Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page
When your search for legit moving companies begins, you’re
probably bombarded with enticing advertisements and sales calls. But since
hiring movers is not exactly something you're familiar with, you may not be
able to pick the truth from tales. Before you sign off your mover, there are
several ways to look up for red flags during the early stages. And one such
method is looking up your moving company’s USDOT number.
In simple terms, checking the USDOT number is almost like
digging for dirt or doing a background check on the moving company you’ve
selected. This is done all before you give them the green light to take care of
your belongings. Looking to understand more about how you can track down the
number and pursue this project? Here’s what a USDOT number is & how to
All moving trucks crossing state lines possess a US Department of Transportation number (also just referred to as USDOT). This is a license provided to moving companies after they’ve registered their vehicle with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) division. The FMCSA introduced this procedure as a means to ensure all heavyweight rental trucks are complying with the safety regulations in place. It’s also an efficient way for the organization to monitor rental truck operations and protect the safety of customers planning to move.
By checking the USDOT number, you can verify if the company is legitimate and playing by the rules. All you have to do is type the DOT number on the FMCSA website, and you can pull out records to see the number of complaints the company has received. You can even go to the extent of finding information on accident records and much more. We’ll be covering all the data you can extort with a USDOT number. Overall, with the USDOT number, you conduct an extensive search to ensure your mover doesn’t have a tainted image with the FMCSA.
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The FMCSA wishes to safeguard people, especially those moving for the first time from rogue movers. With the DOT number initiative, customers using rental trucks are reassured of the moving service they pick. In addition to that, you can also use handy guides like the checklist tool on the FMCSA website to protect your move. Moving companies must also comply with the FMCSA regulation to provide customers with a booklet titled ‘Your Rights And Responsibilities When You Move’. This is a 23 page detailed booklet that serves as a guideline for customers to educate themselves on the requirements that moving companies are expected to follow by the federal law. A legitimate moving company with decades of experience in the industry would not fail to provide their customers with this information. This helps you dial down your search to a reputable company.
A moving truck that needs to cross over a state line must have a USDOT number. If this is a short distance move that would take place within the state itself, there’s a slight possibility that your moving company doesn’t have a USDOT number. Presently, there are 38 states that demand movers to obtain a DOT number, even if they only operate within state lines. The 12 states where even an intrastate moving company won’t have a DOT number are Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. These are the only states exempt from the rule.
A moving company would be happy to share their USDOT number
with the client. Unless of course, there’s something they wish to hide from
you. You can call and ask a prospective moving company for their USDOT number
without hesitation. Or you’ll probably just find the number on the mover’s
fleet. A majority of the companies also have the number displayed at the bottom
of their homepage alongside the company address. In most cases, it’s in fine
print, but then again, reading the fine print is essential before committing to
If your moving company is having compliance issues with
FMCSA and doesn’t have a DOT number, you can consider this as a sign that there
could be something shady about the business.
In a nutshell - You may be unfamiliar with the tactics of rogue moving companies and scammers. But at the same time you surely don’t want to compromise the safety of your belongings by picking the wrong mover. Therefore, looking up a USDOT number is just one of the several ways in which you can reassure yourself of the reliability of a moving company. The registration process to obtain a USDOT number is designed by the FMCSA with the aim of protecting customers from moving scams. Problematic movers can have their license revoked or issued fines against their USDOT number. Since all moving companies have to comply with these federal regulations, you can easily differentiate the bad movers from the good.
Now that you’re well acquainted with what USDOT actually
stands for and the weight it carries, let’s move on to the execution part, so
that you can learn more about the results of checking the USDOT number.
Step 01: Search for the USDOT number on the
moving company’s website or call the mover’s
representative to ask for it.
Step 02: Visit the FMCSA Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System website.
Step 03: Type the moving company’s name or
USDOT number to pull out a report.
The Safer Web system is an online portal where you can get access to a moving company’s safety records, ratings, a summary of any crashes, vehicle inspection records as well as evidence of insurance. Without mincing words, you can use this portal to capture a snippet of all the information you need to avoid getting ripped off by an illegitimate company. The criteria for pulling out a report is having the USDOT number or company name. The data on this online portal is free of cost, since it is issued in the interest of customers using rental trucks.
See also: List of Best Moving Companies in America
Once you’ve pulled out a report from the Safer web system,
it might get confusing to understand what you should look for. The interface on
the portal isn’t the best, so it may feel like you’re figuring out a Morse
code. However, here’s where we’ll be able to help you. Below is a list of things
you should be analysing to gain some insight into the legal performance of your
Here are the indicators to look for once you have the report:
For starters, it is necessary to double check whether the
company’s legal name is the same one that reflects in the FMCSA records. A
notable company’s name could be tweaked to something generic in order to lure
in more customers. So by counter checking the legal name, you could help avoid
Keep in mind that a dishonest moving company’s website could
very well mimic an honest one. Which is why we suggest that you reconfirm if
they’ve used the same address and phone number on their company website. The
report would give you access to the street, city, state and zipcode of the
company’s principal office.
Under the section, ‘operation classification’, your movers
should carry the status ‘Authorized for hire’. This serves as indication that
the company complies with the FMCSA regulations and has a good image. Steer
clear of companies that hold the status of ‘Inactive’ or ‘Unauthorized’.
You can also glance at the number of drivers employed by the
business. A reputable moving company that has been in the industry for long
would have more experience and a good fleet of well-trained drivers.
The next data that you should look closely at is the
inspection segment. There are 5 levels of inspection that moving trucks have to
successfully clear. In order to check the movers result, you would need to
click on the hyperlinked text ‘Inspections/Crashes in US’. You’ll also be able
to retrieve information on the total number of inspections conducted. We
suggest looking at the last date of inspection to understand if the moving
company has been keeping itself up-to-date with this requirement. Avoid dealing
with companies that have a high percentage of out of service drivers and
Each road crash is recorded against the company’s USDOT
number. It is necessary to check your mover’s involvement with crashes to
assure yourself that the company doesn’t have a bad reputation with road
accidents. In case of a higher number of reports against the number, it only
goes to prove that the moving company doesn’t have a good amount of
well-trained drivers. There are three categories under the crash segment.
Do note that if a crash calculation involves a fatality,
over 3 injuries and a tow away, it would be recorded as 1 single fatal crash.
Don’t forget to check the date range for when these crashes were reported. The
FMCSA provides indication of when these accidents were reported.
For example - The report would state something along the
lines of ‘Crashes reported to FMCSA by
states for 24 months prior to: 12/09/2020’
This is the most essential metric that determines whether a
moving company complies with all the safety regulations introduced by the
FMCSA. In simple terms, it is basically the overall grade that a moving company
achieves and then to an extent can gloat about it. A moving company can obtain
one of the following remarks at the bottom of the entire report.
Do note that the date when the company received the safety
rating will also be mentioned. It is necessary to factor in the date, so that
you’re aware of when this report was generated.
To check if your mover meets the requirements for insurance,
you would need to click on the ‘Licensing & Insurance’ section, so that
way, you can easily navigate. We’d like to mention that the section is located
at the top right corner of the report in a blue box. To be completely honest, you may not be able
to derive much from the insurance link, since the interface is not exactly what
one can term as cooperative. We suggest looking for an indication if the
insurance is revoked as that would be the main priority of checking this
A movers complaint record isn’t part of the FMCSA report, hence you would need to head to the ‘Household Goods Program’ division to see the number of complaints registered against a moving company’s USDOT number. Do note that you won’t be able to read detailed complaints like you can on Better Business Bureau (which is a trusted website for ratings and testimonials). Instead you would just be provided with the number of complaints recorded per year. You can refer to the complaint table to find evidence on the types of complaints reported.
If you see a good number of reports filed under the category of unauthorized operation, estimates/final charges, deceptive business or weighing practices, loss/damage and hostage of goods, you can immediately consider these as red flags.
See also: How to Choose a Moving Company
Overall, the report is a great way to evaluate whether an interstate moving company is complying with the safety standards set by federal law. And before hiring a company, it is a good practice to dig deeper about the legal aspects of a company than just the rosy picture portrayed on the website. It also isn’t an extremely time consuming task to pull out a report, once you have the USDOT number. That being said, just glancing over the FMCSA report isn’t enough to determine if a company is legitimate enough. That is why, we’ve compiled a short list of other things you should bear in mind while selecting a moving company.
See also: How to File a Moving Complaint
See also: How to Avoid Moving Scams and Frauds
You can’t really count on good luck to find a good mover. But it all boils down to starting your research a month or so in advance. The USDOT number surely helps you build your case of a reliable mover. However, we suggest you to also look up reviews and take recommendations from close friends before finalizing your mover.
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