If you’re planning a move to Alaska from the mainland, there’s a lot you need to consider – including how you’ll get your car or truck there. It’s often cheaper and easier to bring your car with you instead of selling it and buying another, but you will need a plan to get it there.

Aside from driving it yourself, which is quite the undertaking, you can have it professionally shipped. There are pros and cons to both, but fortunately, shipping can be an affordable and convenient way to get your car to your new home in Alaska.

Understanding Car Shipping to Alaska

Shipping a car to Alaska can be more complicated than shipping a car to another state in the continental US because of the distance and terrain. In many cases, a car shipped to Alaska will involve ocean passage. However, it is possible to ship a car overground to get it to Alaska.

Overview of Car Shipping Options to Alaska

Open or Closed Ground Transport

There are generally two options to ship a car to Alaska: open or closed car haulers. An open car hauler is a trailer that can load five or six cars on multiple levels with no protection against the elements. Enclosed car haulers offer protection for exotic or luxury cars by keeping them in a closed trailer, but this is more expensive than open car transport.

Ocean Transport

Several parts of Alaska are only accessible by boat – or more convenient to access by boat – so shipping with ocean passage is often recommended. This involves taking your car to a port on the West Coast, such as Seattle or Tacoma, loading it onto a ship, and then sailing to the ports in Anchorage and Juneau. Of course, with an auto transporter like Nexus, you don’t necessarily have to take it to the port yourself since the auto transporter can take care of that part for you.

Roll-on/Roll-Off or Container Shipping

With ocean shipping, the options for your vehicle are roll-on/roll-off or container shipping. The former involves driving your car onto the ship directly and then securing it to the ship deck. While your car will be protected from the elements in the ship's interior, it’s exposed to any potential hazards inside. When it reaches the Alaskan port, it can be driven off and into the port. This option is typically cheaper than large container shipping.

Container shipping involves storing your car inside a container that will be loaded onto the ship. Large containers can hold a few cars, or you can opt for a single-car container if you want the added protection. Both types of container shipping are more expensive than roll-on/roll-off, and single-car container shipping is the more expensive of the two.

Door-to-Door or Port-to-Port Shipping

Car transport companies often offer either port-to-port or door-to-door shipping. With the former, the shipper will pick up your car from a location on the mainland and deliver it to the Alaskan port, where you can pick it up. With port-to-port, you can drive your car to a mainland port for shipping, and then pick it up at the Alaskan port.

Though rare, a third option is door-to-door shipping, which means your car will be picked up at your mainland location, shipped to the port, loaded onto a ship bound for Alaska, then shipped from the Alaskan port to your new home. This is one of the most difficult and most expensive options, but it can be worthwhile for people who don’t want to drive to the ports themselves.

Because of the complex logistics of traveling overland to port and then by sea, door-to-port shipping is usually more expensive.

Cost-Saving Tips for Shipping a Car to Alaska

If you want the most affordable option to ship your car to Alaska, here are some tips:

  • Consider what shipping you need. Enclosed shipping with the most protection is expensive and should be reserved for high-value cars that aren’t driven daily. Otherwise, open-air shipping may be suitable for your needs.

  • Get quotes from multiple shipping companies. This will give you an estimate of the rate for shipping your car to compare. Try to get quotes for all the shipping options.

  • Don’t forget to factor in your time and the cost of gas or accommodation to travel to ports. You may find that it’s neutral – or even more expensive – to choose port-to-port instead of door-to-port or door-to-door shipping.

  • Be flexible with your exact shipping dates. This gives your shipping company more time to arrange transport and may help minimize the cost.

  • Book as early as possible. Last-minute shipping is more complicated and may have higher rates.

  • Consider consolidated shipping, which is when multiple shippers share a single container to save on costs. Though it may take longer for your car to arrive, you can save a lot because the freight costs are split between different shipments.

  • If you’re using door-to-port or port-to-port, choose the right ports to avoid extra miles that will add to your shipping costs – or a long drive for you.

  • Avoid peak moving seasons, which fall between mid-May and mid-September. This is a popular time to move because the weather is warmer, especially with moves to cold climates like Alaska, and often has high shipping demand.

You should also prepare your car for shipping in advance to avoid any delays and ensure the process goes smoothly. Your shipping company will provide detailed instructions, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Leave your gas tank at ¼ full or less, which is required by ship regulations for ocean freight.

  • Remove all personal items from your car, including installations or accessories, and disable your car alarm.

  • Check that your car is in driving condition. If it’s not, perform any repairs well before your ship date.

  • Gather all the necessary paperwork and make sure it’s ready to go on your ship date.

  • Plan alternatives if there are delays on the trip, such as port closures or truck rescheduling, which may change your pickup or delivery schedule.

What to Look for in a Car Shipping Company

Shipping your car to Alaska involves a lot of logistics and trusting your vehicle with strangers. It’s important to choose the right shipping company for a smooth, hassle-free experience. Here are some things to look for:

  • Look for specialized shippers: Look for auto transport companies that specialize in Alaska transportation, including multiple options to get your car from the mainland to Alaska. With its unique geography and weather, it’s important to have a transporter that’s familiar with the potential weather delays and specific routes.

  • Consider licensing and reputation: Always choose an auto transport company that is licensed and insured to ensure your car is protected throughout the journey. Read reviews and testimonials to see how the company treats its clients, including the negative reviews.

  • Prioritize experience: Alaska auto shipping involves some unique challenges. Look for experienced companies with a proven track record of handling car shipping to Alaska smoothly. This will prove invaluable if you encounter delays or other obstacles.

  • Transparent pricing: Some quotes may seem too good to be true – until you get the final bill. Some companies may lure you in with low pricing, then tack on hidden fees. Look for reputable companies that provide transparent pricing.

Find Affordable Car Shipping Options to Alaska

Shipping a car to Alaska involves a lot of planning, complexity, and potential expenses. However, reputable shipping companies with flexible shipping options can help you save money on your car transport without compromising the service you need.

If you’re looking for car shipping to Alaska, an auto transport broker can help you evaluate your options and find the right shipping provider. Reach out to Nexus Auto Transport to get more information, request a quote, or schedule your Alaska auto shipment.


How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car to Alaska?

The cost of auto shipping to Alaska can vary based on several factors, including the total distance, your vehicle specifics, the time of year, and how you ship. It’s best to get multiple quotes for different services from different companies to compare.

Should I Drive My Car to Alaska?

Driving your car to Alaska yourself may seem like the cheaper option, but you have to consider the costs of gas, food, and accommodation along the way. Depending on where you live, it may be a long drive that can take several days, so you may need to take time off of work to do the drive. When all aspects are considered, shipping may be the most cost-effective and convenient way to get your car to Alaska.