Interstate Moving Guide

Request a moving quote from United to learn which cross-country moving services are right for you.

Request a moving quote from United to learn which cross-country moving services are right for you.

Request a Moving Quote

Interstate Moving Guide  

There are a number of key differences you should prepare for when moving cross country. Interstate moving is generally more complicated than a local move due to additional federal and state regulations. These consumer protections are constructed to hold interstate moving companies to a different standard than local movers.

The following guide will outline the key differences, including a number of important federal regulations that will help prepare you for your interstate move.  

Interstate Moving Company Quotes

When you request an interstate moving quote from United, we will provide an estimate for services that is tailored to fit your budget.

Our professional moving estimators will survey your home to approximate the size and weight of your load. You'll subsequently discuss packing, protection and service options to customize a moving package that fits your specific needs. 

The Difference between Local and Interstate Movers

The inherent differences of long-distance interstate moves versus local moves are obvious. More time on the road, as a rule, imparts more risk. Interstate movers will often take extra measures to pad and secure your load to ensure that your belongings arrive intact.

The less apparent differences lie in the details of Federal regulations. Most importantly, interstate moving companies are required to provide customers with a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, a booklet published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This publication details the policies and procedures that you need to be aware of when contracting an interstate moving company.

Regulations for Interstate Moving Companies

A number of federal and state agencies police interstate moving companies to protect consumers’ property while in transit. As an interstate mover, you accept a considerable burden of risk and responsibility by loading all of your belongings onto one truck. Government regulations are crafted to help minimize this risk by ensuring that the companies that own and operate these trucks abide by certain rules. With that in mind, you must be sure your mover holds interstate operating authority before letting them take possession of your property. Here’s how to tell if your interstate mover is qualified: 

  • They have been assigned a U.S. DOT. Number. The United States Department of Transportation grants a U.S. DOT. number to interstate moving companies that meet certain standards of safety and financial responsibility. The Department of Transportation also scrutinizes a moving company’s service record and compliance with consumer protection regulations.
  • They’re registered with the FMCSA to transport household goods across state lines.The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires interstate moving companies to update their registrations every two years.
  • They carry adequate insurance. Interstate moving companies are required to hold BIPD and Cargo Insurance Policies at a minimum.

How to Find the Right Interstate Movers

When looking for an interstate mover you’ll have the opportunity to meet with and interview a number of qualified companies. While most movers you encounter will be fully-qualified, registered and operating within the bounds of the law, some moving companies on the Internet are actually fronts for con artists and criminals looking to steal money and property from vulnerable movers.

With a little advance planning and education, you can avoid moving scams and the tremendous headache they represent.

First and foremost, you should be wary of those companies with exceptionally low bids. These lowball bids are often too good to be true and are used to hook unsuspecting movers into bait and switch schemes. Research your prospects’ reviews on Google, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau to find evidence of past performance.

After you’ve qualified a handful of moving companies, you should ask them to provide evidence of legitimate practices.

Your moving company should freely provide information about remediation and compensation in the case that your possessions are lost or damaged. A legitimate interstate moving company will provide you with information about its dispute settlement program and how to access its company claims forms. By law, you have nine months from the move date to file a claim of lost or damaged goods.

If a moving company hesitates to provide information about customer reviews, dispute settlements and claim forms, or fails to prove that they hold valid operating authority with the U.S. Department of Transportation, you should seriously consider walking away.

How to Prepare for Your Moving Day

Once you’ve found the right moving company, there are several additional things that you can do to make sure the whole process goes as smoothly as possible. Here are a few additional steps you should consider taking:

  • Inquire about your estimate. You want a “binding estimate,” which means the amount you are quoted can not adjust at the end of the move, despite any changed circumstances. For example, if the moving company miscalculates the weight of your load, you should not be charged more than what you were originally quoted for the back end of your move.
  • Consider purchasing full-value protection. Consider full-value protection if you feel the minimum liability protection is insufficient. The minimum liability an interstate moving company provides is .60 per pound, which is potentially inadequate for movers with high-value antiques and fine art.

Ask your moving company representative or move coordinator to explain your valuation options. It’s your responsibility to understand the terminology including minimum carrier liability, declared value, lump sum value and full-value protection coverage.

  • Double check the details of your move. Prior to moving day, double check the details of your move with the moving company. Confirm your timeline, including when they expect to arrive on moving day and when they expect to unload belongings at your new home.

Your moving company will likely provide you with a coordinator as a main point of contact throughout the move process. They will maintain regular contact with the driver and should be able to provide you with regular updates on your shipment and delivery.

  • Write down your contact information. Write down contact information for your moving company and coordinator, so you know how to get in touch with them before, during and after the move. Also make sure they have contact information for you, including your current address, new address and how to reach you while in transit.
  • Create an inventory of your household goods. Make sure your movers sign off on an official inventory on the load day. This document will be your primary account of belongings and their condition. If items are not listed or their conditions are improperly documented on this list, they may not be eligible for claims compensation.
  • Read all documents before signing them. This includes the estimate, order for service, inventory and Bill of Lading. Also be sure to keep these documents until all charges and claims are paid and settled.

If you’ve hired the right mover, the last thing you need to worry about is move-in day. Set aside time to review the move-in plan, the inventory and payment terms before unloading the truck. Make sure you have a check ready before your movers arrive. Most interstate moving companies will require a payment before they begin unloading.

You can be certain that the extra time you spend planning and preparing will return dividends in the form of peace of mind. The alternative should be avoided at all costs; ask anyone victimized by a moving scam.

More Interstate Moving Resources

Learn more about long distance moving. Download moving checklists from the United Van Lines Tools & Tips library or learn more about Cross Country moving preparation with our Cross Country moving guide.

Moving Checklists

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Don't sweat the details. Organize your interstate move with one of our handy downloadable moving checklists.

Cross Country Moving Guide

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Moving cross country can be intimidating. This moving guide will explain everything you need to know about preparing for your cross-country move.

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