Moving Industry Terminology From A To Z

Whether you’re shipping a single piece of furniture or the contents of a large home, the moving process can be overwhelming.

In addition to dealing with stress, finances, and finding a reputable service provider, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with confusing moving terminology.

In this post, we’ll help walk you through the most important words in our moving glossary.

Regardless of where you are in the move process, before reading on, take a few minutes to check out these helpful resources:

  • Best interstate movers: The moving industry is full of shady players. Hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews is imperative with so much at stake.
  • 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.

Moving industry terminology

A B C D E FH I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 123


Accessorial services (accessorials)

Accessorials are optional services that customers may need during the course of their move. Common accessory charges include extra pickups and deliveries (additional stops), packing and unpacking, crating and uncrating, and appliance disconnects/reconnects.

Advanced charges

Advanced charges may apply to services provided by third-party companies. Movers usually subcontract crating and uncrating and appliance services. Your mover may schedule these services for you and add the costs to your final bill with a markup.


Agents are independently owned (usually) moving companies affiliated with a national van line.

Appliance service

Before being moved, appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators need to be disconnected and prepared for transport. If you can’t do this yourself, your mover may be able to schedule these services for you.

Automobile inventory

If you’re moving a vehicle, the driver hauling it will write up a detailed inventory noting its make, model, and mileage, as well as existing interior and exterior damage. They will also do this for smaller vehicles like ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.


Bill of lading

Bills of lading are contracts between shippers and carriers to transport goods. They also serve as receipts when the carrier has made the final delivery. Bills of lading must be signed by representatives of the carrier and shipper and/or the receiver if someone other than the shipper is taking possession of the goods.

Binding estimate

Some moving companies give binding estimates to ensure that customers don’t pay more than the estimated cost. That said, binding estimates only include the quantities and services contained in the original estimate. The actual move cost may legitimately exceed your binding estimate price if you added items or required more services than anticipated.

Booking agent

If you’re moving out of state with a van line, the booking agent is the local moving company that schedules, registers, and manages your move. On corporate relocations, the booking agent may be in another state.

Bulky article

Interstate moving tariffs include charges for handling specific bulky articles like pianos, lawn tractors, hot tubs, and grandfather clocks.



The carrier is the company you’ve hired to transport your household goods in the moving and storage business.

Certified scale

Before and after loading each shipment, interstate movers must weigh the truck on a certified scale. Upon request, moving companies must give (or show) you a copy of each scale ticket, and you may also request to view them weighing the truck to ensure that they don’t falsify the weight.


If you experience loss and/or damage on a move, you have the right to file a claim. Just remember that reimbursement depends on which valuation option you’ve chosen.

Change order

If you’ve added items or requested extra services, your mover should prepare a change order to reflect the additional costs.

Cube sheet (table of measurements)

As each relocation consultant walks through your home or apartment, they will fill out a cube sheet noting every item you intend to move. This table of measurements will be the basis for determining how much your items weigh, how long your move will take, and how much it’ll cost.


C.O.D. stands for cash on delivery. Unless other payment arrangements are made, you’ll be expected to pay with cash at the time of delivery.


Destination agent

Your destination agent will be the van line representative closest to your new residence when moving out of state. Destination agents usually provide post-move services like unpacking and debris removal.



Estimates are written moving quotes that should include every charge associated with your relocation. Local move estimates are usually based on time, whereas long-distance estimates are based on weight, mileage, and additional services.

Expedited delivery

If you want your items sooner rather than later, your mover may agree to deliver them early for an additional charge.


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

The FMCSA is a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) that is tasked with improving highway safety by regulating aspects of the commercial transportation industry.

Flight charge

If your movers have to go up a flight of stairs to access your home, you might see a flight charge on your invoice. It’s often applied per flight of stairs, so a third-floor walk-up would have two flight charges. Don’t be afraid to ask for an itemized invoice that fully explains the cost of the move. You won’t see this fee if you live in a building with a functional elevator.

Fuel surcharge

On local and interstate moves, many moving companies have flat-rated fuel surcharges or based on the national average price of diesel fuel, respectively.

Full-service move

A full-service move is a type of moving service in which the company handles most of the logistics and labor throughout the process, often at a higher price point than hybrid or DIY moves.

Full-value replacement coverage

When hiring a moving company, you’ll have the option of paying extra for a full-value replacement coverage valuation. In the event of loss or damage, they’ll reimburse you for what it will cost to replace the item(s) with new ones.


Hauling agent

When moving with a van line, the driver who loads, transports and unloads your household goods may be from an agent in a different state. Regardless of where they’re from, if your items go on their truck, they’re the hauling agent.

High-value items (also called high-value articles)

Items with a value exceeding $100 per pound are considered high-value. They need to be pointed out before your move date so they can be properly documented and protected.

High-value inventory

High-value items are listed separately on a high-value inventory prepared by the driver. Upon delivery, your crew should unpack and inspect these items to ensure they’re accounted for and damage-free.

Household items

Household items refers to all the goods in your moving inventory. It can include furniture and boxes.


In-home estimate

In-home estimates are when the moving company sends a representative to your house or apartment to determine what you’re moving to, what services are needed, and how much your move will cost.

Interstate move

Any relocation in which your old and new residences are in different states.

Intrastate move

Intrastate moves are long-distance in-state moves. Generally, moves more than 40 or 50 miles are considered intrastate moves, though it varies from state to state.


The driver prepares a detailed list of your furniture and boxes before moving your items. Inventories include a description of each item, what room it came from, and if there’s any existing damage.



Linehaul is an industry term for transportation charges on interstate moves. Please note that linehaul charges do not include accessorial services.

Local move

These moves are generally when your old and new homes aren’t more than 40 or 50 miles apart. Local moves never cross state lines.

Long carry

With long carry, charges may apply when the distance between the moving truck and your residence is excessive. Your mover’s tariff should stipulate how long carries are charged if you’re moving to another state.



Non-allowable items are those that moving companies will not or cannot legally transport, including personal documents, firearms, explosives, liquids, marine pollutants, and poisons.

Non-binding estimate

With a non-binding estimate, your final charges may be more or less than originally estimated, based on how long your move takes on local moves and the actual weight and services provided on long-distance moves.

Not-to-exceed estimate

With a not-to-exceed estimate, your final move charges may be less (but not more) than estimated unless you added items or required extra services.


Order for service

Orders for service authorize a moving company to transport your household goods under specific terms and conditions.

Origin agent

The van line agent that books, registers, and coordinates your long-distance move.


Packed by owner (PBO)

PBO cartons are boxes that customers have packed themselves before the crew’s arrival.

Packing materials

Packing materials are the boxes, bubble wrap, tape, labels, blankets, furniture pads, and more required to safely complete your move.

Peak season

Peak season generally lasts from mid-May to late September. Moving companies are busiest during the peak season, and many have peak season rates to reflect this spike in seasonal demand.

Point of origin

Point of origin is moving terminology for the pickup location assigned to your booking. It’s most likely your home, but it could be a terminal if you’ve selected a terminal-to-terminal delivery option.


Registration number (order number)

Your registration number is your move’s reference number that you can usually find in the upper right corner of your estimate/order for service and bill of lading.

Released-value coverage

Released-value coverage is the free valuation option with which they’ll reimburse you $0.60 cents per pound per item in the event of loss and damage.

Relocation consultant

An overly officious name refers to the men and women who meet with customers and provide estimates. Your relocation consultant is also the first point of contact for any issues during your move.

Replacement value

Replacement value refers to the cost to replace the items in your move. You’ll want to read the fine print of your insurance coverage to determine how your provider defines replacement value. In some cases, insurance only pays for the cash value of the items lost, while in other situations, your coverage will pay for the full cost to replace the item.



If you’re hiring a moving company to transport your household goods, they’re the carrier, and you’re the shipper.

Shuttle service

Shuttle service is necessary when a moving van can’t get close to a residence at pickup or delivery. With a shuttle, items are transferred between the residence and truck (or vice versa), and extra charges apply.

Stair carry

Stair carry charges almost never apply to single-family homes. On the other hand, you’ll pay extra if you’re moving to a fourth-floor apartment in a building with no elevator. On local moves, it will reflect the additional cost in the time it takes the crew to finish your move, while on interstate relocations, you’ll be charged a flat rate based on the weight of your household goods.

Storage-in-transit (S.I.T.)

Storage-in-transit is an industry term for customer-directed storage at a moving company’s warehouse for 90 days or less. When storage is needed for more than 90 days, it’s usually called permanent storage.

Storage pickup and delivery charges

When your items are stored, you’ll generally pay transportation charges to and from the warehouse, before and after your storage term, respectively.



Tariffs are documents published by long-distance movers that detail the services they offer, prices they charge, and areas in which they operate. Some local movers have tariffs, though they may not be required to publish them.

Third-party services

Third-party services are moving services, such as packing services, that aren’t provided directly by the moving company. When you hire a third-party company, they come in to fulfill a specific task of the moving process, but they don’t do the whole thing.


Valuation protection (“moving insurance”)

Valuation protection (sometimes abbreviated to value protection) sets a value for each customer’s shipment and the level of the carrier’s liability. For a more comprehensive look at valuation, check out this FMCSA article.

Van operator

The van operator is the truck driver, but they are almost always also the crew leader. If issues arise during your move, you should first bring them to the van operator’s attention. Operators can be independent contractors (owner-operators) or moving company employees.

Van line

Van lines are large networks of affiliated moving companies that work together to provide interstate relocation services. Most van lines have dozens or hundreds of independently owned agents in various states and countries.

Virtual survey

Thanks to new technology and the COVID-19 pandemic, some moving companies limit their employees’ exposure to coronavirus by only offering virtual surveys. Though these are acceptable, they’re usually less accurate than in-home estimates.


Warehouse handling

Both when your items are moved into and out of storage, you’ll be charged warehouse handling to compensate the moving company for the time and labor to unload the truck and reload your household goods into storage vaults.

Weight of the shipment

Weight of the shipment refers to how much the entirety of your household goods weigh. This measurement allows moving companies to coordinate adequate moving labor and assign you the right truck for your items.


Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move

Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move (PDF) is a pamphlet published by the FMCSA that details your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. On interstate moves, moving companies are required to give customers a copy.


110% rule

If your mover gave you a written non-binding estimate, you are only required to pay 110% of the estimated move cost at the time of delivery, even if your actual charges are more. However, you’re still legally required to pay the difference later, but in theory, this rule prevents movers from holding customers’ items hostage.

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