Moving Quotes: Binding vs Non-Binding

GoodMigrations Whale


Getting ready to move? Whether its an inter-state, domestic or overseas move, you will want to request quotes from a few moving companies. Getting moving estimates is an important part of the process. Read our 6 Steps in Hiring an International Mover before you begin this process. One of the biggest misconceptions that customers make during the quoting process is thinking that their quote is “binding.” In other words, the price estimate you get before the move is the amount you will pay after the move. This is not true! Why? You may ask? Because some quotes are binding but most, like 90%, are non-binding.

It’s important we understand these terms and understand how they can help or hurt us during our moving process and avoid extra costs on moving day.


This type of quote is not very common, especially with overseas moves, but it is simple and straight forward. A Binding moving estimate states that the price you are quoted will be the amount you pay on delivery. Regardless if weight or volume increase or decrease. Another good name for this is “fixed priced.” This agreement works out to be the most “fair” agreement if all parties are honest.

A few things to note if you do come across a binding quote.

  • The quote must accurately detail what will be shipped, and the services offered. If you need “extra” services that aren’t included, then you must be billed separately for these.  Long carry charges and shuttle fees are usually not included in a binding quote.
  • For an estimate to be binding a copy of the quote must be provided to the customer prior to the move and it must state it is binding.
  • A copy of your binding agreement must be included with your bill of landing.
  • Ensure everything you want to ship is clearly listed on your inventory sheet. Avoid adding additional items after the agreement has been set. If on moving day, the mover feels you have added items not included then they can refuse service. Typically, a mover won’t make a stink over something small but that is not a guarantee.
    Moving Estimate Image


This is the most common type of moving estimate, especially for international moves. This estimate only gives you an idea of how much your shipment will cost come moving day. Nothing is guaranteed! Your final costs are based on total volume, total weight and services included in the shipment like packing, packing materials, extra shipping crates, or storage. By law, if your final bill is greater than your original estimate, you are only required an additional 10% for the company to deliver your belongings. You are then allowed 30 days to pay the balance.

Quick Math:
Estimate: $1000
Final Bill: $2000
Mover can collect $1100 on delivery. You are given 30 additional days to pay the $900 balance.

This is why an in-home survey is so important. When a moving company physically sees what is being shipped, they can make the most accurate estimate for you. Which will save you some headache later on because simply providing an inventory sheet to a mover is not enough to get an accurate quote. An in-person survey will allow them to also see if their truck will be able to pull up if there is an elevator or stairs and what the parking situation is like.
Money and Hand Image


Some companies may even offer a “Guarantee Not to Exceed” estimate. This is the gold standard of moving quotes. This type of binding and non-binding estimate states that if your shipment is more than your written estimate you will not pay more. If your shipment is less than the written quote you pay the lesser amount. WINNING! Always inquire about a Guarantee Not to Exceed quote.

Use caution with companies that provide a binding or not to exceed quote that is extremely low. This is a dirty trick by unscrupulous companies to bait you in with a low quote and then on moving day, void the contract and leave you either without a mover on moving day or forcing you to adhere to a new, usually, much higher amount. Consider yourself warned! The cheapest mover is not always the best mover.

Whichever estimate you receive; it is extremely important that you retain a copy of all the documentation. This should include a detailed inventory list, a clear understanding of what services are included as well as the services that are not included and of course, the estimate. Be sure to double check if you will need to pay a deposit or portion prior to moving day.

Another great piece of advice is to ask lots of questions to your mover. We’ve compiled our Top 10 Questions to Ask Your International Moving Company.

Make GoodMigrations a resource and feel free to flick us an email or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. We are here to help as well!

You might also like...

The Ultimate Guide to Moving Abroad

GoodMigrations Whale



GoodMigrations Whale



GoodMigrations Whale


Move here from anywhere.

Get free quotes from awesome international movers.
Compare all your quotes in one place. Book the right mover for you.

Best International MoversBest Long Distance Movers