Interstate versus Intrastate Cargo Shipping – The Differences and Requirements

When you are shipping cargo for your business, some of it is likely being shipped to customers and locations within your state. Other cargo is shipped outside of your state to reach customers or even ports for international shipping. You need to protect your goods while they are traveling regardless of the route they are taking. How do you make sure to meet the regulations that arise in the interstate verses intrastate shipment of cargo?

First, we need to define and detail the differences between interstate and intrastate cargo. Interstate is defined as any cargo that is transported across state lines. Intrastate is cargo that stays within a state’s border. So, for instance, if you transport from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, that is intrastate, but Pittsburgh to Cleveland is interstate.

As a shipping company you must meet certain requirements in order to transport goods across state lines. You need to adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR, a regulatory body within the Department of Transportation) and the federal Hazardous Material regulations. In addition, you must be sure to meet the safety and insurance requirements of any state you travel through, particularly cargo insurance requirements.

Keep in mind that intrastate deliveries of cargo are only required to meet the standards of the state in which the cargo is delivered to. Motor freight cargo requirements vary a bit from state to state, but are generally very similar to the FMCSR requirements. Intrastate cargo insurance requirements are a bit easier to meet, particularly if there are no port deliveries. You need to follow the cargo insurance regulations of your state if you intend to deliver or send intrastate cargo.

One important thing to remember is that when you transport goods across state lines, you are going to need a more inclusive and likely more expensive cargo insurance policy. Two factors go into this. First, you will need to meet federal regulations for cargo insurance. Secondly you will also need to consider the greater risk involved in transporting cargo across state lines. When you investigate your cargo insurance quotes, it is important to keep these factors in mind.

Shipping cargo is a tricky business regardless of where it is going. Whether you are shipping your cargo and products across town or across the nation, it is critical that you have enough cargo insurance coverage to protect your investment. Rather than trying to consider all these factors yourself when purchasing cargo insurance, using a trusted and website like is a wise decision. Good luck and good shipping!