Full List of Items Movers Will NOT Move

All moving companies will move the standard items found in a typical home. We’re talking about items everyone has, like clothes, furniture, electronics, and appliances.

Most movers also have experience moving less common items like pool tables, hot tubs, and motorcycles.

What’s not so well-known is that there are lots of things movers will not move.

Local and national laws prohibit the transportation of many of the items we’ll be covering.

These laws are in place to protect the public and the environment from things like chemical spills, explosions, and the spread of invasive, non-native insect species to different parts of the country.

Also, movers may refuse to transport irreplaceable items like important documents such as medical records, or those with deep sentimental or precious value.

Let’s take a closer look.

8 Items that movers WILL NOT move

Wondering what items movers will not move? Here we’ll cover some obvious things like hazardous materials as well as some lesser known items you should leave off your packing list.

1. Houseplants

See how to pack and move houseplants properly.

Some movers will transport plants on local moves, but they’re generally prohibited on interstate relocations.

Live plants and soil can harbor harmful insects, eggs, and larvae that can infest the van and your items.

They can also significantly damage crops in states where they’re not native.

You will also want to check the rules regarding related products like weed killers and pesticides.

Ask prospective movers about their policies before signing a contract. Better yet, get it in writing as part of your free quote.

Who should I hire? Pick from the best interstate moving companies.

2. Pets

Movers won’t transport pets, either.

Sadly, your cuddly cat and talkative canary won’t be able to hitch a free ride next to your new home — and with good reason.

They wouldn’t survive the hot and nearly airless conditions inside the van.

Most families take their pets in the car and pre-plan stops at animal-friendly hotels.

If that’s not an option, many movers have relationships with companies specializing in transporting animals across the country and worldwide, ask for a pet moving quote.

See our tips for moving with pets.

3. Perishable Foods

Perishable foods are another big no-no when moving.

Perishable food items spoil quickly, cause odors and attract insects that could infest your clothes, bedding, and furniture.

Non-perishable items like canned goods are OK, but it’s a good idea to leave jarred or bagged items like jam, cooking oil, and pasta behind.

Give perishable items to neighbors, donate them to a food bank, or eat them before you go.

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4. Cleaning Products and Hazardous Materials

Cleaning supplies and hazardous items are another group of non-transportable items, including many everyday household items like bleach, paint thinner, solvents, aerosol cans, fire extinguishers, and nail polish remover.

These items are often classified as flammable, acids, corrosives, poisons, and pollutants.

They include:

Acids Aerosol cans Ammonia Car Batteries Cleaning Solvents
Darkroom Chemicals Household Batteries Liquid Bleach Motor Oil Nail Polish and Nail Polish Remover
Paints and Paint Thinners Pesticides Poisons Pool Chemicals Weed Killer

Explosives and Flamable Items:

Ammunition and Loaded Guns Charcoal Charcoal Lighter Fluid Chemistry Sets
Fire Extinguishers Fireworks Gasoline Kerosene
Lamp Oil Matches Propane Tanks* Scuba Tanks*

*Some movers will move propane and scuba tanks if they’ve been purged, tagged, and certified as empty by a 3rd party.

Insider’s Moving Tip: It may be tempting to stash a ‘conveniently mislabeled’ box of excluded items in the van, but it’s a bad idea.

Consider this:

A half-used bottle of olive oil or nearly-empty can of motor oil costs less than $5 to replace, but if either spills while in transit, it could ruin a $2,000 sofa.

It’s just not worth it.

And if you’ve done the same thing, but with flammable items and lighter fluid, what if the van explodes in the Arizona desert?

It’s best to give these dangerous items to a neighbor, leave them for the new homeowner, or dispose of them in accordance with local regulations.

5. Firearms and Ammo

Though ammunition is universally excluded, many moving companies will ship unloaded firearms. Some will also move secure gun safes.

A dizzying number of state and national laws dictate how guns may be shipped.

Each professional mover will have its policy, but they’ll usually just need to note the make, model, and serial numbers and verify that they’re unloaded and adequately packed.

Suppose you’d instead transport them on your own. In that case, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with regulations for all the states you’ll be traveling to.

6. Outdoor equipment

Some moving services will transport outdoor equipment like lawn mowers as long as the fluids are drained. However, you won’t be able to take along chemicals to clean your pool, propane tanks to fire up your barbecue, or other hazardous outdoor items.

Gypsy Moth Certification

Suppose you’re moving cross country from east to west, states like California, Washington, and Oregon. In that case, you must also provide a Gypsy Moth Certification Form for outdoor items you take with you.

This includes swing sets, BBQ grills, lawn mowers, and patio furniture.

States like California have ports of entry where commercial vehicles like moving vans are subject to random stops and inspections.

The idea is to prevent the spread of harmful, non-native insects like gypsy moths.

If an officer spots an outdoor item in the van or is listed on the inventory, and there’s no certification form, the entire moving truck could be quarantined..

It may sound dramatic but fear not because your long distance mover can help. The certification process is easy and will give you peace of mind.

7. Liquor

Have an extensive collection of wine and spirits you want to bring along? Some movers will transport alcohol — but only if the bottles are unopened and the move doesn’t violate state laws. Some states restrict the amount of alcohol you can bring in, so if you have more than that, the movers won’t be able to move your collection.

Another thing to keep in mind, many moving trucks and freight containers are not climate-controlled. That means your expensive wine collection won’t be temperature controlled and could get damaged.

8. Scuba gear

Are you an avid underwater adventurer? You’ll have to take your scuba tanks and diving gear with you because professional moving companies and freight businesses can’t move these items. That’s due to the high pressurization and potential for causing an explosion. If you’re planning on driving them to your new home, be sure to empty them first.

Items Movers Can Move, But That You May Want to Take with You

While traveling, you’ll need clothes, cell phones, toiletries, medications, and other personal items, but other things often get overlooked.


Airline Tickets Car Keys Car Titles Cash Certificates of Deposit
Checkbooks Coin Collections Financial Documents Family Heirlooms Gold, Silver, and Diamonds
Insurance Policies IRAs, Deeds, and Tax Records Jewelry and Family Heirlooms Keys to Desks, Safes, Home, and Cars Laptop
Dental and Medical Records Medicine Professional Files (attorney, accountant, physician) School Records Personal Videos and photo albums

Many of these items are irreplaceable, extraordinarily valuable, family heirlooms, or other sentimental value.

Though you may be unable to lug them across the country, it’s best to consider each carefully before deciding how to ship it.

Many interstate professional movers have a special inventory page for high-value items like jewelry, precious metals, and expensive electronics.

If they’re willing to transport them, they’ll want to know about them beforehand.

It’s also important to note that sentimental value doesn’t necessarily translate into monetary value.

Though your baby pictures may mean the world to you, they’re worth very little from a dollar and cents perspective.

If you couldn’t live with the loss of any items on the list of items, seriously consider taking them with you.

Especially on long-distance moves, once items are in the van on moving day, you may not have access to them for a week or more!

So plan accordingly to eliminate unneeded stress and hassle.

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