Moving industry terminology

By Najah Ayoub

Moving industry terminologyOur guide to common moving terms will help you navigate your quote process, review paperwork like a pro and manage moving day with ease.

Being familiar with some common terms in the moving industry will help make your relocation experience an easier one.We have consolidated a list of the more commonly used terms you’ll hear and see when moving.


The American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) is the nationally recognized industry association which helps protect both moving & storage companies and moving & storage consumers. They offer helpful tips around your move day and arbitration and legal advice for consumers of moving & storage services.

Arrival window:

The set hours or dates between which your movers will arrive at your pick up location. It is normally a 2 hour window in which your movers are planned to arrive at your location to begin the process of loading your belongings from your old apartment to the moving truck. The 2 hour window aims to accommodate any unpredictability that comes with previous bookings being delayed or taking longer than expected. These dates will be on the Bill of Lading and Estimate for Service, so be sure to check them when you agree to those dates and times. Your movers will call or text you as they are on route to your pick up address or on approach to your location. An arrival window is usually set between a block of hours, so you can expect your movers within that time frame.

Bill of lading:

A bill of lading serves as a contract between the customer and the mover ensuring the shipment of goods is picked up transported and received at the unloading site. You will be asked to sign your bill of lading on the day of your move, once your goods have been loaded on a moving vehicle to confirm loading has been completed. The document issued by your mover acknowledges that specified goods and items have been received onboard as cargo for transport to a named place. It should include the same information as your Order for Service but is the most important of the two documents and should be checked by a customer carefully. By law, moving companies are required to prepare a bill of lading for every shipment it transports. The information on the bill of lading is required to be the same information shown on the order for service. Before you sign a Bill of Lading, you must declare a value for your shipment. The driver who loads the shipment must provide the individual with a copy of the document before loading any furniture. It is a customer’s responsibility to read a Bill of Lading.

Bulky article charge:

Large items that present difficulties in loading, moving and unloading attract an additional charge to compensate the carrier for the unusual bulk or low weight density of moving them. These items include cars, boats, snowmobiles and campers. In some cases, an additional weight charge is applied.

Cancellation conditions:

This is a policy which governs the conditions and timing in which a customer may cancel their booking without incurring a cost. Moving companies provide clear guidelines as to how much notice is required for a cancellation and what the windows of time mean for the return of a paid deposit or paid invoice. This aims to minimise costly impacts on the company’s workforce and other divisions displaced by rescheduling your booking.


A customer’s statement of loss or damage to any of his or her household goods while they were in the care of the carrier or its agent. Such a statement is generally made on a Claim Form and accompanied by supporting documentation including images.

COI (Certificate of Insurance):

A COI confirms your moving company has an insurance policy that covers liability and loss up to the insurance limits required by your building, so if any mishaps, injuries or damage occurs the cost of repairs or the accident is covered. In NYC, these certificates are mandatory and often valued in the millions of dollars. They are required to be specially issued to the COI contact in your building with the appropriate address and other details in order to be valid. The COI process is the responsibility of a customer to spear head however moving companies like Piece of Cake will take up the effort of engagement with relevant parties and confirmation of a correct COI once the customer introduces them to their building management Point of Contact.

Contactless move:

A contactless move enables a customer NOT to be in attendance on the day on which their scheduled movers attend their residence and remove their belongings for transportation and unloading at their final destination. As customers (or their authorized representatives) are normally expected to be on site during the move, this option negates some liability options which should be made clear by your moving company. During the peak of COVID-19 health and distancing restrictions, contactless moves were more frequently requested and continue to be in high demand. Ask Piece of Cake about the measures we’ve introduced to address any risk to our customers or movers.

Coverage options:

Under Federal Law, all moving companies are required to offer two types of coverage to consumers on out-of-state moves. The first coverage is called “Released Value Protection” or Minimum Carrier Liability is included in the quote and is set at 60 cents per pound.

Delivery window:

The set hours or dates between which your movers will arrive with your goods at your destination. These dates will be on the Bill of Lading and Order for Service, so be sure to check them when you agree to those dates and times. For cross country or long distance moves, the driver or customer support team will call you within 12-24 hours of the planned delivery to narrow down the arrival time for delivery.

Flat fee:

A flat fee is an upfront price which is based on the detailed information collected from the customer when booking their move based on their list of inventory items, pick up and drop off locations and any special moving requirements. The information collected from the customer is required to be detailed to avoid any surprise costs should any items be omitted or overlooked before the movers arrive. The Piece of Cake customer services team has a 99% accuracy rate on our estimates, which means you can rest easy that we have taken any normal variable into account well before our movers arrive, to give you peace of mind and preserve your budget. If the customer does however have additional items and services requested prior or on the day of the move that were not originally quoted for these additional charges will be billed for and will alter the price to cover for these expenses. Learn more about our flat fee formula here.

Full service mover:

A full service move handles every aspect of packing your home and getting your items to their destination. A move consultant at Piece of Cake overseas the logistics, inventory and timing. This service includes protection and packing by trained packing professionals, full value insurance, loading the moving vehicle, transporting your goods, unloading them at their destination, re-assembling furniture and standard furniture placement. They will also dispose of and recycle packing materials as appropriate. An unpacking service is also available at your destination as an add-on.

Furniture protection:

Multiple options are available to movers to protect your furniture from damage including moving blankets, stretch wrap, padding, packing paper, bubble wrap and cardboard. Piece of Cake also offers custom crating for valuable, oversized or sentimental items. Specialised moving equipment such as dollies and hand trucks are utilized in securely maneuvering furniture through building common areas. Inside moving vehicles large pieces of furniture are also strapped or tied down securely to prevent moving during transportation. Finally, where appropriate movers will disassemble furniture and weak points such as unscrewing legs and wrapping any parts securely with the items they correspond to.

High value inventory form:

Any items being transported with a value of more than $100 USD per pound, are described in the industry as articles of high or Extraordinary Value. These items must be listed on a High Value Inventory Form which moving companies provide, and should be discussed in the context of the valuation process for your goods or shipment. If you do not have any items of high value to move, simply write “none” on this form. If an item of high value not listed on the form is damaged, the maximum liability for movers is $100 per pound. Shipments that move under Released Value Liability are not covered by Extraordinary Value provisions.

Interstate move:

The relocation of goods in the United States from a place in one state to a place in a different state. Federal laws and regulations help protect consumers moving cross country – or interstate. Your movers need 3 things to carry out this move accordingly: a U.S Dot number from the Department of Transportation, a licence from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and adequate insurance as a condition of maintaining that licence.

Intrastate move:

This is the most common form of move in the United States, it describes the relocation of goods within one state that never crosses state lines or includes a segment outside of that same state. These include local moves within the same city or district. Intrastate moves are NOT regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


The detailed descriptive list of your household goods showing the number and condition of each item. This is also referred to as a household goods descriptive inventory and is linked to your chosen insurance options and the conditions they entail.

Line haul:

This term commonly applies transportation services between two locations. Line Haul represents the charges for the transportation portion of your relocation and is in addition to accessorial service charges.

Long carry and long push charges:

An added charge for carrying articles excessive distances between the mover’s vehicle and the residence. A long push applies to locations where movers need to push the items for an extended distance. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line haul charges. Ask your mover about the maximum distance they will carry your items before charging an additional fee is when seeking a quote.

Minimum carrier liability:

Also known as Basic Protection or Released Value Protection, under this option, a mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per article. There is no additional charge for Minimum Carrier Liability insurance however you must sign a specific statement on the bill of lading or contract agreeing to it. It compensates customers according to the weight of the item, not its potential value.

Moving crew:

The crew is a team of removalists assigned to your move ahead of your scheduled relocation. Typically it comprises 2-3 people however large, specialized moves or time restricted moves may require additional people. This is determined in advance with your moving company and will be advised by your customer service contact.

Non allowable list:

An industry term for the list of items movers will not transport, including ammunition, gasoline and anything hazardous. However along with these items are some exceptions to be aware of such as live plants, pets, children’s chemistry sets and perishable food. It’s incumbent on a customer to ask their mover for their non-allowable list if they are unsure of any item.

Order for service:

This is not a contract however it outlines in writing the service you have requested from your mover including the timing, estimated costs and special requests of your move. Should you need to change your booking you need to quote your Order number and cancel your service. While important, it is the Bill of Lading which is a more significant document which movers are required to supply you with by law. They both typically contain the same information, so be sure to check them both carefully. Do not lose your copy of a Bill of Lading.

Packing supplies:

The range of items used to protect and buffer items for transportation. These include sturdy boxes built for moving, packing paper, stretch wrap, moving blankets, markers and packing tape. Many moving companies including Piece of Cake offer moving supply packs based on the size of your household or business with free delivery options.

(PBO) Packed by Owner:

This term stands for “Packed by Owner” and is used on the inventory to identify cartons that have been packed by the customer. Please make sure to specify the sizes of boxes you will be packing, so your mover can estimate the correct size of the move. If no sizes are provided, by default your moving consultant will estimate that the boxes are medium on average (assorted sizes). Additionally when packing your own boxes if damages are caused due to poor packing your mover will not be subject to pay any damages as they did not pack the box, and they did not pack the box incorrectly.

Quote – Binding:

A binding estimate specifies in advance the cost of the move, based on the services requested or deemed necessary at the time of the estimate. A binding quote covers only the goods and services listed on the estimate and accompanying inventory provided by the customer when booking their move. If additional services are requested or required prior to the move day, on origin or destination, the mover may make an adjustment for the additional services requested. The mover may also require full payment for these additional services at the time of pick up or delivery. Binding estimates are valid for the time period specified on your quote, in movers with high demand that period can be 24 hours.

Sales tax:

Moving services for local and interstate relocations are usually exempt from sales tax in most states. These services include anything that’s not accompanied by the transfer of tangible personal property, such as packing, loading, and unloading. However a sales tax DOES apply to the purchase of packing materials themselves as well as monthly storage costs should you need to warehouse your items between locations.

Special handling fee:

In the instance where the customer has requested special services that are not in the standard charge list of services such as moving a piano, TV dismounting and mounting, full packing and unpacking services etc. these are considered as special handling services and incur their own unique fee for resources and expertise to complete these. The customer is responsible for outlining these special handling requirements when booking their move so that they can be accounted for when booking the service for the customer and quoting accurately.

Standard coverage:

Mandated by federal law, standard liability protection means your moving company is responsible for 60 cents per pound for each item moved. It is provided at no extra cost to the customer. It is also described by some moving companies as Released Value Liability or Basic Protection.


A moving tariff is a price document that details your charges. Tariffs can be found on your Bill of Lading or contract with your mover. They include the movers required, published price, list of rules, regulations, rates, and charges for the performance of interstate or cross country moving services. On request movers can provide customers with a copy of any tariff provisions containing carrier’s rates, rules or charges governing your shipment, the terms of which cannot be varied. They include:

  • Limitation on carrier’s liability
  • Setting time periods for filing claims
  • Reserving the carrier’s right to assess additional charges for additional services performed or base charges upon the exact weight of the goods transported.


A discretionary payment made to movers at the end of a relocation as a percentage of the total job cost or commensurate with a customer’s satisfaction with the effort invested in the booking. A tip is not included in your invoice at Piece of Cake and is not mandatory but is a standard for our industry, between 15% – 20% of the total job cost paid to the entire moving crew. For advice on how much to tip your movers, read our quick guide.


A toll road is a section of highway where the user pays a fee, normally for its maintenance and upkeep. Often toll roads tend to be less congested routes. These charges are sometimes incurred by moving vehicles between your pick up location and drop off destination. Tolls ARE included in your flat fee estimate from Piece of Cake Moving & Storage.

Transit time:

The time from when your belongings are picked up to when they are delivered to the designated destination. Some companies charge for transit times, but if you are using Piece of Cake Moving and Storage it is included in your quote.

Terms & conditions of product & services:

The Terms and Conditions of your contract with Piece of Cake which govern matters including cancellation windows, significant changes to the inventory reported, severe weather disruptions and other consumer focused information. It is a customer’s role to read these and become familiar with their details. They will be provided by your Customer Service representative and are available on our website.

USDOT number:

Any company that operates a commercial vehicle transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must obtain a USDOT ID number from the federal government. This number is issued by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), within the U.S. Department of Transportation. A moving company’s USDOT Number serves as its unique identifier, allowing the U.S. government to collect, monitor and assess the company’s various compliance reviews, crash investigations, audits and inspections. More importantly, potential customers can use a USDOT Number to see if the moving company is properly registered.

Warehouse storage:

The customers storage shipment is securely stored in a warehouse facility that is not open to the public or the customer for general storage visits. The customers’ items are wrapped and placed on pallets and organized in the storage warehouse facility. Unlike individual unit storage facilities where the customer can plan a storage visit and pick up and drop off their items into a storage unit just for them. Piece of Cake Moving & Storage storage facilities are private and secure with 24 hours video security surveillance.

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Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
Happy customers and happy movers - Piece of Cake Moving & Storage New York
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