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Moving Terms You Should Know

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Moving is tricky--and so is the language! While you're busy dealing with the many tasks moving requires, you may realize that you never had time to learn of the jargon. This glossary of moving terms will help you speak the language of moving.

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is an important legal document that serves as the contract between you and your moving company. It ensures that your belongings will be picked up, transported, and delivered to your new home under the conditions illustrated in the contract. It contains all the details of the move and ensures that your goods are being carried legally. Your moving company's name, address, and phone number should appear on the bill, your method of payment, proof of purchased insurance, and your shipment's inventory. Before signing the bill of lading, be sure that everything included is accurate and there is no damage to your goods.


This is a comprehensive list of items in your shipment and their pre-move conditions. Upon delivery, you will be expected to sign for your items after ensuring everything has arrived intact and without damage. Before signing the document, be sure to thoroughly inspect your goods and make note of any damages on the inventory sheet. Failing to do so could create problems filing a claim later should you discover items are damaged or misplaced.

Binding, Non-Binding, and Binding Not to Exceed Estimates

Moving companies may offer you one of three different estimates. A binding estimate cannot increase or decrease--it is legally binding and will not change even if your shipment ends up weighing more or less than the movers believed. A non-binding estimate can either increase or decrease; however, your movers are not permitted to increase your final bill by more than 10 percent. A binding-not-exceed estimate is optimal--your estimate cannot be raised if your goods are heavier than expected, but can be lowered if lighter.

In-house estimate

A surveyor from the moving company does an in-house estimate. He or she will visit your home and give an estimate based on the size of your house, the perceived weight of your goods, and the distance of your move (if your move is long distance). They may also charge extra for other necessary or desired services, such as disassembling furniture, packing, or stair carries. Be sure to ask detailed questions about any extra charges you may receive, and verify that the surveyor is actually from the moving company and not a moving broker to ensure an accurate estimate.

DOT number

A US DOT number is given to moving carriers by the US Department of Transportation. All companies conducting interstate moves (crossing state lines) are required by the FMCSA to have a US DOT number. Many state regulatory agencies also require intrastate movers (within state lines) to be registered as well. Companies with a US DOT number are monitored for safe practices and fraudulent activity, making them less likely to be a rogue mover.

Rogue mover

A rogue mover is a term used for moving companies that are scam their customers by offering bait and switch estimates, holding goods hostage, and other unethical business practices. You can avoid moving scams by conducting a thorough background check on any potential moving company, asking important questions, verifying their US DOT number on the FMCSA website, reading online reviews, checking if they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and requesting customer references.

Accessorial Services

Accessorial services are any extra services you may require in your move, such as packing/unpacking services, furniture assembly or disassembly, long carries, stair carries, shuttle service, hoisting services, or the transport of a specialty item such as a piano or pool table. When you are receiving your in-house estimate, be sure to ask detailed questions about the services you may require and the extra charges for them. Inform the moving company representative of services you believe you may need, and make sure they are aware of any and all goods that will be transported (for example, if you have a large basement filled with furniture or a backyard shed stuffed with tools, be sure they are surveyed and included in your estimate).

Long Carries

There is usually a limit for the distance between the back of the moving truck to the front door of your residence. When this distance is exceeded, it is known as a long carry, and you are charged extra. When you receive your in-house estimate, ask if you will be charged for a long carry. If you do not have a private driveway and there is a lack of imminent parking on moving day, you could be charged for a long carry.

Stair Carries

This charge is usually given when movers must climb a flight of stairs leading from the building's entrance to your residence (such as in an apartment building), or if your home has more than eight front steps. Additionally, if you have more than one flight of stairs inside your home, you may be charged a stair carry. While this charge is usually not given to typical two-story homes with one flight of stairs, it is best to ask your movers while you are receiving your estimate.

Auxiliary/shuttle service

If you live in a residence with a lack of imminent parking (such as an apartment building) or on street too narrow for your moving truck, you may incur extra charges for a shuttle service. A smaller, secondary vehicle will be used to shuttle your belongings to the larger moving van, which will be parked a distance away.

Order for Service

The order for service is a document that authorizes the movers to legally transport your belongings. Unlike the bill of lading, the order for service is signed upon pick up of your goods. It should contain: a description of the services to be performed, the moving companies name, address, and phone number, an expected date of delivery or time frame for the move, the method of payment, the valuation of the shipment, and any accessorial charges.


Valuation is the estimated worth of your shipment. By law, movers are only liable for what is known as Released Value--which is calculated as $0.60 per pound per article. Additional coverage options are known as Declared Value--your entire shipment is given a dollar amount declared by the customer, and Full Value--you will be compensated for the full value the individual items that are damaged or lost.

High-value article

An item worth more than $100 per pound. Movers are usually exempt from liability for high-value articles, and you may need to purchase extra insurance coverage for them. You will also have to fill out a separate High Value Inventory Sheet for these items.


If anything is damaged or missing when your shipment arrives, you will have to file a written claim with your moving company. Before hiring a moving company, you should ask about their claims process--usually they will have a form on their website you can either print out or submit digitally. If your movers do not cooperate or respond to your claim, you can contact organizations such as the FMCSA, BBB, and AMSA to help resolve the matter.

Full-Service Movers

If you are looking for a moving company to assist you in every aspect of the move--packing, furniture disassembly, loading the truck, transporting your shipment, unloading the truck, unpacking your boxes and reassembling your furniture--this is known as full-service moving. While it may cost a little more than simply hiring moving laborers to load boxes into your rental truck, it is an optimal option if you have a large home and a busy schedule.

To begin comparing quotes from full-service movers in your area today, simply fill out our fast and easy quote form! You'll receive up to seven estimates from reliable full-service movers to aid you in your relocation.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on October 7, 2013

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