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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mover in Washington, D.C.

Over the past decade, Washington D.C has experienced steady growth in housing with a projection of population growth due to the influx of people. Before you move to a new home in Washington D.C., it's important to choose a professional moving company to handle the process to save you the time and stress. To determine if your potential mover is a good hire, you can ask the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in Washington, D.C.?

To legally operate in Washington, D.C., intrastate commercial moving vehicle operators must have a basic business license. The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is responsible for issuing these licenses to companies that provide moving and storage services in the district. Interested individuals can apply online via the DC Business Portal, or they can visit the physical location of the office at:

1100 4th Street,
2nd Floor,
Washington, DC 20024

Before the applicants can be issued a business license, they must fulfill other requirements outlined in the basic business license application. These include:

  • Pay an application fee of $104.50
  • Provide proof of a certificate of liability insurance.
  • Corporate Registration: If the moving company is a corporation, limited liability partnership, or a trust, it must be registered with the DCRA's Corporations Division. Also, if the business is operating under a fictitious or a name that is not legally recognized, then it must register its trade name with the Division. Applicants can complete an application form and pay applicable fees online via the CorpOnline. To use this service, applicants must create a profile to access the online services to register as a corporation or trade name. Contact the DPOR Corporate Division at (202) 442-4400 for more information.
  • Contract: All applicants for a basic business license must submit two pre-printed contracts that comply with the regulations established by the DC Code and the DC Municipal Regulations.
  • Police criminal history report: Applicants must provide a copy of their police criminal history report from the jurisdiction where the business is located. Residents can obtain a Police Criminal History Report (PD-70) from the DC Metropolitan Police Department, Police Criminal History Report Division, located at:
300 Indiana Avenue,
Room 1075,
Washington, DC 20001.

The report must not be older than 30 days from the date of application. For more information, contact the DC Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-4245.

  • Storage facility list: If the applicant provides storage services, they must list all facilities used in their business operation, including the certificate of occupancy numbers.
  • Tax Registration: Applicants must provide a tax number on their application. This includes the Employer's Identification Number (EIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Services and other taxes obtained through the DC Office of Tax and Revenue via its online platform. You can contact the Office of Tax and Revenue for more information at (202) 727-4829.

When relocating out of the district, you must ensure your intended moving company has registered with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. You can confirm that a company has been authorized to provide interstate moving services using this agency's online search portal.

The moving company you are considering hiring for a job must have a valid license. You can confirm if their license is valid by utilizing DCRA's online Access DC portal, where you will be required to create a user account on the portal to access the portal. You can direct your queries regarding the basic business license requirement to the DCRA by email or at (202) 442-4400.

How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in Washington, D.C.?

Before you start planning a move in Washington, D.C., you must understand the financial requirements of your scheduled moving services. Factors such as the size and volume of the items being transported and the distance between one point and the other affect the cost of a moving service in Washington, D.C. To determine the exact cost of a moving service in Washington, D.C., moving companies often use various methods, including:

  • Rates by Hour: The charges for a given job may be based on the time it takes to complete the task. For instance, if it takes a couple of hours to move your items from point A to point B, the cost will be calculated based on the time it takes and rounded up to the nearest hour.
  • Rates by Weight/Distance: Charges are computed by considering the distance covered by the goods being transported and the weight of the items being moved.
  • Rates by Written Estimates: Before the move is carried out, the moving company will provide a written estimate reflecting the potential cost of operation after inspecting your items. This method includes all necessary details, such as the agreed-upon services and an inventory of the items to be moved.

Before you hire a moving company, it is important to get and compare quotes from various movers in the area. Also, ensure you receive a bill of lading at pickup time. This receipt shows the charges that the moving company is charging you for their moving services.

Transportation and material moving workers in Washington, D.C., earn an average annual wage of $54,190. The list below compares the average hourly wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in several major cities in the country:

Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. Regulations?

When planning your move to or from Washington, D.C., you must ensure that your movers obtain all required permits before the move. The DC Department of Transportation issues relevant public space permits to interested moving companies through its Transportation Online Permitting System. Movers are required to obtain the following public space permits:

  • A commercial vehicle loading zone permit to park in designated parking zones for up to two hours. It also grants the vehicles the right to travel in and out of the district.
  • A public space/annual permit to park their vehicles or occupy spaces such as metered or non-metered curb lanes, travel lanes, and sidewalks in the district.
  • A reserved parking permit to reserve curbside parking spaces for their moving truck at a residential property. The will allow the vehicle to park in up to four curbside parking spaces for 16 hours.

Interested individuals can pay the applicable fees and complete an application form online to apply for the relevant public space permit. Applicants will be required to register for a new user account if they do not have an existing account. For more information on public space permitting requirements, you can contact the DC Department of Transportation at:

1100 4th Street,
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: (202) 442-4670

What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?

When choosing a moving company in Washington, D.C., you must choose movers with the necessary experience and knowledge to handle the various aspects of the move. Five types of moves are commonly carried out in Washington, D.C.:

  • Local moves
  • Long-distance moves
  • Inter-state moves
  • International moves
  • Small moves

A local move is a type of move that involves moving within a certain distance, usually within 50 to 100 miles from where you are currently located. On the other hand, long-distance moves are much longer even though the move is within the state. The distance doesn't matter for an interstate because you are simply moving to a new state. The cost of a move will depend on the weight of the items you are transferring. Meanwhile, an international move means moving to another country from the United States. You'll need to hire a mover that specializes in international moves. The shipment volume will also be considered to arrive at a final cost. A small move is a local relocation that involves moving small items weighing 2000 pounds or less, such as books, clothes, and furniture, from one place to another.

There are two types of add-on moving services commonly offered by local moving companies, and they are called a full-service move or a self-service move. A full-service move means the staff members of the moving company will take care of all the details of the move, including the packing and unloading of the items. On the other hand, a self-service move involves the company moving the items to their new location while you pack and unpack.

Before signing an agreement with a moving company, you should thoroughly research their services and ensure they meet your expectations. This helps you avoid misunderstandings. You should also provide the moving company with the necessary information to ensure your items are appropriately handled. In addition, you must provide access to your items for inspection to allow the company to provide an accurate and up-to-date estimate.

Cost estimates for common moving services supplied by professional moving companies in Washington, D.C. are listed below:

Local/long-distance residential moving (per hour, cost of moving truck inclusive)
$75 - $96
Piano moving (within Washington, D.C.)
$235 - $300
Mobile home moving (for a single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)
$2,000- $2,650
Moving out of studio apartment
$265 - $500
Moving out of the two-bedroom apartment (item packing and unpacking included)
$331 - $650
Moving out of a three or four-bedroom apartment (item packing and unpacking included)
$414 - $1,700

Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?

Getting ready to move can be stressful, especially for a family. Hiring a professional moving company that offers packing and storage services makes the process easier and saves you time, money, and stress. Some of the standard packing services offered by moving companies in the district include:

  • Full packing/unpacking
  • Partial packing/unpacking
  • Used box pick-up and disposal
  • Professional box handling and organization

Some moving situations require you to keep your items in a storage facility for some given time before they are finally relocated to your new home. These moving companies offer on-site or warehouse storage and mobile or portable storage options. You may need a storage facility in the following situations:

  • You are currently renovating your home and need a safe and secure place to keep your belongings while the work is being done.
  • You're planning on relocating soon, and it's not possible to access your current location while you're at it, or your current place is not safe to keep your items any longer.
  • You plan on making a long-distance move and need time to settle in before your belongings arrive.
  • You're planning on moving to a smaller space that will not allow you to store all of your belongings.

Nonetheless, whether you are hiring a moving company for packing or storage services, be sure to check their pricing and availability. If the company you are considering does not provide both storage and packing services, then you should consider choosing a different moving company that can provide you with a broader range of services to ensure that all your moving activities are handled by one company without the fear of property loss. If you are using a storage facility, make sure you find out the details of the facility and how it will be used to store and mark your possessions.

What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers in Washington, D.C.?

A tip shows appreciation for the hard work that your movers put in for you. Although it is not obligatory to tip your movers in Washington, D.C., it is still a tradition to do so in appreciation of their services. Some homeowners use a percentage-based method when tipping movers, while others have a time-money ratio method for calculating tips. The standard range for percentage-based tips is usually between 5% and 20%; typical ranges for time-money ratio-based tips are also listed below:

  • $10 - $20 per mover for four hours of work
  • $20 - $40 per mover for eight hours of work
  • $40 - $60 per mover for 12 hours of work

Before you hire a moving company, you must consider the various factors that affect the process of moving when calculating tips. Some of these include the weather conditions, the size of the items being moved, and the difficulty of the move. You can also ask the moving company what they consider the appropriate tips for their services. However, it's not obligatory to follow their suggestion. Also, it's generally not a good idea to tip if you are unsatisfied with the company's services. Some situations where you need not tip include:

  • The movers lose or damage some of your items.
  • The movers were rude or disrespectful to you or your family
  • The movers arrived late and offered no compelling reasons for the lateness
  • The movers took too many breaks
  • The movers deliberately prolonged the work to increase their fees, especially when payment is charged hourly.
  • The movers fail to perform previously agreed-upon services.

If you see something that you suspect is unprofessional behavior by the movers, then make sure to notify the company.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in Washington, D.C.?

Accidents involving moving companies are prevalent in the US, costing the country approximately $871 billion annually. In 2018, the transportation and material moving industries accounted for around 20% of all on-the-job accidents in the United States. Unfortunately, many of these accidents cannot be easily avoided, and if the moving company is not insured, these accidents can cause substantial financial losses. The need to hire an insured moving company cannot be undermined.

Moving companies are required to maintain a certificate of general liability insurance to protect them against financial losses resulting from their business activities. It shields the company from the expenses associated with out-of-court settlements and judgments. Moving companies may offer their customers two choices of liability coverage, which include:

  • Full protection: This provides complete coverage for their customers' property. It makes them responsible for the replacement value of the lost or damaged goods for a specified amount.
  • Released value coverage: This type of insurance covers the replacement value of the damaged or destroyed property. It can be used to repair the item, replace it with a new one, or settle for its market value.

It is important to note that your homeowners' or renters' insurance does not cover the damage caused by moving. To ensure that your insurance coverage is adequate, ask your intended movers to provide proof of their insurance. Contact the insurance provider to authenticate the insurance policy to ensure active coverage. Confirming guarantees, you will not be liable for any damages that may occur during your move. To learn more about the insurance requirements of local moving companies in Washington, D.C., contact the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs at (202) 442-4400.

Can You Provide References or Recommendations in Washington, D.C.?

DC-based moving companies generally do not hesitate to give their customers references, as this indicates their reliability and professionalism. Be wary if the company you are considering hiring for your next move can't provide references from past clients (this usually means that they provide subpar services). Look for another moving company who can provide all the necessary references. Contact any reference dropped by the moving company to ensure they are legit.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Moving Company in Washington, D.C.

When looking for a moving company in Washington, D.C., you must remain cautious to avoid deceptive moving businesses preying on unsuspecting residents. There are various ways that a fraudulent moving company can present itself in the district. Some of these include:

  • Charging for expenses that are not covered in an estimate.
  • Holding goods hostage.
  • Demanding full upfront payment before the move.
  • Providing cost estimates without an inspection of the items to be moved.
  • Use of moving trucks that do not have company logos.
  • Missing delivery dates.

It is important to take precautionary steps and safeguard yourself from being a moving scam victim when looking for a moving company. You can protect yourself from moving scams in the following ways:

  • Get written estimates from at least two or three moving companies. Make sure that they thoroughly inspect your items before they provide these estimates.
  • Ensure the moving company has the necessary licenses issued by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. You can confirm through the agency's online Access DC portal or by calling (202) 442-4400. Alternatively, you can verify by utilizing the Uhire online license search platform.
  • Get referrals from trusted sources like friends and family who have successfully moved. You can also use reputable third-party review websites like the Better Business Bureau. Before you hire any of the moving companies, make sure that you thoroughly research the company's history and reputation.
  • Avoid moving companies that ask for a cash deposit or full payment upfront.
  • Ensure that the moving company provides you with a written contract that clearly states the terms of their services. The contract should also include a "Not-to-Exceed" price, which is the maximum the moving company can charge you (unless you request additional services, which should be detailed in a written change order).
  • Ensure the moving company has the necessary insurance coverage. Ask them about their transit protection and liability policies.
  • Take an inventory of your items by photographing and videotaping them to record their contents. This will allow the moving company to identify the items and their condition.
  • Make sure that any contract you are signing is appropriately written. Avoid signing any contract you do not fully understand.
  • Inquire from the moving company about potential gray areas in the moving process. This will allow you to make an informed decision. If you do not get a satisfactory answer, you should look for another reliable and reputable moving company to hire for the job.

If you want to complain against a household goods moving company concerning their fraudulent activities, you can file with the DCRA by submitting a consumer protection request online. You can also file a complaint against a moving company working interstate by contacting the FMCSA's National Consumer Complaint Database online or via the agency's toll-free number at (888) 368-7238.

Complaints can also be reported to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia by completing and submitting an online complaint form or calling (202) 442-9828. This office can also receive complaints via email or by texting the word "complaint" to (202) 738-5212 and following the guided prompts.