Life's Sweet Journey: What Is the Process of Shipping an RV?

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

What Is the Process of Shipping an RV?

What is the process of shipping an RV?

Whether you’ve bought an RV online or have limited vacation time, shipping the vehicle makes a lot of sense, especially if you don’t want to drive it yourself. But what exactly does the transportation process involve?

Here's a Step-by-Step Guide to Shipping Your RV

What is the process of shipping an RV?
photo via Roadpass on Unsplash

Step 1 – Find Your Transporter 

The first thing you should do is reach out to a reliable RV shipper. According to, you want to ensure you work with a dependable provider to improve your experience. The best way to find your company is to contact a few organizations and ask them the following questions: 

  • Are you licensed? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the RV shipping industry. It requires all companies in this industry to obtain a valid Department of Transportation (DOT) number. If the provider doesn’t want to disclose this information, look for another transporter. 

  • What additional services do you offer? Many organizations provide extra services. These include expedited shipping, guaranteed delivery times, and tracking. Ask your provider if they’re part of your arrangement. 

  • How experienced are you? Newly established organizations can be a great choice, but seasoned providers are a safer option. The longer someone works as an RV transporter, the more likely they are to secure your vehicle and take it to your destination safely. Therefore, don’t forget to ask each prospect how long they’ve been in the business. 

  • What’s your cancellation policy? You could be forced to cancel your transit for a number of reasons. The company’s cancelation policy should reflect their understanding of these contingencies. Look for organizations that don’t charge (or charge reasonable fees) in such circumstances. 

  • Do you have written contracts? Verbal agreements are convenient, but they’re nowhere near as safe as written contracts. Be sure your provider offers written agreements that lay down every aspect of the service, including the cost, dates, and insurance coverage.

Step 2 – Get a Quote 

Once you find a shipper who responds to your questions honestly and reveals key information, you can ask them for a quote. The price of transporting your RV depends on various factors: 

  • Distance – The greater the distance the driver needs to cover, the higher the price of the service. 

  • Location – You might think location and distance are the same, but that’s not the case. This factor refers to the location of your pickup and delivery points. If they’re in an urban area with well-developed roads, you shouldn’t incur additional charges. Conversely, collecting and driving your RV to and from remote places with limited access to major highways is usually more expensive. 

  • Weather – If the company has to haul your RV in inclement weather, they may charge you extra. 

  • Season – Spring is when most RV owners schedule RV transportation. However, the higher demand during this period typically results in a price increase. For that reason, you should consider shipping your vehicle in the winter or other low-demand seasons. 

  • Type of transport – Open transport is more affordable, but it exposes your RV to hail, rain, snow, dust, dirt, and other threats. In contrast, enclosed shipping is on the expensive side, but it provides unmatched protection from the elements. 

Once you consider all these factors, the average price of your transport is approximately four dollars per mile for the first 100 miles. The next 900-1,000 miles generally cost between one and three dollars. If you get a quote that’s dramatically higher, it could be a red flag. Ask the provider to explain their pricing policy before signing the contract. 

Step 3 – Prepare the RV for Shipping 

Your carrier has many responsibilities, such as picking your RV up, transporting it safely, and unloading it at your destination. However, preparing your vehicle for the service isn’t one of their duties. The onus is on you to make sure your RV is ready for shipping. 

First, you’ll need to prove you’re the owner of the RV by collecting the necessary paperwork: 

  • Your passport, driver’s license, or other types of ID 

  • Bill of sale or any other document that proves your ownership 

  • Original RV title and registration information 

  • Proof of insurance 

Second, wash your RV to reveal any scratches, dings, or other forms of damage. A clean interior and exterior allow you to compare the condition of your vehicle before and after transport. If new cracks appear, you might be able to make an insurance claim. 

What is the process of shipping an RV?

The next step is to remove unnecessary or personal possessions from the RV: 

  • Chargers and cables 

  • GPS devices 

  • Smartphones 

  • Dishes and utensils 

  • Personal paperwork 

You should do the same with your RV accessories. They can easily be damaged during transit, which is why you should detach them before the transport. 

Here are some of the most common items you might need to remove: 

  • Bike and ski racks 

  • Luggage racks and boxes 

  • Retractable antennas 

Afterward, empty your fuel tank to about a quarter full. This reduces the weight of the vehicle, which can be another consideration when calculating the price. At the same time, it ensures you have enough fuel to load, unload, and drive your RV once it arrives.

The final stage of the preparation is to check the mechanical condition of your RV: 

  • Repair any fluid leaks. 

  • Check the tow and hitch bar for correct installation. 

  • Verify the battery has a proper voltage range. 

  • Make sure your tires are inflated.

Step 4 – Sign Your Bill of Lading and Let the Provider Load Your Vehicle 

You must be present when the company arrives to pick up your RV because you’ll need to sign the bill of lading. This legal contract serves as legal protection for the carrier and a receipt. It covers the starting and end points as well as the condition of your vehicle at the pickup. After signing the document, the provider hauls or drives your RV away, depending on your service.

Seamless Shipping with a Reputable Company

The first step of shipping an RV is also the most important. If you can find a trustworthy carrier, you’ll be able to breeze through the service. Your RV is more likely to arrive unharmed, and you’ll be charged a reasonable price for your transport. 

Guest post: Thank you to Jason from A-1 Auto Transport for sharing all this information. We hope you found this helpful in working through the process of shipping an RV. Safe travels!!

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