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Get Quotes from Top Movers in Chicago, IL

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in Chicago?

The Illinois Commerce Commission regulates the activities of individuals and businesses that engage in the transportation of household property in Chicago. Per the requirements of this agency, movers in Chicago must possess a Household Goods License before they can legally perform moving activities. To obtain this license, interested parties will be required to complete and submit a Motor Carrier of Property License Application - Household Goods Form to:

Illinois Commerce Commission
Attn: Processing and Information Section
527 East Capitol Avenue
Springfield, IL 62701

Household goods license applicants need to meet certain eligibility requirements, which include paying a non-refundable application fee, providing proof of insurance, submitting a financial statement, and providing any additional documentation that the commission may require. Note that applicants must also attend a seminar and pass a test to demonstrate their knowledge of the commission's regulatory requirements for moving companies before being issued the requested household goods license. Likewise, moving companies that wish to provide storage services may also be required to undergo a separate Personal Property Storage Registration process with the commission by completing a Personal Property Warehouse Registration Form and mailing it to the address provided above.

You can get additional information on the licensing process as well as the regulatory requirements for moving companies in Chicago by calling the Illinois Commerce Commission at (217) 782-4654 and pressing option one. Inquiries can also be made online or by contacting the commission's Chicago office at:

Michael A. Bilandic Building
160 North LaSalle
Suite C-800
Chicago, IL 60601

It should be noted that, while the licensing of moving companies in Chicago is handled at the state level, these parties must also obtain locally-issued business licenses from the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection before operating in the city. These licenses can be obtained, either in person by contacting the department at (312) 744-6249 and subsequently submitting a completed Business Information Sheet, or online via the Chicago Business Direct portal. Note that business license applicants may be required to meet other business requirements, such as registering with the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Illinois Secretary of State, and the IRS. Inquiries on the Chicago business licensing and registration process can be directed to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection or Small Business Center at (312) 744- 6060 and (312) 744-6249 respectively.

Before hiring any movers in Chicago, you should always confirm that they have met all relevant regulatory requirements. You can verify city-issued business licenses online via the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection's Business License Look-up portal. You can also verify state-issued household goods licenses online via the Illinois Commerce Commission's Motor Carrier Information System Entity Search platform. Note that, if your relocation involves a move out of the State of Illinois, you should always confirm that your mover has been registered with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration of the United States Department of Transportation to provide interstate moving services via this agency's online search portal.

How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in Chicago?

A good way to determine that the moving company you intend to hire is the right fit for the job is by finding out how much they charge for their services. Certain factors generally influence the total charges that you will have to pay for moving activities in Chicago, and these include:

  • The distance of the move
  • The number of movers involved
  • The moving date
  • The size/volume of the items being moved
  • Accessibility to the moving locations
  • The inclusion of specialty items like pianos and tubs or additional services like packing and storage

Note that, per the requirements of the Illinois Commerce Commission, Chicago moving costs are generally calculated in two ways:

  • Charges for moves that are less than 35 miles or are entirely within Cook and DuPage Counties are calculated based on the number of workers and the total amount of time involved in the moving activities
  • Charges for moves that are more than 35 miles or outside Cook and DuPage Counties are calculated based on the total weight of the shipment and the distance of the move

Note that, regardless of the calculation method that is being used, it is always a good idea to get written estimates from several licensed movers in the city and compare these costs before making your final hiring decision. However, it should equally be noted that the lowest cost estimate does not automatically translate to the best hiring choice, and you should always take other factors like the mover's reputation and the condition of their facilities into consideration. Also, make sure that the persons providing the estimates see every item that is to be moved before doing so, and that these written estimates are issued before the move starts.

Transportation and material moving workers in Chicago earn an average annual wage of $43,380. The list below compares the hourly average wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of the State of Illinois as well as several other major cities in the country:

Chicago Movers Hourly Average Wage
$20.86
Illinois Movers Hourly Average Wage
$20.44
New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage
$23.05
Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage
$21.09
Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage
$20.53
Philadelphia Movers Hourly Average Wage
$19.55
Seattle Movers Hourly Average Wage
$25.50
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Will You Get a Moving Permit as Required by Chicago Regulations?

Chicago does not issue moving-specific permits. Nonetheless, individuals that wish to embark on relocation activities may be required to obtain a Parking Moving Van Permit from the city's Department of Transportation, especially in situations where a large moving van or truck will be used for these activities. These permits allow holders to park moving vans or trucks in front of specified addresses for a stipulated amount of time without receiving city-issued citations. They also ensure that other vehicles are not parked in the permit-reserved spaces during the validity period of the permits.

Note that parking moving van permits are typically only issued to licensed movers that are also registered with the Chicago Department of Transportation. Eligible parties that wish to obtain these permits may do so online via the department's Online Permit Portal. Homeowners can also obtain free œNo Parking signs for their moves by contacting their local alderman's office. However, it should be noted that these signs are not enforceable by law, and as such do not guarantee that the required parking space will be preserved or available on the day of the move.

Parties that wish to request œno parking signs from their local alderman's office are generally advised to do so at least 48 hours before their intended move. Likewise, requests for enforceable paring moving van permits typically have to be made no later than five days before the intended move. Inquiries and additional information concerning the issuance of parking permits in Chicago can be directed to the city's Department of Transportation at:

2 N. LaSalle Street
Suite 1110
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: (312) 744-3600

What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?

Moving companies in Chicago provide a wide range of services, which can be broadly grouped into three categories, namely residential moving services, commercial moving services, and specialty moving services. Residential and commercial moving services involve relocation from one residential dwelling or office location to another, and they include intra-city/short-distance moves, inter-city/long-distance moves, interstate moves, and international relocations. On the other hand, specialty moving services involve add-on services like item packing and unpacking, furniture installation or assembly, and goods storage services.

To this end, you should always confirm that the moving company you intend to employ not only offers your required type of moving service but is duly equipped to provide this service satisfactorily. Get verbal confirmation on this from the company, and where possible, request an inspection of their moving vehicles and facilities to make sure that they are adequate for the nature and scope of your move. Finally, get an estimate of the company's rates and charges for your intended move before you finalize any agreements with them. Note that you should consider it a red flag if the moving company provides this estimate before conducting a visual inspection of the items that have to be moved.

Cost estimates for some services that are commonly offered by movers in Chicago are provided below:

Local/long-distance residential moving
$105 - $125 per hour (includes cost of labor and moving truck)
Piano moving
$300 - $336 (within Chicago)
Mobile home moving
$2,570 - $3,185 (for single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)
Moving out of studio apartment
$275 - $300
Moving out of two-bedroom apartment
$320 - $450
Moving out of three, four, or five-bedroom apartment
$500 - $1,000
Storage services
$100 - $350 (for 30 days)

Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?

Depending on the nature and scope of your moving activities, you may require packing and storage services before or after the actual move. In situations like these, it is always a good idea to hire a professional moving company that also offers these services, instead of outsourcing them to a different company. Doing this not only makes your moving experience easier but also limits the margin for errors and problems during the move by ensuring that a single entity handles the entire process. Some common situations where relocating homeowners in Chicago typically require storage services include:

  • Their new homes are not ready yet
  • They have too many extra items lying around and need time to declutter
  • They wish to move their items to their new location slowly and at their own pace
  • They wish to keep their items in a safe and secure location before or after the move

Whatever your reason for needing packing and storage services may be, you should always confirm that your moving company will be able to provide your required services. Professional moving companies in Chicago offer several types of packing options, such as:

  • Full packing/unpacking: this involves the movers handling the entire packing and unpacking process and typically covers all items that are being moved
  • Partial packing/unpacking: this involves the movers packing or unpacking only specified items
  • Self-packing/unpacking: this involves the homeowner packing their items themselves, with the movers blanket-wrapping them for transit, providing packing materials where requested, and placing the packed boxes in the right locations before they are then unpacked by the homeowner

Always find out how items will be handled during the packing process and as well as when they are in storage. It is also advisable to check out the company's storage facility beforehand and make sure that it is adequate and safe enough to keep your items in good condition. Finally, some movers include the cost of packing and storage in their total charges, while some charge separately for these services, so you should always get confirmation on this from your preferred moving company.

What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers in Chicago?

Moving can be a very stressful and energy-consuming experience, and thus, it is customary to show appreciation to movers that satisfactorily perform this job by tipping them. Although the common standard for tipping movers in Chicago is $5 - $10 per crew member, per hour, you can also find out from your moving company what they consider to be an appropriate tipping amount for their movers.

It is important to note that tipping is not mandatory, and you are not under any obligation to do so. Nonetheless, if you decide to tip your movers, you should consider the following factors when deciding how much to offer them:

  • The complexity of the move.
  • Their general demeanor
  • Their punctuality
  • How well they treated your items

If you are unsatisfied with the work done by the movers, if they were rude, cold, or disrespectful, or if any of your items are damaged during the move, then it is very unlikely that you will tip them. Regardless of whether you decide to do so or not, you should always make sure that you report matters like these to your moving company.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in Chicago?

It is estimated that road crashes cost Americans more than $380 million in direct medical costs every year. In 2020 alone, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 1,282 fatal occupational injuries and 205,580 non-fatal occupational injuries amongst transportation and material moving workers across the country. Making sure that your intended moving company is properly insured and bonded insulates you from liabilities if any work-related injuries or accidents occur during your move. These liabilities include bearing the cost of treating these injuries, paying for damaged items, and even possible lawsuits.

To this end, you should always make sure that any mover you intend to hire in Chicago has met all the mandatory insurance requirements laid forth by the Illinois Commerce Commission as part of its regulatory requirements. These requirements include:

  • Carrying public liability and property damage insurance with a minimum amount of $750,000
  • Carrying cargo insurance with a minimum amount of $10,000
  • Carrying workers' compensation insurance, where applicable, to cover job-related injuries for their employees

Always request a copy of your intended mover's insurance certificate and contact their insurance provider to verify the validity of this document. Note that any active homeowners' or renters' insurance policy that you may hold does not extend to damages that may occur during your move. As such, you should always find out the extent of your mover's coverage from their insurance provider and whether it will be enough for the specific nature and scope of your move. You can also contact the Illinois Commerce Commission online or by calling (217) 782-4654 and pressing option one to get additional information on its mandatory insurance requirements for movers that operate in Chicago. Inquiries can also be made in person at the commission's Chicago office located at:

Michael A. Bilandic Building
160 North LaSalle
Suite C-800
Chicago, IL 60601

Can You Provide References or Recommendations in Chicago?

Before hiring any movers in Chicago, make sure that they provide you with references or letters of recommendation from past clients that can vouch for the quality of their services. Professional and reputable moving companies in the city do not hesitate to provide interested parties with this information and consider it a red flag if the moving company that you are in talks with either cannot or is unwilling to do so. This is usually an indication that their services are subpar, and you should strongly consider hiring another moving company.

Note that some moving companies publish reviews and testimonials from past clients on their official websites and they may point you to these when you request references or recommendations. However, it is always a good idea to ask them for references that you can personally contact to get first-hand accounts of their relocation experiences with the moving company in question.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Moving Company in Chicago

When planning to relocate either within or outside Chicago, it is important to ensure that your relocation goes hitch-free by looking out for certain signs that indicate a potential moving scam. These signs include:

  • The mover provides a cost estimate for the move without actually seeing the items that have to be moved or the mover performs a cursory inspection of these items before providing the estimate
  • The mover provides an estimate that is suspiciously lower than the estimates provided by other movers
  • The mover insists that you do not require a Bill of Laden or any other types of written contracts for the job
  • The mover asks you to sign a blank contract
  • The mover requests full payment upfront
  • The mover does not have any verifiable local contact information

You can protect yourself against the actions of fraudulent and unscrupulous movers in Chicago by taking the following steps when looking to hire a moving company in the city:

  • Get recommendations to movers from friends, relatives, and colleagues. You can also get recommendations from trusted third-party sources like the Better Business Bureau and the Illinois Movers and Warehousemen's Association
  • Make sure that any moving company you contact possesses a valid state-issued license obtained from the Illinois Commerce Commission. If you will require storage services, then the moving company must also complete a separate registration process with this agency. You can verify that your intend moving company has been duly licensed, and registered where applicable, via the commission's Motor Carrier Information System Entity Search platform
  • Confirm that the mover is authorized to conduct business in the city by utilizing either the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection's Business License Look-up portal or the Uhire online license search platform
  • Request written estimates for your move from several moving companies in the city. Note that you should be prepared to pay 110% of the amount provided on these estimates. It is a good idea to contact the Illinois Commerce Commission at (212) 782-6448 to confirm the rates that the moving company has on file with them and make sure that these tally with the figures that you are given
  • Ensure that the moving company is properly insured. You should also discuss your loss and damage protection options with them and get any agreements that you reach in writing
  • Take an inventory of your items before the move
  • Make sure that you are given a Bill of Lading by the moving company. This document is considered a contract for the job, and it should contain the mover's responsibilities, the types of services they will provide, the cost of these services, and their liability. Review this document properly and make sure that you understand and agree with it before you sign it
  • Check the condition of your items after they have been delivered before signing a delivery receipt. Note that payment is usually due before items are unloaded unless you have made other arrangements with the mover. However, if your charges amount to more than 110% of the written estimate that you were given, then the mover is required to give you a 30-day grace period to pay the balance
  • Always remember that tipping is not compulsory and contact your moving company immediately if any mover demands this

In situations where your move results in property loss or damage, you must first file a written claim with the moving company no later than 90 days after the delivery date. Moving companies must also acknowledge these written claims within 30 days and either pay, settle, or deny the claim in question no later than 120 days after it is received. In situations where a mutually agreeable resolution cannot be reached, the matter can be referred to the Illinois Commerce Commission online, by calling (212) 782-6448, or by completing and mailing a complaint form, along with copies of relevant supporting documents, to the commission at:

Illinois Commerce Commission Police
527 E. Capitol Avenue
Springfield, IL 62701

This agency typically utilizes a mediation process to resolve matters that are referred to it. However, if this mediation proves unsuccessful, then the matter will be resolved through binding arbitration, and the payment of a fee may be required for this.

Complaints concerning moving scams and other move-related matters that occur in Chicago can also be reported to the Illinois Commerce Commission via any of the reporting channels provided above. On the other hand, matters that involve interstate relocation activities are handled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation. Complaints can be filed with this agency online or via phone number 1-888-368-7238.