Moving Brokers vs. Carriers: What’s the Difference?

By: Harrison Gough Last Updated: Oct 19, 2023

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When it comes to moving, the decision between working with a moving broker or a moving carrier holds significant implications for your relocation experience.

Moving Brokers vs. Carriers: What’s the Difference?

When relocating, there are two main types of companies one can choose from. These include moving carriers and brokers.

Knowing the difference is important because it affects what services you get and how your moving experience goes.

In this article, we’ll look at moving brokers and carriers and help you decide which one is best for your upcoming move.

What Is a Moving Broker?

A moving broker is a company that acts as an intermediary between you and cross country movers. To operate, a broker must be registered with FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

For long-distance moves spanning states, they must use long distance movers registered with FMCSA. Usually, moving brokers don’t have their own trucks or movers and are not authorized to offer transportation services. Instead, they hire carriers to move your belongings.

After contacting a moving broker, they’ll inquire about your move details, such as the destination and the volume of belongings. After that, they’ll reach out to their network of vetted partners and give you a list of moving companies that match your needs, along with their quotes.

A moving broker does all the legwork for you and finds the moving companies that best match your needs and budget.

Benefits of a Moving Broker

  • Convenience: Brokers manage all aspects of your move on your behalf, eliminating the need for you to micromanage everything related to your move.
  • Competitive pricing: You can tap into the broker’s network for competitive prices. They’re skilled at finding the best moving deals and even negotiating on your behalf.
  • Pre-vetted moving companies: Brokers work with the moving companies that have been vetted for quality and reliability.

Drawbacks of a Moving Broker

  • Limited control: You might have less control over the moving process itself since brokers manage most of the details related to the move.
  • Limited interaction: You might have less direct interaction with the movers and may not be able to track and manage their operations.

What Is a Moving Carrier?

A moving carrier operates its own fleet of trucks and employs its staff of movers. They must be registered with FMCSA, have a USDOT number, and have a proper insurance level to operate.

They carry out loading, transportation, and additional services for your move. Moving carriers offer comprehensive insurance coverage for your belongings throughout the transportation process.

Benefits of a Moving Carrier

  • More control over the move: You work directly with the moving carrier and will have more say in the details of your move. You can choose the movers, shipping and transportation mode, and the moving date. You can also provide specific instructions for handling your household goods.
  • Personalized experience with clear communication: The moving carrier will work with you to create a personalized moving plan that meets your needs. A moving company will communicate with you regularly and answer your queries.
  • Accountability: The moving carrier will be directly responsible for the entire moving process.

Drawbacks of a Moving Carrier

  • More time and effort: Finding a suitable moving carrier for local moving or long-distance moving can take more time and effort as you’ll have to research different carriers, compare quotes, and negotiate rates.
  • Potentially higher costs: The cost to hire movers could be higher depending on the chosen carrier’s pricing structure. Also, brokers often negotiate competitive rates due to their volume of business and relationships with multiple carriers.

Key Differences Between Moving Brokers and Moving Carriers

Let’s delve into a detailed comparison between moving brokers and moving carriers so you can better evaluate which option aligns with your interstate moving needs and preferences.

1. Role

A moving broker is a middleman who connects you with a moving carrier. They do not own trucks or hire movers themselves.

A moving carrier is a company that owns trucks, hires movers to transport your belongings, and manages the moving logistics.

2. Accountability

A moving broker is not responsible for the safety or security of your belongings. They are only responsible for matching you with a moving carrier.

A moving carrier assumes complete responsibility for the safe transportation of your belongings from the time they pick up your belongings to the time they deliver them.

3. Pricing

Moving brokers usually charge a fee for their services. It can be a percentage of the total moving cost or a flat rate. Moving carriers charge by the hour or by the weight of your belongings.

4. Convenience

Hiring a moving broker can simplify the process as they handle all the logistics, including paperwork and coordination.

Engaging a moving carrier is ideal when you need tailored moving solutions, as you can directly work with them to customize your move.

How To Choose Between a Moving Broker and a Moving Carrier

  • Needs and preferences: Choose a moving carrier if you want direct communication and more control over the moving process. If you’re after convenience and access to a broad range of services, then go for a moving broker.
  • The size and distance of your move: A moving broker may be a good option for a local move with a few belongings. If you are moving cross country or have a lot of belongings, relocation companies may be a better choice.
  • Time constraints: A moving broker can be a convenient choice if you’re short on time, as they handle all the paperwork and coordination. However, if you have more timen to handle the bureaucracy and communication associated with the move, working directly with a moving carrier may be beneficial to securing a better deal.

Additional Moving Tips:

  • Get moving quotes from various service providers in the moving industry.
  • Compare moving services and prices.
  • Get everything in writing, including the moving quotes and the terms of the move, and ensure you have valid moving contracts.
  • Check the companies’ USDOT number and licensing.
  • Be wary of suspiciously low estimates.
  • Only work with reputable moving companies or moving brokers who adhere to moving regulations.


How do I verify the legitimacy of a moving broker or carrier?

Check their U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, read customer reviews, and assess their ratings on platforms like the Better Business Bureau.

How do I know if a company is a moving broker?

Moving brokers are required to disclose that they are not moving carriers in their advertising. The moving broker must also advertise their U.S. Department of Transportation number. Make sure to read all the advertised material carefully.

How do moving brokers choose the moving companies they work with?

Reputable brokers usually have a network of pre-vetted moving companies. They choose partners based on their reliability, services, and track record.

How do moving carriers ensure the safety of my belongings?

Moving carriers often offer insurance options to protect your belongings during the move. Make sure to ask about their moving insurance policies.

What’s the benefit of having direct communication with a moving carrier?

Direct communication with a carrier gives you more control over the moving process, enables you to make specific requests and get immediate answers to your questions.