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Boat Transport Guide for Shipping a Boat

When it comes to boat transport— whether a sailboat, yacht or dinghy — there are many reasons to transport a vessel. Maybe you’re celebrating your retirement with a move to Florida and want to bring your sailboat to the South. Or you’re in the market for a new yacht and the best deals can only be found at a boat show on the other side of the country. Or your fishing boat needs specialized repairs in California and you live in the landlocked state of Nevada.

Whatever the reason for transporting a boat, it’s a job that requires expertise and care. Hiring a professional boat transport service is the right way to safely transport your boat to its destination. However, if it’s your first time looking for a boat transporter — or even if it’s not your first time — you likely have questions about the cost to ship a boat, requirements, necessary preparation and more.

Additionally, finding the right transporter can be a challenge. Instead of seeking out professional boat transport services, let them come to you using a transportation marketplace!

CitizenShipper is a cost-effective professional boat transport platform full of vetted, experienced boat haulers capable of shipping boats of any size to any state.

Moving a boat from one location to another can be a complex task. Whether it's international boat transport or inland transportation, the process requires specialized equipment and expertise. But why would someone need to transport a boat? Well, there are various reasons that may arise, such as relocation or selling a boat. Fortunately, professional boat transport services exist to handle the logistics.

Transporting boats across the country involves careful planning and consideration of different factors, including the type of transport service required. From flatbed trailers for overland transit to containers for port shipments, there are various options available. Navigating through this maze can be overwhelming without a proper guide.

So let's dive in and discover everything you need to know about boat transport!

Table of Contents:

How Does Boat Transport Work?

Paperwork Needed for Boat Shipping

Comparing Different Transportation Methods for Boat Shipping

Preparing Your Boat For Shipping

Understanding The Costs of Boat Transport

Choosing a Reliable Boat Hauling Service in the USA

Obtaining Quotes for Boat Transport Services

Using CitizenShipper to Find a Boat Transport Company

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Comparing Different Transportation Methods for Boat Shipping

boat towed by a truck

There are various types of transportation methods available. Before you embark on shipping your beloved vessel, it's important to consider the different options and evaluate them based on cost, convenience, safety measures, and the specific requirements of your boat.

Flatbed Trailers

One popular method for inland boat transportation is using flatbed trailers. These trailers are designed to carry boats securely over land. They provide a stable platform and can accommodate boats of different sizes and shapes. Flatbed trailers offer flexibility in terms of routes and can be a cost-effective option for shorter distances.

Multiboat Trailers

If you have multiple boats that need to be transported together, multiboat trailers can be a convenient choice. These trailers are specifically designed to carry more than one boat at a time. They come in various configurations and can accommodate different sizes and types of boats. Using a multiboat trailer can save time and money when transporting multiple vessels.

Open Transport

One of the various types of boat shipping methods is open transport. In this method, boats are hauled on specialized trailers that are exposed to the elements during transportation. While this may raise concerns about potential damage due to weather conditions or road debris, open transport is generally more cost-effective compared to other options. It is a popular choice for domestic boat shipping and offers a practical solution for those looking for an affordable way to transport their vessels.

Enclosed Transport

For boat owners who prioritize maximum protection during shipment, enclosed transport is the ideal option. This method involves using specialized trailers that provide a secure and weatherproof environment for boats. By shielding the vessels from adverse weather conditions and road debris, enclosed transport ensures greater security throughout the journey. However, it's important to note that this added level of protection comes at a higher cost compared to open transport.

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) Shipping

Roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) shipping is a suitable method for larger boats that cannot be easily transported by other means. With RoRo shipping, boats are driven onto a vessel specifically designed for this purpose. This efficient process allows for easy loading and unloading without the need for cranes or lifting equipment. RoRo shipping offers convenience and simplicity while ensuring safe delivery of larger boats.

Containerized Shipping

Containerized shipping provides an additional layer of protection by placing smaller boats inside dedicated containers. This method minimizes exposure to external elements during transit, safeguarding the vessels from potential damage caused by rough weather or road conditions. Using containers also allows for easier handling and storage at ports or terminals before final delivery.

When considering boat transport options, it's essential to assess your specific needs and budgetary constraints. Open transport provides a cost-effective solution suitable for many domestic shipments, while enclosed transport offers enhanced security but at a higher price point. For larger boats, RoRo shipping simplifies the loading and unloading process. Meanwhile, containerized shipping ensures added protection for smaller vessels.

Shipping by Water

For those who prefer water transportation or need to ship their boats overseas or across large bodies of water, shipping by water is a likely method to consider. Shipping your boat by water may take longer compared to other methods depending on the distance involved. However, it offers the advantage of avoiding traffic congestion on roads and highways. When shipping by water, you will need to contact a boat transport company that specializes in sea delivery. They will guide you through the process and handle all the necessary arrangements including loading, securing, and unloading your boat at its destination port.

Safety Measures

Regardless of which method you choose for transporting your boat, safety should always be a top priority.

  • Ensure that any trailer used has proper tie-downs or straps to secure the boat during transit.
  • If shipping by water, make sure to choose a reputable boat transport company with experience in handling boats and adhering to safety protocols.
  • Consider purchasing insurance coverage for your boat during transportation to protect against any unforeseen incidents.

Specific Requirements of Your Boat

Every boat has its own unique characteristics and requirements. When choosing a transportation method, consider the specific needs of your vessel.

  • If your boat is particularly large or has special dimensions, ensure that the chosen method can accommodate it without any issues.
  • For delicate or valuable boats, opt for a transportation method that provides extra care and protection during transit.
  • If you are transporting a fishing boat, consider whether the chosen method allows for easy loading and unloading of fishing equipment.

By carefully evaluating each transportation method based on cost, convenience, safety measures, and the specific requirements of your boat, you can make an informed decision. Remember to prioritize safety and choose a reputable transport provider to ensure a smooth journey for your boat from one destination to another.


Transporting your boat has never been easier:

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Preparing Your Boat for Shipping

Boat transport requires a lot of planning ahead. You need to take measurements, remove items from the boat and research transportation companies. When you know how to get your boat ready for shipment, you ensure that it'll arrive safely at its destination.

boat on a trailer

Clean your boat thoroughly

To protect your boat during transportation, it's crucial to give it a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt, debris, or marine growth from the hull, deck, and other surfaces. Cleaning your boat not only prevents damage but also helps maintain its condition. You can also clean your boat with hot water to prevent the spread of quagga or zebra mussels. Use appropriate cleaning products and tools to get rid of stubborn stains or grime.

Secure loose items on board

When transporting your boat, it's important to secure any loose items on board. The movement of the vessel during shipment can cause objects to shift or fly around, potentially causing damage. Make sure all equipment, sails, fishing gear, and personal belongings are properly secured or removed from the boat before shipping. Lock or tie any hatches, lock doors — lock or tape windows from the outside.

Item Removal

Remove all personal items from the boat before shipping. You should also remove any items that could be damaged during transport. These could include:

  • Antennas
  • Anchors
  • Screens
  • Electronic items
  • Flagpoles
  • Flag masts
  • Outriggers
  • Propellers
  • Cushions or removable furniture
  • Fishing equipment.

Disconnect batteries and drain fuel tanks

For safety reasons and compliance with regulations, disconnecting batteries and draining fuel tanks is necessary before shipping your boat. This reduces the risk of fire hazards during transportation. Ensure that all electrical connections are disconnected properly and that fuel tanks are completely emptied as per guidelines provided by marine surveyors or transport professionals.

Document the condition of your boat

It's always wise to document the condition of your boat before shipping it off. Take detailed photographs from various angles to capture any existing damages or wear and tear prior to transportation. The reason is for you to easily verify the boat’s condition and these photos will serve as evidence in case you need to file a damage claim later on.

Know Your Boat’s Dimensions

The first step when you're preparing for boat transportation is knowing your vessel's measurements. This information is required by boat shipping companies because it affects the route and final cost you'll be quoted.

Even if you aren't hiring a transportation company it’s important for you to know the boat's dimensions. That way you can plan the route ahead of time and secure any necessary permits before you're transporting the boat.

You should take the following measurements:

  • The width of the boat.
  • Length from the bow to the stern.
  • The boat’s height.

While measuring the width and length is relatively straightforward, the height of your boat requires a little more nuance. To measure the height, start from the bottom of the keel and measure to the highest permanent part of the boat. Once you have the measurements, you're ready to move on to the next step in the preparation process.

Documents Needed to Ship Your Boat

Deciding the method of boat transport is just the first step. Before any ship can be transported, there is paperwork that needs to be completed. There are three major documents you must prepare before a boat can be shipped. Both you and the shipping company need to have copies of these documents.

Bill of Lading: The bill of lading is essentially proof of the agreement between you and the transporter. It details what is being shipped, the destination and other pertinent information.

Copy of the Boat Title and Bill of Sale: Provide proof of ownership to the boat movers. This is most important for boats that were recently purchased.

Your ID, Passport or Driver’s License: You’ll be required to provide some sort of identification to the transporter.

For over a decade, we’ve been connecting customers with boat transporters to rave reviews.

Stacey Kelch
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Great service allowing people to pick and choose the transport services they need that best suites their situation. Highly recommend Citizenshipper.
Holly Glidewell
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Very fast quotes! I've always had a great experience using citizenshipper transport service!
Shane J Dahlen
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We worked with Michael Combs for our shipment and he was SUPER helpful every step of the way, did a GREAT job for us, was VERY communicative, and even our customer that Michael delivered our shipment to commented on how great it was to work with Michael on his end of the transaction, as well. We would certainly recommend working with Michael and we will again, too, when we have another shipping need come up!
Mike Smith
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Fair pricing. Great number of opportunities. Very happy with the service.
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Understanding the Costs of Boat Transport

boat being towed by a boat shipping company

One of the most important factors when determining how you'll move your boat is cost. How much does boat transport cost? Generally you can expect to pay between $1 and $2 per mile. Shipping a larger boat or one that requires special handling may cost you over $3 per mile.

Yachts are synonymous with luxury and high-end living. They’re also typically very large vessels. So it’s no surprise that shipping a yacht will be more expensive than the average boat transport. The price tag for yacht transport runs between $15,000 for short haul trips to hundreds of thousands of dollars if you are transporting it internationally.

The cost of transporting a boat can vary significantly depending on several factors. These variables play a crucial role in determining the overall price of boat shipping. Let's explore these factors affecting the cost of boat shipping in detail:

Size and Weight:

One of the primary factors influencing boat transport costs is the size and weight of the vessel. Larger boats require more space on carriers, which can increase shipping expenses. Moreover, heavier boats may require specialized equipment or additional manpower to load and unload them safely. Therefore, it's essential to consider these aspects when estimating transportation costs.

Distance and Route:

The distance that needs to be covered during boat transportation directly affects its cost. Longer distances typically incur higher expenses due to increased fuel consumption and labor hours involved. The route taken can also impact pricing as certain routes may have tolls or permits required for oversized loads. It is important to factor in both distance and route when calculating shipping costs.

Seasonal Demand:

Seasonal demand plays a crucial role in determining boat transport pricing. During peak seasons, such as summer when many people are looking to enjoy their boats on vacation, there is typically higher demand for transport services. This increased demand often leads to higher prices due to the limited availability of carriers and greater competition among customers seeking transportation services.

Additional Factors:

Several other factors can influence the price of boat shipping. Fuel prices play a significant role since they directly affect carrier operational costs. Fluctuations in fuel prices can result in varying shipping expenses over time. Permits and tolls required for specific routes or states need to be considered as they contribute to overall transportation costs.

Accurate Measurements are Crucial:

Before obtaining quotes from shipping services, it is vital to accurately measure your boat's dimensions. This includes not only its length but also its width, height, and draft. By providing precise measurements upfront, you can avoid any surprises or discrepancies in the final cost estimation.

Transporting a boat involves various logistical challenges that directly impact costs. To give you a clearer picture of how different dimensions affect expenses let's consider some examples:

  • A small motorboat with standard dimensions (e.g., 20 feet long by 8 feet wide) will likely fall within regular shipping parameters and incur relatively lower costs.
  • On the other hand, a larger sailboat measuring 45 feet long by 15 feet wide will require specialized equipment such as a hydraulic trailer, raising the transportation expenses.
  • If you own a luxury yacht with exceptional dimensions like 80 feet long by 25 feet wide, the costs will significantly increase due to the need for permits, escorts, and specialized handling.

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Choosing a Reliable Boat Hauling Service in the USA

a boat being hauled by a truck on a trailer

Finding a reliable boat hauling service is crucial for ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of your prized vessel. With numerous options available across the nation, it's important to do thorough research and consider several factors before making a decision. Here are some key points to keep in mind when selecting a boat hauling service in the USA.

Look for reputable boat transport companies with experience

You want to ensure that it is in safe hands. To find reliable boat transport services in the USA, start by looking for reputable companies with experience in hauling boats within the country. These companies have a proven track record and are well-versed in handling various types of boats. Transporters with a history of international boat transport are even more experienced. Experience should not only be about years in the business but also the number of shipments made.

Read online reviews and ask for recommendations

To narrow down your options further, take some time to read online reviews of different boat transport companies. This will give you valuable insights into their reputation, customer satisfaction levels, and overall performance. Don't hesitate to ask fellow boaters or marinas for recommendations based on their personal experiences.

Insurance coverage and The Right Licensing

Boat transport companies should have a good insurance policy. This creates peace of mind that your boat will be transported in the condition you left it in — and if it’s not, that you’ll be properly compensated if there are any damages.

A quality boat transport company has the required licensing authorizations to ship boats. They should be registered with the Department of Transportation and with the Federal Motor Carrier Authority. They will most likely post evidence of these licenses and registration on their websites. If it’s not easily discoverable on their site, you can contact them for more information.

Good Communication and Customer Service

The best boat transportation company demonstrates superior communication throughout the entire process.

  • They’re transparent about the fees and pricing information upfront.
  • They give you updates throughout the journey.
  • They have excellent customer service skills.

Look for haulers who specialize in your type of boat (e.g., sailboats or powerboats) for better handling expertise.

Different types of boats require specific handling techniques due to variations in size, weight distribution, and structural features. Therefore, it's beneficial to choose a hauling service that specializes in your particular type of boat. Whether you own sailboats or powerboats, selecting a hauler with expertise in handling your vessel type will ensure that it is transported safely and securely.

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Obtaining Quotes for Boat Transport Services

When it comes to CitizenShipper, you create a shipment listing with your boat’s information and its destination. You then get quotes from drivers across our network — typically within a matter of minutes. Then, you can read reviews of the driver and chat using an internal messaging system. Keep in mind that the most inexpensive quote may not be the best person for the job — the most experienced and well-equipped boat haulers tend to charge a little more for superior service.

Finding the right company is crucial. To make an informed decision, you need to obtain quotes from different boat transport companies. Here are some essential tips to help you through the process:

Research Boat Transport Companies

Start by researching various boat transport companies on CitizenShipper. Look for reputable companies with positive customer reviews and a track record of safely transporting boats.

Provide Accurate Information

When requesting quotes, it's important to provide accurate information about your boat's specifications. This includes its size, weight, and any special requirements for transportation. The more details you provide, the more accurate the quote will be.

Compare Prices and Services

Once you have received quotes from different boat transport companies, take the time to compare them. Consider both the price and the services offered by each company. Some factors to consider include:

  • Price: Compare the cost of transportation services provided by each company.
  • Services Offered: Check if they offer door-to-door delivery or terminal-to-terminal options based on your preferences.
  • Insurance: Find out if they provide insurance coverage during transit.
  • Experience: Consider how long they have been in business and if they specialize in transporting boats specifically.
  • Customer Reviews: Read reviews from previous customers to get an idea of their experiences with each company.

Making a Decision

After comparing prices, services offered, and customer reviews, it's time to make a decision. Choose a boat transport company that meets your needs while providing reliable service at a reasonable price.

Using CitizenShipper to Find a Boat Transport Company

Traditional boat shipping companies can be expensive and confusing. There are hundreds of boat transportation companies on the internet and deciding which one is right for you can be overwhelming.

CitizenShipper makes it easier to find a boat transporter and save money at the same time.

The process is simple:

  • Create a shipment listing with your boat’s information.
  • Boat haulers on our platform will see your boat listing and submit bids.
  • You can review and compare bids from different transporters.
  • While you consider the best choice for your needs, you can read driver profiles and browse reviews from past customers.
  • Once you’ve selected a transporter and paid the CitizenShipper success fee, you can take your communication off platform and arrange the details of the trip.
  • You can track your shipment with scheduled updates from your hired transporter.

With CitizenShipper, every transporter undergoes a stringent background check. Additionally, drivers are encouraged to post pictures of themselves and their equipment so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it really free to list a boat transport shipment?


Absolutely. There are no "listing fees" involved. You don't pay a dime before negotiating the cost of boat transport with the driver you choose to hire.

How much does it cost to transport a boat?


The cost of boat transport varies, depending mostly on the mileage. When drivers send in their quotes, it'll be up to you to choose whatever sounds reasonable. Typical rates are between $1 and $2 per mile, but this can skew higher on shorter trips. Some shipments are more expensive than others: yachts, for example, require more space and care so they often cost extra to transport.

What are the different methods of boat shipping?


There are several methods of transporting boats including roll-on/roll-off (RoRo), flat rack container shipping, lift-on/lift-off (LoLo), or using a trailer. The choice depends on factors such as the size and type of boat, as well as the destination and budget.

How should I prepare my boat for shipping?


To prepare your boat for shipping, it is important to remove any personal items, secure loose parts, drain fluids, and ensure that the vessel is clean. Following these guidelines will help prevent damage during transit.

How do I choose a reliable boat hauling service in the USA?


When selecting a boat hauling service in the USA, it is essential to research reputable companies with positive customer reviews. Consider factors such as experience, licenses and certifications, insurance coverage, and their track record in delivering boats safely.

Can I ship my boat internationally?


Yes, it is possible to ship boats internationally. However, there may be additional considerations such as customs regulations and import/export documentation. It is advisable to work with a professional boat transport company experienced in international shipments to navigate these complexities smoothly.

What are the advantages of flatbed trailer transport for boats?


Flatbed trailer transport offers versatility and flexibility for boats of various sizes. It allows easy loading and unloading without the need for specialized equipment such as cranes or lifts. Flatbed trailers also provide better visibility during transit, reducing the risk of damage caused by low-hanging obstacles.

What factors affect the cost of boat transportation?


Several factors influence the cost of boat transportation, including distance traveled, size and weight of the vessel, chosen method of transport (flatbed or multiboat trailer), additional services required (such as cradling or shrink-wrapping), and any permits or tolls along the route.

Select and ship your boat with peace of mind

  • All boat transporters are background checked for felonies and DUIs
  • Boat carrier and shipper addresses and contact information are verified for additional protection.
  • Photos of boat transporters and their vehicles help confirm who and what to expect.
  • Detailed boat transporter reviews provide insight and transparency to the selection process.

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