[ Manuella Irwin, ]

Working with an unprofessional or even shady mover can add stress to an already stressful situation. To ensure a smooth move, you should do your homework to find the best moving company. Skipping the extensive research can result in lots of problems.

So, how do you avoid those problems? Here’s some guidance.

1. Ask Around.
Asking friends, relatives and colleagues for recommendations is a fast, easy way to come up with names of trusted movers.

2. Check Them Out.
When you’ve come up with the names of potential movers, look into their backgrounds. The mover you hire should be licensed and insured.

Movers that operate only within a state typically are governed by the state transportation department or the state utilities regulator. However, some states don’t regulate movers at all. If your state does regulate local movers, check with the appropriate agency to find out whether the movers you’re considering are on the up and up.

Interstate movers—those that move household belongings from one state to another—are supposed to be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This federal agency maintains a database of all registered movers, where you can investigate moving companies by just plugging in each mover’s name or U.S. Department of Transportation number.

All overseas movers are licensed and regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission.

3. Dig Deeper.
After confirming that a mover is legitimate, you should do even more research. Being licensed usually translates into being safe, but if you want outstanding service, you should pay attention to a mover’s professional credentials. The American Moving & Storage Association and the International Association of Movers both impose strict requirements for their members, and both are dedicated to high standards in the industry.

To go a step further, you can learn more about a company’s reputation by visiting review websites, online forums and blogs. A greater resource in this area is the nonprofit Better Business Bureau.

4. Shop Around.
After settling on a few movers, contact each one for a quote. In all, you should obtain at least five moving quotes.

Ask each mover to come to your place and provide an on-site estimate. If a local mover refuses to do this, that should raise a red flag.

5. Comb Through the Estimates.
Once you secure moving bids, you should carefully review them. Movers’ practices surrounding fees vary. Before picking a mover, make sure you fully understand the estimate. Precisely what is included in the price? For instance, is there an extra cost if you live on the fourth floor of an apartment building rather than the first floor? Does the mover charge more for hauling bulky items?

Get to know the various charges involved so you can avoid surprises on moving day.

Under federal law, an interstate mover must publish its moving tariff, according to If you’re embarking on an interstate move, be sure to request the tariff. This contains everything you need to know about the company’s fees, rules and regulations, along with all potential charges, according to