LA Long Distance Movers: Decoding Essential Moving Jargon

Using a magnifying glass to read the fine print of a contract with difficult terms.

Does reading your long distance move paperwork feel like deciphering a foreign language? You’re not alone! The moving world comes with its own set of quirky terms. These can make you want to skip the details and just sign. But wait! Before you sign your belongings away, let’s crack that  moving code together. As your friendly LA long distance movers we’ve created an easy-to-understand guide to help you navigate common moving terms. Moving mumbo jumbo varies depending on the type of your move. If you’re moving locally, you can check out our previous posts related to local moving terms. The following guide focuses on long distance moving jargon to help you take control of your moving decisions.

LA Long Distance Movers Common Moving Terms: 

Interstate vs. Intrastate

LA Long Distance Movers driving down the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.

In short, an interstate move is between two different states, while an intrastate move is within the same state. An Interstate move, aka long distance move, crosses state lines. Interstate moves are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Movers need specific licensing from the U.S. Department of the Transportation (DOT). Learn how to check if your LA long distance movers are properly licensed and insured here.

An Interstate move in California is any move that is over 100 miles. An interstate move is also also known as a local-long distance move and is governed by the state’s own laws and regulations, not by federal regulations. Moving companies conducting intrastate moves often need a separate state-specific license. 

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading (often abbreviated as BOL or BoL) is the contract between the moving company (or carrier) and the customer to move their belongings at an agreed price. It’s important that you understand all the statements in the bill of lading because it is a binding contract. It ensures both the mover and the customer have a clear record of what items are in the mover’s possession. The bill of lading should outline the terms and conditions of the move. You’ll find details like the estimated delivery date, charges, and the level of liability the mover assumes in case of damage or loss on this document.

Retain a copy of the bill of lading for your records until the move is completed and any potential claims or disputes are settled. Locate the bill of lading number on this document. You can refer to this number when speaking with your movers or tracking your belongings. 

Binding Estimate vs. Non-Binding Estimate

A non-binding estimate is usually an initial price quote based on the estimated amount of belongings. With this type of estimate, the final price can change, either higher or lower, depending on the actual amount of belongings and services on moving day. A non-binding estimate is usually quoted without an in-home estimate.

LA Long Distance Movers video chat estimate before your moveA binding estimate is a set price given by a moving company that guarantees the total cost of the move based on the volume of your belongings and the distance of the move itself. Usually, they conduct a binding estimate through an in-home estimate or a video chat estimate. During an estimate, a relocation specialist can see what you’re moving. They will also learn more about the details of your move. In simple terms: Non-Binding = estimated price, with potential changes; Binding = set price, no surprises. 


Valuation refers to how much a moving company pays for belongings that are damaged or lost during a move. State government regulates valuation for local moves while the Federal government regulates it for moves that cross state lines. All licensed moving companies include basic valuation in the cost of a move, which in California is $.60 per pound per item. It’s important to understand that valuation is not full coverage insurance. In fact, valuation is based on how much an item weighs. This means  a one-pound bag of sugar and a one-pound bag of diamonds are valued exactly the same at $.60 in California. If an item is worth more to you than $.60 per pound, you may want to purchase insurance. Learn more about getting the right coverage for your moving day.

Accessorial Charges

NorthStar Moving truck parked outside of a large high rise residential building in Los Angeles.Accessorial charges are additional fees charged by moving companies for anything that keeps the truck away from the door. These charges are only applicable in long distance moves. Long distance moves charge by weight, not by hour, so stairs, elevators, and long driveways incur additional charges. Accessorial charges can be specified as Long Carry, Stair Carry, Shuttle Services, etc. It’s important to let your relocation specialist know if a moving truck will have trouble getting close to the front door or if you have long stairways to help you get an exact estimate. 

Delivery Window

A Delivery window is the range of time that the moving company expects it will take for them to deliver your belongings to your final destination. Movers give a range of dates or times rather than a specific day and time because they take into account various factors like travel distance, weather, road conditions and other logistical aspects. And, if your belongings are part of a consolidated shipment, the movers will take time to pick up and deliver other clients’ shipments along the way. A delivery window accounts for all the “what ifs” that come with long distance moving. While not having an exact date and time might be frustrating, it’s also comforting to know that your LA long distance movers will  track your move and keep you updated as the delivery date approaches.

Consolidated Shipping

NorthStar Movers unloading a truckInstead of sending a giant semi truck across the state line with only your belongings on board, a moving company can consolidate or combine your long distance move with other clients’ shipments on the same route. This method allows you to receive the lowest rate. Consolidation also means fewer trucks on the road, leading to less fuel consumption and fewer emissions. It’s a more environmentally friendly option. If you need to move faster, or have a very large amount of items you’re moving, you can always pay full price for the entire truck.

These are just a few of the moving terms you’ll come across when planning your long distance move. While you don’t have to memorize them all by heart, having a clear understanding of the moving terms will help you feel in control. Use our FAQ page for any questions that might arise during the process. Staying informed and preparing for your move reduces a lot of the stress from moving. Still feeling overwhelmed? Give our LA long distance movers a call and we can answer any questions you may have. You can also find great packing videos to help you pack like a pro and learn how to choose the best moving company for your needs here.