Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

Consumer Guide to Moving

Moving? Read this first . . .

Protect Your Move logo
FMCSA Helps Consumers "Protect Your Move" with Moving Company Checklist.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the launch of a new "Consumer Checklist" to assist consumers in choosing a responsible interstate moving company. The free checklist, available on FMCSA's www.ProtectYourMove.gov website, will help consumers protect themselves from fraudulent or dishonest interstate household goods movers.
Be an informed consumer.
If you´re among the thousands of people who will move from one home to another in Oregon this year, this Web page is for you. Take a few minutes to learn how to evaluate a moving company, how to choose a reputable mover, how moving charges are determined, what an "estimate" really is, how to protect yourself against (and minimize the risk of) loss or damage to your property, and other information that can help you be an informed consumer BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER your household move.
For moves from state to state, check out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Web site -- www.protectyourmove.gov -- for information about what consumers should do before and after the move.
Problems with interstate moves? Household goods complaints can be reported by calling a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Staff is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Time. Or, visit the National Consumer Complaint Database to file an online Household Goods / Consumer Complaint Form. The U.S. DOT has posted a Web site with answers to many questions related to moving from state to state -- Frequently Asked Questions.
For another source of information, visit www.emovingstorage.com. That site is a particularly good one for a state by state look at moving regulations in the U.S.
Moving Within Oregon
When the origin and destination of a move are within Oregon, moving company rates and services are regulated by the Oregon Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Transportation Division (ODOT/MCTD).
Household movers are business men and women and like all businesses, some are better than others. If a dispute arises, you can expect them to defend their contract rights. You can avoid many problems by knowing your rights and obligations and then carefully choosing a licensed, professional mover.
Most problems arise from disagreements about either (1) the estimate of charges or (2) the mover´s liability for damaged or lost property.
Regarding estimates of moving charges, it´s important to remember an ESTIMATE is not binding. An estimate is only a general idea of what charges will be, under normal conditions, for the service ordered. Your actual costs can be much higher because your bill will be based on the actual service performed -- that is, what is moved, how much your goods weigh, the distance involved, and the number of workers and hours the job takes.
As for the carrier´s liability for damaged or lost property, just remember that the lowest insurance rate offers the least protection for your goods. Carriers offer a variety of options for protecting your property. Be sure you understand them, choose carefully, and file a written claim immediately if anything is lost or damaged.
When the origin and destination of a move are within Oregon, movers are required to give every customer a General Information for Moving Household Goods in Oregon Bulletin, which provides information about moving services. Once the shipment is tendered and accepted, the mover will request that you sign a mandatory receipt to acknowledge that you received the bulletin. Information contained in the bulletin is included on this web page.
Questions? Contact any of the following ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division staff:
                  In Portland:   Jessica Miller - 971-673-5895  
In Salem:    Ken Stewart - 503-378-5985   |   Melissa Flores - 503-378-6207
Back to Top

Top 10 Best Advice

10. Avoid problems. Plan ahead and be prepared.

9. No two moving companies are the same. Some are better than others. Choose carefully. If the move is from point to point within Oregon, only use a mover licensed by the Oregon Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Transportation Division. Ask the mover to provide its certificate number. It should be apparent on all advertising and paperwork.

8. Get a written, signed estimate, and keep it.

7. Be ready when the mover arrives.

6. Accompany the mover to make up an inventory.

5. Understand and agree with the bill of lading before you sign it.

4. Before your move, make the mover explain its limits of liability and your options for loss and damage protection.

3. Be at the destination at the time agreed upon for delivery.

2. Check the condition of your property before you sign a delivery receipt.

1. Be flexible.

Back to Top

Getting Started

Hire a licensed, certificated mover. The most important thing you can do is choose from among the movers licensed by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Licensed, professional movers must comply with standards for handling, loading, moving, and unloading your property; and they must perform their services at reasonable rates and within a reasonable time.

Beware of unlicensed movers. Watch out for businesses that publicly advertise a service packing and loading household goods, and then when you call they also offer to provide a truck. Phone book yellow pages and newspaper classifieds often include ads for pack and load businesses. Oregon law allows a person to offer that kind of service, but it doesn´t allow that person to provide the vehicle used in the move. If you choose an unlicensed mover, whether intentionally or unintentionally, there may be little or no protection for loss or damage to your property. ODOT occasionally receives complaints from people who hired unlicensed movers, including complaints that a mover is virtually holding hostage a person´s household goods until they pay more money.
For more information, or to check if a mover is licensed in Oregon,
call any of the following ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division staff:
                   In Portland:   Jessica Miller - 971-673-5895     
                   In Salem:   Ken Stewart - 503-378-5985   |   Melissa Flores - 503-378-6207


Also, check a list of authorized movers.

Pick a mover with a good reputation. A good reputation is a valuable asset to a mover. Get recommendations from neighbors, friends, co-workers, real estate agents, or any newcomer who has used a mover recently. Then get estimates from the movers that have satisfied customers. You can also call ODOT to inquire about complaints against carriers. If possible, visit a mover´s facilities.

Understand what it will cost. Movers charge by the hour for moving household goods within an area of 50 airmiles (local moves). Total moving costs are based on time, number of workers, and vehicles employed on the job, and any carrier-furnished packing material. Ask your carrier representative exactly when the hour charges begin. In some locations hourly charges begin when the movers leave the carrier’s terminal/warehouse. In other locations hourly charges begin when the movers arrive at your house.

Charges for moves over 50 airmiles are based on the total shipment weight and the distance of the move, plus any carrier-furnished packing materials and accessorial services. Accessorial services are services provided by the carrier that are in addition to the transportation rates named in the carrier’s tariff. For example, the shipper is assessed an accessorial charge when a pick-up or delivery involves carrying things up or down one or more flights of stairs. A charge for making a second pick-up or delivery, called a split pick up or delivery, also incurs an accessorial charge.

All transportation rates and charges are published in carrier tariffs that are available for anyone to see at the mover´s office. You can also confirm rates and charges by calling ODOT at 503-378-6207.

Back to Top

Cost Estimates for Moves

Estimates are free of charge and you may obtain more than one estimate in order to compare movers and service, but be sure to tell each estimator the same information in order to compare service and quality of estimates.

Estimates must be in writing. An estimate of charges may only be given after a visual inspection of the goods by the mover. Verbal estimates or telephone estimates are not permitted.

Do NOT select a mover based solely on the lowest estimate because estimates are not binding and may differ from the final cost. Be cautious if you receive a very low estimate as compared to other estimates. All services may not have been included or it may not be accurate.


Changes / Additional Service Requires an Addendum Estimate – When a written estimate of cost for service has been given, but additional services (not included on the first estimate) are needed, the mover must prepare an addendum estimate. This means that if you ask for additional materials or service, or an unforeseen circumstance arises, a second estimate must be given to you. An addendum estimate must clearly show any extra estimated costs and you must sign the addendum to authorize the work.

Estimates for Delivery Into Storage
If your shipment will be put into storage, be sure to look at the origin and destination address(es) on the estimate. This will tell you if the estimate is for one-way transportation only (into the warehouse) or for the complete trip to the final destination. If needed, ask for a second estimate of charges for removing your goods from storage and delivering them to the final site. Be sure the estimate includes the warehouse handling and storage charges. Generally, new storage charges are added monthly.

Underestimates for Moves Within Oregon
ODOT rules do not allow movers to underestimate the cost of their service. It is an underestimate if the final charge is higher than 10 percent of the original estimate plus any addendum estimates. Contact ODOT at (503) 378-5985 if you think a mover has given you an underestimate. ODOT will investigate and it may file a formal complaint against a mover for underestimating.

Even if a mover has given you an underestimate, in the end you must still pay the total tariff charges because estimates are not binding. If payment is due upon delivery, the amount that must be paid is the estimated amount, plus any addendum estimated amount, plus 10 percent. The excess amount is the amount above that and you may request deferred payment of that part for 15 days. The 15-day extension does not include Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.

Back to Top

Hourly-Rated Local Moves

Local moves are generally within an area of 50 airmiles and movers will charge on an hourly basis. Hourly rates depend upon the number of persons needed for the job, the vehicles used, and whether overtime is involved.

Movers are not required to provide an inventory listing of goods moved in local hourly moves. You may want to prepare your own inventory and count the items and boxes as they are loaded and unloaded. Discuss this with the mover in advance because a successful loss or damage claim settlement may depend on it.

Back to Top

Intercity Moves

An intercity move is generally between cities more than 50 airmiles apart. Weight and mileage rates apply. The rate is published in cents per 100 pounds and charges increase in relation to the weight of the shipment and the distance moved. Accessorial services are charged separately.

Movers must prepare an inventory listing of goods moved in an intercity shipment and it must be prepared prior to loading. The inventory will note any pre-existing damage to your goods in order to establish the condition of each piece. You have the right to note any disagreement with the mover's notes regarding damage or unusual wear. Your ability to recover from the mover for any loss or damage may depend on the notations made.

Both you and the mover should sign each page of the inventory. The mover must give you a copy of each page and you should attach them to your copy of the bill of lading. It is your receipt for the goods.

Back to Top

Packing Your Own Goods

Caution: A moving company will generally NOT accept liability for items you pack yourself (unless the mover is negligent in handling the items). Any items you pack must be able to withstand the normal rigors (shaking) of transportation. Discuss this with the mover. Consider asking the mover to pack any fragile items for you.

Do not pack jewelry, money, or valuable papers with your belongings. Never pack matches, flammables, or other dangerous articles.

Back to Top

Insurance & Valuation Options

Notice: A household goods mover´s liability for loss or damage caused by the mover is limited in Oregon to 60 cents per pound per article based on the actual weight of each article, unless you choose in writing a different valuation for an additional cost (see Options 2 below). Additional insurance may be purchased from an insurance company of your choosing. You may want to check with your own insurance company first. Ask whether your insurance coverage applies when your goods are transported by a for-hire carrier.

See additional valuation information on this page related to "ready to assemble" furniture.

You are free to purchase insurance from someone other than the mover.
Valuation protection options are available from the mover, depending on your declared value of the goods. Movers must include in their information bulletin the valuation protection option(s) they offer, which may include:

Option 1 – Released Value Protection/Almost No Coverage. This option pays up to 60 cents per pound per article for any lost or damaged article. For example, it would pay a maximum of $30.00 for a 50-pound table ($.60 x 50 lbs.). There is no extra charge for this option.

Option 2 – Replacement Cost Protection. The weight of your goods is multiplied by at least $3.50 per pound to figure its value, or you may declare a lump sum value. The greater of the two value figures will be used to calculate the amount you must pay for this protection. Ask your mover for the current price of this option.

Other valuation protection options may be offered by the mover, if approved by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Additional Valuation Information
Hourly rated shipments are not usually weighed so a lump sum value must be declared if you wish to purchase replacement cost protection.

Be sure the bill of lading indicates the option you have chosen before you sign it.

If NO option is chosen and you sign the bill of lading, the mover will assign replacement cost protection (Option 2, above). You will be required to pay the valuation charge for this protection.

Caution: If the actual value of your goods is higher than the amount you declare on the bill of lading, you may NOT be fully covered. If you are unsure of the value of your goods, check your homeowner´s policy or call your insurance agent.

Back to Top

"Ready to Assemble" Furniture

Moving companies have limited liability for damage to "Ready to Assemble" furniture (furniture you assembled or a store assembled for you) whose components are NOT bordered by solid wood, veneer plywood, or metal with structural fasteners that join into one of these materials. This kind of furniture does not stand up to the normal strains of moving and needs to be fully disassembled prior to a move to avoid loose joints, chipping, and breakage. In many cases, the cost of repair can exceed the value of this kind of furniture.

If you've purchased furniture second hand, check to see if it's "Ready to Assemble" furniture by looking for fasteners secured into cam locks or into any material other than solid wood, veneer plywood, or metal. Review your  furniture and make sure it's worth moving. If it is, the best way to move it is to disassemble it at origin and reassemble it at your destination. Decide as soon as possible how you will have this done. You have two options:

Your least expensive option is to disassemble the furniture yourself, completely removing and carefully placing all fasteners, pins, cams, handles, wafers, and dowels in a clearly labeled box. Your mover will then move these items at the valuation you choose.

A second option is to arrange to have your mover disassemble and reassemble the furniture for you at additional cost. Your mover may do this, or arrange to hire a 3rd party that specializes in disassembling and reassembling this type of furniture.

If "Ready to Assemble" furniture is moved in its assembled state, it will be moved at your risk and at a maximum liability on the part of the carrier of $75 per article. If you can present proof of purchase, the maximum liability is 25% of the purchase price or $75, whichever is greater.

Back to Top

Bills of Lading

Movers are required by law to prepare a bill of lading for every shipment transported. The bill of lading is a contract between you and the mover.

Get a copy of the bill of lading from the driver who loads the shipment before your goods leave the point of origin. It must show the mover´s name, address, and telephone number, the address and telephone number furnished by you to which the mover can send messages regarding your shipment, the location to which your goods are moving, the date of loading, the preferred delivery date, and the declared value of your goods.

It is your responsibility to read the bill of lading before you sign it. If you do not agree with something on the bill of lading, do not sign it until you are satisfied that the bill of lading shows what service you want.

The bill of lading requires the mover to provide the service you have requested and requires you to pay the mover the charges for those services. The bill of lading is an important document. Do not lose or misplace your copy. Have it available until your shipment is delivered. Keep it until all charges are paid and all claims, if any, are settled.

Note Regarding Weights: The transportation charge for an intercity move is based on the actual weight of the shipment and distance moved, plus the charge for any accessorial services provided. If you question the weight reported by a mover, you may request that the shipment be reweighed prior to delivery when scales are available. You may be assessed an extra charge for reweighing.

Back to Top

Loss & Damage Claims

As the mover unloads your household goods, check for missing items and damage to items. If an inventory was prepared, it is your responsibility to check the items delivered against the items listed on the inventory. If an item is missing, or new damage is discovered, discuss it with the driver. Make a record of the missing or damaged goods on the driver´s copy and your copy of the bill of lading or inventory.

After the shipment is unloaded, the driver will request that you sign the bill of lading and/or inventory sheets to show that you received the items listed. Do not sign these documents until your notations have been made if any items are missing or damaged. A claim settlement may depend on whether these notations were made by you at the time of delivery. Keep any evidence, such as crushed cartons, until the claim is settled.

Filing a Claim
Should your move result in the loss or damage of your property, you have the right to file a claim with the mover to recover for such loss or damage. Claims must be filed with the moving company in writing within three months from the date of delivery. You should, however, file a claim as soon as possible. Claim forms may be obtained from the mover.

After receipt of your claim, the mover must:
• Acknowledge receipt of your claim by notifying you in writing within 30 days.
• Pay, decline, or offer a firm compromise settlement in writing within 120 days of receipt of your claim.
• Notify you in writing of the reasons for any delay in settling your claim beyond 120 days.
• Continue to notify you in writing of the reason for the delay each 60 days thereafter until the claim is settled.

ODOT does NOT have authority to settle claims, but does enforce the time limits for responding to claims. The mover must send a copy of any delayed claim letter to ODOT. Contact ODOT if the mover does not adhere to these time limits. The time limit to file suit against the mover is  two years and one day from the date of any claim disallowance received in writing.

Back to Top

Paying the Mover

Be prepared to pay the mover upon delivery of your goods. Unless you've made credit arrangements with the mover, you will be expected to pay for the move before your goods are unloaded. Unless other arrangements have been confirmed in writing by the mover, payment will be expected in cash, money order, or cashier's check, up to 110% of the written estimate.

If charges are more than 110% of a written estimate (10% higher than the written estimate), you must pay the estimated charge plus ten percent at time of delivery. The ten percent above the estimate charge may be deferred for 15 days. (Note: This is one good reason to get a written estimate – and to keep your copy.) If you pay 110%, the carrier MUST unload and release all your goods.

Back to Top

List of movers

Complete list of authorized movers.
For more information, or to check if a mover is licensed in Oregon,
call any of the following ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division staff:
                    In Portland:   Jessica Miller - 971-673-5895
                    In Salem:   Ken Stewart - 503-378-5985   |   Melissa Flores - 503-378-6207 
Back to Top

Pack & Load Regulation

moving boxes and hand truck

In 2009, Oregon legislators made it easier for a person to become an intrastate household goods mover, relaxing entry requirements in what has historically been the most regulated part of the trucking industry (see news regarding House Bill 2817, effective October 1, 2009).

Along with changes to household goods mover regulation, legislators also ended almost seven years of regulation of businesses that pack and load household goods. Pack and loaders provide a specialized labor service for those who want to rent a truck and move themselves, but not do all the packing and heavy lifting. These businesses had been required to register and file proof of general liability and property damage insurance. But as of October 1, 2009, Oregon law specifies that pack and loaders are exempt from motor carrier regulations if they don’t provide or operate a vehicle for moving household goods or act as an agent for someone who does provide or operate the vehicle.

Contact the ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division at 503-378-4851

Back to Top