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When you decide to move there are many things you have to think about. One of those things is what moving documents are important. You, of course, have the moving contract, the inventory, and so on. But one of the most important moving documents is the bill of lading. In this article, we will talk about how a professional Manhattan moving company uses the bill of lading to ensure that everything is going according to plan when it comes to your move. So, without any further ado, let’s dive in!

What are the most important moving documents?

There are a couple of important moving documents that are essential for a successful move. We have mentioned the moving contract and the inventory, but there are more. For example, the moving estimate. A moving estimate is an approximate price that your cross-city moving company will charge you for the move.

bill of lading is not the same as the moving contract
The contract is not the same as the bill of lading

There are three types of moving estimates and you need to read carefully about each one to know which one to pick.

  • Binding moving estimate:

This moving estimate is when the moving company comes in person and weighs your belongings. They will give you the estimate according to the weight of everything you want to move, and also add any additional services you may require. The price will be fixed and you will not be able to add any more additional services on moving day. You can reduce the price of the move by getting rid of some items. Go online and find furniture removal NYC services, and the weight of your move will diminish as well as the price of the move. So, if you are taking this kind of estimate make sure to talk to your movers about everything before signing the contract.

  • Non-binding moving estimate:

This one is tricky. The moving company will give you an estimate over the phone. When the actual weighing comes, they may increase the price of the move if the load is bigger than expected. You can also request additional moving services on the go. This is great when doing a local or a last-minute move. This is because you can pay a lot less than anticipated if your weight is lower than the estimate the company has given you over the phone. However, all moving companies have a minimum price you have to pay for the move. So, plan accordingly if you plan on picking a moving company that offers a non-binding moving estimate.

  • Binding not-to-exceed-estimate:

This one is the best you can find. If a moving company offers you this you can be sure that they are reliable. This is because the price of the move will decrease if the weight of your belongings is lower than the estimate. In addition, the price will NOT increase if it is higher than the estimate. This is a sign of a reliable moving company because they are ready to sacrifice profit for your satisfaction. If a company offers you this, make sure to hire them.

moving company
Find a company with a good estimate

What is the bill of lading?

Now, let’s get down to the real question. What is the bill of lading? The bill of lading actually comes from the Old English word for Loading. This word confuses many people and you would have probably guessed what the bill is if it was called like this. This document is not only used in moving, but in all shipping businesses. It is basically the ticket for your goods to get from one location to another. The moving company will issue this document to you as proof that they have received your items and that they will move them from your old home to the new one. To say it in the terms your movers will probably use it is:

  • Evidence of the contract of carriage
  • Receipt of goods
  • Document of title to the goods

Let’s break these down.

Evidence of the contract of carriage

Bill of lading serves a double purpose when it comes to evidence. The contract you sign with your moving company requires proof that it was signed. The bill of lading is just that and, in addition, it is the receipt that the fore-payment has been made and it should also have more details about the cargo.

freight ship
The bill of lading is important in the shipping industry

Receipt of goods

When the moving company gives you a bill of lading, that means that they have the exchange of goods written on paper. This means that they have taken your items and put them into the moving truck, and they have agreed to take them from one point to another. This also concerns the state of the items. They will transport the items in the same shape they took them. You can use the bill if something gets broken or missing as a legal document in the court of law.

Document of title to the goods

This part of the document states that the shipper will only transport the goods to a specific destination and not take any goods for their trip back.

The inventory

The bill of lading will also contain the inventory of the shipment. It is smart to make an inventory of your own. Then you will have a double inventory, one attached to the bill of lading and one of your own. This will ensure that everything will come safely from your old house to the new one. If something gets missing, you can use these documents to take legal action.


The bill of lading is a very important document not only in the moving business but any shipping business. If your company does not issue you a bill of lading, this means that they cannot be trusted and you should not sign anything with them. So, there you have it, everything you need to know about the bill of lading and other moving documents. With all that said, good luck with your move!

About Author

John has been with Divine Moving and Storage in New York for nearly two decades. Starting as a young helper and climbing up the ranks to be a staple in our organization. John has the knowledge and experience to assist our clients with any move or storage related needs. You can reach John or any of our associates in NYC at 212-244-4011