What’s in a number – DOT & MC licensing

Article posted by on August 10, 2017

By Jeff Walker

Every interstate household goods moving company must be licensed and insured to operate. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) assigns DOT and MC license numbers to each moving company.

Indeed, these license numbers are crucial in researching your moving company in looking up their history, when their license was authorized, and whether or not they are insured. However, there may be a couple of considerations you might want think about before hiring your mover.

Company age

Everything you ever wanted to know about researching your moving company is in our article “How to Find a Reputable Moving Company”, so we won’t go into the “how’s” here. But how many years your moving company has been in business could be something worth paying attention.

One of the little known facts about fraudulent moving companies is that they tend to “recycle” themselves, meaning they rip people off until they get caught, and then they go out of business, and create a new business that does the same thing!

You would think that there would be some sort of regulation or law against this, but there isn’t. It’s not uncommon for companies like this to recycle themselves once about every three years. We have even seen moving company owners register new businesses under their employees names, unbeknownst to them, to avoid being recognized. Hence, it’s important to know your moving company’s age.

Insurance Data

Insurance is important to have during your move. We should be clear about this: a moving company’s insurance does not cover your belongings for loss or damage! This is what Valuation Protection does.

No, what a moving company’s insurance does, is cover you and the worker, if he were to become injured on the job. This covers you from being liable for that injury. The required amount of insurance is $750,000, although many companies have as much as $1,000,000 in liability insurance to cover their workers from injury.

A trip to the FMCSA’s safety web site should be able to clear this up as outlined in our previously mentioned “How to find a Reputable Moving Company”.

Company History

The DOT and MC numbers are also important in looking up the history of a company. This is tremendously important in that you can learn a lot by what a mover will do, by what they’ve done in the past.

For example, going to the FMCSA’s consumer website, and inputting one of these numbers should bring up a history on the company over the last several years. The only time a company would not show up in this database is:


1. They are an affiliate of a Van Line, in which case they will use the Van Line’s DOT number.
2. They are not licensed for Interstate (state to state) moves. They may be able to do a move in-state, but be sure to check with local and state authorities on their history.
3. They are not licensed, in which case run like the wind!

Once you’ve brought up the history on your mover, be sure to check under the complaints section for any “Hostage Load” complaints. It’s important to pay attention to any other complaints, especially the number of complaints, but if a company has a hostage load, generally speaking it’s time to look for another moving company.

Lastly, if you do have a problem with your moving company and you want to report it on the forums, it’s common for the volunteers to ask for this information, because it makes it easier for us to follow up on a moving company. The more you help us, the better we can help you!

Good luck on your move!