The Most Common Moving Terms

Relocating from one residence to another is no small task, whether it’s a few miles or a few hundred miles away. It can often feel like a bottomless pit of details, from selecting a reputable moving partner to organizing your home for efficient packing. As you begin working with your mover, you will be introduced to new concepts and terms related to your whole move – related to your contract, preparation and actual move day. The Internet, of course, is a rich resource of information; with a quick search you can find lengthy “moving” dictionaries with definitions of terms related to the moving industry. For your reference, we’ve compiled a starter glossary below of some of the most common ones as well as some terms that are especially tied to a Suddath® moving experience.


A moving company that works with a van line or a carrier and can manage booking, processing, moving and delivery.

Bill of Lading:

A required document that acknowledges the receipt of your belongings, serving as the contract with the movers for their transport. It will outline the mover’s name and contact info, note the transportation schedule, define the terms and conditions of payment for your move, the total moving charges, detail information related to the valuation of your things, and most importantly, how much the mover will be liable for if there is any loss or damage.

Binding/Non-Binding Estimate:

A binding estimate is a true cost of your move based on the pre-move survey of the home that costs out every aspect of the move. Any changes to this estimate during the move can result in additional charges. A non-binding estimate offers flexibility of elements of the move that may not be known during the initial survey and contracting of the move. Costs will be incurred for elements that may be added in during the move process.

Bingo Sheet:

The check-off list used to account for all items in the move at the final destination.

Blankets (also known as moving pads, furniture pads and moving blankets):

Thick heavy materials used to wrap and pad furniture and other items to protect them during the moving process.

Bulky Article:

An irregularly sized and shaped item for moving that requires specialized packing or transport like pianos, vehicles, etc.


The authorized moving company that is transporting household goods to the destination during the move.


A submission to recover funds or compensation for damaged goods that occurred while materials were under the care of the carrier.

DIY Packing, aka PBO (Packed By Owner):

When a customer chooses to pack household belongings themselves.

Related terms:
Full-service packing: moving company provides all packing materials and packs all belonging, aka PBC (packed by carrier)
Partial Packing: a combination of PBC (packed by carrier) and PBO

DOT (Department of Transportation):

Organization that regulates transportation for both personal and business purposes. Most often, you will hear the term DOT number as a way to identify that a moving company is licensed through the DOT, which is mandatory for operation.

Essentials Box:

A box that you pack to include items that can help you get through the final days before the move and the first 24 hours in your new home. The items generally fall into three categories: those that help keep you clothed and fed, those that keep you clean and comfortable, and those that you’ll need for unpacking and first aid. Medications certainly are an essential item, however it’s best to carry a couple of days’ supply with you.

FMCSA (The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration):

Oversees consumer protection regulations and dictates the rules regarding the interstate transportation of goods. A consumer guide can be downloaded from the FMCSA website.

Full value protection:

In claims of loss of damage to goods, this will cover the cost to repair the item. If it can’t be repaired, this will cover the cost to replace the item with a similar replacement, not exceeding the total coverage amount for the move.

Full value protection for High Value Inventory:

We generally define high value items as those having a value greater than $100 per pound.  When you purchase Full Value Protection, we ask that you list those items on the High Value Inventory form that we will provide, so our people can take extra care to ensure they arrive safely at your destination. In claims of loss of damage to goods, if an item isn’t on the High Value Inventory and isn’t able to be repaired, the value will be paid at $100 per pound, based on the weight of the item.

Moving permit:

Legal document that gives permission to temporarily park certain vehicles — such as your moving truck — in a designated location at specific times of the day.


Goods that are not allowed to be transported by a moving company vehicle because of safety concerns. These include hazardous materials, poisonous materials and perishables. (i.e., chemicals, combustible or flammable items, etc.)

Off-peak season:

The season referred to that is in less-demand for moving, and can often offer cost reductions for moves; primarily Fall and Winter in most seasonal climates. Spring and summer (which consequently coincide with peak home sale seasons) are in more demand due to milder weather, school and work schedules, etc. (In Florida, however, sometimes all bets are off, due to the continually milder climate).

PCS (Permanent Change of Station):

The term used for relocating active military personnel and their families from their residence to a new duty location.

Storage-in-Transit (SIT):

The temporary short-term storage of goods before they are delivered and unloaded at the final destination.

Temperature-controlled storage:

Regulates temperature to a range of degrees in the storage facility to protect items from damage related to hot and cold conditions.

Related term: Climate-controlled Storage offers a maximum level of protection where both temperature and humidity are maintained to an exacting standard

Valuation Coverage:

Not to be confused with insurance, valuation coverage offers an established compensation back to the customer if it is determined that goods were lost or damaged during the move, at the fault of the mover.

Van Operator:

Manages the loading, hauling and unloading of goods for a move.

Vault Storage:

When storing household goods, warehouses are equipped with “vaults” where items are placed and wrapped on a pallet and stored in a locked vault within a warehouse facility.

With a 100-year history in the moving industry, Suddath has been a pioneer in developing and offering value-added programs and industry practices to its customers. Here are some terms you may often hear referenced when working with a Suddath moving team.

Move for Hunger:

Local Suddath branches have teamed up with Move for Hunger to fight hunger by collecting non-perishable food items and delivering them to food banks. This discard and donation program is free to customers, and turns every move into an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people in need.

Declutter program:

This is a program offered through Suddath to remove excess items from your home and temporarily place them into a storage facility so that you can organize and stage your home for quick sale.

Virtual Video Walkthrough:

A convenient method for surveying the home and the contents of the home. Using your mobile device, you will guide a representative through your home using a video application, like FaceTime or Skype, so that they can assess the contents, ask pertinent questions and develop a detailed list of items so that they can provide an accurate quote.

Of course, we’ve just scratched the service with the above guide listing some of the most common moving terms. Other terminology pertaining to freight terms, operator terms, carriage weighing, etc. can get quite technical. Plus, not all moving terms will always apply to your particular move. It can seem overwhelming, but not to worry, for when you work with Suddath, you will have a direct line to all details and terms related to your move through your dedicated move coordinator. By definition, a move coordinator is a person who serves as your single point of contact, available to answer any questions you may have, and explain details that arise when planning your move as well as once your move is underway. They are here to help you “decode” the moving process, based on the above terms and dozens more, to help make your move as smooth as possible.