A moving van line, or “carrier,” is a professional moving company that partners with a nationwide network of moving companies—or affiliated agents—and their fleets to service local and long-distance moves. If you’ve been thinking about hiring a professional mover, you may have noticed that many of them refer to themselves as “van lines.” So what does that mean for you? In this article, we’ll explain.
What is a Moving Van Line?
What do I need to know about a van line?
In other words, van lines partner with local moving companies to make sure they can provide moving services in as many places as possible. Van lines authorize their various agents to pack, pick up, and deliver interstate moving shipments, but they handle all customer service, paperwork processing, dispatching, shipment routing and monitoring, and claims settlement.
This way, you only have to talk to one person during each stage of the move (origin, transit, and destination) instead of each agency that might be involved. Don’t worry; these individual agents must agree to follow all regulations and requirements the van line sets. This generally includes things like:
- Using van-line branded moving trucks and materials
- Moving crews and drivers who wear van line-branded uniforms
- Bringing (and using) van line-branded paperwork
- Meeting the van line’s service level requirements
This means you can rest assured you’ll get the same quality from each agency with which the van line partners.
What’s the difference between a van line and a broker?
We admit van lines and brokers sound kind of similar. But in reality, they’re quite different. A van line (also known as a carrier) works with pre-vetted and approved agencies but still owns each move they sell. If you book a move with a van line, it is required to use its resources—and affiliated agencies—to complete the move.
Brokers, on the other hand, are not moving companies, and they do not have the moving crews or trucks available to complete a move themselves. Instead, they try to find a local mover (on your behalf) to get your things from A to B.
Be cautious in hiring a broker. If the broker can’t find a mover at the advertised price point (or one that can accommodate your moving dates), you could lose several hundred to several thousand dollars making other, last-minute arrangements.
Bottom line: brokers just don’t have as much stake in the game. Because they can’t complete a move themselves, they’re not held to the same standards as van lines are. So your money—and your move—is probably much safer with a van line.
What are the benefits of using a van line?
Using a van line for your upcoming move can come with a few more benefits your average mover may not be able to offer like:
That said, no company is perfect, and van lines bring their fair share of challenges, too, including:
- Van lines are for long-distance moves. Technically, van lines only have the authority to complete interstate (or long-distance) moves. They can book your local move with a local moving company, but they won’t be involved in the move at all.
- Your shipment might change trucks. Since the van line doesn’t necessarily own the truck your things are originally loaded into, movers might load and reload your stuff a few times—which could lead to damage or loss.
- Delivery dates aren’t set in stone. Most van lines will provide a “delivery spread” or range of days your shipment could be delivered. And you have to be available during any one of those days to accept your shipment; otherwise, you could face expensive storage fees.
How do I find a moving van line?
These days, finding a moving van line is usually as simple as searching Google. That said, we can point you in the right direction. There are several industry leaders that we recommend:
- International Van Lines (Best all-around)
- American Van Lines (Best premium services)
- North American Van Lines (Best for customizable services)
- Safeway Moving Systems (Best customer reviews)
- Interstate Moving and Relocation Group/IMRG (Best budget moving company)
We also suggest you request quotes from multiple competitors so you ensure you’re getting the best price for your move. When hiring a mover, it’s best to remember that the time of the year, size of the move, and distance can all factor into pricing—and each company will have its own fees. So choose wisely!
Moving van lines are one of the best options for a long-distance move because of their extensive networks of affiliated moving companies capable of moving you wherever you need to go. With their years of experience (and hard-earned reputations), you can feel confident that they will handle your move professionally and with accountability. Do yourself a solid and research before committing to one.