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-> Licensing questions
Oct 15, 15:50
Question by maximn (Max)

How to check if my mover has appropriate license

Where can I check if the company I choose for my move has an appropriate moving license?

Oct 17, 00:02
Answer by alexzehn (Alex Z.)


The answer to this question depends on what state you currently reside and whether your move is local within the same state, long distance within same state or interstate.

To answer it I will first describe several possible scenarios. After that I will show you few ways to check if your mover is properly licensed.

Scenario A: You are moving to another state. Whether it is a cross country move (e.g. New York to Los Angeles) or local move just across a river (e.g. New York to New Jersey), your mover is required to have valid US DOT license.

Scenario B: Its a move within the same state. Most states require movers to have local DOT license, and getting one is usually not an easy task. For example, one needs to operate as a licensed interstate mover in the state of New York for at least two years to be considered by NYS DOT as a candidate for local moving license. Some states (e.g. Illinois or Connecticut) have special rules, like setting quotas for local licenses, and often the only way to get a moving license in such a state would be by the mean of buying an already licensed company.
When moving locally within the same state you should hire a mover that has valid local DOT license, if your state require movers to carry one. For example, when moving locally in Jersey City you are not supposed to hire movers from Brooklyn, even if they show you valid local license (issued by the state of New York of course, even if it is just across the river...). A valid local NJ DOT is required for such move.

If your state does not require local licensing than US DOT license would be the only requirement.

In some states (e.g. New York) local DOT license gives movers the right to service an area defined as their "area of operation", usually within the radius of 100 miles from their registered operations office. For example, if a mover is registered in the county of New York (Manhattan) their local area of operation would probably be defined as "The 5 boroughs plus Westchester and Nassau counties of NYS". What it basically means is that the mover is allowed to perform moves as long as the origin and/or the destination of the move is within those 7 counties. For example, jobs like Buffalo->NYC or  NYC->Ithaca are allowed, but the one from Albany to Troy - is not. Keep that in mind when choosing a mover and make sure your move will start or end within your mover's area of operation.

How to check if the mover is properly licensed: First thing that you should do is to ask your mover what types of license they carry, and write those numbers down. Usually those will be the US DOT number, MC (Motor Carrier) number, and a local DOT number.

Next step is to visit This FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) web site was designed to help consumers search for motor carrier licensing information. Click on Company Snapshot and run a query using either the US DOT or the MC number you got from the mover (using company name is not recommended for that type of search). If the mover gave you true information you should see the company name, DBA names, legal address, and whole bunch of other more or less useful (and more or less reliable) data about this mover. Check the following fields:
  1. "Out of Service (Interstate Only)" and "Out of Service Date". The first one should say "No" and the second - "None", otherwise it means the mover's license is not valid (for whatever reason).

  2. Check "Operation Classification" - there should be an "X" mark next to "Auth for Hire'.

  3. For interstate move there should be an "X" mark next to "Interstate" under "Carrier Operation" field.

  4. And finally, there should be an "X" mark next to "Household Goods" under "Cargo Carried".

If you are moving locally you need to check if your state requires local moving license, and if yes then verify that your mover has one. To find this information you would have to make a phone call to your state's DOT office. You then should ask them if movers in your state need to be licensed to perform local moves, and how to verify their licensing.

Alternatively, you can post a question on this website under Finding a Mover->Licensing Questions and we will be happy to do the work for you (make sure you give it a subject "Licensing requirements in *YourState*").

Some things to remember: keep in mind that the right licensing should only be one of the considerations when choosing a mover. Proper licensing does not guarantee that the mover will do a good job, so you should probably spend some more time to research movers public record and reputation. can help you with that too - just post a request under Finding a Mover->Company Public Record to run a background check on any specific mover, and we will make that investigation for you. To learn how to choose a mover you are also welcome to visit our Moving Guide ->Choosing a Mover section.

And finally, to start your search for licensed movers we recommend you to first request free moving quotes from 6 licensed movers in your area using our form right here. That would save you some time, although I would still recommend you to check the licensing and background of each mover, no matter where you first found him.

Good luck with your move,

Alex Z. @

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