Interstate Moving: Tariffs Explained

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The United States Department of Transportation requires interstate moving companies to give each customer a tariff. In short, a tariff is a document that spells out the services, charges and many other things related to your move.

It looks more like a booklet than a document, but interstate movers are legally required to produce it and give it to you for your review. All the details, such as laws and regulations, are not found in the booklet you’ll get though. Those are found in what’s called the Tariff 400-N, which is what most interstate movers use. So, if you want a more detailed explanation of your moving and how the moving company charges for things, ask for copies of the Tariff 400-N. The tariff you’ll receive covers the following three topics: transportation, origin and destination handling and additional services:


The first issue that a tariff must address are all the charges and services for transporting your goods from one location to the next. There’s more involved with  transporting your shipment than you might think. For example, the movers may have to store your goods along the way, or use a shuttle service to get your belongings from the truck to your new apartment. If you want to know how they charge for that, ask them to print you all the related sections from Tariff 400-N.

Origin and Destination Handling

Movers charge a fee for loading and unloading your items on and off the moving truck. This is above the transportation fees discussed above, and it gets factored into the moving rates. How that gets factored in, and how much, is explained in the tariff, and you can ask for copies of the rules and regulations concerning origin and destination handling services as well. The charges vary across the country, and is based on how much it costs the moving company to pay their movers as well as other factors. For example, a New York based interstate moving company will charge much more than one based in Idaho, based on the costs of living and costs of doing business.

Additional Services

If you’re hiring a full service interstate moving company, then they’ll assess charges for packing and unpacking your items. There might be additional charges as well, such as lifting heavy appliances up and down stairs, moving pianos or packing specialty items. If you require storage at you new destination, those fees are often lumped in with additional services. How you’ll get charged and the details for providing you with additional services is explained in the tariff that the interstate moving company is required to give you. Ask for copies of the rules of this section in particular (from Tariff 400-N) to avoid any moving scams, or to be ready to file a claim down the road.

Don’t throw away any paperwork that you get from the interstate moving company you hire, including the tariff. It will come in handy if there’s a dispute, or if you need to file an insurance claim.

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