Understanding Moving Forms & Documents

Moving to a new place can be an exciting yet daunting experience. Whether relocating within New Jersey or moving out of state, understanding the essential move documents is crucial for a smooth transition. In this blog, we’ll explore the various documents you may encounter during a move and provide insights into their significance. By familiarizing yourself with these documents, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the moving process confidently.

1. Moving Estimates

Before you begin your move, it’s advisable to obtain moving estimates from three licensed, insured and registered moving companies. These estimates outline the anticipated costs of your move, including transportation, packing services, valuation, additional labor, warehouse handling and storage if needed and any additional fees. State and Federal regulations require the estimate to be presented in writing after a visual survey, whether in-home or virtual, is performed.  Be sure to review the estimates carefully and compare them to make an informed decision. Signing your estimate does not legally bind you to the mover; it acknowledges that you received your pricing and required Consumer Protection information. Your Moving Consultant should be able to explain any costs and discrepancies in comparisons. A moving quote can be binding or non-binding, but even a binding quote can incur additional charges if you ask for more services not originally included on the estimate. So review your quote carefully to ensure all items are included in the cube sheet (see below) and the required services are listed.

2. Cube Sheet / Inventory List (estimate phase)

The inventory list is a detailed record of all the items being moved room by room.  It is prepared by the moving company and serves as a reference during the packing, loading, and unloading processes. An initial inventory list or ‘cube sheet’ is prepared during the visual survey to help calculate the move’s cost and determine the capacity (by cubic feet, hence the term cube sheet) needed to service your move.  In addition to listing the furniture, it will usually list boxes and totes already packed and ones necessary to complete the packing in the move.

Cartons marked ‘PBO’ stands for packed by the owner to indicate these are articles the owner advised they would pack on their own. The other cartons are assumed or may be marked as ‘CP’ or Carrier Packed, meaning the mover expects to provide the materials and labor to pack these articles. The initial inventory or cube sheet may also include notes about disassembly and special items or include a section for items not going.

It is the document that your price is based on and serves as an outline of what the mover is expecting to take and packing the mover is expecting to perform.  Take the time to review the inventory list and make any necessary additions or corrections with your Moving Consultant at least a week before the move.  Changing items on the list may result in price adjustments. This document serves as the key to transparency when it comes to pricing.  If a mover does not provide a cube sheet with their estimate, it is a red flag. Signing your inventory does not mean you can’t make changes, but it confirms that the articles and services listed are what you and the mover reviewed and what your price is based upon.

3. Order for Service

In local or intrastate moving, the Order for Service is the agreement between the customer and the mover which finalizes your move order. This is usually an updated copy of the estimate but now will include your move date(s), any updates and all terms and conditions and must be furnished to the customer at least 24 hours before the move date.

In interstate moving, the “Order for Service’ was eliminated in 2023 since the same information was provided in advance on the Bill of Lading.

4. Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is a legally binding contract between you and the moving company. Upon completion of the move, you should obtain from the mover a Bill of Lading signed by each party.  It includes essential details such as the moving company’s information, license number, pick-up and delivery dates, origin and destination locations for the move, and the terms and conditions of the move. The ‘BOL’ will list all the actual services performed and the actual charges you have to pay for services rendered by the mover. It is signed by the customer and the mover.  Carefully review and retain a copy of the Bill of Lading to protect your rights and ensure all agreed-upon services are fulfilled.

5. Inventories and Warehouse Receipts

When performing a direct move within the State of NJ, the mover is not required to create a new inventory.  It is assumed the Customer can follow the truck from point A to point B and inspect to ensure the truck is off-loaded.

When a mover provides storage for you in their warehouse, they will provide you with a warehouse receipt. It includes the name of the person (shipper/customer) who owns the goods; the date received into the warehouse, the origin location and a detailed list of each item with a  description and condition of each article received. The goods in storage with the mover can only be released under the authority of the shipper or owner listed on the receipts unless the court orders otherwise. This means that if  Anne Smith puts her goods in storage, and her ex-husband, Bill Smith, calls to request delivery of some items he wants, the mover will not relinquish the goods unless it can be verified with the original shipper Anne Smith since she is listed as the owner.

When moving across state lines, the same details are provided in the same fashion as a warehouse receipt, but the list of belongings is referred to as the customer’s  ‘inventory.’ A direct interstate move may not involve storage, but it involves tendering your goods to the mover for a more lengthy period of time out of your view or access. An inventory is mandated in residential moving when crossing a state line, even a short distance.

In addition to serving as a receipt for your belongings, the warehouse receipt or inventory details the condition the goods were in when tendered to the mover. This detail is invaluable in case of any disputes regarding damaged or missing items. In addition to signing the inventory at the origin, you’ll need to sign the inventory at the destination to verify receipt of goods at the time of delivery.

6. Valuation / Insurance

Although Valuation is not required to have its own document, this is an important element in your moving documents. You will always find a section on the Estimate/ Order and Bill of Lading that reviews Valuation options. Moving companies in New Jersey are required to offer two types of insurance coverage options: Released Value Protection and Full Value Protection. Released Value Protection is the basic coverage included in the moving cost, which compensates for damaged or lost items based on their weight at $1.00 when moving intrastate (within N.J.) and $0.60 per pound when moving interstate (across state lines). On the other hand, Full Value Protection provides more comprehensive coverage, allowing for the repair, replacement, or reimbursement of damaged items based on their actual value. Take the time to understand the insurance options available and any exclusions and consider purchasing additional coverage if needed.

7. Supplemental Documents

The mover may provide other guidelines and education to help you better prepare for your move and make sure the move adheres to all local, state and federal regulations.

This may include:

  • Articles Not to Pack List  – this will list hazardous materials not allowed on the truck.
  • High-Value Declaration / Valuables Disclaimer – the document in which the mover verifies with the customer they are not liable for certain valuables and valuables not declared.
  • Gypsy Moth or Spotted Lantern Fly Inspection Checklist – depending on where you move from and to, your signature may be required to verify you have inspected your outside goods for invasive insects to ensure they are not hitching a ride to another part of the state or country.
  • Particle Board Disclaimer- advises the customer to the limits of liability a mover has when handling particle board constructed pieces.

(From the FMCSA Rights & Responsibilities When You Move)

Moving  involves a variety of documents that play a crucial role in ensuring a successful relocation. By understanding the purpose and significance of each document, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the process, safeguard your belongings, and protect your rights.

For full details on moving documents within NJ, visit www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/pmw and for interstate visit www.protectyourmove.gov  Of course, you can contact the professionals at www.njmovers.com to help answer questions or direct you to resources.

Remember to thoroughly review all documents, seek clarification when needed, and keep copies for your records. With proper knowledge and preparation, your move to, from or within the Garden State will be a seamless and positive experience.

Blog Submission: Tara Dixon, VP, Sea Cure Moving, Inc. &  NJWMA Movers for Consumers Committee Member.

If you have any questions or concerns about your next move, you can contact New Jersey Warehouse and Movers Association – njmovers.com


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