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Get Quotes from Top Movers in Houston, TX

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mover in Houston

Though moving is stressful and comes with the risk of losing some personal and household effects, an average Texan moves more than 11 times in their lifetime. However, smart Texans will go with professional and certified movers to save themselves time and any other liabilities. When choosing a moving company in Houston, ask the following smart questions to determine the mover is competent to complete your move efficiently:

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

Per the provisions of Chapter 643 of the Texas Transportation Code, moving companies that wish to operate in Houston are required to register as motor carriers at the state level with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) before doing so. Moving companies that fail to comply with this registration requirement can face administrative penalties of up to $30,000 in fines.

The motor carrier registration process can be completed online via the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle's eLINC platform. Applications are typically reviewed within 24 - 48 business hours, following which the applicants are sent an email with further instructions. Once applications have been approved, the applicants are issued a Unique Identifier Number, which they must then provide to their respective insurance companies so that these companies can file their required insurance obligations. Once the insurance requirements have been met, the applicants are sent another email asking them to log in to a separate MCCS platform and pay the stipulated registration fees to complete the registration process. After this step is completed, the applicant's Unique Identifier Number is converted to a TxDMV Certificate Number, and the applicant is then legally authorized to provide moving services to interested parties in Houston and across the State of Texas.

Inquiries concerning the motor carrier registration process can be directed to the TxDMV at (800) 299-1700. Applicants can also check the status of their registration applications by calling the aforementioned number and selecting options 3-4-3.

Note that, in addition to completing a statutorily-mandated state-level registration process, moving companies that wish to operate in Houston must also meet certain local business requirements before they can legally conduct business in the city. These requirements include:

  • Registering their businesses with the Harris County Clerk's Office, the Fort Bend County Clerk's Office, or Montogomery County Clerk's Office. Note that moving companies that wish to operate as Limited Liability Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, or Incorporations will be required to register their businesses with the Texas Secretary of State
  • Obtaining a Sales and Use Tax Permit from the Texas State Comptroller's Office
  • Obtaining a Federal Tax Identification Number from the IRS

You can get additional information on the business registration requirements for moving companies that wish to operate in Houston by contacting the city's Office of Business Opportunity at:

611 Walker Street
7th Floor
Houston, Tx 77002
Phone: (832) 393-0954
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays

Queries can also be directed to the Houston Office of Economic Development by calling (832) 393-0937 and (832) 393-0981.

Confirming that the moving company you intend to hire has been duly registered by the TxDMV is an important step in ensuring that you end up with legitimate and competent movers. You can do this by utilizing the Texas Truck Stop online search platform that the department provides and maintains for this purpose. In situations where you wish to move out of the State of Texas, it is a good idea to also confirm whether your intended moving company has been authorized to provide interstate moving services by accessing the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration's online search portal.

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

Several factors come into play when moving costs are calculated in Houston, and these factors include:

  • The distance between points A and B
  • The size and weight of items that are being moved
  • The layout and accessibility of the move locations
  • The date and time of the move
  • Additional services, such as packing and storage

Note that, while moving companies in the city typically utilize hourly rates or weight/distance rates when calculating their charges, these rates must not exceed the maximum rates and charges provided by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. You should always get and compare estimates for your move from at least three different moving companies before making your selection on the mover with rates that best suit your budget. However, it is important to note that the lowest estimate is not always the best deal. This is because many fraudulent movers typically offer very low estimates to get unsuspecting homeowners to retain their services, after which they load up the items on the truck, hold these items hostage and then force the homeowner to pay additional fees.

Transportation and material moving workers in Houston earn an average annual wage of $42,700. The list below compares the hourly average wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of the State of Texas as well as several other major cities in the country:

Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage
Texas Movers Hourly Average Wage
New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage
Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage
Chicago Movers Hourly Average Wage
Phoenix Movers Hourly Average Wage
Philadelphia Movers Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) establishes legal size and weight limits for all vehicles that ply roads and bridges across the State of Texas. To this end, any moving company that utilizes vehicles or carries loads that exceed these limits must obtain an Oversize/Overweight Permit from the department before doing so. This department provides several permit options, and first-time applicants are advised to call (800) 299-1700 to get assistance in determining the right permit option for their specific vehicles or loads. This assistance can also be gotten by logging in to the department's TxPROS online permitting system and selecting the Permit Wizard option. Note that the creation of a user account is required to access this system.

Once the right permit option has been determined, applications can be submitted online via the TxPROS permitting system or by completing and mailing an appropriate permit application form to the mailing address provided on the form. Note that the payment of a fee is typically required before the requested permits are issued. Also, once permits are issued, permittees will be required to comply with all applicable permit restrictions for the routes and areas that they will be plying. Examples of some permit restrictions that currently apply to Houston include:

  • Permittees with vehicles that are 17'6'' or more must send a copy of their permits to the Houston District Signal Shop via email between the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Mondays to Thursdays, at least 48 hours before entering the district
  • Permittees must contact city officials at (832) 394-8851 during business hours on Mondays to Fridays or via email to obtain additional city-issued oversize/overweight permits before traveling on Houston city streets

Queries concerning TXDMV-issued oversize/overweight permits and permit restrictions can be directed to the department via toll-free number 1-800-299-1700 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.

Note that, in addition to possessing state-issued oversize/overweight permits, city-issued parking permits may also be required for your moving activities. These permits can be obtained by completing and submitting an appropriate parking permit application form to:

City of Houston Parking Management Division
2020 McKinney
Houston, TX 77003

You can make inquiries on the best parking permit option for your move or get additional information on city-issued parking permits by contacting the Houston Parking Management Division at the address provided above between the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays. This division can also be contacted via email or by calling (832) 393-8690.

What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?

When looking to undertake relocation activities in Houston, it is necessary to confirm that your preferred moving company provides the specific types of moving services that you require. Moving companies in the city provide a wide range of services, and these services can generally be grouped into the following categories:

  • Local moving services: this involves relocation activities that occur entirely within the city
  • Long-distance moving services: this involves moving from Houston to another city, either within or outside the State of Texas. Some moving companies that provide this service also offer international moving services to interested parties that wish to relocate to a different country
  • Specialized moving services: this involves services like piano moving, artwork crating and uncrating, and furniture rearranging

Finding out the exact types of services that a moving company offers and making sure that these services meet your specific moving requirements greatly reduces the probability of disagreements and misunderstandings with your movers during your move. To this end, you should always provide your preferred moving company with a clear idea of the scope of your intended move and get confirmation from them that they are equipped to meet your expectations. It is also a good idea to inspect the moving company's vehicles and facilities and get an estimate of their charges before reaching any final agreements with them. Cost estimates for moving services that are commonly offered by professional moving companies in Houston are listed below:

Local/long-distance residential moving
$85 - $100 per hour (includes cost of labor and moving truck)
Piano moving
$245 - $275 (within Houston)
Mobile home moving
$2,105 - $2,610 (for single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)
Moving out of studio apartment
$250 - $485
Moving out of two-bedroom apartment
$500 - $880
Moving out of three, four, or five-bedroom apartment
$700 - $1,650
Storage services
$70 - $550 (for 30 days)

Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?

Moving to a new residence within or outside Houston can be a strenuous ordeal and many homeowners in the city reduce the stress of these activities by hiring a moving company that also provides packing services. A major advantage of hiring the same company to pack, move, and unpack your items is that it simplifies your relocation experience by giving you a single point of contact for your moving activities.

Nonetheless, you should always confirm that your intended moving company also offers packing services as well as the type of packing services that they offer. Moving companies in Houston typically offer either full packing and unpacking services or partial/customized packing and unpacking services, and some of them also provide customers with the option of using their own packing materials. In some situations, you may also require storage services to ensure that your items are warehoused in a safe and secure location before they are moved to your new residence. Some common instances where storage services are typically required during relocation activities include:

  • Your new home is undergoing renovations
  • You are moving from a large family home to a smaller residence
  • You need to move on short notice and you have not fully sorted your new living situation
  • You wish to settle into your new home before moving your items in

Just as is the case with packing services, it is equally a good idea to hire a moving company that also provides storage options if you require these services. Make sure that the company describes how your items will be packed and stored and check out their storage facilities to ensure that they are appropriate for the items that you need to be stored. You should also make sure that you and the company come to a clear agreement on how and when you can access the storage location. Finally, find out if the cost of these packing and storage services will be included in your moving cost estimates or if you will be charged separately for them.

What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers in Houston?

Movers generally perform difficult and backbreaking jobs and it is usually common for homeowners to tip them when they do these jobs with professionalism and a good demeanor. While there is no specified standard for tipping movers in Houston, many homeowners typically tip their movers $4 - $10 per hour of work done. Other common methods used for calculating tips in the city include tipping movers $15 for every 1,000 pounds of items moved, or tipping a total amount of 10% - 15% of the transportation charges for the move.

Regardless of how you decide to tip your movers, you should take certain factors into consideration when determining the right amount for the tip. These factors include:

  • The difficulty and duration of the job
  • The general behavior of the movers
  • The handling of your items

It is a good idea to find out from your intended moving company what they consider to be a fair tip for their movers before you finalize any hiring arrangements with them. However, it is important to note that tipping is not mandatory, and thus, you are under no obligation to do so. If your movers demand a tip, or if you are unsatisfied with the way they perform their duties, you should always report this to the moving company as soon as possible.

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

In accordance with Rule 218.16 of the Texas Administrative Code, moving companies that wish to operate in Houston are statutorily required to meet and maintain certain insurance minimums before doing so. These minimum insurance requirements include:

  • Carrying minimum cargo insurance of $5,000 for loss or damage to total cargo carried by one vehicle or $10,000 for aggregate loss or damage to multiple shipper cargoes carried on one vehicle
  • Carrying a minimum automobile liability insurance of $300,000 when moving items with a gross weight that is less than 26,000 pounds
  • Carrying a minimum automobile liability insurance of $500,000 when moving items with a gross weight that is more than 26,000 pounds
  • Carrying a minimum accidental or workers' compensation insurance coverage of $300,000 for medical expenses and $100,000 for accidental death or dismemberment

You should always confirm that any moving company you hire in the city has satisfied these requirements, as failing to do so can expose you to legal and financial liabilities if accidents or injuries occur during your move. To this end, ensure that you request a copy of your intended mover's insurance certificate and contact the relevant insurance provider to verify its validity. Note that homeowners' or renters' insurance policies do not cover property damages that occur during moves. As such, it is also a good idea to determine the scope of the mover's coverage when you contact their insurance provider.

You can reach out to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles at (800) 299-1700 to make inquiries or get additional information on the mandatory insurance requirements for moving companies in Houston.

Can You Provide References or Recommendations in Houston?

Requesting references is a good way to determine the professionalism and reliability of a moving company, and many reputable movers in Houston do not hesitate to provide this information. If your intended moving company seems hesitant to provide you with references of past clients that can vouch for their services, then you should take this as a sign that something is wrong. In situations like this, you should strongly consider taking your business to another moving company.

Note that you should not only request references, but you should also check these references out personally to get their first-hand reviews of the moving company's services. You can also go a step further by looking up reviews and testimonials on the moving company online.

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

Falling victim to the actions of fraudulent and unscrupulous movers when trying to relocate within or outside Houston can make an already stressful experience even more exacerbating. Some signs that you may be dealing with a fraudulent mover include:

  • The mover avoids giving you a written estimate for the move
  • The mover provides an estimate without inspecting the items that need to be moved
  • The mover offers a suspiciously low estimate
  • The mover does not provide a written contract for the job or asks you to sign a blank contract in advance
  • The mover demands cash upfront before the move
  • The mover does not have a local verifiable address
  • The mover shows up at your home with a vehicle that does not have a company logo on it

To avoid falling victim to the bad movers in Houston, you should consider taking the following steps before, during, and after your move:

  • Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, or reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the Southwest Movers Association to get referrals to good moving companies in the city
  • Always verify that your mover has been duly registered with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) and that this registration is currently active. You can do this via the department's Texas Truck Stop search platform. You can take a step further by making sure that the mover is legally authorized to conduct business in the city via the Uhire online license search platform
  • Get and compare estimates for your move from several moving companies in the city. Remember to request a copy of their tariffs, which indicate the maximum rates that they may charge, as approved by the TxDMV
  • Never rely on verbal agreements. Make sure that all arrangements you make with the mover are documented in writing before the move. Also, never sign any blank contracts, and make sure that you properly read and understand any documents that you are asked to sign
  • Confirm that the mover is duly insured
  • Document the condition of your items before the move. If the mover wishes to take a separate inventory, accompany them while they do so, and sign and agree to this inventory before and after the move
  • Make sure that the mover provides you with a œRights and Responsibilities information sheet before loading any of your items and take out the time to read this document
  • Always supervise the unloading of your items or appoint a trusted representative to do so
  • Request a completed copy of the moving services contract after your items have been delivered, and make sure that it includes an itemized billing of all charges

If you have any disputes with your mover concerning charges, damages to your items, or property loss, you must file a written claim with them no later than 90 days after the delivery date. This claim should include enough information concerning your issues as well as the type of compensation that you are seeking. If you wish to get monetary compensation, then you must include the specific amount that you are requesting. Once the claim has been filed, the mover must respond within 20 days, and must pay, deny, or make a settlement offer to the claim within 90 days. If your claim involves damaged goods, you are advised to preserve the containers along with the damaged goods, and your mover has the right to inspect these items within 30 days of receiving your claim.

If you are unsatisfied with the mover's response to your claim, you can request mediation on the matter by completing and submitting a Household Goods Mover Mediation Request Form to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles via email. This form can also be submitted via fax to (512) 465-5652 or mail-in to:

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
Enforcement Division
4000 Jackson Avenue
Austin, TX 78731

Note that this mediation request must be made no later than 30 days after the mover makes an unsatisfactory response to your claim or 90 days after the claim was initially filed if the mover fails to make any response.

Other types of complaints concerning movers in Houston can be filed directly with the TxDMV online, by calling (888) 368-4689 between 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, or by sending the department an email detailing the nature of the complaint. If the complaint involves an interstate move, then the matter should be directed to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation, either online or by calling 1-888-368-7238.