Woman looking over papers
Date Published
August 09, 2019

No one likes piles of paperwork or reading the fine print on anything, but it’s important to understand all the paperwork involved with your move. If you don’t read your paperwork, don’t understand it, or flat out don’t receive it from your moving company, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.

Here’s what paperwork you can expect to receive from your movers and what you need to know about it.

Moving Estimate or Quote

What it is: The written price estimate for your move provided by the moving company after you request a moving quote.

When you receive it: Before you agree to work with a moving company.

What you need to know: A quote or estimate doesn’t lock you in to working with a company, and you can request and compare quotes from multiple companies.

Some estimates are binding, meaning your price is set, and some are non-binding, meaning the final cost may fluctuate up or down a bit. Ask which type yours is, and find out if all fees are included in your estimate. It’s a good idea to also ask what else could potentially affect your price on moving day.

You should always arrange an in-home survey with your mover and then get a moving estimate in writing. An estimate done only over the phone, online, or by email is not going to be nearly as accurate. It’s important for them to see the type and number of items you’re moving because most quotes are based on weight and/or distance. (An exception would be if your terms for payment are based on something else such as number of movers or hours.)

Bill of Lading

What it is: By definition, a bill of lading is “A detailed list of a shipment of goods in the form of a receipt given by the carrier to the person consigning the goods.”

It is an acknowledgment that your “cargo” is being loaded for shipment and will serve as a receipt proving that the shipment has been delivered to your home in good condition.

In more simple terms, the bill of lading is your moving contract, and it details a lot of important information.

When you receive it: On moving day before your items are loaded onto the truck(s).

What you need to know: Moving companies are required by law to prepare a bill of lading for every move they do. It is important you receive it and read it before the work begins. It should include:

  • Mover’s contact and license information
  • Your contact information
  • Origin and destination address of the shipment
  • Agreed date or period of time for pickup and delivery
  • Service rates and method of payment
  • Carrier liability and dispute settlement program
  • Bill of lading attachments, including a copy of your estimate

Bill of Lading Attachments

Inventory List

This is a list of all items being moved and their condition. This isn’t the same as they inventory list you may have prepared for yourself when you were planning your move.

Your movers will create an inventory of the items they are loading and then issue you a descriptive inventory form. The condition of each item should be noted, but if you packed your items inside boxes or totes, the movers will only note that it was “packed by owner” ( PBO) and mark the condition of the contents as unknown. You should thoroughly review this inventory list.

Order of Service

Moving companies are also required by law to prepare an order of service, which is attached to the bill of lading and must be signed by both you and your movers. This paperwork includes much of the same information written in the bill of lading, including the services you have requested and the dates for pickup and delivery.

Move With Confidence

Any moving company that skips over your paperwork is not reputable and should be avoided! Learn other signs of a dishonest moving company in our previous blog.

When you’re ready to move, start the process by reaching out to our team of certified ProMovers to get a quote — we’re your moving resource!