How Does the State of California Regulate Movers?

To hear some people talk, you’d think moving was like the Wild West. Even with the proper due diligence, choosing an honest mover is like choosing an honest politician. They exist, but they’re not always easy to find.

There are others who think that California’s a pretty consumer-friendly place, and surely there must be laws to protect consumers from dishonest movers. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. California movers must abide by several regulations, but they don’t go as far as some might think.

Movers must be licensed

All California movers must be licensed through the Bureau of Household Goods and Services. Their license number must appear on their trucks and their website.

Required documents

Unless your move is booked at the last minute, your mover will need to provide you with their moving agreement, an Important Notice About Your Move document, and the Important Information For Persons Moving Household Goods (within California) booklet.

Written estimates

All written estimates must follow an in-person inspection.

Over the phone estimates

A mover can offer their hourly rates and minimums over the phone, but they cannot offer a legally binding estimate over the phone or via the internet.

Not to Exceed

Movers must offer not to exceed quotes for the agreed-upon services. While they can’t turn around and charge you more because they feel like it, you will be charged more if there are more items to be moved or if the circumstances (such as the distance you’ll be moving or undisclosed stairs) change. Often, you’ll be given the paperwork on moving day.


Moving companies are not insurance companies. That said, California law requires that all movers provide $.60 per pound per an article in coverage. That means if a 20-pound television is damaged, they’d be liable for $12.00, regardless of the cost of the TV. You also have the option of purchasing additional coverage, often from a third-party insurance company.

Local move rates

local move in California is defined as under 100 miles from pick up to destination. All local moves are billed by the hour. California dictates maximum hourly rates, but movers can charge anything below those rates. You’ll be charged driving time from the point of origin (your original address) to the point of destination, and then back.

There you have it. As we said, there are some laws, but not a lot. We recommend you research companies, including reading their reviews and their Better Business Bureau ratings.