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Starting a Business


Starting a Moving Business

Starting a moving business? Smart move! Families move once every five years, and there's also good money to be made in moving businesses. But opening a moving business isn't a sure thing, as we explain in this article on how to start a moving business.

Unfortunately, many aspiring business owners think all it takes is a strong back and a pickup truck to start a moving company.
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Even the big, national Graebel moving company started small. If they, and countless smaller moving companies, can be successful, surely you can too, right?

The reality is that starting a moving company requires as much - or more - preparation as any other type of small business. If you follow the rules there's a good chance your business will be a success. If you don't, you could end up sued, broke, and bankrupt.

Like any startup, the decision to launch a moving company is a business decision. It deserves the same level of preparation you would give any other business including research, financing, and (most importantly) a business plan. However, moving companies also have some unique requirements you may not know about. Although the list of unique requirements can be long, here are the highlights . . .

Moving Equipment

Obviously a pickup truck is not going to take you very far in the moving industry. Once you've decided to start a moving company, your first order of business is to procure a vehicle that is up to the task. Since you will be entrusted with household items of value, it's important that your truck is outfitted with proper moving gear including a ramp, tie downs, etc. Additionally, you will need to think about the other equipment your new business will require. Dollies, straps, and packing blankets are some of the things that immediately come to mind.


The next question that needs to be addressed is who will be doing the actual moving. If you plan to do it yourself, are you physically up to the challenge? Moving your sister's house was one thing. Moving one or more houses a day - that's something else entirely. Even if you think you can do some of the work yourself, it is physically impossible for you to run the business without at least one other employee to help move heavy and bulky objects. If you don't have someone in mind, you're going to need to find someone before you accept your first job.


Some states require moving companies to obtain special licenses and permits. Although the requirements vary by state, licensing and permits are designed to make sure moving companies are legitimate and responsible enough to be trusted with the public's valuables. In some cases, you may even be required to take a written test to prove your worthiness to safely and securely move possessions from Point A to Point B.


No matter how careful you are, accidents are going to happen. One minor slip and Aunt Lucy's antique piano can quickly become a useless pile of wires and firewood. Long before you lay a finger on your customers' valuables, you will need to nail down an insurance policy with a reasonable amount of coverage for damages and liability.

Related Articles

Want to learn more about this topic? If so, you will enjoy these articles:

Moving Company Regulations and Permits
Starting a Successful Moving Business

Conversation Board

Have something to say about starting a moving company? We'd love to hear your comments, questions and suggestions for others who are getting into the moving business. Thanks.

kenny minchin 8/25/2007

I am trying to start a moving company and it is very hard to figure out pricing. I was wondering if you could help me out. It would be very helpful. Thank you.

Ken Gaebler 8/27/2007

Kenny, Thanks for your message. Assuming that you are starting a moving company near where you live, I would recommend that you get moving price quotes from the moving company competition in the area to learn how they are pricing their moving services. Based on that information, you may want to price a little lower or you might want to price higher and differentiate yourself based on better service. Good luck to you, my friend!

Sean 6/28/2008

My brother and I owned a moving company while I was attending college. We lived in Massachusetts and were required to fill out an application for a moving company license, and about two months later we attended a hearing where we received a moving license from the Massachusetts department of Energy and Transportation in Boston. The people there were helpful in that they gave us what turned out to be accurate information reguarding average prices and what we should bill to be competitive. They also gave us the same moving forms and contracts that other companies that I had worked for had used. They also suggested an insurer that sold inland marine insurance, which is required insurance for movers in Massachusetts by law and for which I had been having a very hard time finding an insurance provider for. In addition, you need a moving supply company and a credit card for truck rentals. To legally start a Massachusetts moving company it cost me about $3,500. Knowing what I now know, I could have done it for less. I hope this is helpful information to some of the people who read this who want to start a moving business.

samara 7/24/2008

I'm thinking of starting a moving business since we live in a town with two major universities and there's not much local competition. However, I have no idea how to get started or a rough estimate of what equipment I will need or how much it all will cost, or if the moves are mostly local? If anyone out there has done this in a college town and can give some advice as to how I can start my moving company, please let me know. Thanks, Samara.

Tim Lee 12/21/2008

What Type of insurance is needed to start a moving company and who are some companies who offer it?

lenin 1/18/2009

i'm looking to start my own moving business in the Denver,CO area. I would appreciate some input from anyone that knows about permits, licenses, insurance needs for such a business.

Bae Bae 1/25/2009

Im a female looking to start a moving company in Cleveland please assist

Eric 2/3/2009

I am looking to start my own moving business, in Sheboygan, WI. Is there any special permits? And does anyone know what insurance will cost me?

Alex Sormaz 2/5/2009

Hi My name is Alex i've been moving people of and on for about 20 years now and i worked for many different Moving company's around U.S. Im planing to start my own moving company here in L.A. My question is how much business comes from the Yellow pages and how much from the well designed web? Is there any way to tell the ratio since looks like Y. pages are in decline. In the other hand every serious Mover still use Y. pages and pays for the entire page huge amount of money i guess there must be a reason for it.i guess this is the question for the sales rep's My mayor concern is the effective marketing. Any ideas for the starters? Thank you for this awesome forum!

Gary 2/5/2009

Lenin, What you need to do is first get your trucks. Second, call an insurance company that carries box truck and cargo insurance. Third, call the state and ask them about the moving permits and moving licence and how much coverage is required. Fourth, get dollies, blankets, and tie downs. Finally, call the other moving companyies in your area and come up with your pricing. I would get me a 4 man crew per truck with a set price per hour. GOOD LUCK BUT YOU RUN THE BUSINESS AND GET PEOPLE TO DO THE MOVING FOR YOU.

Shavon Angela Shepard-Walker 2/9/2009

I own a moving company and am female. I have been in business for 3 years and I love it. But the one thing that anyone should know is find out what is needed in your state to open a moving company. I was fined $10,000 for my first fine because I didnt have a CPCN #. That was a big fine to learn from my mistakes. Uf a you have a U-Haul in your area that will help because they have a way to network online and get moving jobs.

Liza 2/10/2009

Hubby and I want to start a moving company in Nevada as hubby is already a mover and has a big clientele (he can't use a truck without a company though so customers rent their own). I went to TSA to find out about permit requirements some time ago and was pretty discouraged. They want you to have a LOT of money in the bank before getting started, and an extremely detailed marketing plan saying exactly how many jobs we will have and coming from where (including letters from realtors who will send business). They were not friendly and helpful in any way. I've been trying to write the application but it is so hard without help. I also need to try to get an insurance quote and I'm having a hard time finding an insurance company with movers insurance. Any suggestions for company? I don't know how much coverage is needed in NV. Where can I find out? Funding MIGHT be taken care of when we know how much everything is going to cost. Would like to have enough money to keep going for a few months just in case. Otherwise who might give us a loan? Grateful for any info.

Liza 2/10/2009

Alex, the Yellow Pages are really expensive! We're planning to start out small with one truck so we will advertise with flyers (door-hanger type), hit apartment complexes, and storages (this can work both ways). Make sure to hand out business cards as often as you can, and create a website (nearly free). Hope this helps.

Gray 2/18/2009

The problem with starting a moving company in California is the government. The workmans comp is 32% on the emplyees not to mention matching Social security. Liability insurance on the truck is almost $700 a month per truck. Fuel has skyrocketed. There is so much compitition that a lot of companys are charging less than what I did in 1980. There really is no money anymore in California moving industry.

Alex 2/24/2009

Gray, I love California and the workers compensation laws here. 80% of Moving Company owners anywhere in 50 states hire gang bangers, drug addicts, scum of the earth, illegal aliens or anyone they can get very cheep in a busy season. This is the proven fact and accident waiting to happened. That's why in CA, the laws are the way they are.

This business is run by greed and egoism. I want to change that. There are ways to make a honest living and there are few companies that do that. I want to be one of them.

Liza, you can go to DOT web site and get information about insurance companies just by looking at which ones are used by Movers in your area. This is a public record and can be seen via the DOT web site.

My main concern is marketing. For starters, I would appreciate any creative and effective ideas for marketing a moving company. That would be great and very helpful.

Thanks everyone for your tips.

troy 3/3/2009

I am trying to start a moving business in pa but I keep getting protested. I have the truck and insurances from my other business in place as well as the help. Do i need to prove storage? And should I get people to sign anything to prove the need for another moving service in the area?

Dave P 3/13/2009

Good luck to all in the Business. Hope all endavors are good money makers. How easy is it to get financing and is it possible to get Uhaul to hold a truck for you at certain times so you can do your jobs until you get your own vehicle

Dave 3/13/2009

As a third-party provider of services ( and to hundreds of different moving companies, I will attest that it is not the wisest time to enter the moving business. The economic downturn has created a huge slump in this business. There are fewer moves and too many moving companies competing to get the same jobs. As such, rates are in decline. Many well-established moving companies are probably not going to survive. That said - each geographic market is different. If you do start a moving company keep in mind that it is surprisingly complicated. For a very straightforward, simple task of relocating someone belongs, it is a very tricky business. There is considerable of state and federal regulations. There is plenty of liability issues and insurance to buy.

MD 3/15/2009

starting a moving company is not complicated-just involves researching your market and price comparing other moving companies. The economic situation has not effected the moving industry at all. It has only created higher competitiveness within the industry itself. It aint rocket science, it's just moving furniture.

Tony 3/23/2009

Question to Sean - "..To legally start a Massachusetts moving company it cost me about $3,500. Knowing what I now know, I could have done it for less..." - can you please expand on this. I have been running under radar for about 1 year, trying to go legit. I will appreciate the advise.

Moverman 3/23/2009

Hello everybody, I am in california,let me tell you the competition is fierce,but there is still plenty of work. what you need is a marketing plan alot of creativity, and experience in onsite estimating, also what is needed is hands on experience as well as a loyal crew, whom you have to pay average salary, and be fair but firm. or they will rob you dont think by saving money,is the smart route to take.

Stave 4/1/2009

I am trying to start a moving Company in Texas. Just to comment on the industry, as long as there are people there will always be the need to move. The keys to a successful moving and storage business (in texas anyway) is marketing and customer service. 94% of this industry is local independent moving companies that employs less than 5 people per company or micro-businesses (grossing less than one million dollars annually). You do the math; the industry needs positive, trust worthy companies to give this industry, the independent contractor sector, the face-lift it so desperately needs. Good luck to all who have decided to become a part of this industry!

Kanacas 4/1/2009

on the california household goods permit (P.U.C Test)what is the test like?

Carol Smith 4/5/2009

What is needed to start a moving company in Bossier City, LA. We have Barksdale AFB here. I just lost my job and I don't want to work for anyone again. Please help.

Terrance 4/8/2009

Hi im trying to start a moving co is there like a movers book or a check list on how to start a moving co. and what about quoting software and paper work such as contracts or etc? thanks

Tommy D 4/10/2009

I am in the process in starting a moving company here in Fl. i found it pretty simple: cargo insurance and I M license and the obvious truck and things you will need to held with the move itself..As far as marketing your company i am having great success by hooking up with leasing agents in luxury apt. and offering gift cards for referral fees.No need for internet advertisement yet..

Bryan G 4/21/2009

okay this one is for Tommy D.....what exactly are you telling the leasing agents in the offices?? How much are the gift cards per referral

Bakari A. 5/16/2009

I have worked as a driver, packer, and also a broker for numerous moving companies.The time has come for me to start my own company, What is the easy way to start, utilizing just one vehicle? Where do I go to get these Permits?

JW 5/29/2009

Im start a moving company in houston,tx any and all information is helpful and needed. I've worked for a few moving companies in the past but I really need help with the legal aspect of it all. I have a truck a mechanic and moving help on deck. Any and all helpful infor is greatly apperciated. Thanks

06/12/09 6/12/2009

My husband and some friends are trying to start moving company. He's a truck driver/movers and his friends are all movers. They are worked at the same moving company. We do really needs help with legal aspect of it and needing more information on how to do it.

jones 6/14/2009

Im in need of assistance please. I have been in Iraq for the last 3 years saving everything. I believe Im ready to start a moving co. in TX. Please provide me with any help.Thank you

Ryan 7/3/2009

Hey, good luck to all in their business. I've been a mover for the past 4 years to pay for college and just wanted to point out that it is a seasonal business for the most part, with the busy time being May-September. Just be aware of the fact that business will slow to a crawl in the winter months. Having a storage place can really hold you over in this time, as you'll be collecting the monthly storage payments. I don't know much about the insurance and permits, but if you're just starting out, u-haul and budget are pretty good to rent trucks from, but often come out to be more money than anticipated. The "rent me for 19.95" signs usually end up being roughly 100 dollars to rent after gas, and mileage charges, so be sure to add that into your estimate. A good rate to charge is 100 dollars an hour for 3 men, as you can end up losing money with a flat rate, as some pieces of furniture need to be disassembled or just take a long time to maneuver out of the house. An hourly rate will protect you against that. That's all from me, hope I've helped someone.

Alabama moving company 8/3/2009

I am actively trying to start a moving company in Alabama and my problem seems to be finding the appropriate insurance to get started. Please provide me with some advise on what type of insurance I need and who provides it. Also, can you give me a rule of thumb on how much insurance I should get and about how much the insurance rates are.

eric 8/7/2009

hi my name is eric i have been a mover for ten years now always wanted to start a moving company i have all the equipment needed also professional movers just waiting for my call even a good price at a local truck rental place the problem is i would like to be a legit company and i have little to no money at all i'm located in mass is this a possibility or a pipe dream anybody know

seminole1 8/11/2009

Hi im getting ready to start my moving company an wanted to no what insurance company to go with also i wanted to no the best way to advertise. Thanks

Buttah 8/23/2009

I'm glad there's so many of us interested in this line of business. I'm headed to my area registrar of companies to see the specifics of the moving industry. I'm worried about the fee though, yall talkin about $3,500 and wat not and i can't afford, my question is, if you're just starting out, not looking to compete with the bigger companies and more established ones in the moving business do all the steep regulations apply or they levels...

den 9/21/2009

i want to open a moving company here in los angeles i need to know about the fees ,by cubic feet by weight and how much i have to charge per square feet if i storage people furniture , pls reply me with info thanks

Jess 9/30/2009

My boy friend is starting a moving company. I am trying to think of different ways to advertise. Any ideas?

Dubairelo 10/13/2009

Hi We started moving business for almost a year now. Trucks, materials and storage are very easy to find. The first thing to do as per to my experienced is that you need to know your movers or your crews. You should know your people because if you have packers who are not honest then problem will occur items wil get lost or somthing like that.

Kdw1972 10/18/2009

I am wondering how to start a moving company , get a TxDot# , and be bonded and insured using only rental trucks such as Penske or U-haul ?

JB 10/22/2009

I started a moving b. in '06 with no knowledge or experience. I quickly learned it is a lot more work behind the scenes than ever imagined. You must be dedicated, hard working, and customer service oriented. For those thinking about starting up, it might be a good idea to rent or lease moving trucks: budget, penske, until you can get enough business to justify buying a truck. You can get some cargo ins. on renting. The insurance's generally needed are cargo, lia. on truck, workers comp., gen. lia.(for commercial). A lot of small moving comps. especially start-ups don't carry much insurance. Workers comp. is one imparticular that bus. overlook, there are ways around it if you don't claim enough employees, but it carries large fines if your in the wrong and get audited. As for advertising we started with a small ad in yellow pages and word of mouth. Moving takes time and good work to build a solid customer base, referrals are your biggest AD so make everyone happy!

roger 10/22/2009

i am a contractor with a major van line now going independent. MANDATORY TO NETWORK WITH OTHER INDEPENDENT MOVERS to move as much tonnage as possible. i come to nevada, for ex, you sell nevada outbound but can't haul for some reason, we reverse the process for me. email me at rdfountain1 (at)

Wiggity 11/11/2009

Im currently trying to start a moving business in IL. I was wondering how to obtain a IL moving license.

Joe 11/18/2009

I own a moving company. For thoes of you wondering about proper licensing and insurance you must call or go to the Department Of Transportation in your state and they will give you all of the requirments to be legal.

Ken Gaebler 11/18/2009

Joe, thanks for the good information on starting a moving company. I'm hoping others will chip in and answer some of these questions. I've been meaning to but I've been swamped.

Ken Gaebler 12/10/2009

Yesterday, Jason Farley of Leaders Moving & Storage Company, based in Columbus Ohio, posted a comment with tons of good advice for getting into the moving business. We worked with him to turn it into a full-blown article. Check it out here: Starting a Successful Moving Business.

Aj 12/12/2009

I'm thinking of starting a moving business in Illinois.Anyone from here can give me some insight as to where I should begin with permits,licenses and insurance? Also, how would you go about recruiting your staff of movers when you're starting out? Any recommendations for a good used truck dealerships in the Midwest region? Any info would be helpful!

Maryland Movers 12/26/2009

Don't forget to join AMSA and the BBB if you want people to trust you. Joining the BBB could take as much as 6 months though, so you have to be patient. AMSA is a lot faster though. After a while it may be useful to join AMSA's pro-mover program, as they may send you leads (the BBB sends leads too, by the way). Angie's List is a great place to join. Just remember that joining all these third-party arbitration entities means that you absolutely must focus on maintaining high level customer service at all times. Otherwise, it could do more harm than good. Don't forget to be upfront about whether you're bonded, because clients can look that up on the DOT's web site. Also, if you want to move offices, you may want to look into workman's comp insurance, otherwise most commercial buildings won't allow you into their property.

Chris Wilson 1/4/2010

I am trying to start my own moving business. I just need some help with the prices and quotes

Elton 1/11/2010

Hi, am a Ghanaian but resident in Nairobi currently.I want to start my own moving company in Ghana because I have a little experience in that line of business having worked with Mc Collisters Transportation Group. What is your advice.

kris 1/14/2010

Just establish a good relationship with a truck rental place, look on craigslist/ebay and locate some blankets, then get to a cheap supply store and buy at least twenty straps this will be more than enough. DO NOT BUY A DOLLY, because this makes your job easier and makes it look like you aren't working hard, the harder the work the longer the time, the more you will get paid also the higher your tips will be. In addition, state in front of the customer speaking with your employee that we will not touch any walls b/c you will not ruin my tips. Lastly under no circumstances are you to take breaks or let the client provide food (it makes you look out of shape and lazy). Take it from me I started mine with about $170 in my pocket and made $3750 the first week of business. Hustle hard, lastly whomever your best employee take with you to the gym three times a week b/c you have to build up your forearms and strength endurance. Pay them for that time - it will build loyalty. Oh understand that, "a good name is worth more than good" and the majority of your business will come from referrals.

SewerDawg 3/15/2010

I Just Started My Business 3 yrs ago "Emerald Diamond Moving Services" located in Toronto,Ontario Canada these tips helped me out alot thanx! anyone have questions of anykind for or about moving services-im willing to help. email me @ "[email protected]" --competition dont mean a thing--your all state men anyways-im running my co. in Canada

Ammiel 4/2/2010

I have obtained a license to start a moving company. The major problem is that I just do not have the customers nor the financing yet. I am open to any helpful tips and/ or suggestins. PLEASE HELP!!!!!

John 4/10/2010

I am trying to get leads for my moving business and also need to find people to work for my moving business as movers. How do I do that? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

John 4/22/2010

I am trying to sell a moving company in Pittsburgh. We've been in business since 1910. Have all the licenses,warehouse and trucks if anyone is interested.412-401-0753

KC 4/27/2010

To ALL, do NOT listen to "kris"! He must be an idiot to say don't buy a dolly. Are you crazy? Having the right equipment shows that you are prepared and not too cheap to invest in your business. Also breaks and water are a must if you want to stay healthy so you can continue to do heavy lifting. Being prepared and doing a great job will result in tips. He's talking about taking a longer time to "milk the clock". People want you to do your job and get out of their way. When I bid a 4 hour job, my goal is to be done in 3-3.5 hrs and I still get paid for 4 hours and usually end up with a tip.

Manny 4/28/2010

We've been operating a man with a truck business in NYC since 2004 and our client base has grown tremendously. As another season approaches we'd like to go legal with our moving business but NY State license requirements are very strict. They need proof of 2 years working with a large moving company. The proof has to be copies of checks and W-2's. Any NY movers that can give us any tips here?

Lakeysha Morrissey 5/3/2010

I am a veteran and would like to start a moving company in Boston. I am not quite sure how to do it but if anyone has any ideas or recommendations on how to make the process as easy as possible and knows about obtaining licensing and doing things the right way starting out please let me know.

chris 5/8/2010

Selling successful 2 year old moving company that works year -round in upstate new york, trucks,equipment,customer base. Please serious inquiries only (315) 225-5747

Jersey Movers 6/25/2010

Hello Everyone!! I have been in the moving business for about 4 years and i recently just bought my own box truck so I'm ready to go legit. Does anyone know the NJ regulations for starting a moving company (No storage)? Also does anyone have an estimate on how much it might cost total for license,insurance or permits (if any) Please reply back with advice if possible

eclipse 7/5/2010

How much does it cost to start a moving company in central Florida and is it a good idea to have a partner?

David 7/25/2010

I want to start a moving business in San Antonio TX or Chicago IL. I would appreciate any information that anyone could provide me in these state about the licensing and rules for starting. What are the costs involved and how easy or difficut it can be? Thanks and I appreciate your answers.

Jay 7/25/2010

Hi All, I'm looking to sell my 2001 International Box Truck. It would be great for those of you looking to start your new moving company. I want a quick sell so my price is reasonable. Call me at 347-653-2519 or email me.

Noah 8/3/2010

Hi i live in NJ and i can't see to find an insurance for my moving business, i'm starting to think that they dont provide insurance for moving business in NJ, help please? thank you

J.D. 8/11/2010

Hi everyone, I've decided to open up a moving company here in Ca. and your advice and suggestions are very helpful. I hope that I would be able to give some input based upon my experiences as soon as I start. I am purely a beginner. No experience but desire to be my own employer and having a moving company as a business. Thanks for all your great advice and encouragement.

D. Kay 9/4/2010

my brother and i plan on starting a moving company by next summer. we are working on getting our cargo trailer and other equipment between now and then. i just wanted to get any advice on getting this business up and running as quick and smoothly as possible. any advice will do. shoot me an email at [email protected] thank you!

Chris 9/5/2010

Hi, Thanks for all of the helpful information, my question.... I started a moving company a year ago, I'm doing all right but tend to book a lot more small jobs than big, 2-5 hr jobs and my phone calls are good sometimes and bad others, what's the best way to generate new business for a moving company?

Chris 9/5/2010

Hey, 1 more question, Since I have purchased a truck and started doing full local moves my hourly rate is an average of $40.00 less than a lot of my compatition, but they have extremely more business then me, is there something you would assume they're doing to generate so much traffic to their business ?

Felton 9/19/2010

I am have been flirting around with the idea of starting a moving business since they are not that many my area. I was looking for some information to help get me in the right direction. any info is helpful. email me at: [email protected]

Seattle's Best 12/29/2010

If you want to emulate a great moving company, then I suggest you check out one of the best Seattle Movers, Hansen Bros. Moving and Storage.

Luqman 3/30/2011

Hi, I have a moving business and have just got my first con. He paid me a small portion after the move and gave me a cheque that I found out the next business day, was for a bank account that was no longer open. I'm going to try to get the rest of the money but what can I do in future to avoid this happening to me again?

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