What You Should Know About Using Movers

Know Your Rights

"Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" is a booklet prepared by the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration that explains your rights when using professional movers. By law, it should be given to you by the moving company before work commences.

Gathering Quotes

Moving companies provide a variety of services for a range of fees. It's a good idea to talk with different movers and compare their services. Before selecting your company, check with a consumer organization such as the Better Business Bureau In the Rent.com Moving Center, you can request free moving quotes from licensed and insured movers.

Getting an Initial Estimate

Ask the moving company to send a detailed, written estimate. If any company refuses to give you a written estimate, eliminate them from consideration.

The cost of your move will be based on a number of factors which could include:

  • The actual weight of your belongings
  • How many rooms you are moving
  • Variables (i.e. stairs at each location, specialty furniture like pianos, etc.)
  • Distance between the two locations

Get written estimates from at least 3 different movers so that you can compare their services and prices. Beware of estimates that seem too good to be true. Legitimate movers will usually quote based on full days' work and will prorate for shorter hours.

In-Home Estimate

The most accurate way to get an estimate is to have the moving representative survey your home and your items. Again, the moving company must provide you with a written, detailed estimate for your review.

Under the regulations, your mover must base your estimate (binding, non-binding, or not-to-exceed), on a physical survey of the household goods to be moved as long as they are located within 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.

Estimate by Weight

If you are receiving a non-binding estimate, the charges must be based on the actual weight of the shipment. You can find online weight estimators online. Not all movers estimate based on weight. 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.You are entitled to observe the weighing and can request a reweigh 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.

Moving Brokers

Most brokers 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.

Read more about moving brokers at United States Department of Transportation Website.

Referral Companies and Lead Agencies

When you use an Internet-based referral company or lead agency, in general, you won't be asked to pay a deposit. Their fee is generated from the mover. 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. Rent.com's partner, Move.com, only matches consumers with professional AMSA member movers.

Moving Industry Regulations

Local or intrastate moves are regulated by the state in which the move occurs. About thirty states have various degrees of regulation and the rest are unregulated. You can also find a list of state moving associations and state regulatory agencies on the United States Department of Transportation website that is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Local Move Rates

Local (intrastate) moves are generally based on a per-hour cost for the personnel and the number of vehicles that the mover provides. 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.


Charges for interstate moves are based on the weight of your shipment and the distance you are moving. They are usually subject to higher level of liability by your mover in the event of a claim.

International Moves

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. For more information on international shipments, you may wish to contact the Federal Maritime Commission at (202) 523-5807 or through their website.

Additional and Unforeseen Charges

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 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 such as narrow streets, steep hills, or other obstacles. 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 "shuttle" charge may apply.


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. In general, $20 per mover will do the trick for a full day move.