Emily Soares Proctor
What do “deadheads” have to do with moving? Read our glossary of important moving terms to find out!

Do you ever feel like you need an extra degree to understand the contract from your moving company?


AG is here to cut through the murk and deliver to you some common (and uncommonly confusing) moving terms. Here is some of the moving lingo you need to know!

Assessing costs
To figure out how much you’ll have to pay to move, there are a number of line items to work through. These are some of the most frequently seen terms.

Additional charges – These are some of the seemingly little expenses that can really add up, such as fees for wrapping and carrying large and bulky items like a piano or navigating extra stairs.

Advanced charges – Fees for any service performed by a third-party provider, such as a craftsman or a technician to disconnect a gas supply line. If the moving company has to pay for the service, they’ll add the fee on to your final bill.

Estimate – A good guess, based on the mover’s experience, on the cost of everything that the moving company will do or have another service provider do for your move, including calculating how much stuff you have by weight and how far it will be moved. There are binding, non-binding and not-to-exceed types of estimates. Be aware of your totals and how much they might change if anything is added on afterward.

110 percent rule – By law, the final cost of delivering your goods cannot exceed 10% above the price of a non-binding estimate.

Full value replacement – With this kind of coverage, if your moving company loses, damages or destroys any of your belongings, they have to repair them, replace with a like item or pay for the full value of the items.

Released value – This is the most economical kind of moving insurance. With this option the mover is only liable for 60 cents per pound, per article — not much protection! Be sure you know what kinds of coverage you’re getting for your move and choose carefully.

Line haul charges – What you will be charged for the actual transportation of your items, based on the mileage of your move and weight of items.

Gross weight — Weight of the van and its contents after your goods are loaded.

Service terms
There are a lot of things your moving company can do for you, but you’ll want to make sure you need what you’re paying for and, conversely, that you’re actually getting all of the services you need.

Door-to-door service — This one actually sounds like what it is: a move from the door of your current residence to your new one.

Door-to-port service – This is what you might get in an overseas or otherwise long-distance move. The movers will get your stuff to the destination city, but points beyond that (your home or storage facility) will cost you extra.

Full-service mover – A company that can take of every aspect of your move, including packing, loading, hauling and unloading. Some movers will even help you unpack.

There can be a lot of moving parts and people involved in a move. Make sure you know what the major players do.

Hauler — An agent that transports cargo using its own moving equipment.

Booking agent — This is usually the sales agent who books the move. This person may not be the sole point of contact during the entire move; if not, he or she would connect the customer to an agent at the final destination, known as:

Destination agent – The person who finalizes details to receive your items at the end of the line and can provide you with an estimate of when the moving truck will arrive.

Carrier — A registered moving company that provides relocation services.

Consignor/Consignee — The person who releases items for shipment at the point of origin — probably you, unless there is someone working on your behalf. The consignee is the person who accepts the goods at their destination — probably also you, unless you have designated someone to receive your belongings.

General terms
Bill of lading —
A fancy name for the contract for moving services, which will also act as a receipt.

Carrier’s liability for loss or damage – This is how your carrier will compensate you if your belongings are, as you might suppose, lost or damaged. The liability will be based on the kind of coverage you pay for.

Claim – You’ll file one of these if something goes wrong in the move, resulting in items becoming lost or broken.

Deadhead – Not actually a musical term, this one refers to the empty miles a driver needs to travel to get his or her truck to a paying load.

Moving license — You’ll want your mover to have one of these, issued by the proper authority, whether you’re moving locally, across the state, between states or beyond.

Weight ticket — After your items are loaded and your moving van is weighed in at the weight station, this ticket reflects the final weight of the load. You’ll get a copy of this ticket with your bill.

There, don’t you feel smarter already?

These are just a few commonly-used moving terms, but if you don’t see what you need on our list, feel free to consult a more exhaustive moving dictionary.

Armed with this extra knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to ask the right questions of your prospective movers and, better yet, to understand their answers!

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Keith Bell



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