Rules & Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces Federal consumer protection regulations related to the interstate shipment of household goods (i.e., household moves that cross State lines). FMCSA has held this responsibility since 1999, and the Department of Transportation has held this responsibility since 1995 (the Interstate Commerce Commission held this authority prior to its termination in 1995).
The FMCSA regulates interstate household moves under the authority of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which Congress passed in 2005. Interstate moving companies must seek authority from the FMCSA to conduct household goods moves and must comply with Federal requirements. For example, household goods carriers must meet licensing and registration requirements, comply with rules related to estimates and the release of goods, and provide consumers with information related to their rights and responsibilities. The FMCSA regulates about 4,800 interstate household goods carriers and 500 household goods brokers.
An estimated 35 million American households move each year, including about 600,000 moves where consumers hire a moving company to assist them with a move that crosses State lines. These interstate moves are regulated by the FMCSA (moves entirely within the boundaries of one State are regulated by State law). While most of these moves are conducted without incident, a significant number leave consumers dissatisfied, overcharged, or without their personal possessions. FMCSA has established a Web site (http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov) and a toll-free hotline (1-888-368-7238) to receive consumer complaints about interstate moves.
While both the FMCSA and State enforcement agencies can take legal action against dishonest movers, public education is critical: The more the moving public knows about dishonest movers and good moving practices, the better able individual consumers will be to avoid becoming victims.