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Get Quotes from Top Movers in New York City, NY

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mover in New York City

Every year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) receives over 7,000 complaints of lost items and scam moves from over 35 million Americans moving to a new home. To avoid being a victim of a scam move or losing an item to unprofessional moving companies in New York City, it is important to check out the competency of your mover before signing a contract. Wise homeowners ask a mover the following questions to determine if the company is a good hire:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in New York City?

Businesses that wish to transport household goods or other types of non-household property in New York City and within New York State are required to possess an Authority to Transport Household Goods License or an Authority to Transport Property License respectively. These licenses are issued at the state level by the New York State Department of Transportation and they can be obtained by applying online via the department's Carrier Certification System. Note that applicants are required to answer each question in the application form completely, or respond with "not applicable", and failure to do this can result in the application being delayed or outrightly rejected.

Other requirements that have to be met by movers that apply for authority to transport licenses include:

  • Providing evidence of a minimum of two years experience with a household goods carrier that is regulated by either the New York State Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Transportation, or any other authorized state-level transportation agency. Applicants will also be required to demonstrate knowledge of state and local rules and regulations concerning household goods transportation. These include tariffs, claims and customer service handling, sales and cost estimating rules, and parking, loading, and transportation requirements
  • Providing proof of liability insurance as well as cargo insurance, workers' compensation insurance, and disability insurance where applicable
  • Possessing a New York Intrastate Vehicle Identification Receipt for each vehicle that operates solely within the state. Moving companies that operate interstate must also complete a Unified Carrier Registration process

Queries concerning the process and procedures for obtaining authority to transport licenses can be directed to the Region 11 Office of the state's Department of Transportation at:

1 Hunter's Point Plaza
47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
Phone: (718) 482-4526

You can also contact the department via email or by calling (518) 457-6512 to direct licensing and registration-related inquiries and to verify that your intended moving company has satisfied all applicable state-mandated regulatory requirements. If you intend to move out-of-state, you can verify that your mover has been registered for interstate transportation via an online search portal provided by the United States Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration.

Note that, in addition to obtaining state-issued authority to transport licenses, moving companies that wish to operate in New York City are required to meet local business registration requirements. These include obtaining a Certificate of Assumed Name/Business Certificate from the Office of the County Clerk in the borough where the business is situated and operates. Likewise, moving companies that advertise or offer their services in public spaces may be required to obtain a General Vendor License from the city's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP). Additional information on NYC general business registration requirements can be directed to the DCWP at 311 or (212) 639-9675.

How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in New York City?

When looking to move within or out of New York City, it is important to find out how much you will be charged for your required moving services. Factors that generally affect moving costs in the city include the amount and size of items being moved, the distance from point A to B, add-on services such as property storage and furniture assembly or disassembly, and tipping or gratuity fees. Nonetheless, moving companies in NYC typically calculate their moving rates via any of the following methods:

  • Hourly Rates: here, charges are calculated based on the length of time it takes to complete the job, including the time it takes the mover to get to and from the residences in question
  • Weight/distance rates: with this method, charges are calculated based on the weight of the goods that are being moved and the distance traveled during the move
  • Written binding rates: here, the mover provides a written estimate that covers all transportation charges and agreed-upon services, and this estimate is usually accompanied by an inventory of the items being moved. This is typically the only billing method where an exact cost of the move can be determined before the job is completed

It is always a good idea to get and compare moving rates from several movers in the city before making your decision on which moving company to hire. Also, regardless of the method used to calculate the moving rates, always make sure that the moving company issues you a bill of lading at the time of the pickup, as this serves as a receipt for your goods.

Transportation and material moving workers in New York City earn an average annual wage of $47,940. The list below compares the hourly average wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of New York State as well as several other major cities in the country:

New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage
New York State Movers Hourly Average Wage
Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage
Seattle Movers Hourly Average Wage
Chicago Movers Hourly Average Wage
Philadelphia Movers Hourly Average Wage
Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Will You Get a Moving Permit as Required by New York City Regulations?

There are no specific permits needed for moving services in New York City. However, movers in the city are typically required to comply with certain parking rules and regulations when carrying out their duties. These requirements include making sure that their moving vehicles bear commercial plates and have been permanently modified to have all seats and fittings, excluding the front seats, removed to facilitate the transportation of goods and property. The moving company's name and permanent address must also be permanently displayed on both sides of the vehicle in characters that are at least three inches high. These characters must be in a color that contrasts with the vehicle's color and must be placed approximately midways vertically on the vehicle's doors or side panels.

Other parking regulations that moving companies in NYC have to meet include:

  • Ensuring that their vehicles are not parked on residential streets between the hours of 9:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m.
  • Ensuring that their vehicles are not placed at angles to curbs, unless this parking or standing position is necessary for loading or unloading goods. In situations where this is the case, the vehicle must be packed in this position for no longer than the time required to perform these activities. It must also be parked in a way that provides sufficient space for the passage of other vehicles, and it must never occupy more than one parking lane, plus one traffic lane
  • Ensuring that their vehicles are not parked for more than three areas in any area of the city, regardless of whether or not the area has parking restrictions
  • Ensuring that their vehicles do not obstruct the bike lane
  • Ensuring that their vehicles are not parked within 15 feet of either side of fire hydrants

Note that certain areas of the city, such as Midtown, the Lower Manhattan Blue Zone, and the Garment District, also have special rules that affect where your moving company can park during the loading and unloading of your goods and property. One reason why you should always hire a licensed moving company to plan and handle your move in NYC is that they are typically conversant with all local rules and requirements that apply to parking within the city. This saves you from dealing with the hassle and possible fines associated with violating these rules. You can get additional information on NYC parking rules and regulations by contacting the appropriate NYC Department of Transportation Borough Commissioner via the phone numbers provided below:

  • Bronx Borough Commissioner - (212) 748-6680
  • Brooklyn Borough Commissioner - (646) 892-1350
  • Manhattan Borough Commissioner - (212) 839-6210
  • Queens Borough Commissioner - (212) 839-2510
  • Staten Island Borough Commissioner - (212) 839-2400

What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?

When relocating within or out of New York City, it is essential to ensure that you hire a moving company that not only provides the specific type of moving service that you require but also has adequate experience doing so. Moves or relocations in New York City are typically grouped into five categories, namely

  • Local moving,
  • Long-distance moving,
  • Interstate moving,
  • International moving, and
  • Small moving.

Local and long-distance moves typically happen within the city or state, while small moves generally involve moving items that do not typically exceed a weight of 1,500 - 2,000 pounds from one nearby location to another. Likewise, interstate and international moving refer to relocations outside New York State or the United States respectively.

Some moving companies also offer add-on services, such as full-service and self-service moves, which involve the movers either doing all the work including packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking your items, or simply loading, transporting, and unloading these items, leaving the packing and unpacking to you. As such, it is always a good idea to find out the exact nature of the services that your intended moving company provides and make sure these services will meet your individual needs before reaching any agreements with them. Note that it is your responsibility to provide the moving company with a clear idea of the nature and quantity of items that you need moved as well as any other special services that you may require. Doing this enables them to provide you with an accurate estimate for the cost of the moving services and also ensures that there are no disagreements or misunderstandings down the road.

Listed below are cost estimates for moving services commonly provided by professional moving companies in New York City:

Local/long-distance residential moving
$138 - $219 per hour (includes cost of labor and moving truck)
Piano moving
$391 - $437 (within NYC)
Mobile home moving
$3,343 - $4,144 (for single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)
Moving out of studio apartment
$400 - $600 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of two-bedroom apartment
$750 - $900 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of three or four-bedroom apartment
$1,250 - $1,950 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)

Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?

Finding out whether your intended moving company provides packing and unpacking services saves you the time and energy of handling this tedious task yourself, while also ensuring that your items are safely arranged and organized before and after your move. Common types of packing services that moving companies in New York City offer include;

  • Full packing services,
  • Partial packing services,
  • Professional box handling and organization, and
  • Used box pick-up services.

Also, depending on the nature and scope of your relocation activities, you may need your items to be stored at a secondary location, which may be mobile or in a fixed location, before it is finally moved to your new home or commercial facility. Instances where you will typically require storage services during your move include:

  • You plan to move in the near future and may no longer have access to your present premises before that time
  • You wish to undertake a long-distance move and you need time to settle in your new location before having your items arrive
  • You are moving to a smaller space that is not big enough to contain your all items

Regardless of your reason for needing packing or storage services, you should always find out from your intended moving company whether they provide these services and if you will be charged separately for them. If your intended moving company does not provide packing and storage services, it may be in your best interest to hire one that does, as this usually makes the moving process easier by ensuring that you are dealing with a singular entity. Find out how your items will be protected and labeled, whether you will be able to inspect the storage facility beforehand to ensure its suitability for your items, and keep an accurate list of every item that is packed. Some moving companies also allow customers to provide their own packing materials, and you should equally confirm if you have this option, as it is a good way to reduce your costs.

What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers in New York City?

It is customary to appreciate when a service provider does a good job, and movers are not excluded from this. Some common reasons for tipping movers in New York City include:

  • They show up on time
  • They perform the job quickly and professionally
  • They handle your items with care and lay extra emphasis on fragile and delicate items
  • They move large and heavy items across multiple flights of stairs
  • They are friendly to you and your family

While the industry standard for tipping movers in the city is usually 15% - 20% of the total cost of your move, it is often a better idea to utilize an hourly average of $4 - $5 per mover per hour when calculating these tips. This is because total costs usually include distance costs and other miscellaneous fees, most of which do not involve any actual work by the movers.

Note that tipping is not mandatory, and as such moving companies do not factor the cost of these tips into their total charges for your move. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to find out from your preferred moving company what they think is an appropriate tip for their movers before finalizing any hiring arrangements with them. In situations where your movers provide shoddy services, you should review your tip downwards or not tip them at all, and also make sure to inform your moving company of their movers' unprofessionalism.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in New York City?

Property handling and moving is filled with potentially risky scenarios that can result in property damage and even work-related injuries. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries amongst transportation and material moving workers accounted for 20 percent of all on-the-job injuries recorded in 2018 that required time off from work. As such, moving companies in New York City are required to meet certain state-mandated insurance requirements before being issued with authority to transport licenses by the New York State Department of Transportation. Making sure that your intended moving company complies with these insurance requirements is of utmost importance, as it insulates you from out-of-pocket expenses and possible legal liabilities if any work-related damages or injuries take place during your moving.

Mandatory insurance requirements for NYC movers include carrying liability insurance of at least $100,000 per person or $300,000 for all persons with maximum coverage of $100,000 for each person, for personal injury and death. All movers must also carry property damage insurance of a minimum of $50,000. Likewise, movers that transport household goods are also required to carry separate cargo insurance of at least $5,000 per vehicle or an aggregate coverage of at least $10,000 at any one time and place to cover loss or damage to properties being transported. Finally, NYC movers must comply with all applicable workers' compensation and disability insurance requirements per the New York State Workers' Compensation Law.

To this end, you should always request proof of insurance from your intended moving company and make sure that their insurance coverage includes liability and property damage insurance as well as cargo, workers' compensation, and disability insurance where applicable. Contact the insurance company that provides this insurance to confirm that it is up-to-date and also adequate to cover the scope of your moving project. It is important to note that any homeowners' or renters' insurance that you may have will not cover the cost of damages to your property that occur during your move. You can contact the New York State Department of Transportation at (518) 457-6512 to direct queries related to NYC moving company insurance requirements.

Can You Provide References or Recommendations in New York City?

Many professional moving companies in New York City provide potential customers with references or letters of recommendation from satisfied past clients, and you should consider it a red flag if your intended movers are hesitant to do this. Referrals are usually an indication that the moving company delivers on its promises and also provides its services in a professional manner, and some moving companies publish these referrals on their official websites. Nonetheless, you should always check any references that you are given by contacting them and getting a first-hand review of their experiences with the moving company.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Moving Company in New York City

Hundreds of thousands of NYC households change their residential addresses every year. Unfortunately, not all these relocations go hitch-free and some residents of the city end up falling victim to moving scams. Although these scams come in various forms, they can be recognized by certain signs, which include providing cost estimates before inspecting the items to be moved, performing cursory inspections, and requesting full upfront payment or large pre-move deposits.

As such, when searching for professional moving companies in NYC, it is important to look out for signs that you may be dealing with a fraudulent mover and also take precautionary steps to avoid falling victim to a moving scam. These steps include:

  • Always select your mover with care. Get referrals to moving companies from reputable sources like trusted friends and family, the New York State Movers and Warehousemen's Association, and the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau also allows you lookup reviews and testimonials on moving companies within your vicinity
  • Utilize the Uhire online license search platform to verify that the moving company has been duly licensed to operate in New York City
  • Get estimates from at least three different moving companies that have conducted an inspection of your residence and the items that need to be moved
  • Confirm that your preferred mover has been duly licensed by the NYS Department of Transportation by calling (518) 457-6512
  • Make sure that your selected mover provides you with an NYS Department of Transportation Summary of Information booklet that describes your rights as a consumer
  • Make sure that the moving company is duly insured
  • Prepare an inventory of your items as well as their current condition before they are packed up and moved
  • Make sure that the mover issues you an Order of Service before any items are moved. This order should include the amount you will have to pay when the goods have been delivered to the required destination as well as a description of the requested moving services and contact details of the mover. Also, ensure that you have made arrangements to pay this amount once the items are delivered
  • Do not sign any documents that you haven't properly read and make sure that you are given a copy of any documents that you sign

You can file complaints concerning unfair and questionable business practices by movers in NYC with the state's Department of Transportation by completing and mailing a Consumer Complaint Form, along with copies of relevant documents, to:

New York State Department of Transportation
Office of Safety and Security Services
50 Wolf Road
POD 53
Albany, NY 12232

Once the department receives your complaint, it will respond with a letter advising you on how the issue will be handled. Note that if your complaint involves property damage or loss, you are required to notify your mover in writing as soon as possible. Moving companies are required to respond to written claims within 30 days and resolve these claims, also in writing, no later than 120 claims. These resolutions can be in the form of full payment, compromise settlements, or a denial of your claim. You can contact the state's Department of Transportation at (518) 457-6512 for assistance in ensuring that the moving company provides a timely response to your claim.

It should also be noted that, in situations where you are unsatisfied with the moving company's response, the NYS Department of Transportation cannot adjudicate the matter. Nonetheless, you can take further action by filing a lawsuit with the Civil Court of the City of New York. If your legal action results in a judgment from the court, then the mover is required to pay the judgment within 60 days, and the department can assist you in collecting this judgment if they fail to do so.