Moving Terms and Definitions: What Customers Ask About Most

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If you’re doing a full-service move with a reputable moving company like United, you’ll find that your Move Coordinator is critical to helping you navigate through―and understand―the entire move process. One of the things that can trip some people up―especially If they’ve never used a professional mover before―are the terms and phrases associated with the moves in general and the moving business specifically.  

At United, we always have to remember that what might be familiar to us “insiders” can be confusing to a customer. So, to get a helpful perspective, we recently reached out to Jamie, one of our move coordinators on the West coast. We asked her which phrases, procedures or terms she needs to explain most often. Here’s what she told us: 


United Van Lines cartons

In Jamie’s experience, customers are sometimes confused about exactly what’s meant by “carton.” “It’s no real mystery. The ‘carton’ refers to the standard moving box that items are packed into. Knowing what to pack is sometimes difficult for the customer to figure out, especially when they’re doing it themselves. I tell them anything that would fit into a regular box―especially if it’s fragile―would need to be packed into a move carton.” 

Containers/Container Moves

United Van Lines Container

Much like cartons, containers―and container moves ―are terms many customers need clarified.  As Jamie explains, “A container move―or in our case Snapmoves―can offer customers more flexibility in terms of loading and delivery date since their belongings can be offloaded to a mover’s secure yard till they’re ready to receive them. On Snapmoves, we usually have to explain dimensions and what the container is. They usually think it’s a metal pod. A lot of people also assume they’ll need to pack the container themselves. They’re so relieved when I tell them we’ll take care of it!”  

Shuttle Service  

United Van Lines shuttle truck

“Shuttle service is often misunderstood. Basically, when conditions at either end of a move won’t accommodate the size of the truck that will transport the entire shipment, we use a smaller vehicle to move items to the larger vehicle. A lot of times customers tell me that a shuttle was not used, but when they send me a picture it is in fact a shuttle truck.” 

Straight Truck 

United Van Lines straight truck

“A straight truck is a small to mid-size box truck for local or shorter distance moves that don’t require a tractor trailer. Basically, a straight truck doesn’t have a separate cab and it’s small-and short- enough to turn corners and maneuver in tight spaces like narrow street corners.” 

Tractor Trailer 

United Van Lines truck driving on a highway with snowy mountains in the background - United Van Lines®

“It’s often referred to as a ‘big rig’ or ‘18-wheeler’―and it’s used to transport shipments for a large house and sometimes up to 4-5 smaller homes.  Some customers think the shuttle truck is the actual truck that’s going to haul their goods interstate. I often have to explain that the tractor trailer is a semi-truck that’s 70-80 feet long.”  


According to Jamie, “We offer our customers a ‘Full-Value Protection’ option calculated at a rate of $6 per pound, multiplied by the estimated weight of their shipment. From there customers can choose extra levels of protection and service for their belongings through add-on packages. This term has to be explained a lot because it can often be confused with insurance. Insurance coverage usually falls under a customer’s homeowner’s policy, and it should be discussed separately with their insurance provider.” 

Check Out Our Move Glossary 

In addition to the terms and phrases Jamie helped clarify, United has put together a Glossary of terms that can come in handy before, during and after a move.

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