If you are moving household goods from your home to another location within Massachusetts, your mover must be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MDPU). The MDPU helps you by setting certain licensing and insurance requirements which movers must meet and by investigating complaints when problems arise.

If your intent is to move your household goods from one state to another, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has jurisdiction over the mover; not the MDPU. You can contact the FMCSA with any questions at 888-368-7238.

No matter where you are moving or whether the move is large or small, you should take the time to carefully plan your relocation. This information will help you begin the process of moving within Massachusetts.

How Can I Select A Reputable Mover?

A personal recommendation is the best way to start. Whether you use a company recommended by friends or choose a company through its advertising, be sure that any company you contact has an up-to-date MDPU operating certificate number.

This is important because, in order to obtain authority to operate in Massachusetts, moving companies must be licensed by the MDPU. They are subject to State laws and the Department's rules and regulations, designed to protect the consumer. For example, movers licensed by the MDPU are required to carry a minimum amount of cargo insurance. However, your ability to recover for loss or damage is dependent upon your agreement with the mover. All movers are also required to file a Tariff containing the rates charged for various moving services. The Tariff is filed with the MDPU and is available to the public.

How Important Is Obtaining An Estimate?

A written estimate where a company representative comes to your home is one of your best safeguards against overcharges and other potential issues. Verbal estimates over the phone or email are non binding estimates.

To obtain a reasonably accurate estimate, you must show the estimator everything you intend to ship. An estimate is not a bid or a contract and choosing the mover submitting the lowest estimate will not assure you of the lowest cost move. Regardless of any estimate provided, the final amount you must pay for your move is determined by the hourly rate or actual weight of your household goods, the amount of packing completed and any other additional services performed by the mover.

Be sure to ask about all additional costs when you are given an estimate for your move. For example, moves based on hourly rates will be assessed a travel time charge in addition to the actual time it takes to complete your move. Travel time charges are calculated on the distance between the original point of loading and final point of unloading. Mileage is determined in accordance with approved mileage guides or vehicle odometer readings. For moves based on the weight of the shipment, the mover will not charge additionally for travel time.


Moving companies must file their rates with the MDPU and may not charge more or less than the rates on file.

You can request a copy of the mover's rates on file with the MDPU. Also inquire as to how the rates will be applied to the specific circumstances of your move. Ask if there are any other charges and how or why the final cost might differ from the estimate.

Who Packs For The Move?

That depends. Frequently, the customer packs all the household items in cartons and the mover takes care of protecting the furniture. When packing, use enough filler to reduce the chance of breakage. If you pack the cartons carefully and there is damage, the adjustor will consider the packing method as a determining factor in liability.

If you wish to have the mover pack all your household items, the mover will be more expensive but will be professionally completed. However, the mover may bear additional liability by providing this service.

Must I Sign The Bill Of Lading/Contract? YES

The bill of lading is the contract between you and your mover. The mover is required by law to prepare a bill of lading for every shipment it transports. The information on a bill of lading is required to be the same information shown on the order for service. The driver who loads your shipment must give you a copy of the bill of lading before loading your furniture.

Be sure the bill of lading includes the movers' name, address, license number, and telephone number where you can reach them. It should also indicate an address and telephone number, provided by you, where the mover can communicate information regarding your shipment. The bill of lading should also include the loading and delivery dates, storage instructions, if any, and the declared or released valuation of your shipment (refer to Placing a Value on your Household Possessions). You are required to sign the bill of lading.

It is your responsibility to read the bill of lading (front & back) 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 it indicates the service you have ordered.

The bill of lading requires the mover to provide the services you have requested and that you must pay the mover the charges for these services.

The bill of lading is an important document. Do not lose or misplace your copy. You should have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid and all claims, if any, are settled. Do not underestimate the importance of the bill of lading.

Should I Schedule A Back Up Day?

Actually, rather than schedule a back up day, it is best to reconfirm with the mover 48 hours in advance of your moving date.

How Will I Be Expected To Pay?

Discuss the method of payment before you move. Some companies request cash, some will accept a credit card or personal check and others will only take a certified check. Payment depends on the terms of the bill of lading or your oral agreement. Be sure to review the bill of lading carefully.

Movers Responsibility For Loss And Damage

Many public movers offer to you, as the customer, a base rate called a declared rate, which is on file with the MDPU. The base rate limits the mover's responsibility for your goods to $.60 per pound per article and is not to be construed as insurance. This means that if any article is damaged or lost, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the actual damage or loss not to exceed $.60 times the actual weight of the article (Example: 50 pound article-movers maximum liability is $30.00/$.60x50 pounds).

Most movers offer you the option of increasing your declared value above $.60 per pound per article. Check with your mover to see if this option is available.

If you will be moving items of special value, you should inquire about additional coverage for specific items. A mover's cargo insurance will not cover items of extraordinary value such as antiques or paintings. Separate moving and insurance arrangements may have to be made for these items. Ask the mover for a list of articles not covered by insurance.

How Long Do I Have To Report Damage?

The terms of the bill of lading may set specific limits. Read the bill of lading carefully before you sign it. If you have a damage claim, save the damaged items so the mover or adjuster will be able to make a proper judgment. It is in your best interest to report a claim promptly to the mover or adjuster and confirm it in writing.

What Should I Do If I Am Dissatisfied With Any Aspect Of The Move?

Your first step should be to contact the mover and explain the problem. Often, you will be able to resolve matters at this level with little difficulty. If you cannot resolve your issues with the mover, you should contact the MDPU. The Department's Transportation Oversight Division is obligated to investigate written complaints.

Checklist For Easier Moving

  • Be sure the mover has a Massachusetts MDPU license.
  • Request and obtain a written estimate.
  • Check with MDPU for additional information concerning rates, liability coverage and complaint history of the mover.
  • Make sure to be present during your move.
  • Review the written bill of lading (front & back) carefully before signing.
  • Agree to the method and terms of payment before moving day.
  • During unloading, check your household goods carefully before signing off on their condition. Be sure the bill of lading gives you the right to take a reasonable amount of time to check items for damages.
  • Ask the mover to check the van to ensure that all your household goods have been delivered.
  • If an issue should arise regarding the storage of your shipment contact the Department Of Public Safety at (617) 727-3200. The MDPU does not regulate the storage of household goods.

Additional Information can be obtained at:

Massachusetts Movers Association
Lynch Associates
10 Liberty Sq., 5th Fl
Boston, MA 02109

Massachusetts Department Of Public Utilities
Transportation Oversight Division
1 South Station
Boston MA 02110

Massachusetts State Police
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section
906 Elm St.
Concord MA 01742

Federal Motor Carrier Administration
50 Mall Road
Suite 212
Burlington, MA 01803


This information is provided by the Department of Public Utilities