Moving Terms Glossary
Fear of the unknown is a powerful factor that takes effect every time a person is faced with new experiences. Moving house is certainly one of those highly challenging events in life when fear of the unknown may cause great anxiety and stress. As if all the uncertainties and risks associated with the arduous moving process and the unpredictable future are not enough, the great number of unfamiliar moving terms and confusing moving terminology may baffle you even further and result in extra tension and severe misunderstandings. Becoming familiar with the most commonly used moving terms will make your relocation easier and simpler. Moreover, it will help you understand all the moving-related documents that you will be provided with and requested to sign.
This comprehensive moving dictionary will shed some light on the specifics of the moving industry and will help you organize a smooth and trouble-free move. All the moving company terms and expressions are explained in a clear and easy-to-understand manner to avoid any possible misconceptions. The moving house glossary below can be your personal reference book when it comes to better understanding the different aspects of your forthcoming relocation and taking the right decisions about your moving adventure.
You will be hearing the specific moving jargon more and more as moving day approaches. So, there is no more time to waste – just go straight to the first letter of an unfamiliar moving term you’d like to know and find out its meaning right away!
Access defines the level of accessibility to the home where the moving company is supposed to pick or deliver household items. Various factors increase or decrease the accessibility level – the available infrastructure in the area, the distance from the home to the parked moving vehicle, the number of stairs to be passed, the availability of freight elevators in the building, etc.
Accessorial (Additional) Services
Services such as packing, unpacking, appliance servicing, split pick-up or delivery, etc. that you request from the moving company in addition to the shipment of your household goods. Although extra services are optional, sometimes they can be necessitated by circumstances beyond your control (such as shuttle services when a large moving truck cannot access your property or hoisting services when your large furniture don’t fit through the doors, so it can only be taken in or out of your property through a window, etc.). Accessorial services are charged in addition to the transportation costs. Find out more useful information on the topic here.
Good to remember: Make sure any requested additional services are included in the final estimate!
An employee who handles and settles claims against the moving company for damage and/or loss of household items during transit, property damage, and injuries. Find out more about the claim process.
Charges for services performed by a third party provider contracted by the moving company at the customer’s request. Third party experts, such as craftsmen and insurance agents, are hired when their advice or services are considered essential for the successful completion of the move. Your chosen moving company pays for these extra services and adds the total amount to the Bill of Lading.
An affiliated moving company (usually a local one) authorized to act on behalf of a larger, national motor carrier company. The agent may handle all the interaction between the customer and the company or part of it.
Agreed Delivery Date
The time when a shipment is supposed to arrive at the designated destination, according to the contract between the home mover and the moving company. The agreed delivery date may not be a specific date, but a time-period – your salesperson will discuss the transit times and various extra terms and conditions with you in advance.
Agreed Pick-up Date
The exact time period you have booked for your move – most often, this refers to the date when your chosen movers should come to load your household items. The pick-up date can range from one day to several, depending on the weight of your shipment and the required extra services.
American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA)
An organization of moving companies that represents the interests of the moving and storage industry and works to ensure the highest standards of professional conduct and service in the trade to help and protect its customers.
Different services required to ensure the safe disconnection, transportation, and reconnection of large household appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, and dishwashers. Some of these services, such as the disconnection of electrical supply, for example, are usually provided by a third party company. The associated fees are separate from other transportation costs and incur additional charges.
A wheeled platform that assists in moving heavy household items (bulky appliances and large furniture pieces) between the home and the moving vehicle, as well as within the property. It can stand vertically, horizontally, or at an angle.
The amount of cash value assigned to the items in a shipment. When purchasing moving insurance, the customer will pay a certain amount of money per $1000 of assessed value to cover the cost of any damaged goods.
Bill of Lading
The formal binding contract between a home mover and a moving company for the transportation of household goods. It lists the dates, services, specific conditions, and actual charges involved in the move. This document also specifies the method of payment and the kind of insurance coverage chosen by the customer and serves as a receipt.
Good to remember: Read the Bill of Lading very carefully, double-check all the details, and make sure you understand and agree with all the provisions in it before signing it! Click here for more detailed information concerning the Bill of Lading.
A moving company’s offer that states the total charges for your relocation, based on the size of the move and the requested moving services. A binding estimate guarantees the final cost of your move, so it can only be given after a moving estimator has performed an in-house visual survey of your household items and discussed any required additional services (and their respective charges) with you. However, if the actual weight of your shipment exceeds the initially estimated one, or if you need some extra services, you will have to negotiate a revised estimate and to pay extra.
The agent who registers the details of a move with the van line and constructs the business transaction. The booking agent may not be located at or near the origin. If located at the origin, however, the booking agent will also act as an origin agent and will perform a visual survey of your belongings in order to provide you with an accurate estimate.
Any large and awkwardly-shaped items, such as pianos, automobiles, motorcycles, hot tubs, snowmobiles, campers, swing sets, etc., that don’t fit in standard moving boxes and require special packing and handling to ensure safe transportation. A bulky article charge is required for the relocation of such items to compensate the carrier for the difficult loading and shipping procedures, as well as for the large amount of space these bulky pieces consume in transit. You may also have to pay additional weight additive charges, depending on the exact weight of your bulky items.
If a customer cancels an already confirmed move, they may be charged a cancellation fee for the inconvenience they have caused.
A moving services provider that is properly licensed and authorized to transport household goods.
The financial liability a carrier assumes for the customer’s shipment in case of loss or damage of goods.
A statement of loss or damage to household goods while in the custody of the moving company which serves as a request for a monetary compensation.
Cash On Delivery (COD)
A method of payment that requires the customer to pay the moving company at the time of delivery. The payment can be made in cash, by money orders, or cashier’s checks. Prior approval is necessary for credit card payments.
The person who receives the shipment at the destination.
The person from whom the shipment is picked up at origin. The consignee and the consignor may be one and the same person.
The combined shipment of the household goods of two or more customers. Movers often load a couple of small shipments transported between two given points along the same route on a single moving truck to save time and money on cross-country moves. Consolidated shipments are shipped at a lower rate than that which would have been assessed against each individual shipment within the consolidation.
The process of packing certain delicate or valuable items in custom-built wooden crate in order to ensure better protection during shipment.
CWT (Per-Hundred Weight)
The cost rate per designated weight (usually 100 pounds).
The number of miles traveled by an unloaded truck in order to pick up a shipment.
The value of the goods, declared by the home mover. It is used to establish the limit of the carrier’s liability for loss or damage to the shipment. If no value is declared, the shipment is transported under the standard basic liability.
The act of transporting a shipment to the designated destination, unloading the goods, and handing them over to the shipper of household items.
A delivery window is the time period in which the movers are supposed to deliver a shipment to its final destination. The delivery window can range from 2 to 4-5 days depending on various factors (actual distance, consolidation options, current climatic conditions, etc.).
Department of Transportation (DOT)
The federal agency which regulates the transportation industry (including the relocation of household goods) through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).
A certain amount of money (usually about 10-15% of the estimated moving cost) that a shipper of household goods pays to his/her chosen moving company in order to book their services for a specific date. The company may get to keep the deposit as compensation in case of cancellation of the moving job.
The agent designated in the destination area to assist the customer, coordinate the delivery of the shipment, and provide any other necessary services. If the shipment is going into storage, the destination agent is the authorized receiving agent.
Any services provided at the destination by a driver, destination agent, or a third party – unpacking, arranging furniture, servicing appliances, etc.
The services provided by a moving company between the point of origin and the point of destination. This service does not include auxiliary services like warehouse handling, storage during transit, etc.
A box of essential items (such as medicines, basic toiletries, first-aid kit, change of clothes for each family member, etc.) that should travel with the shipper of household goods, so that he/she has access to their most needed possessions at any time. It is often referred to as Open first box or Survival kit as well.
An approximate evaluation by the mover of the final cost of the move, based on the total weight (or cubic feet) of the shipment, on the actual distance to the final destination, and the required additional services. Find out more information about the types of estimates here.
The approximate weight of your belongings, based on your inventory list or on a visual estimate performed by a relocation specialist.
Exclusive Use of Vehicle
Upon the customer’s request the carrier may provide an exclusive moving vehicle for the transportation of his/her shipment for an extra charge.
An agreement with the mover to deliver the shipment by a set date for a higher rate.
Extra Pick up / Extra Delivery
Any additional stops for pick up or delivery of household goods different than the origin and the destination. Such extra stops incur extra charges.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
A specialized agency within the Department of Transportation that regulates the operation requirements for carriers, moving vehicle drivers, moving vehicles, and vehicle equipment.
An additional charge for carrying items up or down flights of stairs, also known as a stair carry fee.
A partial low-cost moving service that refers only to the transportation of household goods from the origin to the destination (packing, appliance servicing, reassembling, and other moving related procedures are not performed by the moving company).
A surcharge based on the national average cost of fuel. It usually applies for long distance moves to provide for a recovery of the increased cost of the fuel.
Full (Replacement) Value Protection
A valuation program under which the carrier assumes liability for the full cost of repairs or the replacement value of any lost or damaged goods without deduction for depreciation of the items.
Full Service Move
A full service mover will handle a move from start to finish (packing, loading, transportation, unloading, and unpacking of household items and personal belongings). The full service rates include everything – from the cost of cartons and packing labor to unpacking and removal of packing materials. This is the most expensive but also the easiest, safest, and most beneficial moving option for shippers of household goods.
Large soft covers designed to provide the best possible protection for household appliances, furniture, and other bulky items during the moving process. Furniture blankets (also referred to as moving blankets) can also be used to prevent property damage – they can be taped over banisters, doorways, and walls.
When put under heavy household items, these convenient felt pads allow the home mover to slide heavy furniture pieces and appliances across the floors in a safe and effortless manner.
The total weight of the moving vehicle and its contents after all the household goods have been loaded.
Guaranteed Pickup and Delivery Service
A premium service provided by the moving company to guarantee pickup and delivery dates. In case of a delay, the carrier provides reimbursement to the customer. This type of service, however, is often subject to minimum weight requirements.
Hauler (Hauling Agent)
The van operator or agent who owns the vehicle assigned by the van line to transport the shipment from origin to destination and actually transports the goods using his/her own moving equipment. The hauling agent may be subcontracted by the moving company.
High Value Article
Also known as items of extraordinary value or valuable items, these are the items in a shipment that are valued at more than $100 per pound ($220 per kilogram). The shipper of household goods is required to fill out a high-value article inventory form listing these items in order to ensure their adequate protection.
The cost of the moving service paid by the hour per mover per truck. Hourly rates usually apply for local moves.
All the personal belongings and property used in a home.
Auxiliary services offered by movers in case that extremely large and heavy items need to be handled in or out of homes through the windows. Specialized equipment, like a hoisting crane and a moving platform, is required to perform such services.
The person who is the consignor or consignee of a shipment identified as such in the Bill of lading. The individual shipper owns the goods that are being transported and pays the corresponding charges.
A visual inspection of the shipper’s home performed by a qualified representative of a moving company in order to get a realistic idea of the type and number of household items to be relocated and the kind of moving services that will be required to complete the job. Only then can an accurate estimate of the moving costs be made.
Any relocation that involves the crossing of an international boundary, regardless of distance. You are strongly advised to discuss all the relevant details, such as required documentation, fees, customs, etc., with an experienced international moving company and get an international moving estimate in order to avoid troubles and misunderstandings down the road. Various cultural, linguistic, monetary, time zone and other differences that may affect the move must also be taken into consideration when organizing an international relocation.
Any relocation that involves the crossing of a state boundary, regardless of distance. Although the term commonly refers to a house move from one state to another, it can also be used to describe a move within the origin state when the shipment has passed through another state in order to reach its final destination.
Any relocation (typically over 50 miles) that does not require crossing a state line. Intrastate moves are not regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A stage of the transportation process when the shipment is en route between origin and destination.
A detailed list of all the household goods entrusted to a mover. It includes a description of the items (their type, number, and current condition) and should be signed by the shipper and the driver both at origin and destination to certify the condition of the goods, or to note any existing problems. Also called Household Goods Descriptive Inventory, it is used as a condition report and as a receipt of acceptance of the shipment by the customer.
SEE ALSO: How to make a moving inventory
Line Haul Charges
The basic tariff fees for long-distance moves (charges for the vehicle transportation part of the move). Linehaul charges are determined by the actual mileage traveled by the moving truck and the weight of your shipment. These charges apply in addition to the extra service charges.
The act of taking the household goods of a customer out of his/her old property (at origin), placing them into the moving truck, and securing them to ensure their safety during transit.
A convenient retractable platform that connects the interior of a moving vehicle to the ground. It may be attached to the moving truck or may be a separate piece of equipment, but in either case it is designed to make loading/unloading operations easier and safer.
A move within the boundaries of the state, taking place over a distance of less than 100 miles (160 kilometers). Local moves are charged on an hourly rate and are regulated by individual states’ Departments of Transportation or Public Utilities Commissions.
Long Carry Fee
An additional charge assessed when the customer’s belongings must be carried an excessive distance (more than 75 feet) from the rear of the moving truck to the entrance of the home (or from the home to the vehicle).
Long Haul (Long Distance) Move
A move that takes place over a distance of 450 miles or more. Long hauls are usually performed with tractor-trailers and cannot be completed in one day because of the great distance.
Storage of household items for longer than a month.
An offer that is considerably lower than the others. Such uncharacteristically low estimates are usually given by unprofessional movers in an attempt to secure moving jobs and rip off heedless customers.
Good to remember: If an offer seems too good to be true, you are advised to carefully investigate the company and consider other options.
Method of Payment
All legal moving companies accept payments in the form of cash, traveler’s checks, money order, bank cashier’s checks, or credit cards. Credit card payment, however, must be pre-approved in advance.
A company that provides truck transportation.
Moving brokers are sales companies that book and coordinate a move, selling the job to an actual moving company. They provide communication and/or mediation in the moving process for a commission fee.
Moving Company (Mover)
A motor carrier engaged in the transportation of household goods. Movers must be properly licensed and authorized in order to operate legally. Your chosen mover may carry out the entire process of planning, implementing, and managing the relocation or may contract with third parties to complete a safe and efficient move.
The cost of transportation of household items to their final destination, usually estimated without the proper insurance and the additional service charges required in the moving process.
A hand-operated wheeled platform used for easier transportation of boxes.
Good to remember: Make sure the boxes are well secured on the dolly.
All the moving related actions (planning, packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking), divided in three main relocation stages: pre-move preparations, moving day procedures, and post relocation activities. Find out more detailed information about the moving process here.
Practical and helpful pointers derived from the rich experience of home movers and moving professionals that can contribute to a safer, cheaper, and trouble-free relocation.
Moving Truck / Van
The moving vehicle in which the household items of the customer will be transported to his/her new home.
The gross weight minus the tare weight. The shipper of household goods is entitled to a copy of the scale ticket to verify his/her shipment’s actual net weight.
A non-binding estimate is the carrier’s approximation of the cost based on the estimated weight of the shipment and the requested accessorial services. It is usually issued for free without performing an in-home survey. The final moving cost, however, is not guaranteed – the charges are based on the actual weight of the shipment, the complexity of the job, and the tariff provisions in effect at the time-period of the move.
Moving companies will not accept for shipment items that pose a risk of contamination or damage to the carrier’s property or the property of other customers (such as chemicals, flammable, corrosive, or explosive goods), as well as items of perishable nature (pets, plants, food). Each moving company has its own list of prohibited items that should be requested by home movers before they start packing their belongings for shipment.
Certification issued by a state or federal governmental institution which authorizes a carrier to move household goods within a certain geographical area.
The agent at origin who provides information regarding individual moves and is responsible for origin services, such as conducting a survey, preparing the necessary documentation, arranging third party services, preparing the shipment for transportation, and picking it up.
Order for Service
A written agreement between the individual shipper and the moving company that authorizes the carrier to handle the transportation of the customer’s household goods.
A unique identification number that appears on the Bill of Lading and on all other moving-related paperwork. Also referred to as the Registration Number, it is used to identify and truck each individual shipment.
The location from which a shipment is picked up and loaded for transportation. Most often, this is the shipper’s old home, but it could also be a storage unit or some other place where the customer’s household goods have been kept prior to the move.
Services provided at the origin of a shipment (such as packing, appliance servicing, maid service, etc.).
Part of the shipment that is left behind as it doesn’t fit into the moving vehicle due to lack of sufficient storage space. The leave over can be shipped on another van for an extra fee.
An overtime charge is assessed when a shipment is loaded or delivered after the normal business hours of week days (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). This may be done for the convenience of the client or may be necessitated by certain laws, ordinances, or landlord requirements.
Professionals who provide packing services at origin to prepare a customer’s belongings for shipment in a safe and efficient manner. Professional packers can also unload and unpack the delivered goods upon the customer’s request.
PBO (Packed By Owner)
Articles that have been wrapped and packed by the shipper, not the carrier. The movers may not accept liability for items that have been packed by the customers.
Good to remember: Items that require special packing (breakables, valuables, oddly shaped pieces, etc.) are better left to experienced professional packers.
The process of preparing one’s household items for shipment, wrapping them safely, placing them into suitable moving containers, and sealing and labeling the boxes. Using proper packing materials and efficient packing techniques is essential for ensuring the safety of your items during shipment and keeping them in excellent condition throughout the entire moving process. Find out how to pack for a move in 60 steps.
A detailed list of all the items to be packed for shipment. The moving inventory is often used as a packing list.
Services provided by full service movers in which all the packing and unpacking activities are handled by experienced moving company’s staff.
Also known as packing materials, these are cardboard boxes of different sizes, wrapping and cushioning materials (packing paper, bubble wrap, foam sheets, packing peanuts, etc.), packing tape and other equipment required for providing adequate protection to the household items while in transit.
A large wooden crate or box used to store and separate customer goods in a warehouse. Larger items, such as furniture pieces, are wrapped and stored separately from the goods in pallets.
All the moving-related documents, forms, and receipts.
Good to remember: It is of paramount importance to keep the paperwork safe throughout the entire moving process, to keep it with you all the time, and to keep it for several months after the relocation as you may need certain documents in the event of a conflict with the moving company and will also need the receipts for tax deductions at the end of the year.
Peak Season Rates
Higher moving charges that are applied to shipments in the summer months, when the demand for moving services is at its highest (the peak moving season is between May 15 and September 30). You can find some useful tips for moving in peak season here.
Storage of goods for an indefinite period of time. Permanent storage begins immediately after the initial storage-in-transit period expires.
Pick-up and Delivery Charges
Additional charges for transporting a shipment between a storage-in-transit warehouse and the customer’s residence.
Quote (Moving Quote)
An estimation of the cost of a move offered by the moving companies for free. You can get a quote for your forthcoming house move here.
The dates or period of time agreed upon by the shipper of household goods and the carrier for picking up and delivering a shipment. The agreed time period is noted on the Bill of Lading.
The basic compensation for loss or damage to goods while in the carrier’s custody. There is no additional fee for this standard coverage but it provides only minimal protection – the mover assumes liability only for 60 cents per pound per article.
A second weighing of the shipment at destination that can be requested either by the customer or by the mover. There is no additional charge for the reweigh but it may still cause a fluctuation in the cost of the move as the final charges will be based on the new weight.
The official document regarding the weight of a shipment. It is obtained by the driver when weighing a shipment at an approved scales location.
A mover that transports a customer’s goods after they have been packed and loaded onto the moving vehicle (or into a moving pod) by the shipper. Upon arrival, the customer unloads the vehicle (or the container) and calls the mover to pick it up when the task is completed.
Shipper of household items
An individual whose household items and personal possessions are being relocated from the place of origin to the designated destination.
A move that takes place at a distance of over 50 miles but less than 450 miles. Short hauls are generally performed with straight trucks, although tractor-trailers can also be used.
When the customer’s residence is not accessible to the mover’s normal line haul equipment because of physical constraints (narrow roads, inadequate parking areas, weak bridges, etc.), a smaller size vehicle is used to transport the goods and complete the pickup or delivery. The items are unloaded from the large moving truck and reloaded to a smaller van (or vice versa). Depending on the weight of the shipment and the location where the service is performed, this could involve several trips with the smaller vehicle. This auxiliary service incurs an additional fee.
Storage in Transit
The temporary storage of a customer’s household items in a carrier’s storage facility while they are pending further transportation or waiting to be delivered to the final destination. If storage in transit is necessitated because the customer cannot accept delivery on the agreed-upon date or within the agreed-upon time period (for example, because his/her new home is not ready to occupy), the customer will be responsible for the added charges for SIT service, as well as for the warehouse handling and final delivery charges. However, if the shipment is placed into SIT because it was delivered before the agreed-upon date (or before the first day of the agreed-upon delivery period), the customer will not be charged any extra fee. Typically, SIT service may not exceed a total of 90 days of storage but the amount of time may be determined by individual carrier.
Smaller moving trucks that are single cab and body vehicles, about half the size and capacity of tractor-trailers. Straight trucks are generally used for local or shorter distance moves as they can easily maneuver in tight spaces.
A numbered and/or color-coded label placed on every item in a shipment to correspond with inventory listings.
The weight of the moving truck and its contents (including all essential loading equipment and packing materials) before a shipment is loaded. Also referred to as the light weight.
A document that lists a moving company’s rates, regulations, and additional fees for the services they offer in the course of a residential move. A tariff must contain an accurate description of the services the mover offers to the public and the company’s specific rates and terms of services, so that a shipper of household items can easily determine the exact rates and terms applicable to his/her shipment.
Services performed by someone other than the carrier or its affiliated agents at the customer’s request or as required by federal, state or local law (such as appliance servicing, crating, vehicle forwarding, house cleaning, etc.).
A long-haul vehicle used for long-distance shipments and very large local shipments. It consists of a towing truck and a trailer that can hold the contents of a large house or several smaller shipments. Depending on the level of accessibility at origin or destination, shuttle services may be required for shipments transported in a tractor-trailer.
The time from the moment when your belongings are picked up to the moment when they are delivered to the designated destination.
The process of unloading the customer’s goods and taking them out of their containers (moving boxes and crates), as well as the disposal of the packing materials. Any unpacking services requested by the customer from the moving company must be performed at the time of delivery – the movers will remove the delivered items from packaging and will place them conveniently for the customer (on flat services, tables, counter tops, etc.) to organize and put away.
Valuation does not equal moving insurance – it is an amount that reflects the worth of the items for transportation. The valuation establishes the carrier’s maximum liability for damage or loss.
A motor carrier that can efficiently coordinate long-distance, cross-country, and international moves with the help of local agents at the points of origin and destination.
A smaller local moving company authorized to perform moves on behalf of a larger, national moving carrier.
The individual who oversees the loading, transportation, and unloading of household goods.
Customers may request waiting time when they are unable to accept their shipment within 2 hours after notification of arrival at destination. There is a charge assessed for each extra hour of waiting time. However, it may be less expensive to pay for waiting time (if it is not for an excessive length of time) than to pay for storage and warehouse handling if the shipment is taken to the company’s warehouse instead.
An additional charge that is assessed when household goods are placed in storage-in-transit. This charge compensates the carrier for the time and effort required for the handling of items within the warehouse.
Extra weight added to the net weight of certain articles to compensate the operator for the excessive van space they use (some articles included in a shipment are comparatively light but occupy a very large space).
The certificate a customer gets when the van is weighted at the weight station on certified scales. It shows the weight of the entire shipment, as well as the weight of the vehicle without a load. The customer is entitled to a copy.
Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move
A government-required publication that details the rights and responsibilities of a home mover. All COD customers are provided with a copy when booking the moving services of a carrier. Click here to download the booklet for free.
Moving Terminology Update
If there is a moving term you can’t find in the above moving glossary, please let us know – we will update the list at the earliest opportunity! You can also contribute to our moving industry dictionary and add something essential we might have missed in the moving terminology by leaving a comment below.