see-the-whole-picture-and-move-with-confidenceWhen planning a move, whether across town or across the country, you want to know that your personal belongings will be safe with whatever moving company you choose to employ. Word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews can help you narrow down your list, for sure. Before you make that final decision, however, on which mover will be ferrying your precious cargo, make sure you know their complete safety record, and that you know how to check a USDOT number.

The USDOT number, sometimes referred to as a census number, is an identifying number issued to any company that owns commercial vehicles for the purpose of transporting cargo or passengers. Federal law requires companies that intend to operate across state lines needs to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). A majority of states require that such carriers register whether they are planning on interstate travel or not.

No matter where your move will take you, it is imperative that you obtain their USDOT number. Any company can make any number of promises, but in many matters the USDOT number is the final arbiter. The FMCSA operates the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System (SAFER) System. With just one quick visit to the SAFER website and the companies USDOT number, you can gain access to the mover’s snapshot, which tells you their size, physical address and the type of cargo they have transported in the past. Most importantly, it will also have a record of any inspections that have been performed on the company, and a record of all crashes they have been involved in. All this information is also distilled in to an easy-to-use, all-encompassing safety record.

The United States Department of Transportation provides this information free of charge. Because it is of the utmost importance to know who you can trust with your belongings, they make it an easy process.

The first step in the process is to navigate to Once on the website, scroll down until you see the “Search USDOT # or Company Name” box. Simply type in the number that the company has provided you with and click on the magnifying glass. When the company’s record is found, you will be sent to their page. Viewing details will give you important information about that company.

Once on the page, you will want to make sure a few pieces of information are in order. You should first check the operating status of the companies you are considering. It should come up as “Registered,” which means they have a number and are active. If they are no longer registered, that information will also be provided along with the date they ceased service.

Other information you should verify is their authorization for hire. If you are moving out-of-state, they must be certified for interstate transport. Under “Cargo Carried,” you will want to make sure they are registered to transport household goods. Any of these pieces of information that do not jibe should instantly raise a red flag for you.

Finally, check the companies compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). If they are graded “satisfactory,” then you know that they possess a clean safety record. A “conditional,” or “unsatisfactory,” rating is cause for alarm.

You should not have to rely on faith that your family’s belongings will arrive safely at your new home. Before you sign on the dotted line, know that the company you choose has an excellent safety record and is worthy of your business.