How Long Does it Take for Movers to Deliver?

With so many factors to take into account, it’s not surprising that delivery times on long-distance moves can be all over the place.

How quickly you get your items generally depends on –

  • The weight of your shipment
  • The distance between your old and new residences
  • What time of year you’re moving
  • Whether or not you’re willing to pay for expedited delivery
  • The overall state of the economy

In general, the smaller your shipment and the farther it’s going, the longer your items will be in transit.

Of course, there’s no such thing as an “average” move, and each company has its own delivery guidelines.

That said, in this post, we’ll make a number of generalizations that’ll give you an idea of what to expect come move time.

But before continuing on, check out these helpful pre-move resources –

  • Best interstate movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews is imperative
  • Moving cost calculator – Talk about a great budgeting tool. Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest
  • Best moving container companies – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks

Expect a “delivery window” or “delivery spread” on your long-distance move

On interstate relocations, most moving companies give customers a range of possible delivery dates based on the aforementioned factors.

In other words, you’ll rarely get one specific delivery date.

Let’s look at the following fictitious example…

If you’re moving 10,000 pounds (about 40% of a full trailer load) from New York and Dallas in June, your delivery window may be between 4 and 10 days.

This means that from the day it’s loaded, your mover can deliver your items to your new residence any time between 4 and 10 business days later.

Most movers give customers at least 24 hours of notice prior to delivery, but as long as your items show up in this window, they’ve fulfilled their contractual obligations.

Did you know?

Most deliveries are made between Monday and Saturday. Sunday deliveries may be an option too, but if you request one you’ll probably pay extra.

Weight and distance – the two biggest factors in determining delivery times

Since small shipments take up less trailer space than large ones, delivery times are longer because the company will need to spend more time filling the unused space.

Likewise, the greater the distance between your old and new residences, the longer you can expect to wait for delivery.

To maximize efficiency and keep costs low, moving companies go to great lengths to keep their trucks as full as possible.

But though generally true, these rules aren’t necessarily carved in stone.

For example, if you’re moving 20,000 pounds 1,000 miles, your shipment may be delivered more quickly than someone moving 3,000 pounds 300 miles.

This is because 20,000-pound shipments take up about 80% of a standard 53-foot moving van, while 3,000-pound shipments take up about 1/8th of the trailer.

‘Tis the season for busy movers

In the moving and storage industry, “peak season” lasts from May to September.

Thanks to kids being out of school, it’s when many families choose to move.

In fact, many moving companies do more than half of their annual business in the summer, and they increase their rates in response to this spike in demand.

In addition, during the peak season delivery windows are generally longer, though it’s always in the company’s (and driver’s) best interest to deliver each shipment as quickly as possible so they can reload and keep on truckin’.

Insider’s tip

If your schedule is flexible, moving during the fall or winter often means lower prices and quicker delivery times.

Don’t hesitate to ask about expedited delivery on your long-distance move

Most long-distance movers offer customers expedited delivery and exclusive use options.

With the former, you pay extra to get your items sooner than the standard delivery window allows.

With the latter, yours will be the only shipment on the truck, which means the driver can begin the trek to your new home immediately after loading.

But while expedited delivery can be a relatively affordable option if you need your household goods sooner rather than later, exclusive use can be prohibitively expensive.

The state of the economy can affect delivery times too

This factor often gets overlooked and admittedly there’s not much you can do about it, but it can have a big impact on delivery times.

When interest rates are high and the economy is weak, the volume of corporate and private relocations tends to go down.

When these trends last for a significant period of time, van lines often trim their hauling fleets which result in reduced capacity when things improve.

In short, if you’ll be moving when the economy is booming, expect to pay more and wait longer for your items to be delivered.

Delivery window examples

The following delivery window generalizations will give you a “ballpark” idea of what to expect based on the size and distance of your move.

Shipment weight/distance 500 miles 1,000 miles More than 2,000 miles
3,000 pounds (1-bedroom apartment) 2 to 9 days 2 to 15 days 4 to 21 days
9,000 pounds (multi-bedroom apartment or small home) 2 to 7 days 2 to 10 days 4 to 13 days
22,000 pounds (large home with basement, attic, and garage) 2 to 4 days 2 to 6 days 4 to 9 days

How to handle a late delivery

Late deliveries can be caused by poor scheduling, bad weather, and truck breakdowns to name just a few.

Reputable movers always keep in contact with their customers, so you should know if your items will be delivered late well in advance.

If so, do your best to stay calm and make the necessary arrangements to ensure your family’s comfort in the interim.

Then –

  • Check your estimate, order for service, and bill of lading to verify the agreed-upon delivery dates
  • Review the company’s delay policy (you should always get this in writing when you’re screening movers)
  • As soon as your driver informs you that he or she will be late, call the main office to make sure they’re aware of the situation
  • Keep receipts for lodging, food, and other expenses for which you may be reimbursed

If your moving company has diligently kept you up to date, a minor delay need not be cause for alarm.

However, if they’ve completely disappeared and won’t return your calls, it’s likely that you’re being scammed.

If so, take a deep breath, fire up the old laptop, and spend a few minutes getting up to speed on the helpful information in this post.

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

How long does it usually take for a moving company to deliver?

Delivery times on long-distance moves can be anywhere from two days to nearly a month.

What affects your delivery time?

Delivery windows are calculated based on the weight of your shipment, the distance between your old and new homes, and what time of the year you’re moving.

How do you track the progress of a shipment?

Many van lines have online shipment tracking, but your driver and customer service representative should keep you informed while your household goods are in transit as well.

What happens if your delivery gets delayed?

Most reputable moving companies have written delay policies that typically include reimbursement for food, lodging, and other unexpected expenses.


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