How to Hire a Moving Company

Three Parts:Finding a Good Moving CompanyResearching a Moving CompanyEstimating a Price

Hiring a moving company can be scary. How do you know they won't break your stuff, charge more than agreed, or simply load your stuff into a truck and disappear? Fortunately, you can avoid these nightmare scenarios armed with a little knowledge and research time. Read these instructions carefully to find a legitimate moving company that won't add any stress to your move.

Part 1
Finding a Good Moving Company

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    Determine how far you plan on moving your stuff. If you’re relocating from Arizona to New Jersey, you will likely wish to hire a moving company experienced in moving across state lines. If on the other hand you are moving from one urban neighborhood to another, look for moving companies that cater to people who live in your city.
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    Ask people for recommendations and warnings. One good way to begin your search is through word of mouth recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers. While researching these companies is still an important step, having a rough idea of which are competent and which should be avoided can save you a lot of time.
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    Ask local real estate agents for recommendations. Call one or two local real estate agents and ask if they can recommend a moving company. They have likely assisted many of their customers moving in or out of your current area.
    • If you have at least three recommended companies at this point, you can skip to Researching a Moving Company. Return here for more ideas if those companies aren't satisfactory.
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    Look for moving services in the phone book. Use a copy of the local phone book or yellow pages to search under "Moving" for possible companies to investigate. The companies listed should have actual addresses in your area, and are much less likely to scam you than the companies you find on an internet search.[1]
    • If there are too many companies to research, narrow it down to companies that have been in business for at least ten years. Many listings will have a "founded," "est.," or "since" date that will tell you when the company was created.
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    Search online cautiously. If you don't have at least three companies to research, or if the companies you found by other methods turned out not to suit your needs, it's time to search online. Search for "moving company" plus the name of your city or area, but be cautious to avoid online scams. Every company website should display an address in your area, and you should never enter personal information or pay a fee to access the site. Research companies found online with special care, as described in the next section.
    • Avoid sites that claim to find a mover for you. These are usually scams trying to take your money or personal information.[2]
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    Avoid moving brokers. You may be tempted to hire a "moving broker" that claims to arrange a good deal for you. Unfortunately, at least in the United States and the United Kingdom, moving brokers are not subject to the same consumer protection laws that prevent ordinary moving companies from scamming or mistreating their customers.[3][4] It's best to avoid moving brokers entirely and stick with hiring a company yourself.

Part 2
Researching a Moving Company

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    Look for company reviews online. Look up the company's name on sites such as or Yelp. You might find a recommendation, a rating, or a warning that the company engages in scams or bad service. Try to search on several well-known websites to get more information. If it sounds like the company may have scammed people in the past, cross it off your list.
    • You may not wish to trust the Better Business Bureau, which has been accused of raising ratings in exchange for money.[5]
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    Visit the company website. The company website is usually listed in the phone directory, or easily found through an online search. If the website looks amateur, is difficult to navigate, or doesn't contain the information you need, you might want to look for a more professional company. At a minimum, the website should clearly tell you:
    • The company's full name. If this is different than you expected, or if there are multiple names listed, search for additional reviews to make sure it is a real company.
    • The address of the company. Never hire a company with no address. A large company with multiple locations may have an address look-up to find offices near you.
    • Contact information, including a phone number and email address.
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    Call the company's reference. Ask for at least three references from the company, making it clear that you are asking for past customers. Call each of these references and ask for details of their moving experience. If a satisfied customer hired one truck to move a few blocks away, it might not tell you much if you are planning to move a thousand miles away.
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    Ask for documentation if the company works in the United States. In the United States, companies that transport cargo across state lines, and some that work within a state, are required to have a USDOT Number and Motor Carrier license number.[6] These may be displayed on their advertisements or website, or you may need to ask for them via email or phone. Use a motor carrier lookup site to see if the company is legitimate.
    • If the USDOT records say Out of Service, or if the contact information doesn't match what you are using to communicate with the company, you may be dealing with scam artists.
    • The Motor Carrier records should include a safety rating. Look for a "Satisfactory" in the companies you hire.
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    Consider how the company has acted during communication. Have the moving company's employees been professional and polite during your communications? Have they responded promptly to your emails (the next business day or sooner), or have they been making you wait? If a company is too busy or too incompetent to communicate politely with a potential customer, you may not want to hire them.

Part 3
Estimating a Price

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    Ask for an on-site estimate. Once you're sure a company is legitimate, it's time to find out about pricing. Contact the company to request an on-site estimate, in which the company sends an employee to examine your belongings and estimate how much the move will cost. Ask for a "binding" estimate if possible, which will clearly list the cost of each service. A "nonbinding" estimate could become significantly more expensive when the company actually charges you.[7] The exact laws governing binding and nonbinding estimates vary between states and countries, so look up laws in your area if you want to be sure what the estimate tells you.
    • Show the estimator everything he needs to make an accurate estimate. This includes closets, basement, the backyard and sheds, and anywhere else where movable goods are stored. If the estimator doesn't make a thorough examination, don't trust the estimate.
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    Inquire about all extra charges. Read the fine print carefully to work out how much the move will actually cost. Ask the company to disclose all fees, including fees for moving certain items, packing and unpacking each carton, or using additional packing material if a carton comes apart. If the fees seem unreasonable, move on to another company.
    • In the United States, each moving company is required to have a '"tariff" which lists these fees in full.[8]
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    Learn about how to get reimbursed for damaged or lost items. Ask the movers for information on valuation or liability, which will tell you how much the movers will owe you if items are damaged or lost during shipment.[9] A moving company may offer several valuation services at different prices, and if you do not specifically sign a document agreeing to one service, they may try to charge you on a more expensive plan.[10]
    • Some valuation services are included at no extra cost. However, these may only provide you with a small percentage of the damaged item's value. For instance, the Released Value plan, required in the U.S., provides only 60¢ per pound of weight damaged, no matter how much the item was actually worth.
    • More comprehensive plans may require the movers to replace, repair, or pay for damaged items in full. However, these typically cost more and may be limited to certain expensive items. Be sure to list every item you want covered on the valuation agreement.[11]
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    Be wary of much lower estimates. If one company gives much lower cost estimates than its competitors, don't jump on the opportunity without doing your research. This could mean an inaccurate or dishonest estimate, or lower quality service that could damage your household items. In the worst case scenario, it could be a scam that steals your possessions or holds them ransom for additional fees.


  • A national movers' association may require its members to meet certain standards, such as the British Association of Removers Code of Practice. These typically carry less weight than consumer protection laws, but the association may provide methods of reporting a member company or solving disputes.
  • U.S. companies are required by law to provide you with a Rights and Responsibilities booklet.[12] If you have doubts about a company after an estimator or the moving truck has already arrived, ask for this booklet to see if they are a legitimate (and competent) company.
  • If you feel you've been scammed,


  • Never use a mover without a in-house estimate! You can be charged much more than you expect if you received an estimate based on a verbal description over the phone or email, instead of a thorough investigation of your goods.

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Categories: Moving House and Packing