10 Things Your Movers Might Not Move

By: Lily Valles Last Updated: Sep 20, 2023

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Movers can’t move everything. We put together a list of items that your movers might refuse to move - with some helpful tips for moving day, too.


10 Things Your Movers Might Not Move

A move can be stressful. It’s a challenge to relocate across the country, or even just down the block. Fortunately, professional moving companies can make life easier, but it’s important to remember that they have their limitations. You can’t just throw everything you own into their truck.

In this article, we’ll go over 10 common categories that movers can’t haul. But don’t worry: We’ll also provide tips on how to handle them yourself. Read on to see the restricted list:


In this article


1. Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials may seem like a broad category, and that’s because it really is. Moving companies usually define hazardous materials as “any substance that poses a potential threat to human health, safety, and the environment”. That means no gasoline, no industrial chemicals, and no gunpowder, to say the least.

Hazardous materials aren’t just dangerous to transport, they’re dangerous to ship with all your other stuff, too. They can damage the rest of your items, and they can cause serious damage to the back of a moving truck, as well.

Here are some other examples of hazardous materials. Keep in mind, every moving company is a little different, and it’s up to them to decide what goes in the truck:

  • Chemicals
  • Propane tanks
  • Fertilizers
  • Aerosol cans
  • Paints and solvents
  • Batteries
  • Pool chemicals

Movers are perfectly in their rights to refuse to transport these items. It’s risky, and sometimes even illegal. If you have hazardous materials, it’s best to either dispose of them or transport them (very safely) yourself.


2. Perishable Goods

A climate-controlled truck is not an invitation to ship your groceries. Perishable items are a no-go for professional movers for a few important reasons:

First, perishable goods go bad. And when they do, it’s gross. Just imagine a truck loaded up with rotten food driving through, say, Arizona, during the summer. Your movers don’t want to deal with that.

Second, it may actually be illegal to transport certain perishable goods into (or out of) certain states. Unchecked produce can carry pests that are harmful to native plants and animals, and there are tight border restrictions to keep the local flora and fauna safe.

Here are some common examples of perishable goods:

  • Fresh produce
  • Frozen food
  • Dairy products
  • Cut flowers

If you have perishable goods and moving day is coming up, consume them (or throw them out) before your movers arrive. Otherwise, you’d better hope your move is quick because that stuff is going in your car.


3. Living Plants

Living plants don’t count as perishable goods or hazardous materials, but your movers may still refuse to haul them. Like certain veggies from the produce aisle, certain plants aren’t allowed to cross state lines. Again, some states (such as California) have fragile ecosystems, and there may be restrictions on what you can bring in or out.

Live plants are also fragile, and may not fare well in a moving truck full of other items. Fortunately, we’ve got some quick pointers on how you can transport your own plants:

  1. Water the plants thoroughly before the move
  2. Wrap the plants in paper or plastic to protect the leaves and branches
  3. Use a padded box or container to transport the plants
  4. Transport the plants in a climate-controlled vehicle
  5. Hire a specialized moving company that specializes in transporting plants

4. Pets

In the name of safety and general animal welfare, pets are a no-go for moving companies.

Moving is stressful for people, but pets get pretty anxious on moving day, too. Disrupting their usual routine and taking them someplace completely new can be disorienting and stressful for animals, so it’s important to keep them comfortable throughout your move.

If you’ve got pets, here’s some key points to keep in mind:

  • Transport your pets in your own vehicle
  • Ensure your pets have proper identification and are up to date on their vaccinations
  • Provide your pets with enough food, water, and medication for the trip
  • Make frequent stops

5. Valuables

Certain movers may specialize in moving antiques and high-value items, but there are still some sentimental items that movers like to avoid carrying. Some moving companies just aren’t equipped to handle delicate items, and you’d be better off keeping those expensive keepsakes in sight anyways.

If you’re making a move and you have some valuable items, we always recommend keeping them close at all times. Transport them in your own vehicle if possible, and take photos of everything before moving day. Definitely keep an organized list of the items (and where you’re storing them).

Some moving companies specialize in premium moves, and they may be better equipped to handle antiques and artwork. Do some shopping around and see what they can and can’t move for you – and see if they offer full coverage insurance to be extra safe.


6. Firearms

Movers are not able to transport firearms. They can carry your gun safe, but the guns themselves will have to go with you. Make sure your guns are safely stored and unloaded.

Are you traveling across state lines? It’s important to read up on the gun laws in your destination. However, don’t forget to read up on the gun laws of all the states you’ll be crossing along the way.

It’s a good idea to configure your firearms to comply with the gun laws in the strictest state that you’re traveling to, from, or through. A Tennessee-compliant rifle in California will get you in legal trouble. A California-compliant rifle in Tennessee will just get you sympathy.

If you absolutely cannot transport your firearms yourself, you’ll have to ship your guns through a Federal Firearms License holder (FFL) such as a gun store. Look up FFLs in your area, and FFLs near your destination. Coordinate between the two and see whether or not they can send your firearms from point A to point B.


7. Cash and Important Documents

Cash and important documents are a delicate subjects for your movers. Professional movers will typically refuse to carry this stuff, and any mover that’s really looking out for you will actually recommend you hold on to your cash in important documents yourself.

If you’re traveling with cash, keep it secure and on hand as much as possible. As for your important documents, we recommend taking photos ahead of time (just in case) and keeping them with you as well. You don’t want to lose a passport or a birth certificate during your move.


8. Oversized Items

Oversized items may be too large to fit in a standard moving truck. They also may require specialized equipment for transport. If your movers aren’t up to the task, they’ll let you know – and you’ll have to figure out how to get your large items moved with someone else.

Examples of oversized items include pianos, pool tables, and large appliances. If you have oversized items that need to be transported, it’s a good idea to get in touch with specialists who have the right equipment and know-how to move the big stuff.

Or, you can sell or donate the large items you don’t need. Just make sure whoever’s making the pickup knows what they’re getting into.


9. Unpacked and Non-Labelled Items

Unless you’re paying for a complete white glove moving experience, your movers won’t carry anything that’s unpacked and/or unlabeled. An unmarked box that’s not even taped shut might not seem ready to move, and to avoid damaging the contents, your movers may skip it altogether.

It’s important to communicate with your movers about what boxes go where, and what boxes have your fragile stuff. Make sure you pack and label everything so there’s no confusion, or shell out for a full service move where your movers will even do the packing for you.


10. Illegal Items

Your movers won’t transport drugs, stolen goods, or counterfeit items – and you shouldn’t expect them to, either. It can land a moving company in legal hot water if they’re caught with your illegal items, and they’ll comply with authorities if any illegal stuff is found in one of their shipments.

If you have illegal items, get rid of them before moving day. If your moving company finds anything sketchy in your belongings, they’ll refuse your move – and probably even call the cops.


How to Prepare for a Move

A move can be overwhelming, but with proper planning and organization, you can make it a smooth process. Here are some tips for preparing for moving day:

  • Research the moving company’s policies and procedures
  • Create an inventory of all items to be moved
  • Label and pack items properly to avoid damage
  • Communicate with the movers about any special items that require extra care
  • Dispose of hazardous materials and perishable goods properly
  • Transport pets and valuables yourself
  • Rent a trailer or moving truck for oversized items
  • Hire specialized movers for antiques, pianos, and other difficult items

Tips for Preparing Hazardous Materials, Perishable Goods, and Fragile Items

If you have hazardous materials, perishable goods, or fragile items that need to be transported, consider these tips:

  • Hazardous materials: Dispose of them properly or transport yourself
  • Perishable goods: Consume or donate before the move
  • Fragile items: Pack carefully and label them as fragile
  • Hire specialized movers that have experience with difficult items
  • Use proper equipment, such as dollies and straps, to move the items safely
  • Disassemble large items if possible to make them easier to transport

Frequently Asked Questions

Are movers allowed to refuse to move my items on moving day?

Yes. Your movers have the right to refuse to carry certain items if they pose any risk to human health, safety, or the environment. Make sure you go over your moving company’s list of restricted items before moving day so there aren’t any surprises.

Why do movers have restrictions on certain items?

Movers have restrictions on certain items for safety, but also for legal reasons. Hazardous materials, perishable goods, and fragile items can be dangerous to transport and can cause damage to other items during transit. Certain items also can’t be transported into certain states, such as live plants or produce.

How can I prepare my items for moving day?

To prepare your items for the move, we recommend creating an inventory of all items to be moved. Label and pack your stuff properly to avoid damage, and communicate with your movers about any special items that require extra care.

Can I transport hazardous materials myself?

Yes, you can transport hazardous materials yourself, but be safe about it. It’s important to follow proper procedures for disposal and transportation to avoid any potential risks – to yourself, the people around you, and your belongings.

What should I do with perishable items before my move?

It’s important to consume or donate perishable items to avoid spoilage. If you have a bunch of groceries, you could always utilize them for a going-away dinner. This way you’re getting rid of your perishables, giving away the excess, and possibly even convincing some friends and family to help with your move.


Dealing with Items Your Movers Might Refuse to Move

By now, you should have a good idea of what you can move, and what you should do with your restricted items. All you have to do next is get in touch with a long distance moving company to get planning – and ask them if they have any other restrictions regarding what they can and can’t carry.

By following proper procedures for disposal and transportation, you can ensure a safe and smooth move. Best of luck with your move, and don’t forget to check out our other guides to learn more about how you can make your move even easier!