What Are Mover Tariffs?


A tariff is an issuance, in whole or part, that your mover is required to have on file with the federal government’s Surface Transportation Board. It contains rates, rules, regulations, classifications, and other provisions related to the service they provide to their customers. The mover’s tariff is required to contain three items:

  1. An accurate description of the services the mover offers to the public

  2. The specific applicable rates (or how these rates are calculated) and terms for available services

  3. A format that allows customers to determine exact rates and service terms for a shipment

Every section of the tariff should clearly describe each type of service that your move may require and the charges that may apply. For example, the packing charges will show the cost of the carton, and the labor to pack and unpack the carton. Every possible charge will be broken out in a way that will allow you to determine costs if your type of service changes in any way. You may decide to pack yourself but may want your mover to supply the cartons.

Federal law requires a mover to advise you of your right to inspect the tariff, including its schedule of rates and charges. Tariffs are made a part of the contract carriage (bill of lading) between you and the mover. Usually, a tariff is a huge book of every possible type of charge or service. You may have to go to the moving company to inspect the complete tariff. Upon request, however, the mover will furnish you a free copy of any tariff provisions containing rates, rules, or charges that apply to your actual shipment.

Mover liability

A tariff may also include provisions limiting the mover’s liability. This would generally be described in a section declaring the value on the bill of lading. A second tariff provision may set the periods and required process for filing claims. A third provision may reserve the mover’s right to assess additional charges for additional services performed. For nonbinding estimates, another tariff provision may base charges on exact weight of your goods being transported. There may be other provisions in the tariff that may affect your charges. It’s always advisable to have the mover explain all applicable charges. As with any contract, you will want to understand what you’re buying and how you will be charged for it.

In the moving industry today, most tariffs are electronically managed. The mover simply has to enter information about your move such as weight, packing services, third party and assessorial charges, and any other applicable services. The mover is then able to obtain a complete listing of your estimated charges based on their published tariff. As a consumer, it’s recommended that you carefully check the credentials of your mover, and normally, a complete inspection of the tariff is not needed. However, you have the right to confirm that rates given in your estimate matches those in the tariff. The mover should be happy to allow you to verify the charges.

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