What Licenses Should Your Moving Company Have?

By VanLines.com

Choosing a professional moving company is vital for the success of your move. Although many people hire random movers, you really need to be careful in who you choose to move your precious belongings. The moving business requires a high level of responsibility and your moving company and its staff needs to be professional, efficient and most of all, legal. Yes legal. So how do you go about determining if your moving company is professional, efficient and legal? In the U.S. there are regulatory authorities that issue licenses after verifying a moving company. These licenses are your proof, and guarantee, that movers must adhere to certain guidelines when they transport your belongings.

Most of the licenses are for a fixed time period and need to be renewed when the period expires. For a moving company to be reissued a license, a regulatory authority must carry out evaluation checks, which will keep the quality a moving companies' service on track.

So what licenses exactly do you look for? The exact moving licenses that your movers should have all depend on the type of move you are making. In the industry, there are basically four types of moves: local, intrastate, interstate and international.

Whether your company requires a local moving license by law depends on your city or state's local government body, like a municipal authority. Several municipal locations across the U.S. have laws and regulations on local movers. Many of these simply require moving companies to submit evidence of a license from the Department of Transportation or the Public Utility Commission. Here is a break-down of the various moving licenses so that you will know what to ask a company the next time you move.
  1. Intrastate.
    About 20 U.S. states have regulations regarding household and personal property motor carrier services. The regulations may fall under the authority of the Public Utility Commission such as in California, under the Secretary of State as in Idaho or under the Department of Transportation as in Connecticut. In some states these authorities issue their own licenses, others require evidence of the DOT (Department of Transport) license and then issue a letter of approval or certificate.

  2. Interstate.
    Regulating interstate movers and freight carriers falls under the U.S Department of Transportation’s subsidiary Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA has a very helpful website dedicated to provide move related information to consumers. Information on this website is very useful like the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” section. The website also has a search tool which can be used to search for moving companies by their name, DOT license or motor carrier number. The search results provide you will a companies bio, safety and insurance information, fleet size, complaint history and an evaluation of their safety guidelines.

  3. International.
    Moves outside North America are regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission. Ocean Transportation Intermediaries are required by law to be licensed and bonded. FMC’s website has an updated list of licensed carriers for international moves. In addition to checking the license of an international moving company, you should also consider factors like their fleet size, location in host and departure countries, experience and complaint history.

Finally, be very careful of companies that advertise themselves as 'low-cost movers' on billboards and website ads. Look for companies that provide the best value as well as those that have all of their licenses in place.