Before Seeking a Mover, Understand the Moving Industry

One of the biggest challenges of moving is understanding the moving industry.

Why's it important?

Because as you research moving companies and plan your move, you'll come across confusing terminology, and if you don't know what you're dealing with, you'll make mistakes – and mistakes when choosing a mover are painful.

Here's a quick guide of the moving industry:

Types of Moves

When you make a move within your state, it's labeled an intrastate move, and you most often pay by the hour, and the number of movers you use. This move, and the local movers you use, will be regulated by your state government.

If you move is between states, it's called an interstate move, and how much you pay is based on weight. This long-distance moving is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  

Types of Moving Companies

Van Lines – A van line is a large moving company that operates nationally and often internationally, utilizing local agents to work with the people who are actually moving.

There are about 25 van lines, and they're owned and operated separately with corporate structures that include both public and private companies. Among the largest van lines in the U.S are United Van Lines, Mayflower Van Lines, Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines.

Van Line Agents – These are essentially franchisees of the larger van lines franchisor, and they operate in most large cities. They must abide by certain quality guidelines established by the van lines, much like a franchisee of a franchisor. These agents have often been around a long time in their community.

Independent or "full service" carriers – These moving companies don't have a van line affiliation. There are over 1,200 of them offering interstate service under their own licenses and more than 5,000 providing intrastate service.

Moving Brokers – Moving brokers connect you with moving companies that can handle your move. You should be wary of dealing with them because you will be unable to check out the quality of the moving company, its licensing and its insurance -- and could face a big surprise on moving day. At the very least, the broker should give you the name of the moving company you'll be using; if you don't get it, find another move.

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