How to Ship an Imported Car from the Port to Your Home

Importing a car can be both very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. But once your dream car arrives at the port, how do you safely and efficiently get it from the port to your house? Can it be shipped? 

Yes it can. A car can be shipped from the port to your home using a reputable and experienced auto shipping company to do the job.

Getting Started – Shipping a Car From Port to Home

It’s very likely you picked a great company to bring your car from Japan or elsewhere. However, that process isn’t over until it’s sitting pretty in your driveway.  

Once your vehicle is getting close to arriving at the port, you should begin the process of finding out the way you are going to get it out of there and into your open arms.

Fortunately, here is a detailed guide that will get you started on how to ship a car from the port to your house.

Make Sure Paperwork Is In Order

For starters, your import documentation must be on point.  Before anything else, be totally sure you have all the required import documentation ready so your car is released. This may include import permits, purchase receipts, shipping details, and other relevant information to prove the ownership and authenticity of the car’s import.

Customs Clearance is another hurdle but won’t be hard to get done if prepared. Obviously, before your car leaves the port, it must clear customs. You will need to present your import documentation and possibly pay import duties or taxes. The specific requirements will vary based on current import regulations. 

Once all that is clear, it’s time to pick your preferred auto shipper. 

imported cars

Choosing the Right Auto Shipping Company

Research is really key here. Your car has gotten this far without any damage or issues because of your attention to detail. Let’s keep it that way!

Start by compiling and reviewing  a list of potential auto shipping companies. Research their services  and the types of transportation methods they offer. If your vehicle is rare and valuable, you’ll want enclosed car shipping for extra peace of mind. Although it’s 40-60% more than open air transport, it does provide protection from weather and prying eyes. 

Don’t forget to check reviews and reputation of the auto transport company you settle on. One of the best ways to have it all go sideways is picking the wrong auto shipping firm. 

The reliability and efficiency of a car shipping company can be easily determined by checking into all their customer feedback. Resources  such as Better Business Bureau can be good starting points. 

Always look for patterns in reviews you find. Are there common complaints? Like price switching or damage? Also check to see what good things are constantly said about the car transport company. 

Always remember to make sure whomever you pick is authorized by the Department of Transportation.  Any legitimate auto shipping company will have their license numbers listed prominently on their website. 

Getting Pricing from Auto Transporters

Contact your shortlisted group of companies and provide details about your car and the shipping route. Make sure they know it’s coming from the port.  Information may include car make, model, dimensions, and any modifications. Be sure to disclose everything. Leaving important information out could result in delays or the transport company sending the wrong kind of truck. 

Once you’ve received quotes, compare them in terms of price, service, and any additional benefits they offer. Remember, the cheapest isn’t always the best. Factor in the company’s reputation, experience, and services provided.

Understanding the Pickup and Delivery Process


The shipping company will often give you a window. It’s normally a 3-5 day window of time when they will come to pick up the car from the port. Be sure the port knows who is coming so they release the vehicle to the right party. 

During pickup, the driver will usually conduct a vehicle inspection. Make sure the driver gets this done and send you a copy. If nobody is willing to assist the driver at the port, then have the driver take very detailed photos.

If there is any damage, this will help determine who damaged the car. The importer or the truck taking it to you. Noting any damages on a Bill of Lading (BOL) is key to a claim. 


Similarly, you’ll get a delivery window when the car is scheduled. This window will usually be more accurate than the pick up window. Upon delivery, inspect the car thoroughly in the presence of the driver. Compare its condition with the BOL’s details from the pickup. 

If there are discrepancies or new damages, note them immediately on the BOL before signing it. You must sign the BOL with the driver showing everyone acknowledges there is damage to have a valid damage claim. 

Payment and Final Steps


Depending on the company, you may have already paid in full, or given a deposit for some sort of final balance upon delivery. Understand the payment terms in advance so you don’t get stuck with any problems.


Check with the shipping company about the insurance. It’s totally normal when dealing with a broker to have the insurance be the responsibility of the trucker. Get that policy! It’s vital to know what’s covered and what is not going to be. If you’re not happy with the coverage one carrier has , ask them to source another.

Potential Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Bait-and-Switch Pricing

Some companies might offer a super low price initially, but then hike the price later on with some shady terms in a contract. This is why verifying reviews and understanding the full terms of the agreement is important due to this being a common practice..

Delayed Deliveries

Delays can happen for various reasons like weather conditions or other issues that aren’t anyone’s fault. While some delays are unavoidable, consistent complaints you find about delayed deliveries can be a sign of inefficiency on the part of who you are hiring. Keep that in mind..

Lack of Communication

A reputable and well run car shipping company will communicate with you throughout the vehicle shipping process. This will include  updating you about your car’s whereabouts and any potential delays.

Final Words

Shipping a car, especially one that’s imported, can seem like it has a ton of moving parts. Fortunately, just by being prepared along with having and a keen understanding of the process, it can be smooth and relatively stress-free. 

Remember, the key for the rest of the trip going smoothly as it’s picked up from the port is to choose an auto transport company that can keep your car safe, understand the process of shipping a car from a port, and demonstrate they work reliably thanks to good and consistent reviews to back their claims of service up. 

Please also be aware this article does contain a pretty broad outline of the import process and details might vary based on specific scenarios, port locations, or regulations that are always changing. Always consult with pros when dealing with shipping and customs procedures.