moving a boat

Moving A Boat

If you’re moving a boat to a new location or taking it someplace temporarily, check out some important tips on how to prepare and move a boat.

The most common way to transport a boat across country is over land. Putting your boat or yacht on a cargo ship and transporting by sea is also and option, especially if you’re Moving Internationally. As with sailing, getting the boat to its new destination requires patience.

You may be thinking to haul the boat yourself or hire a company to move it for you. There are specialized trucking companies that can move your boat. Or you can choose a reliable carrier “boat transporter” through companies such as USHIP who will haul the boat on a trailer.

If using a carrier, there are two trailer options:

  • Using your own trailer – Make sure your trailer is in good condition to transport a boat. Check tires, lights, and that everything is secured. You are responsible for any accidents or damage that may occur if your trailer is not up to the task.
  • Using the carrier’s trailer – Most companies will have trailers that can be used to transport your boat. Be sure to go over details and provide exact dimensions of the boat to be transported.

It is advised to get several Estimates from different companies. Confirm that they are all-inclusive, which means they include permit fees, gas and any toll charges. The following information will need to be provided to receive a quote:

  • Origin/Destination
  • Pick up date/Delivery date
  • Boat measurements
  • Make and model of boat

If you decide to hire a trucking company or carrier to move your boat, they must be licensed. You can verify with the DOT (Department of Transportation) and the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) whether any company is legally allowed to operate. You can also check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) if a company is reputable or has any complaints.

Moving a boat, yacht or sailboat internationally may be a necessity or even a dream come true. There are a few ways to get your boat across the seas to its destination.

  • Yacht Transport Ships: As well as yachts, these companies also move boats of between 40 – 80 feet internationally. Costs can run high.
  • Delivery Captain: Hiring a crew to deliver the boat overseas. This is a less expensive route to using a yacht transport ship. Make sure to check references, background and credit checks on crew members.
  • Roll-on/Roll-off: Your boat stays on a trailer for the duration of the journey. This is a common option when shipping boats internationally.
  • Enclosed Container: This is a less expensive option if your boat fits within the dimensions of the containers.
  • Flat Rack: Is typically for oversized boats. The boat is strapped to the flat rack.

In addition to researching the best option to ship the boat overseas, you must ensure all custom documentation and any legalities are prepared ahead of time. Contact the embassy of the destination country to find out all legal documentation required for a smooth sail into the country.


Whether moving your boat nationally or internationally, you will want to know it’s insured. In most cases, additional insurance will be required from the company that is shipping your boat. Make sure it includes cargo, as your boat will not be covered with basic liability. Your personal boat insurance may not cover any damages that could occur while in transit. However, if hiring a delivery captain, insurance typically falls into the boat/yacht’s policy. Confirm your policy covers the journey and that the captain meets any requirements set out by the insurance company.

Hauling Your Own Boat

If you will be moving your own boat you will want to make sure you have all the correct permits.

  • Rules differ per state. To legally transport a boat, you must obtain a permit in any state if the boat is over 102″ or 8′ 6″ wide and/or over 13′ 6″ in height. You may also be required to obtain an oversize permit.
  • You may need a USDOT number (United States Department of Transportation) if the registered weight is more than 10,000lbs. Applying for the DOT number is free.
  • If your Gross vehicle Weight (GVW) is more the 26,000lbs you will most likely need a trip and fuel permit.

Preparing The Boat

Listed below are some tips to prepare your boat for transportation. Please research and ask, if using a company, what preparations are advised.

  • Empty all fuel and water tanks (some companies say to drain until 1/4 full, others want them completely empty).
  • Make sure that the window’s seal is tight and that the screws aren’t rusted. Removing Plexiglas windshields is advised as they may break if not framed.
  • If you are moving the boat during the winter months, to avoid damage you need to winterize the engine, toilets, the water systems or any other weather sensitive device on the vessel.
  • Shrink wrap can protect the boat during transit. However, if not done properly can cause damage to the vessel, especially in high winds.
  • Personal belonging should be removed from the boat before transport.
  • Disconnect all battery cables.
  • Secure all loose gear above and below deck.
  • Close and secure hatches. If they leak, seal them to avoid any possible water damage.
  • Cabin windows also need to be latched and taped from the outside.
  • Take photos of the current condition of the boat, both interior and exterior, prior to being transported, noting any damage that may already be present.
  • If moving a wooden boat, it should be protected with linseed oil to prevent drying out. Wooden boats should also be transported in their own custom cradles.

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