Moving Terminology – What you need to know before Relocating


Relocation is a stressful enough process without having to deal with a bunch of industry jargon that only serves to confuse. If you don’t fully understand all aspects of moving terminology, you run the risk of being duped by an unscrupulous moving company. It is important to take the time to learn everything about the relocation process.

To help get you started, here is a helpful list of some common terms found in the moving industry. Making the effort to study this terminology helps make your move hassle free and easy. It also prevents any nefarious movers from being able to trick you with fancy words.

Bill of Lading

A bill of lading essentially serves as the receipt for your move when using a professional company to transport your belongings. Everything — each singular item being loaded onto a moving truck — needs to be documented on the bill of lading. If anything turns up missing after the move, this helps you prove the moving company took responsibility for the item in question. Don’t lose it!

Binding Estimate

A binding estimate guarantees the amount you need to pay a professional mover to load, transport, and unload your belongings when relocating. This kind of estimate requires a thorough documentation of everything to be moved as well as information about your current home and new residence, such as the number of floors or anything else affecting the difficulty level of their work. Non-binding estimates also exist in the industry, but generally the binding version gives you the peace of mind provided from knowing the exact cost.

Bulky Article

Any unique item taking extra effort to move and handle is known as a bulky article. These include items like motorcycles, pianos, riding lawnmowers, washer-dryer sets, and other large appliances. You can expect to pay extra to move these items.

Fuel Surcharge

Because of the wide variances in the price of gas, some moving companies ask for the option to add a fuel surcharge to the overall cost of a move — sometimes even with binding estimates. In those cases, if the fuel price drops, you may receive a slight discount on your final bill; while the opposite case applies if gas increases in price.

High-Value Article Inventory Form

This form lets you document any especially valuable (usually more than $100 per pound) or fragile items so the moving company is able to take the proper steps in securing them for the move and the load/unload process. Consider moving any smaller valuable items like jewelry or high-end stereo equipment by yourself.

Non-Allowable List

Essentially a list provided by the mover detailing any prohibited items they are not allowed to transport. This includes anything potentially dangerous to the company’s equipment, personnel, and property, like chemicals and propane tanks. Any perishable items, like food and plants, are generally on this list, in addition to anything too large to move through a doorway without causing damage.

Origin and Destination Service Charge

This is the final cost a moving company charges you for loading, unloading, and transporting your belongings. It is generally calculated by weight and the final amount is modified by the difficulty of the move — the number of stories involved for loading and unloading, any bulky articles, weight additives, extra appliance work, and import/export costs for moves outside the country.

Overtime Loading and Unloading Service

This service applies if your loading and unloading date falls on a weekend or a holiday, or if you request those activities to take place on a weekday but after 5 p.m. Generally, this is taken into account on a binding estimate, but make sure you pay close attention to the fine print.

Shuttle Service

A shuttle service comes into play in situations where a normal-size moving truck is unable to reach your current home or new residence due to a narrow road, a low bridge, or other circumstances. In this case, a shuttle is used to move your belongings to or from the truck as necessary. This service adds to your overall cost of moving.

Storage in Transit

If your new residence isn’t ready after moving out of your old homestead, storage in transit service will be necessary, requiring your belongings to be stored in a warehouse used by the moving company. This service generally applies for up to 180 days.


A tariff is a document listing a moving company’s charges, rules, and regulations involving your move.

Third-party Services

This includes any services related to your move — like appliance setup — not actually performed by the moving company. Depending on whether your mover subcontracts these services, you may be billed separately for the work in question.

Waiting Time

If you are unable to take delivery of your household items within two hours of their scheduled arrival, additional waiting time may be needed. You need determine whether or not it would be easier to use storage in transit or just pay for a few extra hours of the moving company’s time. If any waiting time would occur during off-business hours, the weekend, or a holiday, warehouse storage may be your best bet.

Weight Additive

A carrier invokes this for larger items taking up a lot of space in a moving truck that are relatively light — like a fiberglass boat. You will be charged extra in this situation.

Hopefully this collection of moving terminology helps you to better understand the process and be more prepared when faced with collecting estimates from moving companies. Have this article at the ready before it comes time to meet with your potential movers.



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