Car Shipping Explained for Military Members & Family

If you are part of a military family, or are in the military, you know you can move every year. Fortunately for those in the military with one car, one privately owned vehicle (POV) is covered by the government for transport according to the Department of Defense. There are two stipulations for the government to pay for the shipping: first you must be an active member of the military, and second, you must have received permanent change of station (PCS) orders. So, for families who have two or more cars, they are responsible for shipping their vehicle to its next location.

OCONUS Military Car Shipments

OCONUS, commonly known as outside the continental United States, is focused on the transportation logistics and shipping services outside of the United States, which is overseen by the Surface Deployment & Distribution Command (SDDC). For OCONUS military PCS, those who are shipping one vehicle will be covered, any additional vehicle must be paid by that military member. However, mileage reimbursement is available for certain situations. These shipping costs may be expensive, so many choose to either only use one car, or simply purchase a used one at their new home overseas.

CONUS Vehicle Shipping

CONUS, which refers to the continental United States, offers a few different options to have your vehicles end up at the next destination. One could pay to have them shipped, completely out of pocket, but the expenses could be claimed on taxes as a moving expense. Many companies offer door-to-door shipping which is more convenient than the government’s provided shipping which will go to a select shipping port.

Another option would be to simply drive yourself. If you find yourself looking at shipping costs and are dreading the costs, you could choose to drive yourself. Again, the military members will be reimbursed up to a certain amount per mile in each POV. This is known as the Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) and is valid for up to two vehicles. While this may be an inconvenient way to get the cars to your new PCS, it is definitely the cheapest option.

If driving alone seems daunting to you, many people look to drive with other family members, or another military family that recently received a PCS to the same destination. You may be surprised to see the amount of help you could receive from other military families, siblings, or even parents to help get your car to the new destination.

If you are transporting more than two cars, or simply more cars than drivers, towing could also be an option. If you are doing a PPM (aka a DITY move), renting a moving truck, or have a larger truck to tow the smaller truck, you could always haul the vehicle on your own. Of course this still won’t be reimbursed but it could eliminate some of the higher costs of shipping your POV and getting away from the stress of logistics of moving companies.

The Cost

There are a number of things that will factor in to how much it will cost to have your vehicle shipped by a company.

  • Make and model

The make and model of your vehicle will make a major impact on the cost of your shipment. The more expensive the vehicle, the higher the price.

  • Miles traveled

While cross-country shipments will have lower rates per mile than shorter mileage trip, but will obviously cost more in the long run.

  • Type of transport

One can choose to ship their vehicle through open or enclosed trailers. Enclosed trailers are obviously more expensive, but if you are shipping luxurious or classic cars, it may be worth it to you.

  • Type of delivery

Shippers can choose to have their car shipped door-to-door which would be more expensive than terminal-to-terminal, albeit more convenient as it is shipped as close to you as possible.

  • Time of year

Believe it or not, the time of year will make an impact on the price, where the demand is higher in January and the summer, which makes the shipping more expensive.

  • Carrier competition

When you are shipping your vehicle, you can always look into multiple companies, which creates more competition and could lower shipping costs.

  • Price of fuel

This is an obvious factor, the higher the price of gas is, the more it will be to ship your car.

  • Hidden fees

There are a few hidden fees that one should remember like insurance cost, surcharges, and carrier price increases.

Preparing your Vehicle

The FMCSA inspects car transporters and works to ensure public safety permits on vehicle-related items be included in the car. This can include child car seats, car covers, and parts or tools related to the vehicle itself. This of course excludes luggage, personal items, household items, or anything not related to the car. This is to help avoid excess weight with shipping and follow rules that no car carrier in the US is licensed to carry household items or even obtain insurance on the items for protection.


Military families are constantly moving, which can make it a problem if the family has more than one car. Each military member that receives a PCS will have one car transported covered by the government. Any other vehicle that is needed to be transported to the new PCS, must be covered by that military member. One could choose from a number of options to ship their car like towing it themselves, driving on their own, or using a shipping company to have the car shipped for them.

Contact a professional military car shipping agent right now at (866) 821-4555Ship A Car staff is standing by to give you the best service possible for the lowest price.  Don’t forget to ask about of discounts for military shipping.