Moving Industry Terms

  1. Sometimes We Forget the Moving Industry Can Be Confusing 
  2. Additional Services
  3. Appliance Dolly 
  4. Arbitration Program
  5. Assessed Value Coverage
  6. Bill of Lading
  7. Non-Binding Estimate
  8. Binding Estimate
  9. Hourly Rate
  10. Stair Flight Fee
  11. Full-Replacement Coverage
  12. Full-Service Mover
  13. Inventory
  14. Interstate Move
  15. Intrastate Move (local)
  16. Packing Service
  17. Stair-Carry Charge
  18. Standard Coverage
  19. Tariff 
  20. Valuation
  21. Have More Q's? Call Moving Authority for Help!

1. Sometimes We Forget the Moving Industry Can Be Confusing 

At Moving Authority, one of the most common complaints we hear is that people don’t understand all of the moving “lingo” we use on our site or over the phone. It is important for people completing household moves to learn the words used to refer to services or items in the moving industry. Unfortunately, a lot of moving companies have become so accustomed to using these terms that they will just throw all of them at you at once without considering that you may not understand them.

2. Additional Services:

Unpacking, packing, elevator charges, etc. are all things that are considered an “additional service” because they require an extra charge.

3. Appliance Dolly:

A dolly that is specialized for moving appliances. It is equipped with special straps to move the heavy items.

4. Arbitration Program

Arbitration settles disputes between the carrier and the shipper. It is private, removing the need to make a court case out of a simple dispute. The USDOT requires household goods carriers to be enrolled in an Arbitration Program to finish the DOT application and obtain a USDOT number. Arbitration must be renewed annually.

5. Assessed Value Coverage:

This clarifies how much you will have to pay per $1,000 of assessed value to cover your household items to their fully assessed value. If you want to purchase this protection, you are required to assign cash values to the goods that you will be moving. In some cases, the amount per $1000 that you will pay for this type of coverage will fluctuate based on the total value of your goods.

6. Bill of Lading:

The receipt made by the moving company to display the total cost you have to pay when service is complete. It is important to ensure that this document is correct before signing it.

7. Non-Binding Estimate:

An estimate formulated based on the prior experience of the mover. This type of estimate is subject to change.

8. Binding Estimate:

A price based on the inventory surveyed at the time of the onsite estimate, not based on the time the move takes to complete, can only be given after an onsite estimate is performed.

9. Hourly Rate:

Charging per person, per truck, per hour.

10. Stair Flight Fee:

An additional cost incurred when there is a flight of stairs at the new location or the old one. If there are elevators large enough to transport household goods, then there is no need to pay this fee.

11. Full-Replacement Coverage:

How much it would cost to replace an item that is lost or damaged. Movers usually require that this coverage is paid for the entire shipment.

12. Full-Service Mover:

Most moving companies are full-service movers. They will move every item from the rooms in your old home and put them in the new home. For an extra charge, they can also provide a full pack and unpack.

13. Inventory:

A list of all the items that you will be moving. It will also include the condition that each of your items is in.

14. Interstate Move:

Any move that involves taking goods across state lines.

15. Intrastate Move (local):

A move that remains within state lines.

16. Packing Service:

Full-service movers typically offer a service where they will pack all of your household goods into boxes, then unpacked the way you would like them at the new destination.

17. Stair-Carry Charge:

A charge incurred for carrying items upstairs or downstairs.

18. Standard Coverage:

Since the moving industry is highly regulated, there must be a certain amount of insurance coverage included in the price of your move. The most common base coverage is sixty cents per pound, per article. So, if an item that weighs 5 pounds is broken, you will receive $12 in compensation from the moving company. It is never smart to rely on this base coverage to protect your goods.

19. Tariff:

A list that details how much the carrier charges for shipments and additional services. We offer custom tariffs.

20. Valuation:

How much a shipment is worth. This charge compensates the mover for assuming a larger liability than what is laid out in transportation charges.

21. Have More Q's? Don't Stress, Call Moving Authority!

So, your head is probably spinning after reading through all of these terms. Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on any of these definitions. They are good to know if you are planning to move with a full-service moving company check the link out to see what to expect from a full-service moving company.

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Did You Know

Question In 2009, the book 'Trucking Country: The Road to America's Walmart Economy' debuted, written by author Shane Hamilton. This novel explores the interesting history of trucking and connects certain developments. Particularly how such development in the trucking industry have helped the so-called big-box stored. Examples of these would include Walmart or Target, they dominate the retail sector of the U.S. economy. Yet, Hamilton connects historical and present-day evidence that connects such correlations.

Question With the partial deregulation of the trucking industry in 1980 by the Motor Carrier Act, trucking companies increased. The workforce was drastically de-unionized. As a result, drivers received a lower pay overall. Losing its spotlight in the popular culture, trucking had become less intimate as some unspoken competition broke out. However, the deregulation only increased the competition and productivity with the trucking industry as a whole. This was beneficial to the America consumer by reducing costs. In 1982 the Surface Transportation Assistance Act established a federal minimum truck weight limits. Thus, trucks were finally standardized truck size and weight limits across the country. This was also put in to place so that across country traffic on the Interstate Highways resolved the issue of the 'barrier states'.

Question In the 20th century, the 1940 film "They Drive by Night" co-starred Humphrey Bogart. He plays an independent driver struggling to become financially stable and economically independent. This is all set during the times of the Great Depression. Yet another film was released in 1941, called "The Gang's All Here". It is a story of a trucking company that's been targeted by saboteurs.

Question In the United States, a commercial driver's license is required to drive any type of commercial vehicle weighing 26,001 lb (11,794 kg) or more. In 2006 the US trucking industry employed 1.8 million drivers of heavy trucks.

Question Trailer stability can be defined as the tendency of a trailer to dissipate side-to-side motion. The initial motion may be caused by aerodynamic forces, such as from a cross wind or a passing vehicle. One common criterion for stability is the center of mass location with respect to the wheels, which can usually be detected by tongue weight. If the center of mass of the trailer is behind its wheels, therefore having a negative tongue weight, the trailer will likely be unstable. Another parameter which is less commonly a factor is the trailer moment of inertia. Even if the center of mass is forward of the wheels, a trailer with a long load, and thus large moment of inertia, may be unstable.

Question A semi-trailer is almost exactly what it sounds like, it is a trailer without a front axle. Proportionally, its weight is supported by two factors. The weight falls upon a road tractor or by a detachable front axle assembly, known as a dolly. Generally, a semi-trailer is equipped with legs, known in the industry as "landing gear". This means it can be lowered to support it when it is uncoupled. In the United States, a trailer may not exceed a length of 57 ft (17.37 m) on interstate highways. However, it is possible to link two smaller trailers together to reach a length of 63 ft (19.20 m).

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Question In the United States, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 established minimum requirements that must be met when a state issues a commercial driver's license CDL. It specifies the following types of license: - Class A CDL drivers. Drive vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or greater, or any combination of vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or greater when towing a trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Transports quantities of hazardous materials that require warning placards under Department of Public Safety regulations. - Class A Driver License permits. Is a step in preparation for Class A drivers to become a Commercial Driver. - Class B CDL driver. Class B is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including driver) or more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation. This includes, but is not limited to, tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses.


The Federal Bridge Gross Weight Formula is a mathematical formula used in the United States to determine the appropriate gross weight for a long distance moving vehicle, based on the axle number and spacing. Enforced by the Department of Transportation upon long-haul truck drivers, it is used as a means of preventing heavy vehicles from damaging roads and bridges. This is especially in particular to the total weight of a loaded truck, whether being used for commercial moving services or for long distance moving services in general.
According to the Federal Bridge Gross Weight Formula, the total weight of a loaded truck (tractor and trailer, 5-axle rig) cannot exceed 80,000 lbs in the United States. Under ordinary circumstances, long-haul equipment trucks will weight about 15,000 kg (33,069 lbs). This leaves about 20,000 kg (44,092 lbs) of freight capacity. Likewise, a load is limited to the space available in the trailer, normally with dimensions of 48 ft (14.63 m) or 53 ft (16.15 m) long, 2.6 m (102.4 in) wide, 2.7 m (8 ft 10.3 in) high and 13 ft 6 in or 4.11 m high.


Full truckload carriers normally deliver a semi-trailer to a shipper who will fill the trailer with freight for one destination. Once the trailer is filled, the driver returns to the shipper to collect the required paperwork. Upon receiving the paperwork the driver will then leave with the trailer containing freight. Next, the driver will proceed to the consignee and deliver the freight him or herself. At times, a driver will transfer the trailer to another driver who will drive the freight the rest of the way. Full Truckload service (FTL) transit times are generally restricted by the driver's availability. This is according to Hours of Service regulations and distance. It is typically accepted that Full Truckload carriers will transport freight at an average rate of 47 miles per hour. This includes traffic jams, queues at intersections, other factors that influence transit time.


As the American Interstate Highway System began to expand in the 1950's, the trucking industry began to take over a large market share. That is, a large share of the transportation of goods throughout the country. Before this era, trains had been relied on to transport the bulk of the goods cross country or state to state. The Interstate Highway System was influential as it allows for merchandise to travel door to door with ease. Since then, truckload carriers have taken advantage of the interstate system, especially when performing a long distance move. Typically, they bring the merchandise from one distribution center of the country to another part of the country. The increase in truckload freight transportation has reduced the time it takes to transport the goods. Whether the freight was manufactured or produced for the different areas internationally, the time it takes to transport goods has decreased dramatically.

Question The word cargo is in reference to particular goods that are generally used for commercial gain. Cargo transportation is generally meant to mean by ship, boat, or plane. However, the term now applies to all types of freight, now including goods carried by train, van, or truck. This term is now used in the case of goods in the cold-chain, as perishable inventory is always cargo in transport towards its final homeEven when it is held in climate-controlled facilities, it is important to remember perishable goods or inventory have a short life.


The FMCSA has established rules to maintain and regulate the safety of the trucking industry. According to FMCSA rules, driving a goods-carrying CMV more than 11 hours or to drive after having been on duty for 14 hours, is illegal. Due to such heavy driving, they need a break to complete other tasks such as loading and unloading cargo, stopping for gas and other required vehicle inspections, as well as non-working duties such as meal and rest breaks. The 3-hour difference between the 11-hour driving limit and 14 hour on-duty limit gives drivers time to take care of such duties. In addition, after completing an 11 to 14 hour on duty period, the driver much be allowed 10 hours off-duty.

Question The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues Hours of Service regulations. At the same time, they govern the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States. Such regulations apply to truck drivers, commercial and city bus drivers, and school bus drivers who operate CMVs. With these rules in place, the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and working is limited. The FMCSA regulates the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. In regards to intrastate commerce, the respective state's regulations apply.

Question In 1991 the film "Thelma & Louise" premiered, rapidly becoming a well known movie. Throughout the movie, a dirty and abrasive truck driver harasses the two women during chance encounters. Author Michael Dunne describes this minor character as "fat and ignorant" and "a lustful fool blinded by a delusion of male superiority". Thelma and Louise exact their revenge by feigning interest in him and then blowing up his tanker truck full of gas.

Question The Federal-Aid Highway Amendments of 1974 established a federal maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg). It also introduced a sliding scale of truck weight-to-length ratios based on the bridge formula. Although, they did not establish a federal minimum weight limit. By failing to establish a federal regulation, six contiguous in the Mississippi Valley rebelled. Becoming known as the "barrier state", they refused to increase their Interstate weight limits to 80,000 pounds. Due to this, the trucking industry faced a barrier to efficient cross-country interstate commerce.


The term 'trailer' is commonly used interchangeably with that of a travel trailer or mobile home. There are varieties of trailers and manufactures housing designed for human habitation. Such origins can be found historically with utility trailers built in a similar fashion to horse-drawn wagons. A trailer park is an area where mobile homes are designated for people to live in.
In the United States, trailers ranging in size from single-axle dollies to 6-axle, 13 ft 6 in (4,115 mm) high, 53 ft (16,154 mm) in long semi-trailers is common. Although, when towed as part of a tractor-trailer or "18-wheeler", carries a large percentage of the freight. Specifically, the freight that travels over land in North America.

Question Tracing the origins of particular words can be quite different with so many words in the English Dictionary. Some say the word "truck" might have come from a back-formation of "truckle", meaning "small wheel" or "pulley". In turn, both sources emanate from the Greek trokhos (τροχός), meaning "wheel", from trekhein (τρέχειν, "to run").

Question Light trucks are classified this way because they are car-sized, yet in the U.S. they can be no more than 6,300 kg (13,900 lb). These are used by not only used by individuals but also businesses as well. In the UK they may not weigh more than 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) and are authorized to drive with a driving license for cars. Pickup trucks, popular in North America, are most seen in North America and some regions of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Although Europe doesn't seem to follow this trend, where the size of the commercial vehicle is most often made as vans.

Question Commercial trucks in the U.S. pay higher road taxes on a State level than the road vehicles and are subject to extensive regulation. This begs the question of why these trucks are paying more. I'll tell you. Just to name a few reasons, commercial truck pay higher road use taxes. They are much bigger and heavier than most other vehicles, resulting in more wear and tear on the roadways. They are also on the road for extended periods of time, which also affects the interstate as well as roads and passing through towns. Yet, rules on use taxes differ among jurisdictions.