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What Should I NOT Pack For My Move?

When packing and preparing all of your belongings in anticipation of your movers’ arrival, it is essential to remember that your long-distance carrier cannot ship certain items.

I’m not talking about books, utensils, and the usual curiosities. Under US DOT regulations, there are a variety of contraband articles that you cannot ship, even with the most sophisticated of our long-distance carriers.

When planning your move, I recommend that you do not pack any items considered hazardous materials (hazmat). You can call us to inquire what materials they will and will not transport before you begin packing, but specific articles are clearly labeled as such and should not be packed.

Here is a list of items which we cannot transport:


Ammunition and Explosives

The US DOT classifies firearm ammunition as “small arms,” including ammunition for rifles, handguns, shotguns, and any other item that propels a projectile using gun powder. This is considered hazmat, and we cannot ship it.

We do not ship ammunition because it is prone to discharge when moving accidentally.

Dynamite and explosives are also prohibited by the US DOT and cannot be shipped. You must contact professional explosives and munitions transporter to get rid of such items.

Explosives such as flares, blasting caps, fireworks, cartridges, and ammunition containing propellants like gunpowder, flammable solids, etc., are prohibited. These may only be transported by an individual who has a federal license to do so.


The US DOT does not allow alcohol to be shipped by long-distance carriers. If you must send your alcoholic beverages, contact a professional beverage and wine shipper.

Beer and other malt beverages contain ethanol and cannot be shipped on board aircraft or any motor vehicle.

Many of our clients have wine which they may require transporting, and you may fall into this category. Even if your wine is in an unopened container, the US DOT still classifies it as hazardous materials, and we cannot transport such goods without proper licensing. For more details on how to ship your vino, you can contact a wine shipping specialist.


Cleaning Fluids

I’m talking about solvents, de-greasers, strippers, and other similar liquids. The US DOT classifies these as flammable liquids.

The same goes for paints and lacquers. Even if they are in their original, unopened containers, the US DOT prohibits these items from being shipped by air or motor vehicle. Other similar cleaners include:

  • Bleach
  • Detergent
  • Fabric Softener
  • Soap
  • Dish Soap
  • Shampoos and Conditioners
  • Shaving Foam
  • Toothpaste

Pressurized Containers

The US DOT also prohibits the shipment of aerosols, including items like spray paint, hairspray, bug spray, etc. The reason for this is that these are pressurized containers, and they could explode, causing damage to your belongings or worse.

Gases such as helium canisters (for advertising purposes), welding gases like acetylene and oxygen, oxy-acetylene cylinders, etc., cannot be shipped by any moving company. This also goes for BBQ gas canisters.

Even if you have an unopened container containing compressed air or gas, do not ship it with your long-distance movers.

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Fertilizer and Weed Killer

If you have fertilizer or weed killer at your new residence, contact a local garden center to get rid of it.

Insecticides and pesticides are also prohibited from being shipped with the US DOT due to their high flammability. These include:

  • Rodenticide
  • Insecticide
  • Herbicides
  • Fungicide

Lighters and Matches

The US DOT prohibits the shipment of matches and lighters because they are a fire hazard. Even when they are in their original, unopened containers, we cannot ship them because when you pack your items at home, there’s no way for us to determine whether or not they contain such materials. Be sure that you discard them before your move.

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Batteries which are dry cell batteries, are not permitted by the US DOT to be shipped by ground transportation. These include:

  • Non-spillable batteries
  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Mercury batteries
  • Button cells
  • Flooded lead-acid batteries
  • Gel cell batteries
  • Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries
  • Non-spillable wet cells

You must contact a professional battery transporter to get rid of your batteries.

perishable foods


Unless you plan on moving these items personally, you must dispense your perishable goods before your move as your moving company will not be able to transport them for you. Due to the lengthy logistical time between your pick-up and your delivery, your perishable products will spoil while in our care and will need to be disposed of to prevent pestilence. Even if your dry food is securely stored, you will still need to transport it yourself.

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Plants and Trees

While synthetic plants are perfectly acceptable to relocate with your mover, live plants are prohibited from being shipped with the US DOT. If you want to get rid of these items, contact a local garden center or donate them to a friend or neighbor. If you live in an apartment, your landlord or property manager can help you.

Many of our clients have small trees that may require moving, and you may fall into this category. Even if your tree is planted in a pot, it still needs to be transported by yourself as we cannot transport live plants. Regrettably, we do not have the proper time to water them or provide sufficient light.

moving pets

Pets & Animals

Just like with plants and trees, your moving company cannot be held responsible for the upkeep of your pet during your move. If you have a pet, transport it with your vehicle or have a friend or family member care for them for the move’s duration.

Valuable Documents

While there is no danger to the safety of your documents while they are in our care, it is more prudent to transport such vitals personally in case you require access to them immediately. It is recommended that you transport your :

  • Tax Returns
  • Bank Statements
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Medical Records
  • Deeds
  • Insurance Papers
  • Educational Awards
  • Any other government documents


Cash and other Valuables

It is inadvisable to ship cash, precious metals/stones, and other valuables with your mover. To safeguard the contents of your shipment from theft or loss during transit, you should transport these items yourself.

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Except for motorcycles, you cannot transport vehicles with your long-distance moving company, even if the car is being shipped by itself. It is illegal for us to ship vehicles according to the US DOT. You are still responsible for getting your vehicle from point A to B, whether you drive it personally or have a family member/friend help you move it.

You do have alternatives if you are not in a position to relocate your vehicle personally. You can contact a licensed auto mover who will remove this burden from your shoulders. Take caution, though, as many long-distance movers will pose as a one-stop-shop and give you the impression that they can ship your car directly. However, they are simply hiring the same third-party auto movers that you would call. To this end, you can ask your moving company to help you secure a quote from an auto mover.

granite table heavy

Significantly Heavy Items

Under DOT regulations, any single item weighing over 700 lbs cannot be transported by your moving company. If you have any articles that fall into this category, they must be moved by a specialist.

Such weighty items include:

  • Safes
  • Vending Machines
  • Workshop Machinery
  • ATV’s
  • Solid Granite or Marble Garden Furniture
  • Particular solid wood articles (artisan furniture)

grand piano

Grand Piano

We are more than capable of shipping many types of piano: upright, spinet, baby grand. However, we are not permitted to transport those that exceed 700 lbs, and that includes grand pianos. Transporting a grand piano over this weight will require specialist movers, so be sure to contact your grand piano retailer for advice.

Family Heirlooms

If you have heirlooms of great sentimental value, it is in your best interest to transport them yourself. To keep the items insured and safe along the route, they should not be shipped by your long-distance moving company. If you are not in a position to transport these items yourself and are in any way unsure about the fine ware’s condition, you may want to consider covering it with insurance.

If you decide to transport your heirlooms yourself, be sure that they are well-packed and protected by shrink-wrap or bubble wrap. You might also consider placing them in an extra roomy box or double.

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Fragile Furniture That Is Insufficiently Packed

It is of the highest importance that fragile furniture is adequately packed and protected. If you do not sufficiently safeguard such items during your move, they may suffer significant damage.

If you don’t want to inconvenience yourself with packing such pieces yourself (hey, we get it, some people like to sleep in on moving day), make sure that the movers you are hiring are up to the task.

The best way for you to ensure that they are is to get a quote from them. If their quote has lots of asterisks or other notes, then it’s clear that they’re not fully prepared for packing your valuables.

Any of the below furniture items are considered fragile and therefore must be soft-crated by you or your mover:

  • China Cabinets
  • Curio Cabinets
  • Mirrors
  • Delicate Table Tops (glass, marble, slate, granite, etc.)
  • Easily breakable garden items (ornaments, birdhouses, etc.)
  • Vases
  • Grandfather Clocks
  • Barristers Bookcases

Our moving coordinators will advise you about any packing charges where it pertains to fragile furniture. It is your right to know exactly how much you will be spending to ensure your precious articles remain in the same condition during transit.

Storage Containers

A lot of clients have personal storage containers sitting on their property long-term. These containers will have to be cleared out and their contents adequately prepared to be loaded into our moving truck. The container itself will need to stay put as we cannot load it into our vehicle. In many cases, there would not be sufficient room for such a sizeable inflexible block anyway!

mother in law

Your Mother-in-Law

The US DOT strongly advises that you do not attempt, under any circumstances, to maneuver this potentially dangerous article into one of our moving trucks. We are personally not correctly insured to cover any ensuing damages which will occur. If in doubt, please consult your spouse.

Damaged or Rotting Furniture

Furniture has a shelf life – especially pressboard articles from IKEA. There inevitably comes the point where the wear-and-tear on a table or stand reaches a stage where it’s not possible for us to carry it to your destination without incurring further damages safely. If you have any such articles, it would be in your best interests to leave them behind by selling, donating, or disposing of them in any manner you decide.

Rotting furniture is even more hazardous to transport and for many different reasons. Furniture such as fabric sofas that have incurred mold and dampness throughout the years are outright prohibited from any moving company’s trucks. This also pertains to wooden furniture with clear evidence of woodworm as we cannot risk the contamination spreading to other clients’ belongings.

Any related pieces of furniture will need to be disposed of properly, preferably via garbage pick-up or at your nearest dumpster.


The US DOT has laid out these guidelines to keep moving companies and their clients safe and secure. The industry’s best interest is at heart, and we suggest that you take a few moments to review this information. If you have any unresolved concerns or unanswered questions, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to discuss them!

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