Moving Terminology

If you're new to moving and relocating, you might find it hard to understand and memorize moving terminology. And even if you've already been through the process once or twice, it wouldn't hurt to refresh your memory. The list below is an essential part of our online moving guide, and should allow you to keep track of all the terms that have to do with NYC relocation.


Accessorial (Additional) Services: supplemental services like packing, unpacking, appliance servicing, storage-in-transit, and the like that a customer can request his/her mover to perform in exchange for added fees.

Agent: a local moving company that has been given the authority to act on behalf of a national company.

Air Waybill: a contract for the transportation of air cargo, which also serves as a receipt. This must be signed by both the customer and the air carrier.
American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA):|-ins||-strong| an organization of moving companies in the United States which provides useful moving tips and information, and also promotes the interests of the moving and transportation industry.

Assessed Value: a type of valuation best suited for moves that transport priceless or valuable items.


Bill of Lading: a contract between a moving company and its customer, which doubles as a receipt of the customer's goods.


Carrier: a mover that transports a customer's belongings.

Claim: a customer's report of loss or damage to his/her property while under a mover's care.

C.O.D. (Cash on Delivery): a payment that is required upon delivery to the final destination or the warehouse. The form of payment should be agreed upon in advance.

Cost of Move: the cost of a move, which can be determined by the hour or by the overall weight of cargo. Moves that cover short distances typically adhere to the former, while long distance moves apply to the latter. Additional expenses from accessorial services and insurance fees are not included in the cost of move.


Declared Value: a type of valuation that is based on the total weight of the items to be shipped. Reimbursement for this valuation depends on the extent of depreciation of a customer's property.

Department of Transportation: the federal agency that heads the interstate transportation industry.

Depreciation: a decrease in property value.

Door-to-Door Service: services provided from the point of origin to the destination residence. Door-to-door service doesn't cover accessorial services and their corresponding fees.

Door-to-Port Service: services provided from the point of origin to the destination city, via sea or air. Door-to-port service doesn't cover accessorial services and their corresponding fees.


Estimate, Binding: stipulates the exact cost of a move based on the services a mover agrees to provide. A binding estimate can change if its customer avails of any additional services during the course of the move, or if the items transported and the distance covered in the move exceeded what were originally specified by its customer.

Estimate, Non-binding: a figure offered by a mover based on past experience. Non-binding estimates are seldom accurate and are likely to change.

Expedited Service: the service a customer receives when he/she has made arrangements with a mover to have his/her belongings delivered on a preset date. Expedited service usually costs the customer extra.


Flight Charge: an additional fee for carrying a customer's belongings up or down flights of stairs.

Freight: goods to be shipped or transported; a mover's cargo.

Full Service Mover: a mover that handles each and every part of the move, from packing to unloading.

Full Value Protection: a type of valuation that reimburses a customer for lost or damaged items.


Guaranteed Pickup and Delivery Service: service provided by a mover that sets and guarantees pick up and delivery dates in advance. The mover is obliged to give its customer a refund if, for any reason, it fails to render service on the agreed upon dates. Guaranteed pickup and delivery service has minimum weight requirements.


Hauler: an agent that transports cargo using its own equipment.

Homeowner's Insurance Policy: an insurance policy that covers an owner's house and its contents, which may also partly cover household goods in transit.

Household Goods: items of, relating to, or used in a house.


Interstate Move: a move that crosses a state line. An interstate move commonly refers to a move that takes freight from one state to another, though the term can also be used to refer to a move that takes the freight someplace within the origin state, but needed to travel through another state to do so.

Intrastate Move: a move that doesn't require crossing a state line to complete.

Inventory: a detailed list that specifies the number and condition of the items to be shipped or transported.


License: proof that a mover is recognized and certified by relevant authorities. An unlicensed mover is still legally permitted to render its services, but is not obliged to adhere to the high standards of licensed movers. The New York State Department of Transportation licenses New York moving companies to perform moves within New York, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) licenses New York movers to work across state lines.

Local Move: a move within the boundaries of the state, which does not exceed a distance of 100 miles (160 kilometers). The cost of this type of move is determined by the hour.

Lump Sum Value: see Assessed Value.


Non-Allowables: items that are not permitted to be transported. The list of non-allowables are mainly comprised of flammable, corrosive, or explosive items, as well as perishable goods. This list can include items of great sentimental or financial value if a mover does not want to assume responsibility for their safety.


Order for Service: the initial document a mover supplies a customer, which outlines the details of a move. While the order for service is not considered a contract, the mover and the customer must sign it before the customer's goods can be transported.

Overflow: refers to a situation wherein all the items to be shipped cannot fit in a mover's vehicle. An additional vehicle must be commissioned to transport the rest of the goods.


Packing Service: service provided by full service movers that involves packing and unpacking a customer's belongings for him/her.

Peak Season Rates: rates of a mover's services during the months of the year when they are in high demand. Peak season rates are notably higher than regular season rates.

Permanent Storage: the option given to customers who plan to store their goods for an indefinite period of time. Permanent storage automatically begins once the storage-in-transit period has expired. Once a customer's goods go into permanent storage, he/she must adhere to the rules and regulations of the warehouse in which they are stored.

Prohibited Items: see Non-Allowables.


Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move: a booklet compiled by the FMCSA, which details consumer rights and responsibilities to people who are planning interstate moves.


Self-Service Mover: a mover that transports a customer's goods after they have been packed and loaded onto the moving vehicle. Upon arrival at the final destination, the customer must unload the vehicle and have the mover pick it up once the task is done.

Shuttle Service: a service that involves using a smaller vehicle to transport freight to or from a location that a larger vehicle can't access due to physical constraints.

Storage-in-Transit: an interim storage option that a customer can take if his/her belongings can't, for whatever reason, be moved directly to their final destination. Items in storage-in-transit are stored in facilities run by New York relocating companies or local warehouses. Storage-in-transit periods in New York only last 30 days, but can last up to 180 days in other locations.
During storage-in-transit, the customer must adhere to his/her mover's terms, rates, and conditions, which are stated in the bill of lading. If the customer doesn't claim his/her belongings before the storage-in-transit period expires, the goods automatically move to permanent storage.

Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods: a pamphlet compiled by the New York State Department of Transportation which details consumer rights and responsibilities to those moving within New York.


Tariff: a mover's official list of prices, which state the rates and fees of its interstate moving services.


Valuation: what moving companies provide in place of insurance. Valuation refers to the extent of liability provided by movers, as determined in the bill of lading. Since valuation is relatively low, acquiring additional insurance is highly recommended.
Movers offer three types of valuation: Declared Value, Lump Sum Value (Assessed Value), and Full Value Protection. Once a customer has chosen the valuation for his/her move, it's terms and conditions must be clearly stated in the bill of lading.


Warehouse Handling: an additional fee for a mover's services within the warehouse during storage-in-transit.

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