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Things to Know Before You MoveThere are many words and terms that are specific to the moving industry - here are some of the most common ones that you should know:

ACCESSORIAL SERVICES - Services not ordinarily considered a part of a normal move situation. For example, charges for stairs, elevators, excessive walking distance, shuttle (auxiliary service). Additional charges may apply for these services.

AGENT, OR AGENCY - Strictly speaking, someone performing an act on behalf of another, or the group performing such an act. In the moving business, the van lines each have a national network of agents representing them in various local communities, providing sales support for the van line and themselves, packing, storing and doing local and in-state moving, and performing origin and destination services for international moves. Some agencies are owned by the van line, but in most cases, they are locally owned independent businesses, or part of a group of privately owned local offices.

AIR FORWARDING - Shipment of goods via air.

AUXILIARY SERVICE - Sometimes a tractor trailer is unable to get reasonably close to a loading or delivery point. In that case, a smaller vehicle must be taken out, with additional labor cost added, and the smaller vehicle shuttles the shipment between the tractor trailer and the pickup or delivery point.

BASIS OF CHARGES - How will the cost of your move be determined? Is it a guaranteed price? A not-to-exceed estimate? A non-binding estimate? Will charges be bound, or subject to actual weights and services? Will charges be based on hourly rates, shipment weight, packing service provided, space utilized? All of these are considerations under charge basis.

BINDING ESTIMATE - Typically only available for interstate moves, and only when the shipper (customer) can clearly indicate which items are to move and which are not. With a binding estimate, a firm price is established and agreed to by shipper and carrier. However, if the customer makes changes, the carrier is also free to adjust the price. So, if after the estimate, the customer decides to change their valuation choice, adds items to the shipment, requests additional services, or moves to a location inaccessible to a tractor trailer (auxiliary service), the charges may increase, regardless of the earlier agreement on price.

CONSOLIDATOR - In international moving, there are companies that purchase large amounts of space aboard steamships and airplanes, thus getting lower rates. They accept shipments to fill that space from various sources, and are able to profit and at the same time, keep the cost lower for the consumer.

CRATING/UNCRATING - Some items are either of a value or size that it is necessary to prepare a custom-built wooden crate in order to protect them. In most cases, the crates must be uncrated at destination by the 3rd party crating company, or liability will be forfeited.

CWT - Hundred weight, or per one hundred pounds. Charges for moving are often based on a cost for each 100 pounds, or CWT.

DEDUCTIBLE - When purchasing valuation, you will sometimes be offered a choice of a deductible amount. As with insurance, the larger the deductible you select, the lower your coverage cost will be. That is because you are agreeing to take some of the risk yourself, by paying a portion of the damage cost yourself, before valuation coverage becomes applicable.

DENSITY FACTOR - For domestic moves, charges are usually calculated on either a weight or hourly basis. With overseas shipments, charges are sometimes based on a density factor. This takes into consideration not only the weight, but also how much space the shipment occupies. This is because both airplanes and ships have TWO limiting factors; 1) a limit on space, and 2) a limit on how much weight they can transport. So, the higher the density (pounds per cubic foot), the lower the cost. Consider this: a ton of feathers, versus a ton of lead. Both weigh the same, but the feathers take much more space. Thus you would pay more to ship the feathers. For household goods shipments, 6 lbs per cubic foot is considered a normally achievable density.

On air shipments, you pay either the actual weight, or 10.41 pounds per cubic foot, whichever price is higher.

DESTINATION SERVICES - At destination, certain services are required. This may include storage, unpacking or uncrating, or in the case of an international move, delivery and unloading, sometimes unpacking.

FORWARDER, OR FORWARDING COMPANY - If you move with a moving company within the United States, one company handles the shipment from origin to delivery, With international moves, a number of service providers are involved: origin agent, steamship company or airline, customs broker, destination agent. These businesses deal in various currencies. The forwarder is, simply put, an “arranger of services.” They schedule the various services in a timely way, collect the fees from the customer, and pay each participant for their share of the work done.

GROSS WEIGHT - The weight of your shipment including the container that it is held in.


INTERNATIONAL OR OVERSEAS MOVE - A move from one country to another, or a move within a country, when the services of a steamship or air service is required. For example, a move from Dallas to Hawaii; not international, but requires a steamship or airline. Hence, the term OVERSEAS.

INTRASTATE MOVE - A move from one location to another location in the same state, but beyond the boundaries set for a local move. Charges are usually figured on a weight basis, plus any other applicable accessorial services. Rates and services are regulated in some states, and not regulated in others.

LIFT VAN - A container, generally wood, used for shipping goods overseas, usually when the shipment is too small to justify the cost of using a 20 foot or 40 foot steamship container. Goods are packed in cartons, furniture wrapped with pads, and the lift van is shipped to the origin seaport, where it is placed inside a steamship container by the consolidator.

LOCAL MOVE - A move which takes place wholly within a defined geographic area, usually 25-50 miles or less. Charges for local moves are usually on an hourly rate basis, running from the start of the move to the end of the move, with a charge added for time spent driving to and from the move (driving time) In some states, the rates are regulated (set, or approved) by a governmental agency, usually a state agency. In others, there is no regulation.

NET WEIGHT - The actual weight of the goods (packing material included) that you are shipping. Net weight is calculated by deducting the tare weight from the gross weight.

NON-BINDING ESTIMATE - This type of estimate was the norm until partial deregulation of the moving industry in 1983. With a non-binding estimate, the mover provides the customer a good-faith estimate of the cost of their move. Then when the move takes place, charges are calculated on the basis of services actually rendered, either on a weight or hourly transportation basis. Charges may be higher or lower than the original estimate amount.

NOT TO EXCEED ESTIMATE -Typically only available on an interstate move. The moving company provides an estimate, and promises that the total price for the move will not be more than the estimated total. However, changes made by the customer free the van line from this promise. (See “BINDING ESTIMATE” for further information regarding price changes,)

ORIGIN SERVICES - Regardless of the destination of a shipment, some services are required at origin. These include: Packing, crating, loading into a container for overseas, etc.

REGULATION/REGULATORY BODY - Movers are regulated by various government agencies. In some states, there is no longer regulation of transportation services provided within the boundaries of that particular state. However, any shipment crossing state lines IS regulated by the Department of Transportation. International moves (overseas) are not regulated.


STORAGE - There are two “types” of storage, referred to as local, or permanent storage, and storage in transit, usually referred to as SIT.

Both are methods for holding goods on either a short or long term basis, in a mover’s warehouse. In either type, the manner and location of the two types of storage are identical. The difference is with regard to rates, regulation, and liability. If you are moving from one state to another, SIT is usually the best option from a liability standpoint. This is because SIT is considered to be a continuation of the interstate move, and for that reason, the same entity ( the van line) has liability from the beginning of the move to the end. So, if there is damage to your goods, there is no question as to which party holds the liability. The goods may, at the customer’s request be placed in SIT at either the origin or destination city. However, there is a time limit as to how long the goods may remain under this designation. At the conclusion of that time limit, the goods may remain in storage, but the charges revert to the local agents rates, and the liability from that date forward becomes the agent’s.

The cost for SIT varies considerably from one area of the country to another, due to differences in real estate and labor costs. Therefore it may be considerably less expensive to store at either origin or destination. And, in some cases, storage costs are negotiable!

SURFACE SHIPMENT - Goods being shipped internationally via steamship carrier, rather than by air (air forwarding)

TARE WEIGHT - The weight of the container holding your shipment, either a truck or external shipping container.

TARIFF - The rules and rates established for provision of a particular service or set of services. Each van line has its own tariff, or tariffs, which establish how they will do business. These tariffs are approved by the Department of Transportation of the US government.

THIRD-PARTY SERVICES - Sometimes a move requires services which are not provided by either the van line or the agent at origin or destination. In such cases, a “3rd party” company or individual is used. This may be for, among other things, crating and/or uncrating of delicate or valuable items, servicing of appliances, disassembly and preparation for shipping of billiard tables and grandfather clocks, disassembly of complex items. Charges for these services are not regulated. The agent arranging for these services may simply “pass-thru” the actual charges, or in some cases, add to them for profit.

VALUATION, OR VALUE PROTECTION - Movers do not, by and large, sell “insurance” to cover your goods while they are being transported; instead, they have “valuation”, or “value protection.” The reason is that movers are not licensed insurance sales people, and no policy is issued. Generally, the fees collected for the sale of valuation coverage go into a pool, from which claims are then paid. Sometimes, however, insurance is sold for an international move, and a policy is issues, by a 3rd party provider.

VAN LINE/MOVING COMPANY - Van lines are licensed and regulated by the US Department of Transportation, to provide transportation services BETWEEN STATES. The van lines are NOT international movers, and have no authority granted to them to perform moves within the boundaries of any state, only across state lines.

WAREHOUSE - A usually large building, where furniture and other commodities are stored. In the moving business, this is also typically where the local agent’s offices are located, and their local operations are based.

Move Type: state to state | cars/boats | country to country | in state | local | office/industrial
saving money | before you move | who we are | contact us | links | home page

2009 Moving Options Inc.

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