Moving advice

Whether there’s a family, professional or personal reason for a move, it can be challenging. That’s why it’s a good idea to take the necessary steps to ease stress and protect your property during the moving process.

In a good move, all of the bases are covered. From the minute your belongings leave your home until they arrive at their destination, all of the necessary moving expertise, along with insurance and worker protection, is in place. You’ll have peace of mind and know that you got value for money and quality customer service. No surprises, no extra fees, no losses and no missed deadlines.

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Choose a reputable mover

Choosing a reputable moving company is the first—and probably most important—step in the moving process. Seek a mover with reliable evidence of great customer service, truth in advertising and sound business practices.

When shopping around for a mover, it’s important to:

  • get estimates from at least three reputable movers
  • check references and find out if the mover has been certified by the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM)
  • find out how the company will manage your move and protect your property
  • read the mover’s website content and printed information carefully
  • find out if they have a local presence and can be found in the event of a problem

Find out if the mover uses a subcontractor

Check if the company has their own equipment or whether they will use a subcontractor or another company to provide the service. If so, make sure you have information about their certification and track record. Determine if the mover is responsible for all services from end to end—including those provided by subcontractors.

Subcontracting is a major source of consumer complaints. It can result in a confusing trail of responsibility if a dispute arises.

Get a quote in writing from the mover

Before you commit, get the costs, as well as terms and conditions, of your move in writing.

You should also:

  • make sure that the mover sees all items that must be moved while preparing the quote
  • give the mover all of the information they need for your quote (e.g., existing and future addresses, and a list of obstacles, like stairs or escalators, that may require special navigation)
  • ask about additional costs you may incur if you need to add items on the day of the move
  • get the quote on a company letterhead and signed by a company representative
  • check that the quote includes the number of boxes to be moved, the size and value of items, the costing (by hour, flat rate, or by weight), terms of payment, and the timing of services
  • make sure the quote includes commitments about the delivery date and special care items
  • ask if you must pay a deposit up front and if it is refundable or held as a penalty to cover the costs for cancellation
  • verify the form of payment the mover will accept and if any fees or deposits are payable upfront
    • a mover can legally ask for payment in advance of delivery. In most situations, this payment will not exceed the estimate by more than 10%
  • look over the quote carefully and make sure you understand all of the details—including the final cost as well as the terms and conditions

Get insurance for your move

A combination of your household insurance and the mover’s insurance may cover you if there is damage to, or loss of, your belongings. Usually, your household insurance will cover you for catastrophic loss.

Under transportation law, the mover is not responsible for carrying goods of extraordinary value, such as works of art, unless that value has been declared. Some items have what is called “inherent vice” which means that they are intended to be assembled and left in one place for their useful life (e.g., some fiberboard furniture). Movers will ask for a waiver of liability when they see this type of fragile item in your inventory.

Make sure to:

  • contact your insurance provider to clarify your overall coverage for your goods while in transit
  • if you purchase the mover’s replacement value protection, it will cover your goods for loss or damage
  • if you don’t buy replacement value protection, confirm how much the moving company is liable for if there is loss of and/or damage to your goods. Generally, the mover’s liability is $0.60 per pound per item
  • make sure that the mover and any subcontractors have workers’ compensation coverage
  • ask about liability if you pack the items yourself. Generally, the mover is not liable for loss or damage to goods that are packed by the shipper
  • pack special care items (i.e., glass, marble, and other) at “owner’s risk”—the mover is not likely to have any liability for damage to items that are not packed professionally
  • verify how to make a claim and any time limits for making it

Take steps for a smooth moving day

Good preparation on your part, and an awareness of your consumer rights, could turn a good move into a great move.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • have everything ready-to-go when the movers arrive, otherwise you may be charged for keeping them waiting to perform required services
  • secure your valuables such as your cellphone, wallet and jewelry—carry them with you personally when it’s time to go
  • ask the mover to use drop cloths or runners, at both locations, to protect floors and rugs
  • identify fragile items that the mover is expected to pack and supervise the packing of these items
  • be ready in both your current and destination locations—you may need to book the elevator in the building, notify your landlord/building manager of the arrival time of your movers, arrange for street parking and maybe even snow removal
  • for long distance moves, provincial transportation regulations require an inventory be prepared prior to transporting belongings. Best practice guidelines stipulate that all items must be tagged and listed by the mover and a copy of the inventory supplied to you for your records. Be sure to keep that copy safe and secure.
  • check off each item and note any changes to the inventory, or damage, when contents are being unloaded at your new destination
  • note that, if belongings are damaged or lost, claims often must be made within 30 days for local moves and within 60 days for long distance moves

Putting your belongings in storage


  • if your belongings must be left in the moving van overnight, confirm that it will be parked in a secure area or unloaded into a secure facility
  • if your goods are in a facility, check if it is heated during the winter months
  • items that might be affected by heat or cold (e.g., candles, medication, cleaning products) should not travel in the moving truck or be stored
  • confirm what measures are in place to protect your belongings from theft, fire or water damage while in storage

Wrap up your move

Once the mover has unloaded your belongings, walk-through your new space and check all hallways and pathways into your premises to ensure that there is no damage to the property. You should also check the moving vehicle to confirm that the mover hasn’t forgotten to unload any of your items. Make sure that both you and the mover have gone through the inventory and confirm that the move is complete.

If there are lost items or unresolved issues with the mover, send a letter or email and ask for a resolution. Any damage or other insurance claim should be filed right away, as there are often very strict timelines associated with making a claim. Take pictures of anything that you think is damaged or broken.

Don’t forget to give your mover feedback. Moving companies can only improve and sustain their high performance if they know that it is recognized and appreciated.

Once your belongings are moved, you can expect days of unpacking boxes, hanging curtains, making beds, connecting telephone and cable services, and putting your furniture in the right places. But before you know it, your new place will feel like home.

Moving checklist

This moving checklist can help you at every stage of your move.

  • Make sure you have adequate insurance protection for your goods.
  • Confirm that your mover is insured and ask for a copy of the movers’ Certificate of Insurance. This insurance does not apply to the consumer’s goods unless the consumer buys Replacement Value Protection from the mover.
  • Find out about your mover’s replacement value options. This coverage means that the moving company agrees to be legally liable, up to a certain amount that represents the estimated value of the property being moved.
  • Check what your moving company cannot transport or store for you (e.g., live plants, certain food products, flammable items).
  • Make a room-by-room inventory of what is to be moved to make sure that nothing gets left behind or forgotten.
    • When contents are being unloaded at your new destination, check off each item, and note missing items, or damage, prior to signing it. Otherwise, your mover may decline your claim for lost or damaged items. Normally, a mover will not prepare an inventory for a local move.
  • Prepare for moving day so things like elevators, stairways and parking spots have been reserved or cleared.
  • Make sure there will be enough convenient parking space at both locations for moving the trucks.
  • Inspect your premises to ensure nothing gets left behind by doing a walk-through of the residence you are leaving and the pathway to the moving vehicle. Repeat the process at your new home and include an inspection of the moving vehicle.

This checklist for moving complements legal protections, established in law, that are already in place. It is hoped that it will set a high standard for moving companies so they can improve their own performance and benchmark it against moving industry certification standards.