When it’s time for you to look for moving services, you may find a moving broker that seems to offer everything you need. But a moving broker is not the same as a mover, and knowing the difference can save you worries down the road.

The best moving companies work with you directly to provide top customer service. They may provide a range of services, from storage to packing to the actual moving of your possessions from your office or your home.

Simply put, a broker hires a middle man to do the move. The moving broker engages a carrier to transport cargo and is not responsible for your items. As a rule, the broker doesn’t own trucks or have a staff with expertise in moving. They won’t have the flexibility to answer your concerns about timing or handling of your belongings, because they aren’t doing the actual work of moving.

One disadvantage to hiring a broker is that they might have issues finding a mover in a timely manner to do the job for any number of reasons, meaning you might find yourself without a mover on the big day.

You may not even know who your mover is until the actual moving day, so you won’t be able to check them out before they arrive at your doorstep.

In a worst-case scenario when working with a broker-hired mover, you might not get a written, in-person estimate. You’ll be left vulnerable to a last-minute rate hike that you will have to pay before the mover releases your belongings — the dreaded “hostage goods.”

For interstate moves, the mover hired by the broker must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (under the U.S. Department of Transportation).

The broker must be registered with FMCSA, which says the broker also must:

  • Give you a list of moving companies they use.
  • Use only FMCSA-registered movers.
  • Give you FMCSA’s “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” and “Ready to Move” brochures.
  • Base estimates on the fees of the mover they plan to use.
  • Advertise the broker’s physical business location, MC (motor carrier) number and their status as a broker, not a mover.
  • Have the mover perform a physical survey of your household goods if they are within 50 miles of the mover or the agent’s location, whichever is closer. You have the option to waive this requirement.

A moving broker is a company with a sales team that will book your move and sell it to a real moving company. When it’s time for your move, you have to decide the most reliable way to safely and efficiently move your goods.

A mover, or a moving carrier, has a name and a reputation to protect. It will have an experienced staff trained to pack and move you with the utmost efficiency and least hassle. The best moving companies will be licensed and insured and responsible for lost or damaged goods. They’ll have trucks and equipment to get the job done. A good mover will always strive to do its best for you, because its business relies on happy repeat customers and word of mouth.