Moving Guide



One of the first steps is to find the right moving company.  We’ve heard horror stories about moving companies – everything from the companies losing or breaking valuable items to being rude, adding extra fees at the last minute, or being scam artists.  That said, there are many honest and reliable moving companies out there. The following tips can help you make sure to find one that works for you.

Referrals, Reviews and Websites

  • Ask for referrals from everyone you know that have moved recently. Then look on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau for reviews. Make sure your moving company has a large number of positive reviews. 
  • Moving companies that display the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) “ProMover” logo on their website had to meet certain quality requirements. You can check the AMSA website at for additional information.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation provides information about ways to plan a successful move, as well as information about movers, a glossary of terms, and FAQs. There is also a searchable database for you to check if your mover is properly registered and any complaints have been filed against it. If you are making an out-of-state move, make sure your mover has been issued a U.S. DOT number by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Since licensing requirements vary for in-state moves, check the website to confirm licensing requirements with the appropriate local agency.
  • If moving internationally, check the mover’s licensing on the Federation of International Furniture Removers’ (FIDFI) website at
  • Your mover should give you a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”.
  • Check mover’s website to gather as much information about the company as possible.
  • Shop for movers early.
Look for red flags that can indicate illegitimate movers or scam artists.  These include:
  • The mover requires a cash deposit or a very large deposit prior to the move
  • The mover’s truck appears to be a rental truck rather than a truck legitimately owned by a business
  • The mover claims to be insured but the website has no insurance or licensing information and no physical address listed
  • The mover’s telephone line isn’t answered in a professional fashion or isn’t answered with the name of the moving company
  • The mover’s office or warehouse looks dirty, sparse or unprofessional
  • The mover offers you an estimate over the phone without seeing an inventory list of your items or without performing an in-home estimate

Estimates and Pricing

  • Make sure to get estimates in writing for your move and from at least three different moving companies. You should not use any company that refuses to give you a written estimate.
  • Find out how and when pick-up and delivery of your household goods will occur
  • Most domestic moves involve a van line. If your move does not fill the entire truck, then the driver will have other pick-ups and deliveries to make, which might make an exact delivery date impossible. Additionally full unpacking is usually not included. If full unpacking is required, then you can request a price for maid service, or you can hire someone separately to help you with the unpacking of your goods.
  • Ask the mover how they can be contacted before, during and after the move.
  • Ask for references, and check them.
  • A fixed price from a mover is usually a better choice than an hourly rate. Also remember that price, while important, isn’t everything.
  • In many cases, movers will quote an estimated weight. The exact weight is determined by the truck being weighed on a certified scale when it’s empty, and then weighed again once it is fully loaded with your shipment. The difference between the two figures establishes the weight of the shipment. You should receive receipts for the two weights.
  • The actual cost of the move will depend upon several factors: distance of the move; need for packing supplies and services; size/weight of the household goods; and using professional movers or doing-it-yourself.

Moving cost components include:

  • packing (labor and materials)
  • transportation charges
  • servicing electric appliances
  • special handling of antiques, art, pianos, glass tops, mirrors, etc.
  • additional insurance while in transit or storage
  • storage charges
  • additional charges for stairs, difficult entry, etc.
  • Most estimates include three pricing options: binding, non-binding, and not-to-exceed pricing. The estimate should include any special packing requirements for glass tops, mirrors, packaging for flat-screen TVs, artwork, pianos, etc.
  • A binding estimate means the customer is obligated to pay the price set forth regardless if the shipment weighs more or less than the estimated amount.
  • 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. The mover cannot require the customer to pay more than 10 percent of the estimate at the time the shipment is delivered. If the customer requested additional services after the non-binding estimate was signed, then these charges are also additional. The mover will invoice for any remaining charges with payment due within 30 days.
  • A not-to-exceed estimate is also called a guaranteed price or price protection estimate. These estimates are based on a binding estimate or an actual cost, and the customer pays either the amount of the estimate or the actual cost, whichever is lower.

Other considerations

After the move is over, movers should have provided:

  • a written estimate
  • an Order of Service (written confirmation of estimate and services, including pick-up and delivery dates)
  • a descriptive inventory (a complete list of all furniture, boxes and items loaded into the truck)
  • a Bill of Lading (receipt for the goods)

Since summertime is the busiest time for movers, they are less able and willing to negotiate pricing and scheduling, so, if possible, plan to move during other times of the year. Otherwise, reserve the dates as early as possible.

Moving an Automobile

If you are having an automobile shipped, you should:

  • Keep the fuel level at no more than half a tank
  • Give the driver a set of keys and keep one with you
  • Do not pack anything in the vehicleWash the vehicle prior to shipment
  • Assess the current condition and compare your findings with the driver’s inventory to eliminate any possible discrepancies