Finalizing the move date? Check. Booking a moving company? Check. Getting moving supplies? Check. But wait… before you start ticking boxes off your moving checklist, there’s an important thing you need to take note of. Yes, the moving paperwork. While moving in itself is a long, tedious process which needs your full time and attention, what stands as the most important process is keeping a track of all your moving paperwork.

Your moving paperwork involves all the necessary documents and permissions required when relocating to a new place. Not sure what these documents are, or what is their actual purpose? There’s nothing to panic. We have here a list of all the necessary documents that entail your moving paperwork, including what these documents mean and where you would be needing them. Let’s start right away!

What documents do you need when you move?

Before we get into the details of every document, let us first list down and get you acquainted with the different types of documents that you need when moving from one place to another. These would mainly be:

  • Moving Estimate
  • Bill of Lading
  • Packing materials form (if applicable)
  • Inventory Documentation
  • Protection Plan Documentation
  • Order for Service
  • Your Rights and Responsibilities pamphlet
  • IRS Tax Deduction forms (if applicable)
  • Statement of Services
  • USPS Change of Address
  • School records (if applicable)
  • Personal documents (Passport, driver’s license, etc.)

Now that you’ve got an idea of at least the different documents in your moving paperwork, let us tell you which document would be needed when. To keep it simple, we’ve divided the documents into three broad categories based on the time at which they would be needed during the entire moving process.

Also Read: Checklist for Moving | Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible?

Pre Moving Paperwork

Your moving paperwork will majorly have to be looked at before you even start with your moving process. Basically, when you would hire a moving company to assist you with your move, you will be given a set of different documents that are necessary. These would include all the necessary details of your move right from the estimate to the moving contract. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Moving Estimates

With increasing demand and competition among moving companies, you would have noticed that many of these companies offer free moving quotes, even before you finalize them for your move. While these are definitely helpful for you to narrow down or settle on the moving company you want, you have to make sure you get these moving estimates in writing before making your final call.Basically, all moving companies would be providing you with some kind of estimate after they have conducted a thorough survey of your inventory and are clear with the services that you need. Look out for some of the important pointers that are usually mentioned in your estimate. These would include the transportation charges, labor charges, insurance information, and details of all the services that you’ve asked for like packing, storage, etc.

There are mainly three different types of moving estimates and they may differ based on the company you choose. These could be:

Non – binding estimate: This is the trickiest kind of estimate that many moving companies offer, keeping their benefit in mind. This kind of estimate, as the name suggests, is not fixed and is subject to change depending on the actual weight of your move. What this means is that with this kind of an estimate, there is no guarantee of your final costs as there are very high chances of your final move weighing higher than what was originally estimated.

Binding estimate: This kind of estimate guarantees a fixed cost based on the estimated weight of your shipment. Once your moving company gives you a binding estimate and you agree with it, that would be the final costs that you would be paying, irrespective of what your shipment actually weighs on the moving day. When you agree to a binding estimate, you would at least know what you would be paying, so it can be prepared accordingly.

Binding not-to-exceed estimate: If a moving company is providing you this kind of a binding not-to-exceed estimate, we suggest that it’s a good choice. Through this estimate, the moving company will give you a projected cost based on your belongings. If by chance your final shipment weight is more than what was originally estimated, you don’t have to worry as there won’t be any additional charges. And in case the final weight is lesser than what was estimated, you would be paying only for the actual cost of the shipment and not anything over. In either case, this kind of an estimate usually is a win – win for you as a customer.

When researching your moving company, we suggest you do check the kind of estimates they provide as it would help you efficiently plan and manage your budget as well.

Order For Moving Service

After you’ve finalized your moving company and have agreed to their moving estimates, the next document that you would be receiving is the Order For Service. This would include all information about the date of your move for pick-up as well as delivery, the services you need, cancellation policy, optional insurance, if any, and the total cost of your move. Make sure that these details match with your moving estimate, and only after thorough examination do sign the order for service document.

Inventory Documentation

On your moving day, the driver of your truck or your move representative will be giving you a detailed inventory document. This document would entail all the information about the items being moved or loaded onto the truck, as well as the condition in which they are being moved. Through this document, you would be able to keep a track of all the items that are handled during the move as well as their condition before the move.

The moving company also keeps a track of this so as to not have any misunderstanding after the completion of your move. Make sure all the items are properly labelled, counted and mentioned in their appropriate condition in the list. If there are items that have been packed by you, then the move coordinator would label them as ‘PBO’ or Packed By Owner and will not take any additional responsibility for it. In many cases, there would be two inventory lists. One for all the household inventory items and the other for all high value, expensive items. Like other documents, thoroughly read through and examine all pages before signing on any of them.

Bill of Lading

Probably one of the most important documents in your moving paperwork would be the Bill of Lading, especially when you’re hiring a professional moving company for your move. As per law, every moving company is required to provide you with a Bill of Lading, ideally before the move or at least during the shipment loading process. This Bill is basically a legally binding contract between the moving company and you.

Know that the information provided about your shipment on this document, has to match with the one on your order of service document. Make sure that your inventory documentation as well as the order of service is attached to the Bill of Lading. This would include information about your move such as the date and time of pick-up and delivery, your contact details as well as that of the moving company. Beyond these things, it should also cover details of your move vehicle, moving costs, payment method, inventory list and the insurance information.

Once you’ve thoroughly examined and signed the Bill of Lading, one copy of it would be kept by you, while the other would be with the driver or move representative. Keep all these documents securely, as you need them to cross check on the delivery of your shipment or completion of your move.

Protection Plan Documentation (Valuation Addendum)

Usually, there are at least two main liability options provided by all moving companies – Released or Basic Value Protection and Full Value Protection. By law, all moving companies, irrespective of the distance or move type, would be required to provide the Released Value Protection, which offers a 60 cents per pound coverage for each article. If you have a lot of expensive or valuable belongings to move, we suggest you go for the Full Value Coverage option to ensure maximum safety of your items.

Many moving companies also provide third party insurance options or some local moving companies also have their own liability options. Make sure that the moving company you choose provides you with all the necessary information with regards to the available liability options. A copy of the same should also be attached with your Bill of Lading.

Also Read: Do I Need A Moving Insurance?

Copy of ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities’

Especially important during an interstate move, all moving companies are required to provide a copy of the ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move’ booklet as well as the official ‘Ready To Move Brochure’, to every customer, according to the FMCSA. These documents would entail all the necessary information about your move – right from how to choose a reputable goods carrier to how to handle any queries or complaints regarding your move. Make sure that you do receive a copy of your documents from your moving company, as they are required to do so by law.

Moving Tip: Along with these documents provided by the moving company, you could also request for a copy of the company’s tariff, rules and regulations. This would give you all the required information about the company, the services they provide and their charges. Feel free to ask any queries or clarifications you may need with anything that you do not understand. At the end of the day, you have to ensure that your move is as stress-free as is possible, right?

IRS Tax Deduction Forms

When you’re relocating because of work purposes, you may be able to claim your moving expense deductions using the IRS Form 3903. The main criteria for this deduction is that your moving expenses must be related to a job or work that would start at the new location. Keep in mind that the expenses you incur from your pockets are deductible. However, if your employer reimburses you for your expenses, then those may not be eligible for deductions. You can check the official website to get further information about the different eligibility criteria for this form.

Which Documents Do You Need To Keep Handy During The Move?

On your move day, there are already a lot of things that you need to do. From loading, packing, cleaning up to a final go through, you may already be jumping around on four legs. And in all of this, keeping a track of your moving paperwork can become really hectic. While most of your paperwork may be sorted before your move, you will still be required to keep a copy of all of them for further documentation. Along with those provided by your moving company, there could also be some additional documents that you may need during your move. Some of these could be:

Property related papers

These are documents related to either the purchase, rental, lease or sale of both the house you would be shifting out from and the new house you would be moving to. You may need these documents during the moving process, or for even getting in touch with your real estate agent. Keep these documents securely along with your other moving papers.

Contractual Documents

These could be anything related to the receipts, warranties or guarantees related to your purchased items. We suggest you keep all the documents related to your expensive items like a car, TV or any other valuables that may need to be repaired or replaced after the move. You could maintain a separate folder for all such documents.

School Records

If your child or children are changing schools because of your move, you’ll have to make sure that all their school related documents are in place. These could include everything from transcripts of score cards, test reports, medical certificates or any other documents that are needed in the new school. Check in advance about all the formalities that need to be done in the new school, so as to make it an easy process for your child.

Personal Identification Documents

Keep all your personal documents securely, and on you if possible, during the move. This includes your passport, driver’s license, birth certificates, bank documents, medical papers and all the other documents that hold your personal information. Because these documents contain all your sensitive information, it is even more important for you to keep them as securely as possible.

Post Move Documents

Once you’ve reached your new location, yes, a major chunk of your moving process is done. But, (sorry, there’s always a but!), the process isn’t complete yet. You still need to unload your shipment, settle your moving bills, unpack, and finally settle down. The documents you would need to check at this point in time, would be:

Statement of Services

If you’re moving long distance, or out of state, you should be given a final Statement of Services by your mover, after the delivery of your shipment. This paper would basically reflect the final cost of your move, including the details for the tariff charges or any other additional charges as applicable. Carefully read through the document and then settle your final bill.

Change of Address

This is one other major task that you need to do almost immediately after your move – updating your address on all records. You can start by changing your mailing address with the United States Postal Service (USPS). Simultaneously, keep a check on the deadline you would have for updating your driver’s license. Also, update your address on all other necessary documents such as bank papers, voting address, credit card companies, etc.

What to do with important papers when moving?

Firstly, it is extremely important for you to have a back-up of all your documents when moving. Right from your moving contract or other documents shared by your moving company, to all your personal documents, make sure that you have a photocopy or at least a soft copy back-up for all, before you start your moving process. We suggest that you don’t let any of your sensitive documents out of sight and pack them as securely in a box or folder that’s always going to be with you.

How much does it cost to have someone move your stuff?

Well, the cost of hiring professional movers would actually depend on a host of factors including the services you choose, and the time and distance of your move. On an average, you can expect a local move to cost between $750 – $1,600 and a long distance move to cost between $2,000 – $4,800. If you need only moving labor to move your stuff, your costs may be way lesser around $70 – $100/hour for each mover you hire.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a moving agreement?

A moving agreement is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of a move, such as the date the move will take place, the cost of the move, and the services that will be provided. It is used by professional movers to ensure that both the movers and the people moving understand the details of the move and can hold each other accountable for any issues that may arise.

How do I get out of a moving contract?

o get out of a moving contract, you can:

  • Check if the contract has a cancellation clause
  • Negotiate with the moving company to void the contract
  • Reach out to the regulatory body overseeing moving companies for assistance
  • Hire a lawyer familiar with contract and moving regulation to help you out

Note: Some companies may charge cancellation fees, so make sure to read the terms of the contract before canceling.

Can you cancel a moving contract after signing it?

Yes, it is possible to cancel a moving contract after signing it, but it depends on the contract’s terms and conditions and the reason for cancellation. You can try checking for a cancellation clause, negotiate with the moving company, reach out to regulatory body or consider hiring a lawyer to help you out. But there may be a cancellation fee or penalty depending on the company policy.


Now that you know all about your moving paperwork, you can get yourself organized in no time and be well prepared for your moving process. Your administrative paperwork is an essential part of the moving process, and if you have them in place, you’re sure to reduce quite a lot of the burden from your shoulders. If you’re looking for good moving companies to assist you with your move, you could also check out some of our other blog articles that provide a comprehensive list of the best moving companies across the United States.