Moving Terminology | Cousins USA Moving & Storage
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Moving Terminology

Moving is a specialized industry, and you are likely to come across unfamiliar terms. We are here to break down commonly used moving terms and what you need to know. This comes from our over 25 years of experience in the industry. With these terms, you’ll be ready to handle everything your move can throw at you with confidence.

Accessorial/Additional Charge

These are charges that may appear in addition to your estimate. There are two reasons for this. One is that you took on additional services, such as packing or unpacking. The other is if there were unexpected issues during your move, such as having to use a shuttle service.

American Trucking Association: Moving & Storage Conference (ATA: MSC)

A national organization that represents moving companies. They serve as an educator to moving and storage consumers across the country and have a goal of improving public safety and trust in the industry through setting best practices and forefronting education efforts.

Bill of Lading

This is your receipt or contract with your mover. Read the bill of lading before you accept it. Ask your moving company questions if you do not understand something. By signing this bill of lading, you are entrusting all your belongings to the mover for transportation.

Binding/Non-Binding Estimate

This is what is provided before the move as an estimate of how much the move will cost. The full charge amount will be given after the move is complete.

  • Binding: The mover estimates a flat price based on a given inventory. No matter how long the job takes, the flat price is always paid. It is given only when an onsite quote is performed.
  • Non-Binding: These estimates are based on the movers’ previous experience of jobs like yours. As the name suggests, these estimates are subject to change.

Be sure to understand whether you are getting a binding quote or non-binding estimate before agreeing to a move.

Cash On Delivery (C.O.D.)

Payment is required at the time of delivery (before the move). Some movers take cash, cashier’s checks, or money orders. Be sure to discuss payment options with your mover before your moving date.

High-Value Article

An item valued at about $100 per pound. You may need to fill out an inventory form for each article valued as a high-value article.

Interstate Move

Any move that crosses state boundaries, regardless of miles. Also known as a “long-distance move”.

Intrastate Move

A move within state lines. Also known as a “local move”

Labor-Only Moving Services

There are a few types of labor-only services, but generally they are any moving service done by a moving company that doesn’t entail the entire move. These are common options for those who rent their own moving truck.

Some common forms of labor-only moving include loading, unloading, packing, and unpacking.

Moving Broker

These are agencies that do not actually do any moving. Instead, they take your request for a move and coordinate with moving companies. They’ll often sell your estimate request to the highest bidder.

Moving Carrier

These are the companies that actually handle moves. They have their own moving trucks and moving crew. With a moving carrier, your belongings are handled by the business you selected, as opposed to a moving broker.

Order for Service

The document that authorizes the moving company to move your items. You will receive a copy during your move that states details such as the cost of the move, special requests, extra services, and more. This is not a contract.

Order Number

The number that is used to identify and track your shipment. It will be found on your Order for Service and the Bill of Lading.

Peak Moving Season

Summer months are considered to be the busiest for moving companies. If you’re looking to move around these times, expect to have to book in advance.

Shuttle Service

When a smaller vehicle is used to transport your shipment to its destination. This usually happens when a road is too narrow or there is not enough parking to get the moving truck to its final destination.

Storage in Transit (S.I.T.)

Temporary storage for your belongings if your new home is not ready. The time in storage may not exceed more than 180 days.

Note that you will typically be charged storage fees.

Tare Weight

This is the weight of the truck, loading equipment, and packing supplies without your items loaded in it. This is key to getting the net weight.


A request that can be made to locate a shipment mid-delivery. This can be done for a variety of reasons from speeding it up, finding lost items, and more.


This is not insurance, but a specific amount a moving company agrees to pay if an item is damaged or lost by a mover.

There are options for minimum or full coverage. This is federally regulated.

Amounts are often determined by the weight of goods.

Will Advise

A term used when a moving shipment is already loaded moving, but the pickup or delivery dates for the shipment have not been fully set.

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