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Movers’ Bills of Lading

A bill of lading is a document that is prepared by a mover when a customer contracts for the transportation and delivery of a shipment of furniture and furnishings. The bill of lading is the mover’s receipt for the household goods and the contract for their transportation. It is not a contract, but it does form part of the contract between the mover and the customer.

Written Document

A bill of lading must be in writing and must be given to the customer by the driver who loads the shipment. The document authorizes the mover to provide the services and obligates the customer to pay the charges that are set forth in the bill of lading.

The customer must read the document and cross-check it against the information that is contained on the order for service, which is the document that authorizes the mover to transport the household goods. The items on both documents should be the same. If the customer does not understand the contents of the bill of lading or disagrees with it, he has an obligation to ask questions to clarify the misunderstanding. Once the customer accepts the bill of lading, it is attached to the contract and becomes binding.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the interstate shipment of household goods by motor carrier and requires a bill of lading to provide certain information to a customer. Among the required items are the identification of the mover by name and address, or the name of the carrier that issued the bill, as well as the identification of any other carriers that will be involved in the transportation of the shipment. The document will identify the form or forms of payment that will be accepted upon delivery, the date for pick up and delivery, the penalties applicable for guaranteed deliveries, and the actual date of pick up. The bill of lading will identify the vehicles used to transport the goods, the required release rates and valuation statement that is required by the Surface Transportation Board, a federal agency. A bill of lading will also include evidence of insurance coverage and premiums paid. The binding or non-binding estimate, the order for service, and the inventory should be attached to the bill of lading.

Retention of Copies

The mover is required to retain a copy of all of the moving documents of a period of one year. A customer should retain copies of all documents until delivery has been completed and all claims arising from the transportation and delivery of the goods has been resolved.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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