RV Shipping Services Simplified

Recreational vehicles aren’t cheap, so when you buy one, you want to use an RV shipping service to ensure it arrives in the best possible conditions. RV shipping is the


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February 20, 2020
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Recreational vehicles aren’t cheap, so when you buy one, you want to use an RV shipping service to ensure it arrives in the best possible conditions. RV shipping is the ultimate solution for customers who have any doubts about their investment. Whether it’s national or international, the service is designed to be quick and hassle-free, removing any stress that is involved with moving your recreational vehicle.

By choosing the right RV shipping provider, you should benefit from a cost-friendly and efficient solution that gets your RV from A to B as quickly as possible. Safety is also essential, which is why the Department of Transportation issues DOT numbers to truckers. In its simplest form, these are the features this delivery service should provide customers and clients. 

Of course, there are more factors to consider, and they can complicate matters. With this post, you will be able to get to grips with everything RV shipping-related. Whether it’s the cost, the best delivery options or how to prepare an RV, the answers are underneath.

What is RV Shipping?What is RV Shipping

RV shipping is the process of delivering your recreational vehicle from a factory or container unit to a location of your choosing. As well as shipping a new vehicle, customers use the service to return from vacations. Although they are driveable, it’s not healthy for an RV to drive hundreds of thousands of miles per year, and it will suffer from wear and tear issues. Paying for a professional and licensed business to put your RV on a flatbed is an excellent way to limit the damage from over-driving a motorhome.

RV shipping is essential for customers who need to transport their RV overseas, too. International delivery consists of ensuring regular and oversized motorhomes are regulated and qualify to be shipped abroad. In addition, service providers should also manage small details, such as the pickup and drop off dates, the location, and the type of vehicle. The last point is vital for custom regulation purposes.

Of course, specific RVs are too big to drive and not road legal, making a shipping solution the only viable option. This is particularly relevant for owners who require an RV to be shipped abroad for business purposes.

Ways to Ship Your RV

Shipping an RV seems as if it is a complicated and stressful task. However, for the most part, it’s no different than transporting a car or any other vehicle. The key is to choose the perfect shipping option so that there aren’t any unforeseen bumps in the road. Picking the correct way to ship your RV is one of the hardest tasks because  you aren’t sure which solution is tailored to your requirements. Naturally, the options usually include:

  • A drive-away service
  • Step deck or flatbed with loading ramps
  • Fifth wheel
  • Goosenecks
  • Pinter hooks

Depending on your specifications – money, wear and tear, etc. – these are the three main services for door-to-door shipping. You find out more about the best RV shipping solution later in the article.

International shipping generally consists of four methods. They are:

  • Container vessels – used for RVs that are 40-feet  and smaller
  • Flat-rack containers – designed for vehicles that are suitable to load on a 40-foot container
  • Roll-on/Roll-off – these are mainly for cargo 
  • Lift-on/Lift-off – ships that are solely for oversized or RVs that are rolled onto vessels. This shipping method is for RVs that aren’t driven

What to Consider Before Choosing an RV Shipping Solution

There is a lot to consider before choosing an RV shipping solution. Firstly, it’s vital to decide which delivery service is necessary. If you opt for national delivery, it’s wise to remember a comprehensive insurance policy. The cover is critical for international shipping, too, yet it’s more common for RV owners in-country to dismiss it as unnecessary. All carriers are required to have insurance by law, yet the amount can differ based on the company. As a result, purchasing extra coverage is often a fantastic way to limit any damage done during transportation.

International shipping is different and requires separate considerations. An example is the weight of the vehicle. On top of importation regulations, the ship will also have weight requirements. As a rule, racks can hold 88,000 pounds, so you must prepare your RV to be under this limit. Any transport method that uses ramps will require the RV to be in working condition. Otherwise, you or a docker won’t be able to load it onto the vessel. Please don’t forget about transportation from the vehicle’s drop-off point. Anybody who hires a third-party service will need to make their way to the ship’s boarding gate.

Regardless of national or international shipping methods, DOT and MC numbers are crucial as they confirm that the carrier is legally certified to move your RV. 

What’s the Best Way to Ship an RV?What’s the Best Way to Ship an RV

There are several factors to consider to figure out which option is the best for your needs. They range from location to cost and maintenance.


Depending on where you want to ship your RV, you have a couple of options. If the destination isn’t abroad, you will have to pick between step deck or fifth wheel. A drive-away service is also an option, yet most owners prefer to drive themselves rather than incur extra costs. Between SD and FW, the fifth wheel method usually wins. While it requires more preparation – you need an attachable wheel for hook-up purposes – it offers extra stability. The weight is placed between the cab and rear axle and distributes the load more evenly than putting it on the bumper.

Internationally, the best way to ship your RV is on a container vessel. They only fit vehicles are 40-foot long or less; however, the average Class A motorhome is 33-foot, leaving you with 7-feet of leeway. For bigger RVs, you should only need a flat-rack container.


From a maintenance perspective, the shipping methods offer similar results, apart from a drive-away service. Regardless of the driver, getting behind the wheel means that your vehicle will rack up extra miles on the journey home. Middle-aged and old RVs won’t be able to take the strain, resulting in regular repairs.


An excellent tip is not to let upfront costs overly affect your decision. Yes, a fifth wheel service can cost more than $0.75 a mile compared to a standard “bumper pool” tow. However, 75 cents isn’t a lot of money when you consider what can go wrong with flatbed trucks. While a drive-away service is even cheaper, fixing an RV is costly because you need to pay for labor and parts. Price-wise, it’s important to consider finding a balance between risk and reward.

Of course, there are certain factors that are impossible to negate; for instance, oversized RVs. Anything above 40-feet will require a special permit to transport and your quote will increase as a result. You might not be able to get around this fact, in which case you’ll have to pay the additional fees.

How to Prepare an RV for Shipping

After you have called a carrier and given them the relevant details, it’s essential to prepare your RV for shipping. The majority of them appear as though they are ready to go from the outset, yet there are always other details that slip under the radar. They include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. Personalized items
  2. Loose items 
  3. No inventory 
  4. Open doors and windows 
  5. Connected electrical items 
  6. Driving capability

To ensure nothing goes wrong during RV transportation, you should try and check as many of the above off your prep list as possible. The majority of them are straightforward, such as closing doors and windows and stabilizing loose items. Double-checking entry points and latching anything that might fall or move in transit should suffice. Also, disconnecting electrical items is easy once you realize they need turning off.

The RV’s driving capabilities can be problematic. Aside from cosmetic issues – turning signals; headlights – you must check the:

  • Power steering
  • Transmission
  • Brake fluid 
  • Coolant 

Carriers won’t attempt to fix your RV if it breaks down. Therefore, it’s imperative for owners to analyze the vehicle and make sure it’s in perfect working order. Anyone worried about a breakdown can prepare a special set of instructions for the carrier. That way, they will have a reference point to help them fix any unforeseen problems.

Making A Claim

In the unlikely event that you need to make a claim, you must produce the pre-vehicle report to your insurer. Along with any before and after pictures you have, the insurance company will reference the condition of your RV against the carrier’s report. Still, vehicle owners should remember that suppliers aren’t liable if the cargo wasn’t properly prepared. So, it’s crucial to maintain your RV as best as possible in case there is a dispute.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship an RV?How Much Does it Cost to Ship a RV

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all-policy for RV shipping prices, and you should be wary of any carrier that claims to offer flat rates. In the shipping industry, you can expect to pay more for a short distance. Anything over 1,000 miles is cheaper in terms of the price per mile, although you will pay more because the distance is greater. Typically, it’s $3+ for distances shorter than 100 miles and $1 for anything over 1,000 miles. However, the prices are subject to change depending on the carrier, so it’s essential to shop around for affordable quotes.

Apart from the distance, RV owners also pay extra for the following:

  • Seasonality
  • Demand
  • Vehicle condition
  • Gas prices
  • Required permits and certifications

RV Shipping: Cost-cutting Tips

Transporting your recreational vehicle is important but you don’t want to pay a considerable sum, not when it’s unnecessary. Firstly, it’s important to try and ship your RV out of season. Summer is the peak season due to the spike in vacations, so Fall and Winter rates are usually lower.

Repairing your vehicle could be a money-saver, too. An RV that’s in bad condition requires an extensive insurance policy as carriers won’t take any risks. Fixing small or medium-sized issues could reduce insurance add-ons and save you a significant amount.

Possibly the tip that will save you the most money is to research your RV before buying. Two of the major factors regarding cost are height and gas. Picking a small vehicle that is fuel-efficient and doesn’t require special documentation should significantly lower transportation costs.

How Long Does it Take to Ship an RV?How Long Does it Take to Ship an RV

It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to ship an RV from one part of the country to another. Depending on traffic and industry regulations (how many hours a driver can work per day), door-to-door service isn’t much slower than driving a car. Internationally, of course, the time frame is increased as ships are cumbersome. Plus, there is the location of the drop-off point to consider, as well as immigration hold-ups.

Carriers do include features that make solutions more seamless. The main one is to use flatbeds for deliveries as this tool allows them to ship multiple RVs at once. Alternatively, it’s smart to pass on your contact details and to ask for the driver’s in return. While a phone call won’t make the process quicker, it will keep you in the loop by informing you of hold-ups. As always, the best option is to review past customers’ experiences. Trustpilot and Tripadvisor are the two most reputable sites.

Shipping an RV from Cross CountryShipping an RV from Cross Country

Shipping an RV across the country requires it to be hauled, driven, or put on a flatbed. Before you choose the method of delivery and the transporter, it’s vital to provide the carrier with as many details as possible. As well as your timeframe and locations for pickup and delivery, please include the RV year, make and model, and photos. Doing this should ensure there are zero hiccups, and your RV arrives in the desired location at the right time without incurring additional charges.

Preparation tips that are RV-centric are essential, too. Securing loose items and making an inventory of personal belongings are fantastic first-steps, but you also need to check fluid levels and inspect the battery. Plus, it’s clever to put a backup plan in place in case the worst happens. Transport checklists point out that this might range from providing shutdown measures for emergencies to giving the transporter the second set of keys.

Can I Ship an RV Overseas?

Yes. Overseas shipping for motorhomes is prevalent throughout the industry. You are already aware of the essential details, such as size and preparing your vehicle for the journey. Which shipping method you should choose has also been covered. An area that you won’t know about is a lien.

A lien is a tax that every vehicle owner has to pay before a car or motorhome can be shipped abroad. It applies to the United States, and the only exemptions are Armed Forces personnel and government officials with the relevant documents. Therefore, you must pay off the liens before your RV is picked up and transported. Another aspect that you can’t ignore is Title of Ownership. It has to be in your name, or the name of the person organizing transportation, to be released. 

Essential Considerations For International Shippers

There is a lot to remember to ensure your RV arrives at the drop-off point unscathed. Regarding the Title of Ownership, any new RV needs to be passed over to you legally. That means the correct documents have to be signed by both you and the seller. The process is reversed if you’re selling a recreational vehicle to a buying party. 

Alternatively, the following points are important to note:

  • The vehicle can’t have more than one-quarter of a tank of gas. This is for safety reasons in case there is a spillage.
  • Import rates will apply. Importation duty is never collected and paid by the carrier. Whoever picks up the car at the port must pay the fee. However, a transportation company might include the price in the quote if you have agreed to a different drop-off location.
  • The majority of countries waive import tax for cars registered in the US. This is subject to specific conditions, however, such as leaving after a period of six months.

Usually, any deposit paid at the arrival port is refunded as long as the RV owner has lived in the United States for longer than one year. If you don’t leave before the deadline, the import duty is charged. More information about vehicle liens and import duty is available at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

RV Shipping to HawaiiRV Shipping to Hawaii

Shipping an RV to Hawaii will require dedicated help from a professional carrier. There aren’t many companies that specialize in the area on many of the islands, and there is a lot of red-tape. However, it’s not impossible to get your recreational vehicle from mainland America to the Pacific if you cover the main bases.

Regarding admin and logistics, it’s essential for vacationers to apply for a temporary or out-of-state permit. If you’re staying for longer than 30 days, you must:

  • Provide a registration card in your name
  • Show a certificate of vehicle inspection
  • Fill out the application form for a vehicle permit
  • Submit a copy of shipping receipt indicating the arrival date
  • Pay a registration fee

Even if you’re not staying for a full month, your RV must be inspected at the closest safety checkpoint on arrival. New residents must complete additional checks to register their vehicles, such as showing a receipt of shipment, weight proof and tax certification.

Generally, it takes the same length of time to ship an RV to Hawaii as it does a car, which is about five to nine days. This is based off the Californian port. Texas also has ports, yet the duration is longer and more expensive. To reduce the price of RV shipping to Hawaii, it’s vital that you avoid air freight. Also, opting for the terminal-to-terminal service is cheaper for transporters as they can ship multiple vehicles. That’s reflected in the price you pay.

What To Watch Out For In Hawaii

A vacation in Hawaii should be an experience of a lifetime. Unfortunately, an RV road trip isn’t as suitable for several reasons:

  • The roads: Unlike the rest of the US, roads in Hawaii and tight, and bulky RVs can find it hard to navigate sharp, narrow turns. Please drive carefully and plan your route so that you know what to expect.
  • Public land: There isn’t much open land, which means campsites and RV parks are few and far between. Staying on private property is a fantastic alternative, yet it’s only possible if you ask for the land owner’s permission.
  • Islands: Each county is an island. Since they aren’t all connected, exploring Hawaii as a whole is challenging. It’s made more difficult by the fact that vehicle registration only applies to the arrival county (state). As a result, you will need to register your RV again if you enter a new Hawaiian state.

It’s well worth understanding the pros and cons of a Hawaiian RV adventure. The concept is incredible, but it might not suit your needs if you don’t want the hassle or aren’t a confident motorhome driver. 

Shipping an RV to Europe

Shipping an RV to Europe involves plenty of research. Carriers and transportation companies take care of the majority of it, but you’ve still got to understand the essentials. For example, exported vehicles are allowed in the Euro Zone for six months of the year. However, American citizens are only allowed to stay for three months at a time, with a three month break before re-entry. Also, don’t forget the extra costs for your travel as you will have to pay for an extra ticket to stay on the carrier ship, or fly separately.

There could be restrictions placed on RVs, or any foreign vehicles, by the country you plan on traveling to, also. As a result, it’s important to check whether you will be allowed entry with the American embassy in your destination. However, there are ways to make RVing in Europe more straightforward:

  1. Don’t take a Class A RV as the roads are narrow and unsuitable.
  2. Class B and C motorhomes are less expensive to ship, too.
  3. Apply for an International Driver’s Permit so that you’re legally able to drive.
  4. Arrive at a destination that doesn’t ask for additional licenses. Thanks to the Schengen Zone, it’s easy to cross borders without being stopped. It must still be in the EU, however.

The majority of RV owners want to take their vehicle on a European adventure. Sometimes, however, it’s less expensive and less hassle to rent a “campervan” when you arrive in the EU.

RV Shipping InsuranceRV Shipping Insurance

Similar to traditional motor insurance, a specialized RV policy covers motorhomes for collisions, damage, loss, and theft. Standard coverage generally includes personal belongings on board, as well as RV equipment and any accessories attached. The latter might consist of a fixed awning or a TV aerial and dish. For comprehensive cover, you should consider adding:

  • Total loss replacement 
  • Coverage for vacations and campsites
  • Emergencies
  • Towing and roadside recovery
  • Full-time RV residence coverage 
  • Uninsured motorists coverage
  • Underinsured motorists coverage

RV insurance works by protecting you and third-parties in any scenario that results in damage to individuals or properties, regardless of fault. Of course, there are specialist terms for RVs as specific features impact everything from liability to cost.

How Much Does RV Insurance Cost?

Policies can vary widely. But, the factors that affect them are the same. They are:

  • RV Class – A, B or C
  • Regularity of use
  • Driving history
  • Extra drivers or coverage you decide to add

Carriers have as much as $100,000 of liability and as little as $30,000, so you might need to purchase a supplementary policy. It’s essential to factor in the basics of their insurance. If a plan isn’t comprehensive, your RV could be at risk and you’ll have to pay the costs personally. Instead of seeing a separate policy as an extra expense, it’s worth viewing it as an investment if your vehicle is over the state’s minimum limit for insurance.

Whatever your decision, there has to be insurance of some kind. Like all motor vehicles in the U.S., RVs are legally required to be insured before they go on the roads. And, most forms of shipment will need the RV to be road legal.

What If Your RV is Damaged During Shipment?

It’s not surprising that you are concerned about the welfare of your RV. After all, putting the vehicle into another individual’s or company’s hands is scary. Thankfully, you can claim for damages as long as the transporter is liable. To make a claim, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Get a copy of the pre-check report
  • Include photos of the vehicle from before and after transportation
  • Ensure that the shipping company is licensed

A carrier’s insurance is set by the state. Therefore, the statutory amount will differ from place to place. This, as well as the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, is reason enough to purchase a secondary insurance policy. The COGSA limits compensation to $500 per piece of cargo, which could result in a massive loss depending on the value of your RV. “General Average” is another law that might leave you with a considerable bill. It gives seafarers the right to throw the cargo overboard in the result of an emergency, and charge cargo owners to retrieve the lost items.

All the information you require to file a claim is included in your contract. 

Is RV Shipping Worth It?Is RV Shipping Worth It

RV shipping is worth it for owners of recreational vehicles. Not only do you get to negate the hassle and stress included in the planning of transporting a vehicle, but you can maintain it too. Using a flatbed or tow service will prevent the RV from building up unnecessary mileage, negating future maintenance costs. Shipping is the only way to transport an RV internationally, also. For businesses, this is crucial as a motorhome could be required in a specific location for corporate purposes. The inability to get it there would result in financial losses, as well as negative implications for the brand.

However, you must prepare adequately for RV shipping to go smoothly and suit your requirements. The main factors are:

  1. Choosing the most suitable delivery option. Naturally, the flatbed method is the most popular, while a container is fantastic for international shipments.
  2. The Cost. The shipping option that you believe is the best for your specifications might be too expensive. In that case, it’s essential to choose the next affordable option.
  3. Preparing the RV for its journey. Across the country or across borders, windows and doors should be shut and locked, as well as fittings, and an inventory must be created.
  4. Buying additional insurance as the carrier’s policy might not cover your RV’s expenses.
  5. Researching your destination in advance. Europe and Hawaii are incredible locations, yet there are logistical issues involved with shipping an RV to both places.

Consider the above and your RV shipping experience should be clear sailing from the outset. Of course, problems do occur out of the blue concerning transporting vehicles. As such, it’s vital to have a backup plan and stay in constant communication with your transporter to limit the damage. 

RV Shipping with R+L Global Logistics

It doesn’t matter what type of RV you have because at R+L Global Logistics we have RV shipping solutions for every individual or business. We are dedicated and passionate about helping our customers and clients find the shipping services they need, and that’s why we take care of the fine print. We handle car transport, boat transport and motorcycle transport too. 

With our door-to-door service for vehicles of all kinds, there’s no reason to look for another RV carrier.

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