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Moving Jargon. Here’s What We Mean By Landing, Dunnage, Etc.


Most people begin their search for local movers either by calling a few companies, or doing an online search. However you go about trying to find the moving company that will transport your belongings on the big day, chances are you have already begun hearing and reading some terms you are wholly unfamiliar with.

Like any industry, professional movers use a bit of lingo or jargon that a specific to their line of work. For you, knowing what these terms mean can help you make a more informed decision about which company you choose to work with. Let’s take a look at a few common terms you may run across when comparing movers.


Bill of Landing

Essentially, the bill of landing is the agreement between you and the moving company to transport all of your belongings from your current home to your new home. This document acts as both a cargo manifest, and as a receipt for you. Incidentally, you will want to keep the bills landing with you at all times on moving day. It is a good idea to have a folder set aside for this, and other important documents you will be handed.

This terminology dates back hundreds of years, and was used to describe the contents of shipping vessels. In that case, “landing” literally referred to the ship landing in a port, and the goods on board being transported off of the ship.


Dunnage is the term used to describe protective materials that will be used during the move. This may include furniture pads, plastic wrap, foam peanuts, etc. Dunnage is typically provided by the moving company, and so it is therefore factored in to your overall moving cost.

This is another term that dates back hundreds of years, and just like “bill of landing” it was used in the shipping industry.


You may see the term “consignor” used to describe the moving company. To spell this out a bit more, the consignor is the one shipping the items, and the consignee is the one receiving them (that’s you).

Binding/Nonbinding/Not-to-Exceed Estimate

These terms are very important because they determine how much you will pay for your moving services. There are three types of estimates that you can be handed once a moving company has taken a full inventory of your belongings: a binding estimate, a nonbinding estimate, and a binding not-to-exceed estimate.

Here’s what they mean:

A binding estimate means that you pay the amount on the bottom of the estimate, period, no matter what. If the items inventoried wind up being heavier or more difficult to move than the company originally anticipated, you do not pay extra.

A nonbinding estimate is pretty much the exact opposite. You are given an accurate estimate of what it will cost some of your belongings with the understanding that if unforeseen difficulties occur, or if your items way more than anticipated, you will be charged an additional cost.

A binding not-to-exceed estimate means that your payment will go no higher than the total at the bottom, but if the moving company does not need to put in as much work as anticipated, you pay less.

Flight Charge

In this case, we are talking “flight” as in steps, as opposed to on an airplane. Most moving companies factor flights of stairs into their estimate – or at least they should. If you are moving from a single story ranch home to a colonial, make sure that your price quote includes the flight charge that will be necessary for your movers to carry things to the second floor.

If you live in a five story walk-up apartment, your flight charge may be significant, so it is important that you know it before moving day.


PBO stands for “packed by owner.” Moving companies note this on any items that you pack, because they are usually not covered under their insurance. That only applies to items that were packed by the movers.

Of course, any honest and reputable moving company will take the time to explain these terms to you, but it still can’t hurt to get a little advance knowledge before deciding on which company to work with.


Author Bio

Niv Orlian is an online marketer and the Co-Founder of DO Online Marketing, a Chicago based company that helps local businesses such as Golan’s Moving & Storage, acquire, manage, and retain local customers online


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