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Get Quotes from Top Movers in Seattle, WA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mover in Seattle

Whether you are moving to Seattle for a new job or the love of tech, or changing neighborhoods in the city to suit your new lifestyle, it is wise to choose your moving company carefully to ensure a hitch-free move. Note, almost 40 percent of complaints received by the Federal Motor Safety Administration are related to moving incidents involving property damage or loss. As such, before you start working with a mover seek satisfactory answers to the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in Seattle?

Individuals or businesses who intend to transport household goods into or out of Seattle must first obtain a household good moving permit from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). Interested parties that wish to obtain this permit may do so by filling out and scanning an application form to eFileapp maintained by the UTC. Applicants must then make the necessary application payments online. Alternatively, applicants can mail the completed form with a check or money order to the address indicated in the right corner of the form.

Applicants are also required to check the following requirements to complete their application with UTC:

  • Register their moving business with the Department of Revenue Washington State through its Business Licensing Service. Applications for the desired business structure can be completed online. Applicants will be required to sign in with an existing account or sign up for a new user account. After which the applicants must pay the stipulated application fee. Note that movers who intend to carry on business as a corporation or LLC must first register with the Washington Secretary of State's Office. Registration and payment of applicable fees can be completed online via the Washington corporations and Charities Filing System provided by the Secretary of State. In addition to this, applicants need to apply for a city business license and file taxes from the Seattle Finance and Administrative Servicesonline. For more information regarding city business licenses, you can contact the city's Finance and Administrative Services at (206) 684-8484. Inquiries about business registration can be directed to the Department of Revenue Washington State and the Washington Secretary of State's Office at (360) 705-6741 and (360) 725-0377 respectively.
  • Obtain a Federal Tax Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Services and other relevant taxes applicable to the business from the Department of Revenue Washington State.
  • Complete a required Household Goods Industry Training. If you have any questions about the industry training, you can contact the UTC via email.
  • Copy of a valid driver's license or government-issued photo ID card for each individual to be named in the application must be uploaded as a separate document.
  • Evidence of a drug and alcohol testing program in place if the moving business has a commercial vehicle fleet that uses drivers with licenses.
  • Maintain proof of insurance coverage for property damage and public liability (Form E) and cargo insurance (Form H).

Before negotiating with a moving company, make sure that they have been certified and possess the household good carrier permit issued by the UTC. You can check the list of certified carriers that the UTC has made available to the public utilizing the Lookup Permitted Carriers platform. For general inquiries regarding household and services in Seattle, you can contact the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at (360) 664-1222 or via email.

If you plan on moving to another state, then make sure that the company you are using is registered with the Federal Motor Safety Administration. This ensures that they are authorized to provide interstate moving service. You can confirm if your mover is licensed to provide this service by utilizing this agency's online search portal.

How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in Seattle?

Before you start working with a moving company in Seattle, it's important that you know how much they will charge you for their services. This will help you determine if they're the right fit for your needs. Usually, the charges are based on the distance they'll be moving.

  • Hourly Rates: This method is usually used for moves that are less than 35 miles away. The hourly rate is computed by considering the number of movers and the time it takes to complete a move. The hours usually start counting once the movers arrive at your home. They can then be adjusted to the nearest quarter-hour.
  • Weight/Distance Rates: The distance between points A and B is the weight/distance rate calculated for a more than 36 miles long move. This method is usually carried out using a current state-issued map or state-approved software.

Note that several factors can affect the total cost of a move, including the type of moving equipment they use, the distance they cover, additional services such as moving and unloading, and the charges included in their billing method. Nonetheless, your intended mover charges must not exceed the tariffs for household goods provided by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Also, it is advisable that you get and compare rates of multiple movers in Seattle.

Even though you may get multiple quotes online, it's always good to request a written estimate from your intended moving company. These estimates come in various forms, which include:

  • Binding Guaranteed Estimates: This type of estimate is binding on both the client and the company. After the estimate is provided, the parties must sign an addendum that acknowledges any changes or additional charges that may be incurred.
  • Binding Not-to-Exceed Estimates: This estimate provides the maximum charges that will apply to your move if you do not request additional services.
  • Non-binding Estimates show the clients' charges for the services they will receive after the move is complete.

As such, always ensure you confirm the type of estimates used by the moving company before finalizing the work contract.

Transportation and material moving workers in Seattle earn an average annual wage of $53,050. The list below compares the average hourly wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of the Washington State as well as several other major cities in the country:

Seattle Movers Hourly Average Wage
Washington Movers Hourly Average Wage
Boston Movers Hourly Average Wage
Detroit Movers Hourly Average Wage
Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage
Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage
New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Will You Get a Moving Permit as Required by Seattle Regulations?

Movers in the City of Seattle must obtain certain moving permits to operate in the city. These permits are issued by the Seattle Department of Transportation through its Parking Program. As a mover, you may need to obtain the following permits:

  • Commercial vehicle load zone permit- These permits allow vehicles delivering goods on busy streets to park in designated commercial vehicle load zones.
  • Oversized truck permit- In Seattle, oversized vehicles carrying loads will be allowed to travel within the city.
  • Service zone permit- These are issued annually to allow trucks, including moving trucks, to park in designated areas around the city.

To obtain these permits mentioned above, applicants can complete an application online via Seattle Services Portal. Applicants will be required to sign in with an existing account or register for a new account to use this platform. Alternatively, applicants can visit the physical location of the Seattle Department of Transportation at:

Traffic Permit Counter
Seattle Municipal Tower
700 5th Avenue,
37th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104-5043
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In some city regions, parking is restricted for trucks and commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles must have a special permit to park in these areas, and these permits are only issued for a certain amount of time. When movers intend to park their vehicle in these areas, they must obtain a temporary no parking zone permit. These permits can be obtained through the city's Seattle Services Portal system or in person at the address provided above. For more information about these permits and the other requirements, you can contact the Seattle Department of Transportation Parking Program at (206) 684-7623.

What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?

When hiring a moving company in Seattle, it is important that you thoroughly research their services and pricing to ensure that they can provide the best possible service to you. There are various types of moving services offered by professional moving companies in Seattle. They can be categorized into two:

  • Local/Intrastate Moving Services
  • Long-distance/Interstate Moving Services

Local or intrastate moving services are typically performed in Seattle and other locations in Indiana. These services usually involve moving within the state limits of Indiana. On the other hand, long-distance moves are usually performed from Seattle to a different location outside Indiana. Some companies also provide additional services such as storage, special item moving, assembly and disassembly of furniture, the packing and unpacking of items, and the connection and disconnection of appliances.

Also, before you sign a contract with a moving company, it's important that you get quotes and estimates from them to make an informed decision. These estimates will help you determine the type of moving services you can subscribe to. Estimates for some moving services that are commonly requested in Seattle are provided below:

Local residential movers
$116 - $133 per hour (2 movers and truck)
Office or commercial movers
$60 - $90
Piano movers
$326 - $365
Mobile home moving
$2,790.38 - $3,458 (single wide trailer; local move less than 50 miles)
Moving out of studio apartment
$250 - $300 (includes the cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of one-bedroom apartment
$305 - $4210 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of two-bedroom apartment
$414 - $500 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of three or four-bedroom apartment
$690 - $1,000 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Storage services
$34 - $255 (for up to 30 days)

Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?

Many Seattle-based moving companies offer various services to homeowners looking to outsource their moving activities. These include organizing their belongings, purchasing packing supplies, and cleaning out their closets. Generally, packing services include:

  • Full Service Packing/Unpacking: This is one of the most common services moving companies provide. This involves getting all of your belongings organized and ready to move, and also unpacking when it gets to its destination.
  • Select Items Packing/Unpacking: This process of packing and unpacking is usually done with only the items that you have designated for the services.
  • Single Item Packing/Unpacking: This process involves carefully removing and transporting delicate or unusual items such as artwork and family heirlooms.

Some individuals may require that their belongings be placed in a secondary location before they are finally moved to their new homes. This is typically done in cases where the new home is not yet ready or the new home is too small to accommodate all your belongings. These moving companies provide two types of storage.

  • Storage in vehicle
  • Warehouse storage
    • Storage in transit (90 days or less)
    • Permanent storage (more than 90 days)
    • Mall goods transportation and storage (25 items or less or 500 pounds max per week)

Note that if you prefer to store your items in a mobile or portable facility, ensure that they have the necessary equipment and labeling to ensure that they are kept in their proper place.

Having the same moving company handle all your moving activities is a good idea. This ensures that you get the best possible service and that everything goes smoothly. Not all moving companies in Seattle offer storage and packing services. This is why you must contact the company to inquire about the type of services provided before you decide to hire them. If you are using a storage facility, you must determine the kind of items you will be storing and the facility's capacity. This will allow you to determine if the storage facility is suitable for your items.

What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers in Seattle?

In Seattle, many homeowners appreciate the work of their local movers. They often give them positive reviews and tips when performing their duties properly. Although there is no set amount, most homeowners in the city provide a small to medium range of tips to their local movers. They typically offer $15 to $25 for a simple move and $50 for complex jobs.

Some homeowners in the city also use a percentage system, which means they give the movers a portion of the total cost of their services. However, this method is not ideal for large jobs as it can be very expensive. You can also check with the company you are dealing with to see the amount of tips they usually expect. Note that it is not obligatory to tip the movers, nor must you follow the moving company's recommendations. However, before you tip the movers, it's important to consider the various criteria used to calculate the tips. These include the quality of the work that the movers do, how complex the move is, how polite they are, and their overall demeanor.

Typically, before you start moving to your new home, make sure that you take down the inventory of all your items from your current home. As such, if any of your items are damaged or lost during the moving process you will be able to notify the movers. Also, if you are generally dissatisfied with the service of the movers, you should inform the moving company immediately.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in Seattle?

Over $380 million is spent annually on medical expenses due to car accidents in the US. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 1,200 fatal and over 200,000 non-fatal work-related injuries were recorded in 2020. Aside from ensuring that the company you hire has the necessary training and experience to handle your moving needs, it's also important that you make sure they have the proper insurance coverage. This will help minimize the financial liability you might face if something goes wrong during your move.

All moving companies that apply for a Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) permit to operate in the City of Seattle must maintain proof of insurance coverage for property damage and public liability. As such, all moving companies must meet the following minimum insurance requirements:

  • They must carry a minimum amount of $10,000 if the vehicle is under 10,000 GVWR for cargo insurance
  • They must carry a minimum amount of $20,000 if the vehicle is over 10,001 GVWR for cargo insurance
  • They must carry a combined single limit of $300,000 if the vehicle is under 10,000 GVWR hauling non-hazardous property.
  • They must carry a combined limit of $750,000 if the vehicle is more than 10,000 GVWR hauling non-hazardous property.

While most homeowners' and renters' insurance policies will cover the cost of damages caused by items in your home, this coverage is void once the items are relocated to a new location. Before you hire a moving company, make sure that they have the necessary insurance coverage to cover the cost of the items you will be moving. These insurance policies should be authenticated with the appropriate insurance providers.

You can get additional information on the insurance requirements for Seattle moving companies by contacting the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at (360) 664-1222 or via email.

Can You Provide References or Recommendations in Seattle?

When planning to hire a moving company in Seattle, you should thoroughly research the company and request references from previous clients. This will allow you to determine the quality of the service and the company's reliability. As such, before hiring a moving company in Seattle, request at least three references that you can verify information and get reviews about the moving company from. This ensures that you get a good moving service.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Moving Company in Seattle

When it comes to finding a professional moving company in Seattle, it is important to thoroughly authenticate the movers to avoid hiring individuals who will use deceptive business practices to scam their way into your home. These shady business practices include:

  • The moving company offers low rates and then increases their charges once the items are loaded into their vehicles.
  • The moving company requests a cash deposit or a full payment upfront.
  • Despite the importance of written contracts, these movers downplay the importance of signing a contract.

These types of fraudulent movers can threaten the safety of your items. To avoid getting ripped off, you can use the following precautionary steps:

  • Ask your friends and family for their recommendations when looking for a moving company in Seattle. You can also check out the ratings and reviews of movers on third-party review websites such as the Better Business Bureau.
  • Get a written estimate from multiple moving companies near you. This will allow you to compare their charges and services before choosing the most suitable one for your moving needs and budget.
  • Take the time to thoroughly organize all of your items and take a written inventory before they are moved. This can include taking photos of the items and videos of them.
  • Ensure you are given a Bill of Lading. This is a written contract that the moving company should provide you with before the move begins. Make sure you understand the contents before signing it, and always keep a record of all documents executed for the move.
  • Make sure that the moving company has the necessary insurance coverage. Also, make sure that the company has a policy handling damaged or missing items.
  • Confirm that your preferred movers have been duly certified by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission via its Lookup a Permitted Carriers platform. You can also contact the commission at (360) 664-1222 to find out if there are any complaints on file against the mover.

Typically, if you have a complaint about a moving company, you will be required to contact them and request a claim form. Ensure you keep the damaged or unusable items as proof of the damages that the moving company may have caused. If the matter still cannot be resolved, then you might want to file a complaint about a move within Seattle or in Washington by calling the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at (360) 664-1221 or via email.

Meanwhile, you can report a moving company fraud in Seattle by going to the Washington Attorney General's Office, either by completing an online general consumer complaint form or by mailing a completed pdf complaint form to:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
800 5th Avenue
Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98104-3188

If you have any inquiries regarding the complaint process, you can call the Washington Attorney General's Office at (206) 464-6684 or toll-free at 1-800-551-4636. These numbers are open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Although the office can't compel deceptive moving businesses to resolve their complaints, it provides consumers with various options to resolve their issues. These include taking private legal action against the moving businesses that have violated their contract, and you can file a civil action at the King County District Court.

In the City of Seattle, complaints about deceptive interstate moving companies can be filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration online or by calling 1-888-368-7238.