Frequently Asked Questions When Moving

How do I choose a mover?

  • Moving companies provide a variety of services for a range of fees. It is a good idea to talk with different movers to compare their services. Ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences with the movers that they have used. Receive FREE moving quotes now and you will receive a list of moving companies.
  • After you have collected a few names of movers, check and see if they are members of any national or state moving associations (such as the American Moving and Storage Association). You should also check with any consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), in your local area.

How do I get an estimate from a moving company?

  • Once you have compiled a list of movers, inform them of the destination and timing of your move. Ask them about the types of services they offer. Also ask them to explain their estimates in detail and to give you a copy. If any company refuses to give you a written estimate, you should eliminate them from consideration. Then carefully compare to see which mover best suits your needs and budget.
  • The cost of your move will be based on the actual weight of your belongings and the distance they are shipped, plus the amount of packing and other services that you require. To help you anticipate the cost of your move, movers will give you an estimate of the price. Be sure to get written estimates from at least 3 different movers so that you can compare their services and prices.

Should I get more than one estimate from a moving company?

  • It is recommended you get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers! If a mover you are considering tells you that he can move you for an unrealistically low price compared to your other estimates - be careful. It could mean he will suddenly remember some extra charges once your shipment has been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked and he is ready to drive off into the sunset with all of your worldly possessions. Or, if a mover you are considering refuses to provide you with an in-home estimate and tells you he can provide an accurate estimate over the phone without ever seeing your home and your furniture - you may want to choose another mover.

Should I have the mover come to my home to look at my goods?

  • You have the right to receive an estimate based on a physical (in-house) survey of your shipment. Under the regulations, your mover must base your estimate (either binding, non-binding, or not-to-exceed), on a physical survey of the household goods to be moved if the goods are located with a 50-mile radius of your mover's (or his agent's) place of business. You may elect to waive this requirement for a physical survey, but if you elect to do so, you must sign a written waiver of your rights.

Is it a good idea to get an estimate over the phone?

  • In all likelihood, you will find that an on-site estimate based on a physical survey of the items that you plan on moving will be more accurate than an estimate that you provide to your mover over the telephone or the Internet. So, unless circumstances warrant (normally due to the time constraints of a short-notice move or because you are only shipping a few items) think carefully before you elect to waive the required physical survey of your shipment.

Should I use the "Yellow Pages" to find my mover?

  • Anyone can advertise in the Yellow Pages, it doesn't mean that they are licensed or insured - so, don't believe everything that you read. If a mover includes his license (DOT or ICC) number in his ad, check it out first. For interstate movers, you can find out this information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at their website.

What are moving "Brokers" and what to they do?

  • Most brokers (especially those that operate on the Internet) do not own trucks or warehouses like traditional movers. Instead, they operate by collecting a deposit or a fee from you and then arranging for your move to be handled by one of their affiliated movers.
  • Depending on the caliber of the broker, some of their affiliated movers may not be licensed. By law, brokers are required to provide their customers with their DOT Permit Number, a copy of the FMCSA's Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move brochure, a list of movers that they are affiliated with and a clear statement advising that they are a broker of moving services and not a moving company. Think carefully about doing business with a broker who doesn't provide this information to you and who doesn't provide you with the identity of the mover that will be used to move your goods.
  • The deposit or fee that the brokers collects will be based on their guess of how much you are going to move based on a telephone or Internet survey that you provide. (If the mover won't come to your home to survey your furnishings before preparing your estimate, be prepared for an unpleasant surprise when the final charge turns out to be much higher than the original estimate provided over the phone or the Internet.) Usually you will not have the same consumer protection when you use a broker as with a traditional moving company. And, after the broker collects its deposit or fee, you may find it difficult to get them interested in helping you in the event of a claim or dispute with the mover that they have arranged for you.
  • How about Referral Companies and Lead Agencies - what do they do?When you use an Internet-based referral company or lead agency, you will generally not be asked to pay a fee or deposit because their fee is generated from the mover who is provided with your lead or referral information. When the referral company recommends movers, check to make sure that the movers are licensed by the FMCSA, that they have a satisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau ( and that they are members of a recognized national association, such as the American Moving and Storage Association or a State moving association. only matches consumers with professional AMSA member movers.

What is the difference between interstate and intrastate and how is the moving industry regulated?

  • The professional moving industry is organized differently for different types of moves and it will help you to have a better move if you understand the differences. First, there are important differences between local moves (called "intrastate" moves because your shipment does not cross state lines or enter into interstate commerce), long-distance moves (called "interstate" moves because your shipment crosses at least one state line and enters into interstate commerce that is regulated by agencies within the US Department of Transportation) and international moves (between the US and another country in foreign commerce regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission).
  • Local or intrastate moves are regulated (or not) by the state in which the move occurs. About thirty states have various degrees of regulation (some more than others) and the rest are unregulated. Check with your state Attorney General's office to see if you live in a regulated state and which office in your state oversees movers. You can also find a list of state moving associations and state regulatory agencies on the website that is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

How are charges based for local moves or for moves within my state?

  • Local (intrastate) moves are generally based on a per-hour cost for the personnel and the number of vehicles that the mover provides (up to a certain distance, with longer distances based on the weight of your shipment and the mileage it is transported) and the level of liability that the mover will cover in the event of loss or damage is generally less than would apply for an interstate move.

How are charges determined for interstate (state-to-state) moves?

  • Charges for interstate moves are based on the weight of your shipment and the distance that you are moving and are usually subject to higher level of liability by your mover in the event of a claim. Charges for international moves are based on a combination of the land changes between your residence and the ports, the ocean transportation between the ports, and any additional customs, portage, or handling charges that may apply in the various countries transited. For more information on international shipments, you may wish to contact the Federal Maritime Commission at (202) 523-5807 or at the [email protected] website.

Will my estimate be based on the weight of my shipment?

  • If you are receiving a non-binding estimate, the charges that your mover assesses on your shipment must be based on the actual weight of the shipment. Your mover may not lawfully assess transportation charges on shipments with non-binding estimates on cubic feet, volume, and time (hourly) or on any basis other than weight. Also, the federal regulations require that shipment weights must be determined on a state certified scale with a copy of the weigh master's tickets provided to you in support of the final invoice.

Do I have a right to observe when the mover weighs the truck with my shipment?

  • Usually, your shipment will be weighed in the city or local area where the shipment originates. The driver has the truck weighed before coming to your residence and then has it weighed again after your shipment has been loaded. The difference in these two weights is the weight of your shipment.
  • The mover can also weigh your shipment at destination when the shipment is delivered. The driver will have the truck weighed with your shipment on board and then weighed a second time after your shipment has been unloaded. You have the right to observe each weighing if you wish. Each time a weighing is performed the driver is required to obtain an official weight ticket signed by the weigh master and a copy of the weight tickets must accompany your copy of the bill.

Can I request a re-weigh if the weight is in question?

  • If your shipment is weighed at origin and you believe that the weight may not be accurate, you have the right to request that the shipment be reweighed before it is unloaded. The mover is not permitted to charge you for the reweighing, but the final charges due will be based on the reweigh weight. You have the right to observe the process each time your shipment is weighed. If you request a reweigh, you must waive your right to observe the reweigh in writing.

Do all shipments have to be weighed?

  • Not all shipments need to be weighed. If your shipment is moving under a binding estimate, there is no requirement to weigh your shipment. Also, small shipments under 3000 pounds can be weighed on a certified warehouse scale.

Will any other charges be added to the estimate?

  • Help the movers calculate the cost of your move by showing them every single item to be moved. Don't forget to go into the attic, basement, garage, shed, and closets and under beds. Reach a clear understanding about the amount of packing and other services needed. Anything omitted from the estimate but later included in the shipment will add to the cost of the move. Also, be sure to tell you mover about any conditions (narrow streets, steep hills, sharp turns, or other obstacles) that may prevent the use of his over-the-road tractor trailer at your origin or destination residence. If the mover's normal semi-trailer equipment can't make a safe approach to your residence to accommodate the loading and unloading of your shipment, an additional charge (called a "shuttle charge") may apply which compensates the mover for using a smaller vehicle to transfer your shipment between your residence and his semi-trailer.

What's the difference between a binding and a non-binding estimate?

  • Most movers offer two types of estimates - non-binding and binding. Non-binding estimates are not bids or contracts. Instead, a non-binding estimate is an approximation of the cost based on the mover's survey of the items to be moved, with the final cost determined after the shipment is weighed and any additional services have been provided, including any services that may be required at destination. Since a non-binding estimate is based on the actual weight and actual services provided on your shipment (rather than the estimated weight) the price will usually be lower than a binding estimate. However, because your final charges will be based on the actual weight of your shipment and the services performed, when you receive a non-binding estimate there is no guarantee that the final cost will not be more than the estimate.

Will the estimate include all of the charges that I will have to pay?

  • Under a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay, at the time your shipment is delivered, more than the amount of the estimate plus 10 percent (or 110% of the estimate amount) plus the charges for any additional services that you requested after you signed the estimate. The mover will invoice you for any remaining charges with payment due within 30 days of your mover's invoice.

Should I tip the mover? How much should I tip the mover?

  • It's always difficult to decide on whether and how much to tip the movers. There are no set rules, so it's up to you to decide what you want to do based on the service that you received. Professional movers are expected to be careful to protect your belongings and the walls, floors and doorways of your home. Still, movers, just like any other service provider, always appreciate recognition for a job well done. Another nice thing to do is to provide beverages (water, sports drinks, sodas, but nothing alcoholic) and food (breakfast rolls, sandwiches, pizza, and cookies) throughout the day. You should also advise the crew which restroom you want them to use.