A Guide To Understanding Movers' Licenses

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A Guide To Understanding Movers' Licenses

28 September 2018
 Categories: , Blog


If you are planning a move in the near future, then you have likely already begun to investigate local moving companies to help transport your personal items from your old home to your new one. There are a wide variety of factors to consider when selecting a professional moving company, and it is easy to overlook the importance of choosing a mover that is properly licensed and registered.

Are You Dealing with a Broker?

It may not always be clear whether the company you are working with is an actual moving company or a moving broker. A broker is a third party agency that contracts other moving companies, but generally does not own or operate a fleet of their own trucks. While there may be advantages or disadvantages to working with a broker for your particular move, it is still important to understand which type of company you are dealing with. If you are working with a broker, you must confirm that they are licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You should then follow the rest of this guide to confirm that the movers your broker contracts with are properly licensed and registered.

Federal Registration

If you will be moving across state lines, then your mover must be registered and licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can confirm that a company is registered by using the FMCSA website and searching for your mover. Your mover will be required to have a US Department of Transportation (US DOT) license number and reputable companies will have this number clearly displayed on their website or readily available when you request it. The FMCSA operates a special website that will allow you to conduct additional research on your mover and learn more about your rights when moving across state lines.

State Registration

If you are making a move within your state, then it is likely that your mover is still required to be licensed and registered with your state's transportation department. Many states also require movers to be properly licensed by the FMCSA and to have a valid US DOT number as well. The following states do not require local licensing:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Missouri (no special license for household goods carriers)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont

If your state is not listed above, then any movers conducting intrastate moves will be required to be licensed and/or registered with a state government authority. In most cases, this will be a specialized branch of the state's department of transportation. Your mover or broker should be able to provide with an appropriate license number which you can check with your state government. You should immediately dismiss as disreputable any movers which cannot provide this information to you.

Finally, consider further researching your mover using this tool provided by the FMCSA. This can provide you with additional information regarding complaints against a mover and possible safety issues.