Moving Company Contracts: Everything You Need To Know

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If you are looking to hire a moving company, then you will need to sign a moving company contract. A moving company contract is a dual-benefit legal item that helps both you and the company. Put simply, the moving company contract enforces the terms that you and the company have agreed upon in regard to what is to be moved and what the penalties for damaging that cargo while it is being moved.

Since you are going to be signing a contract, it is vital that you familiarize yourself with some terms that are common to moving company contracts. Moving companies deal with these sorts of contracts on a daily basis, so its understandably while a layperson might not get the distinctions between “full-value” and “released-value” replacements or know that you can get more than one type of estimate.

Not having a basic grasp of moving company legalese could leave you signing off on something that does not fully meet your needs or costs you far more than anticipated. For example, one moving company contract may stipulate that goods damaged in transit require a reimbursement for a smaller monetary amount than what you might expect. You might also fail to best inform the company about exceptionally valuable possessions.

Provided below is a breakdown of the components to the order for service for a moving company. Note that these details are the same, whether the client is a private citizen or working as a member of the government.

contract inspection.

Description of Services

This is usually the first thing listed in the contract. this covers all the services that the movers will provide and an understanding of your origin and final destination. Be sure to confirm everything that shows up here. You also have the option to amend the contract for additional services you would like. Just be prepared for a higher estimate if you choose to do so.

Scope of Services

This serves as a timeline of events, often made into an enumerated list. The scope of services explains each service and the sequence it was carried out. For example, a basic scope of service will likely list inventory, loading and unloading. Additional information may also be provided, like how you must have everything packed up and ready to go for the movers to immediately begin work and that the moving company must ensure that it does not damage anything while unloading their vehicle.


This covers how you pay for the services, as well as the deadline to pay and the penalties for failure to pay. Depending on your previous verbal agreements with the company, your order of service may either appear as either a set fee or an itemized breakdown. In the case of itemization, the contract will explain how they go about calculating something like an hourly rate. Pay very close attention to this section; the moment you place your signature onto your contract is the moment you have agreed to everything on the sheet. Questions about payments or pricing should come before you sign, not afterward.


This short section just clarifies that the contract is valid until the company has carried out the serviced laid out within the order. While this is usually a safe portion of a contract, you should still read over it to make sure you understand everything and all of your questions have been satisfactorily answered.


This is a common aspect of all contracts and verifies that the moving company will never share your information during the term of the contract. In essence, your records, documents and notes remain between you and the company.

Movers’ Legalese

Provided below is a list of many of the common terms used in moving company contracts, as well as some examples of how they work.

terms and conditions.

  • The 110 Percent Rule. Established in 2003 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, this legislation caps non-binding mover estimates at no more than 110% where household goods are concerned. In other words, you should never have to pay more than 110% of the initial non-binding quote. The sole exception to this would be if the total weight of the goods to be moved exceeded the weight covered in that estimate.
  • Assessing Costs. These are the costs factored into an estimate ddetermining how much must be paid for a move. These charges can include additional, advanced and line haul as well as replacement coverage.
  • Additional/Accessorial Charges. This category of charges covers any expense beyond loading, transporting and unloading your belongings. These can include packing your goods, work on large cumbersome items to make them suitable for shipment, delays in operation due to you not being ready to greet the company and delivering to homes on roads unable to permit large vehicles.
  • Advanced Charges. These come up when a third party has to get involved for the movers to access your home, like cutting a gas line. This charge is sometimes reflective of the moving company paying the third party in your stead, which is why it gets added to a final bill.
  • Agent. Agents represent companies or groups who help either you or the movers.
    – Some agents represent local companies who perform services for larger companies.
    – Booking agents are concerned with scheduling a move.
    – Destination agents are local to the destination and will let you and the mover know anything important about the area.
    – Origin agents assist with the preparation step of a move, packing cartons or answering any questions you may have about the move.
  • Bill of Lading. This is a receipt that verifies that the moving company has claimed ownership of your goods. It also covers your moving company contract and clarifies where and in what manner the company will move your goods. This bill is handed to you for a final inspection on moving day and it must be handed to you before the moving company can legal begin handling your possessions. Make sure to read over and review the entire thing carefully before signing it to avoid any hiccups. The bill of lading covers insurance issues and you should have no discrepancies between this bill and your earlier agreement with the company. A representative for the moving company will also sign the form and have you your copy. Furthermore, keep it until your move is complete and you have verified that everything you moved is present and in as good a condition as it left the previous location. As you may have garnered, this vital piece of documentation serves as both an official record of the move and a receipt.
  • Carrier’s Liability (for Loss/Damage). This liability varies with your coverage and covers how much you can be compensated for any goods that suffer damage, loss or destruction.
  • Claims. If your goods become damaged during some accident in transit, you need to file a claim with the moving company and within a certain window of time, as dictated by your bill of lading. Filing a claim in time ensures that will never waive your right to receive proper compensation.
  • Consignor/Consignee. A consignor signs paperwork allowing the shipper to take and transport household goods. The consignee signs the receipt for the goods at their final destination. Some moving company contracts require that both parties be the same individual barring any other arrangement.
  • Door-to-Door/Door-to-Port Service. Most moves are door-to-door service, meaning your goods go from one home to another. Door-to-port services involve overseas moves and involve taking the goods from your home and transporting them to a port in your destination region. It is common for additional charges to exist in getting your goods to your new home from the port.
  • Estimates. You have two kinds of estimate in a moving company contract.
    1. Binding. You do not have to pay anything beyond the estimate, so long as the weight is accurate. This amount cannot be changed unless the moving company submits an amendment and both parties sign their agreement to said amendment.
    2. Non-binding. An educated guess on your total moving costs that accounts for extra charges. Non-binding estimates require you to pay no more than 10% above the estimated cost. See also: the 110 Percent Rule above.
  • Full-Service Mover. This type of mover handles every aspect of the moving process. This means that their services can include packing and unpacking everything, prepping bulky items like a piano or grandfather clock for shipment, disposal of your boxes and cartons upon completion of the move and even assembly of certain household goods.
  • Full-Value and Released-Value Replacement.You have two forms of protection in a moving company contract.
    1. Full-value replacementmeans that the company willy fully repair or replace any item damaged, lost or destroyed in a move, provided it was worth more than $100 per pound.
    2. Released-value replacement is only equivalent to 60¢ pound of the damaged item. This type of replacement policy means that the company would only be required to pay you $30 for damaging a 50 pound TV while it was in their care.
  • Gross Weight. This means the total weight of the moving van after your goods have been loaded onto it. The total weight of your goods is a major factor in the cost of a move.
  • High-Value Inventory. This is an itemized list of every exceptionally-valuable item you will be moving. These items have extra costs related to packing and moving them, as well as specific terms for how they will be handled by the company.
  • Inventory Sheet. This is an itemized list of everything the movers will be handling. Most movers tag what they pack and load, then record those tag numbers on these sheets. You can use these to verify that all your possessions have been loaded and made it to the new home. Note that high-value items have their own list, covered above. Once everything is accounted for upon arrival, you will be tasked with signing the sheet. This is also when you can note anything that was damaged or missing. In the event of damaged or missing goods, the mover should also sign off in agreement with you.
  • Line Haul Charges. These are calculated by assessing the distance between the points of origin and destination and the gross weight of your goods.
  • Moving Estimate. After the moves show up and look over your goods to be moved, they will give you a copy of the moving estimate. This document covers whether you have a binding or non-binding estimate and shows the work of how they arrived at the final amount. Be sure to ask any outstanding questions like if anything you plan to move will need extra care. This first visit is a time for questions.
  • Order for Service. This comes after agreeing to the moving estimate and is your official moving company contract. This covers everything about the move:
    – Date of pick-up
    – Estimate date of delivery
    – A binding or non-binding estimate
    – Insurance coverage
    – Terms (cancellation policy, trucks, goods that will not be moved, extra fees, etc).

    If you see any discrepancies or have disagreements, you should immediately speak to the individual in charge. Now is the time to negotiate to ensure optimal service. If the company does not provide you with an order for service, you need to look for another moving company immediately.

  • Storage-in-Transit (SIT). These are charges for storing any household goods at a separate site from your new home before making the final delivery. As an example, you may have a gap between leases between your residences, requiring you to hole up at a motel for a few days prior to moving in.
  • Valuation. This limits what a mover is liable for regarding damages or losses. It is a declare value of the total worth of the household goods and the limit to what the company is responsible for.
  • Weight/Scale Ticket. Once the moving vehicle is fully loaded, it will be weighed on certified scales. You will then be handed a ticket that gives the total weights of the van before and after it has been loaded. The difference between the two numbers is the final weight of your goods.

question mark pile.

Miscellaneous Questions

While we have covered the fact that you do sign a contract when dealing with a moving company, there are several other common questions that arise when discussing contract law. Some of these questions and their answers will be provided below.

“Is It Possible to Sue a Moving Company for Breach of Contract? How?”

It is indeed possible to sue a moving company for breach of contract. Since this concerns contract law, the bone of contention in any such case lays in how well the company adhered to the order of service.

  • Did the company fudge its math regarding the released-value replacement of your entertainment center?
  • Did the company fail to disclose why a particular unscheduled stop was made but charged you several additional hours or hit you with a SIT charge?
  • Did the company pull a “bait and switch” by offering a low standard rate, only to add a bunch of inflated charges after you signed the contract?

These are just three grievances that could certainly merit litigation against a moving company.

If you feel you have been wronged, the first thing to know is that moving companies are not regulated by local or state government; claims must be filed against the company itself. You must then prove that the company acted in error or was at fault for whatever offense you are seeking compensation for. Remember that it is vital that you go over aspect of the moving company contract with a fine eye. You do not want to make it all the way to court only to realize that your signature meant you agreed with the very problem you are suing over.

While some people may be able to get by with loading all of their possessions into a large pick-up truck and move to a new home, most people have entire homes full of furniture and valuables that would be too cumbersome to manage by yourself. This is why it can be a good idea to hire a moving company. Not only are you hiring multiple people to handle your mess but they know how to do it best, saving you a lot of time and stress during the already-stressful act of moving. When looking into moving companies, be sure that they are licensed, insured, and have a positive reputation on review sites.



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