What does HGC mean?

A  HGC or Household Goods Carrier is defined by the US Department of transportation as..

  1. In general, a motor carrier that, in the ordinary course of its business of providing transportation of household goods, offers some or all of the following additional services:
    (i) Binding and nonbinding estimates;
    (ii) Inventorying;
    (iii) Protective packing and unpacking of individual items at personal residences;
    (iv) Loading and unloading at personal residences.
  2. The term includes any person considered to be a household goods motor carrier under regulations, determinations, and decisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in effect on the date of enactment of the Household Goods Mover Oversight Enforcement and Reform Act of 2005 (August 10, 2005).
  3. The term does not include any motor carrier providing transportation of household goods in containers or trailers that are entirely loaded and unloaded by an individual other than an employee or agent of the motor carrier.
  4. The term does not include any motor carrier that acts as a service for the delivery of furniture, appliances, or other furnishings between a factory or a store and an individual’s household.

What does this mean in plain English?
Basically an HGC is a mover, not a delivery service. To make the definition clearer, anyone that picks up an item from a household or does the work to protect an item and deliver into a household is a mover. “Into” another household is an important distinction.

Anyone that picks up items from a business, does not do any work to wrap that item or only delivers it to the doorstep of a household is exempt from the licensing requirements of an HGC (Household Goods Carrier).

Why is this important to know the difference?
A delivery service is only required to carry basic liability. The federal government and most state authorities require a HGC to carry multiple kinds of insurance and at much higher levels. They also impose restrictions on the pricing (tarrifs) that a HGC can charge the consumer. Basically an HGC is regulated for the consumers’ protection where a delivery service is regulated to a much lesser extent.

The biggest difference is that if a delivery service is acting as a HGC they are committing a crime. Anyone who has seen the news stories about cheap movers being busted in sting operations will realize this means that the truck (along with the customers’ goods inside) may be impounded.

Services like Uship.com do not enforce the difference and even glamorize illegal trucking services (during the first few seasons of the TV show Shipping Wars, some of the companies filmed often were unlicensed engaged in illegal services).

In the end it comes down to a personal choice. Because the illegal trucking companies skirt the laws and operate with less protections, they can offer a lower cost which appeals to many consumers. Other people prefer to know that the service they hire are professionals that have taken the extra steps to prove themselves and protect their clients.