Moving Terms and Definitions

Moving services

Learning about terms and definitions for moving companies will help you to understand the moving process.

Accessorial or Additional services

These are services other than line-haul transportation, such as packing, unpacking, appliance servicing, or piano carrying that you request to be performed or are necessary because of landlord requirements or other special circumstances. Charges for these services may be in addition to the linehaul charges.

Advanced Charges – Charges for services performed by someone other than the mover. A professional, craftsman, or another third party may perform these services at your request.

The mover pays for these services and adds the charges to your bill of lading.

Agent – A local moving company authorized to act on behalf of a larger national company.

Appliance Service by Third Party – The preparation of major electrical appliances to make them safe for transportation. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line-haul charges.

Bill of Lading – The receipt for your shipment and the contract for its transportation.

Broker – A company that arranges for the transportation of household goods by a registered moving company.

Carrier – The mover transporting your household goods.

Cash on Delivery (COD) – This means payment is required at the time of delivery at the destination residence (or warehouse).

Certified Scale – Any scale designed for weighing motor vehicles, including trailers or semitrailers not attached to a tractor, and certified by an authorized scale inspection and licensing authority. A certified scale may also be a platform or warehouse-type scale that is properly inspected and certified.

Commercial Zone – A commercial zone is roughly equivalent to the local metropolitan area of a city or town. Moves that cross state lines within these zones are exempt from FMCSA jurisdiction and, therefore, the moves are not subject to FMCSA regulations. For example, a move between Brooklyn, New York, and Hackensack, New Jersey, would be considered to be within the New York City commercial zone. Although it crossed state lines, this move would not be subject to FMCSA regulations.

Estimate, Binding – This is a written agreement made in advance with your mover. It guarantees the total cost of the move based on the quantities and services shown on the estimate.

Estimate, Non-Binding – This is what your mover believes the cost will be, based on the estimated weight of the shipment and the services requested. A non-binding estimate is not binding on the mover. The final charges will be based on the actual weight of your shipment, the services provided, and the tariff provisions in effect.

Expedited Service – An agreement with the mover to perform transportation by a set date in exchange for an agreed-upon additional charge.

Flight Charge – An additional charge for carrying items up or down flights of stairs. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line-haul charges.

Guaranteed Pickup and/or Delivery Service – An additional level of service featuring guaranteed dates of service. Your mover will provide reimbursement to you for delays. This service may be subject to minimum weight requirements.

High-Value Article – These are items valued at more than $100 per pound.

Household Goods – As used in connection with transportation, household goods are the personal effects or property used, or to be used, in a dwelling, when part of the equipment or supplies of the dwelling belongs to an individual shipper.  Transporting of the household goods must be arranged for and paid for by you or another individual on your behalf.

Household Goods Motor Carrier – A motor carrier that, in the normal course of its business of providing transportation of household goods, offers some or all of the following additional services: (1) Binding and Non-binding estimates, (2) Inventorying, (3) Protective packing and unpacking of individual items at personal residences, and (4) Loading and unloading at personal residences. The term does not include a motor carrier when the motor carrier provides transportation of household goods in containers or trailers that are entirely loaded and unloaded by an individual (other than an employee or agent of the motor carrier).

Individual Shipper – Any person who:

  1. Is the shipper, consignor, or consignee of a household goods shipment;
  2. Is identified as the shipper, consignor, or consignee on the face of the bill of lading;
  3. Owns the household goods being transported
  4. Pays his or her own tariff transportation charges.

Impracticable Operations – Conditions that make it physically impossible for the mover to perform pickup or delivery with its normally assigned road-haul equipment so that the mover is required to use specialized equipment and/or additional labor to complete pickup or delivery of your shipment. A mover may require payment of additional charges for services required due to impracticable operations, even if you do not request these services. The specific services considered to be impracticable operations by your mover are defined in your mover’s tariff.

Inventory – The detailed list of your household goods showing the number and condition of each item.

Line-Haul Charges – The charges for the transportation portion of your move. There may be additional charges that apply for accessorial services, such as climbing stairs, using elevators, storage, or other charges.

Long Carry – A charge for carrying articles excessive distances between the mover’s vehicle and your residence. Charges for these services may be in addition to the linehaul charges.

May – An option. You or your mover can do something, but it is not a requirement.

Mover – A household goods motor carrier and it’s household goods agents.

Must – A legal or regulatory obligation. You or your mover are required to do something.

Order for Service – The document authorizing the mover to provide all of the services described in your mover’s estimate.

Order (Bill of Lading) Number – The number used to identify and track your shipment.

Peak Season Rates – Higher line-haul charges may be applicable during the busy moving season (usually between May and September.)

Pickup and Delivery Charges – Separate transportation charges are applicable for transporting your shipment between the storage-in-transit warehouse and your residence.

Reasonable dispatch – The performance of transportation on the dates, or during the period of time, agreed upon by you and your mover as shown on the Order for Service and/or the Bill of Lading. The term “reasonable dispatch” excludes transportation provided under your mover’s tariff provisions requiring guaranteed service dates.

Shipment – Your personal property (household goods) that is being transported from your origin address to your destination address.

Should – A recommendation. We recommend you or your mover do something, but it is not a requirement.

Storage-In-Transit (SIT) – The temporary warehouse storage of your shipment, pending further transportation, with or without notification to you.

SurfaceTransportation Board – The federal agency that regulates household goods mover tariffs, among other responsibilities. The Surface Transportation Board’s address is 395 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20423-0001, telephone (202) 245-0245, and website is

Tariff – A document, issued by the mover, containing rates, rules, regulations, classifications, or other provisions. The Surface Transportation Board requires that a tariff contain three specific items. First, it must contain an accurate description of the services the mover offers to the public. Second, it must contain the specific applicable rates (or the basis for calculating the specific applicable rates) and service terms for services offered to the public. Third, the mover’s tariff must be arranged in a way that allows you to determine the exact rate(s) and service terms applicable to your shipment.

Valuation – The monetary value that you declare for your shipment. This is the maximum amount that your mover is liable for in the event of loss or damage to your shipment.

Warehouse Handling Charge – The charge that may be applicable each time SIT service is provided. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line-haul charges.

We, Us, and Our – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

You and Your – You are an individual shipper of household goods. You are a consignor or consignee of a household goods shipment and your mover identifies you as such in the bill of lading contract. You own the shipment being transported and pay the transportation charge.

You may find other terms used in this booklet defined by Federal statute, 49 U.S.C. § 13102, or Federal regulation, 49 CFR part 375. This statute controls the definitions in this booklet. Terms in this booklet that are not defined in the statute or regulations will have the ordinary practical meaning

Written by Guy Maman
November 17, 2022
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