spot on a hauler.

Driver Regulations

Also, understand that truck and trailer drivers have very strict work rules. Commercial vehicles have an 11-hour driving limit mandated by HOS regulations. A driver then, can probably only drive between 500 – 650 miles per day.

This driving limit also includes all the time it takes to pick up each car requiring transport. The pick up time can add up as cars might have to be unloaded and reloaded to make room for each new car on the hauler.

Time of year

Keep in mind the time of the year when you want to ship your car. Drivers typically take time off during holidays and holiday weekends. This could add to your pick up time.
Summer and early fall are busy for car transports and you could have a quicker pick up time due to higher volume. On the flip side, transporting in the winter could mean longer wait times for pick up. Lower volume, possible longer wait time.


The shipping company always does it’s best to get the delivery completed as soon as possible. But, a driver must always defer to safety. Delays can occur because of inclement weather. Excessive rain, snow or high winds may force the driver to stop the transport and wait it out.

Delays can also occur because of breakdowns, emergencies or due to the driver’s health. Traffic and road construction also add to potential delays. Patience is key to car shipping!

There is always the chance too that you get your vehicle delivered ahead of schedule. Cooperative weather and traffic potentially means faster delivery.

How long does it take to ship a car to another state?

Now that your car is on it’s way, how long does car shipping take? First it depends on how far the car has to travel. The more miles the car has to go, the longer the transit will take.

How long does it take to ship a car from New York to California?

Plan on a coast to coast transit taking one to two weeks, or approximately 7 – 10 days. Keep in mind that these are two of the most populous states. Depending on where in the state you are shipping to, traffic delays are a real possibility.

How long does it take to ship a car from California to Texas?

If you are relocating from California to Texas, the estimated shipping is about 5-10 days. Plan on the same time frame if moving from any of the western states to the Midwestern states. The same goes for moving from the East coast. The best bet is to be patient and plan on the longest estimated time to account for any delay during transit.

Ship a car overseas

To know how long it takes to ship a car overseas, we first need to understand how a car gets transported.

RoRo Shipping

Cars loading on to a RoRo ship.
Loading of cars on the ferry for transportation to the other shore.

The most efficient and cost effective method is RoRo shipping. RoRo refers to roll on roll off, meaning the cars get driven onto a ship, below deck. When the vehicle gets loaded, it’s tied down securely and the crew disengages the battery.

You can typically trust in the transit time with this shipping method. RoRo ships have a pretty reliable schedule. This is the preferred method of new car manufacturers.

Be Sure to remove all personal items and the gas tank must be below a quarter tank or the car could risk rejection at port.

Container shipping is the best bet for an inoperable vehicle. It is also the best option if you have a classic or exotic car that needs extra protection.

Container Shipping

A sports car in front of shipping containers.

There are two types of container shipping. Shared container shipping is the least expensive. Multiple cars share a container. This reduces the shipping price because the cars share the transport cost. Container need to be full, before leaving for transport, this can add extra time to the shipment. Also, keep in mind that RoRo shipping might not be available at the destination port. Shared container shipping is then the only cost effective method. Additionally, you can transport personal items in the backseat or trunk. Just be sure to document what was in the vehicle.

The second option is exclusive container shipping. This is most expensive option. It also allows for faster shipping time. You can reserve a container and decide when you want it to go. If your budget allows for it and you have a luxury vehicle that needs ultimate protection, this is the way to go. Since its only your vehicle in the container, you can ship your personal items with your car. So go ahead and load it up!

How long does it take to ship a car overseas?

First of all, it depends on the destination port and which coast you are shipping from.

Shipping a car from the East coast to Europe, can take approximately 10 – 15 days of transit time.

Transport from West coast to Europe at can take three to four weeks as the ship has to go through the panama canal.
From the West coast to Australia, plan on about 20 – 25 days.
Also, there are some destinations that require a trans-shipment. Meaning, a RoRo ship for example will have to stop in a major port before moving on to the destination. This can add an extra one to two weeks.

Ship from the closest port?

Now, you may live close to a port in California or New York and think it’s easiest to ship from the port closest to home. That may not be the case. It may make more financial sense, to transport your car across the country.

For example, lets say you live in Los Angeles and you are retiring to Italy. The auto transport company gives you two rates, one from LA and one from the east coast. It may seem quicker to ship out of LA, but remember, the transit time from the West coast to Europe can be four weeks. Add in the possible trans-shipment time and you are looking at about two months to pickup your car.

If you were to transport your car across the country to ship out of New York, you could reduce the transit time. Its important to explore both options. See the estimated cost and transport time for each before you decide.

The same goes for shipping from east coast to Australia.
Plus, if you are shipping from the coastal port closest to the destination the sail time is quicker. Fewer ocean miles means lower freight cost.

How long does it take to ship a car to Hawaii?
When shipping to Hawaii, the process is essentially the same as shipping overseas.

To ship from the West coast, plan on about a week of sailing time.
From the East coast, it can take two to three weeks.
The transport time also depends on which Hawaiian port is your destination.

Need a Car Shipping Quote?

Shipping your car either across country or overseas, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Knowing how transportation works, helps you understand the variables involved. These variables are why you get estimated transit times. The important thing is to make sure you are working with a reliable company. One that will take care of your vehicle and get it to your destination safely and as quickly as possible.

If you are ready to make the first step in shipping your car, check out our quote calculator. We can get your vehicle anywhere it needs to go, whether you are transporting across the country or to the other side of the world . ShipCar24 is ready to meet your auto transport needs.