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Do Interstate Movers Need Licenses? All about Moving Company License

Yes, they do. When a moving company operates interstate or locally, it must have authorization from the state regulators for the move. And here, the regulations and authorization service can vary from state to state.

Due to the pandemic, people are relocating, so the moving scams are rising. AARP report shows that thousands of complaints are being reported every year for not coming after getting the money and agreement online. Even one of my friends got scammed by such a fraud moving company, which never showed up after getting some amount for starting the procedure.

Interstate Movers Need Licenses 1

Wait! No need to frown. In this context, I will include everything you must know about moving company licenses from my personal experience before you hire a mover for your next move.

‌Why do Interstate Movers Need Licenses?

To avoid any fraud or scam, interstate movers need licenses and insurance. At least, the basic federal license is a must to make it authorized by the state governor. This benefits both sides during the move.

This licensing is a kind of permission to run the business locally and to show authorization by the government. Besides, a moving business license helps much when moving items internationally.

A licensed mover can move stuff anywhere without any hassle or hindrance. Also, the federal license can help get the trustworthiness and reliance of the customer.

Different Types of License for Moving Company

Well, there are different types of moving company licenses you should be aware of.

First of all, a moving company must comply with the standards and regulations of USDOT (United States Department of Transportation) and FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). Other than these, there are some more depending on the state a company belongs to.

Let’s discuss all of them to get you a vivid picture of the licensing benefits.

Federal license:

Small businesses need federal operating authority permission to run their businesses across the state. A company must be registered for moving goods interstate and get a permit from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

This federal license permits the business to run business and transport items using cargo, vans, or trucks. It is helpful for business records and basic regulations.

However, if you are moving items to a place where you need to cross borders, a company must have the Freight Forwarder permit or get registered with the Federal Maritime Commission.

State license:

Along with a federal license, a moving company needs a local or state license for authorization from the state to make the company government-authorized.

And this state licensing process differs from state to state. For example, moving companies in Indiana are regulated by the Indiana Department of Transportation. So, when running a moving business in Indiana, it must be registered here.

However, some states don’t need any state license for moving trucks and drivers, such as –

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont

As movers in these states can operate their business without state licenses or USDOT numbers, the increase of scams or fraud in the moving process can be really high here.

USDOT number:

USDOT (Department of Transportation) number is required for the transportation permit when making a long-distance move or moving more than 100 miles within the state. When registered with the USDOT, the company gets a DOT number for company audits, reviews, and other official inspections.

This DOT number should be printed on the trucks and vans as proof of business authorization and other safety purposes. Before hiring a moving company, cross-check the DOT number on the website.

Last year, in Nova Scotia, a young man named Adralan fell for such a scam that his hired mover demanded more than the agreement to deliver the stuff. And without that, they wouldn’t be giving his belongings. Now, he finds out the mover has no insurance, and the provided DOT number is fake.

Commercial Driver’s License

While checking for the moving company requirements, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is another name on the checklist nowadays that moving companies should have. CDL number is required for driving heavy-duty, large trucks and vans.

The Driver License Bureau or the local motor vehicle departments can issue a CDL license. The licensing process is the same as any other driving license, such as driving test, written test, medical fitness, etc.

So, the driver who will be driving the trucks for transportation must have the CDL number.

Vehicle Registration:

What we often miss is the vehicle which will be used for transporting goods. The vehicles must be registered to ensure a safe and legal moving process.

Company vehicles can be registered from any local vehicle registration department.

Operating Authority

If passengers are also being transported in the interstate business, or any federally-regulated stuff owned by others is transported, the company needs the operating authority in addition to the DOT number.

Usually, operating authority is identified as MC number, FF number, or MX number. Depending on the authority types, this number is granted. I have seen some moving companies presenting this MC number on their brochure.

Bonding- New Inventory to Safe Move

Bonding is something that makes any moving company the most reliable and trustworthy.

People often get confused with the bonding and insurance. Bonding is not the same as the insurance policy. A business bond is a type of assurance from the company that ensures that the dealt work will be completed in accordance with the agreement.

Bonding is the process of having secured money that is kept under state control. When any damage or accidents occur, customers can get compensation from the state by filing a complaint against the company.


A moving company must be insured. Most of the federal and state laws and regulations include insurance availability for a moving company to take the liabilities for any loss that occurs by the mover during the move.

It means if your mover loses any of your baggage on the road, the company will be responsible for paying for your loss. Also, the driver driving the trucks for transportation must be insured.

One of my colleagues found this insurance policy really helpful. When his beloved kitchen rack got scratched due to a careless move by the movers, he got some compensation due to the moving company’s insurance policy.

NerdWallet says,

“If an uninsured truck driver works for a moving company, the company may also be held responsible for the accident.”

So, think twice and go through all the checklists before you hire a moving company and give them the responsibility for all your stuff.

How to Choose a Licensed Interstate Mover

three steps to choose a verified licensed movers company

Hopefully, now you have enough about different moving business license types. Now, let’s have a look at some major points to choose a licensed interstate mover.

Check the Registration Status on the FMCSA

To find a licensed interstate mover, the first and foremost thing is to check the company’s license status. All you need is the USDOT number.

Any licensed moving company must have a USDOT number printed on the truck or on the company brochure. By searching the DOT number on the FMCSA website, you can easily get all the information like company address, phone number, business age, authority availabilities, etc.

Here, you can also check whether the company is legally registered with the USDOT. Plus, insurance coverage and other safety ratings can be easily known by this DOT number. So, I prefer this as the first and basic step before hiring a mover.

Get References

You see, word-of-mouth is the safest and most reliable option anyone can ever get from. So, having a reference before hiring a moving company is always ideal.

You can ask your family, friends, or neighborhood about the company before you go for any agreement. And nowadays, online presence and reviews have been one of the most efficient ways to check company legitimacy.

Ask about Insurance

Another point in the checklist is the insurance policy. If the moving company is insured, you can have a sign with the liabilities of your goods for the move.

Don’t fall for the low-price scams. Many fall for low-price marketing; in the end, they get delivery delays or poor loading and unloading service.

However, you might find this YouTube video helpful for choosing a trustworthy moving company.

People Also Asked

Do movers need a license in Florida?

Yes, Movers in Florida must be registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), regardless of whether the company has another license or insurance. Without this, any local or interstate mover can’t be in business.

Do you need a license to start a moving company in California?

Yes, you must have a license before you start a moving company in California. Every moving company in California has to be registered with the Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS) to run the business legally without any hassle.

Who regulates movers in New York?

The New York State Department of Transportation regulates the moving company operations and the movers in New York City. Any intrastate movers must be registered with the USDOT in New York City for a legit moving process. However, the company needs a license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and a DOT license if it’s about interstate moving.

Are movers required to be licensed in NY state? 

Of course, they do require. Any intrastate movers in New York City must be registered with the New York State Department of Transportation along with other licenses.

Do movers have to be licensed in DC?

Yes, of course. Movers in Washington, DC, must be registered with the USDOT and FMCSA for interstate moving. However, other licensing options can also be required for safety and reliance.

Do piano movers have to be licensed in Texas?

For piano movers in Texas, registration with the TxDMV (Texas Department of Motor Vehicles) and the USDOT registration are necessary. Texas movers must have an “Active” TxDMV certificate number. So, if you are hiring any moving company without the TxDMV registration, the Texas government won’t take responsibility for any future loss.

Does Mississippi require movers to be licensed?

According to Angi, movers in Mississippi need a Mississippi Public Service Commission license registered with the Mississippi Government Department along with the USDOT license number.

When you can hire a licensed mover, it can be a win-win offer. And so, knowing the moving company license is essential before hiring movers to make your next move safe and legal. Otherwise, you might risk your goods or face unnecessary and time-consuming hassles in the middle of moving.

Brandon Pollard

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