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-> Licensing questions
Aug 19, 20:10
Question by ellen (Ellen)

Which US DOT numbers to check for moving company agents?

I am using the FMCSA website to check out moving companies by their US DOT numbers. When I am looking at a large national moving company that uses a local company as an agent to do the work, do I need to look at a US DOT number for both the national company and the local company? I was only given US DOT numbers for the national moving company. Thank you.

Aug 26, 13:07
Answer by tjohnson (Tim J.)

Check the DOT number for both the van line and the local mover. (For those who don't know, a van line is like a franchisor, and the agents are like its franchisees in major markets around the country -- see this article for more background on the moving industry.) 

If you donít know the local agentís DOT number, ask them for it, or search for them by name on the FMCSA Website or the Website. (Both Websites use the same database, but is just moving companies, and a little easier to navigate.)
Hereís how all this works.

If a van line agent is moving a customer between states (interstate), the move is likely under the van lineís authority. So the number you see on the bill of lading is likely to be the van lineís DOT number, not the moving companyís. Transporting goods under the van lineís authority allows the agent to draw on the van lineís large fleet of vehicles, giving it greater flexibility in choosing routes and being more specific with delivery dates.

However, if youíre using the agent to make a local or in-state move, the moving company will be making that move under its own DOT number.

So whatís the rub?

Very little. Whether the move is made under the van lineís number, or the agentís number, you shouldnít see any difference in terms of quality. In fact, the agent is generally motivated to provide solid service for all its moves because the van line can (and does) kick out agents that are poor performers.

So why did I say earlier to check out the DOT info for both the van line and its agent?

Because you might not know under whose authority the move is being made. And frankly, if youíre already taking the initiative to check out licensing information, you might as well check both.

Good luck with your move,

Tim J. @

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