The Wheaton Blog

Movers vs Brokers: What’s the Difference?

October 24, 2023 | Moving Guides & Tips

When you’re preparing for a big move, you may come across various entities offering to help.

Two of the most common are moving companies and moving brokers. A “movers near me” search won’t discriminate between movers and brokers; however, they have distinct differences that every customer should understand.

What’s the Difference Between Brokers and Movers? 

When you’re searching for the best mover in your area, you probably aren’t searching for brokers, but brokers will pop up in Google, and the search engine won’t tell you straight out which websites are for movers and which are for brokers. If you’re asking “does it even matter,” the answer is yes. Let’s delve into the unique roles and functionalities of movers versus brokers to clarify the differences: 

What Is a Moving Company?

A moving company directly handles the physical process of moving your belongings from one place to another. The company owns trucks, employs professional movers and takes charge of the relocation process. Any interstate mover needs to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and should possess a valid U.S. DOT number, ensuring they adhere to strict guidelines and safety protocols.

Understanding Moving Brokers

Unlike moving companies, moving brokers do not directly move your belongings. Instead, they act as the middleman, connecting customers with movers that can fulfill their requirements. Think of them as sales teams that find a suitable moving company for you, after which they sell or “broker” your move to that company.

Like moving companies, brokers also need to be registered with FMCSA. However, it’s crucial to understand that while they can arrange transportation for your household goods, they don’t take responsibility for the transportation itself. They typically don’t have moving trucks or movers on staff, though there are exceptions.

Tips for Working with a Moving Broker

If you choose to work with a moving broker, follow these guidelines to ensure you have a smooth experience:

  • Verify FMCSA Registration: Always check if the broker is registered with the FMCSA. You can easily do this by searching their database at
  • Know Your Rights: Ensure the broker provides you with a copy of FMCSA’s ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move’ booklet and the ‘Ready to Move’ brochure. It’s their obligation to furnish these essential documents.
  • Request Moving Company Details: It’s your right to ask for, and receive, a list of moving companies that the broker works with. Verify that these movers are also registered with FMCSA.
  • Seek Written Agreements and Estimates: Ask whether the broker has written agreements with the movers they collaborate with. Moreover, always get a written estimate based on the chosen moving company’s tariff. Avoid relying on verbal estimates.
  • Inspect Marketing Materials: Examine the broker’s marketing collateral, such as ads or websites. Legally, they must highlight their business location, U.S. DOT number and clearly mention their role as a broker that arranges for transportation but doesn’t move goods themselves.
  • Be Aware of Potential Pitfalls: Understand that there are instances where a broker might fail to secure a moving company for your needs. Whether it’s due to low estimates, lack of availability or other reasons, you could find yourself without a mover on the scheduled day. It’s crucial to have contingency plans or thoroughly vet the broker’s track record to prevent this.

Making the Right Choice: Move with a Mover or Broker? 

When considering a move, it’s essential to differentiate between moving companies and brokers. While both can offer value, understanding their distinct roles, responsibilities and potential pitfalls can ensure that your move is as seamless and stress-free as possible. Remember, knowledge is power, especially when relocating your cherished belongings. If you have more questions about moving day, reach out to Wheaton! We can help answer any questions you may have. 

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