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Moving Licensure, Insurance, and Regulations

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When it comes time for you to choose a moving company to handle your upcoming relocation, you'll be tasked with finding a reputable and experienced company that will offer you the best services and the best price for your budget.

However, your budget isn't the only thing you'll want to be mindful of. You'll also be responsible for finding a company that is properly licensed to operate in your state and follows all of the necessary federal moving regulations. These requirements can vary from state to state and differ between the three types of moves - long distance, local, and international. Moving companies specializing in any or all of the types of moves should have the appropriate licensure and insurance.

Long-distance moves

Before you begin preparing for a long-distance move and doing your own research regarding licensure and insurance, you should acquaint yourself with the basics of what characterizes a long-distance move:
  • Involves moving to another state
  • Moves over 50 - 100 miles (depending on individual carriers) within a state are considered long distance
  • Pricing is determined by weight of the shipment
Long-distance movers must have a federal identification number, known as a United States Department of Transportation number. This number is so important that 28 states require all moving companies, local or long distance, to carry one. The US DOT number is a way for the government to identify a particular carrier when collecting information from audits, compliance reviews, inspections, and other data sets. It is also used as a tool for enforcing and monitoring safety regulations.

In order to find out if your moving company has a US DOT number, you can check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's FMCSA SAFER system at safer.fmcsa.dot.gov. You can also check out one of your mover's marked fleet vehicles by looking for the US DOT number printed on the doors of the cab and the rear tractor. Just make sure that the numbers on the truck match those found in the FMCSA system.

Long-distance movers must also be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This operating authority, which is more complex than the US DOT, outlines the precise type of operation, cargo, and area in which a carrier can operate. The FMCSA also dictates the level of insurance a company must maintain. Keep note of this mandatory amount, so you can compare numbers when you call the mover. You can also ask to see physical insurance certificates for the most accurate comparisons.

TIP: It is a good idea to double-check that your mover can transport your belongings to and from your desired locations, so your goods won't be held hostage or stolen by an illegal mover. Look the company up on safer.fmcsa.dot.gov and make sure "Household Goods" is checked off on the list of items they are allowed to carry.

Some older long-distance carriers may also have an Interstate Commerce Commission Motor Carrier (ICC MC) number. Though the commission was abolished in 1995, many companies that have an older ICC MC number still display it next to their US DOT number. Though these numbers are no longer valid, they are the sign of an established mover that has been around for quite some time.

Local moves

If you are moving locally, you will first want to check your state's individual licensing and insurance requirements. What exactly defines a local move?
  • Moving within a state, as long as it's under the 50 - 100 mile threshold
  • Local movers usually charge by the time spent performing the move
28 states require a US DOT number, even for local movers. While these states may require the US DOT number instead of a state license, others require only a state license.

Call your state's commerce commission or department of transportation office to find out exactly what type of licensing or insurance your state requires. Make note of the minimum requirements for your state and inquire about these when you speak to your potential movers. Make sure you check your movers' numbers against those on file with your state's transportation authority.

International moves

Out of all the different types of moves you can make, international moves tend to be the trickiest and the most complicated to pull off simply because of the logistics involved with such relocation. Here are the basic characteristics of an international move:
  • Entails moving to another country
  • Any move that involves crossing national borders, like going through Canada to get to Alaska, is also an international move
  • International movers charge by weight or volume of goods
Since there are no moving regulations enforced by any single country, you need to be particularly careful when moving internationally. No matter what, your international mover should have a Freight Forwarder permit or a Federal Maritime Commission number. You may also want to choose a mover that is part of a federation like the FIDI Global Alliance, an independent network of international movers founded in 1950.

The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) also provides Registered International Mover Certification, a program that continually monitors international carriers. As very few companies hold this certification, if you see an international mover that does, they are more than likely to be reputable.

Author :

on August 27, 2009

Movers.com - Moving Expert
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