FMCSA 2022 Rule Training - Recommendations on Virtual Surveys

In 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Final Rule Training to educate clients and protect them from fraud in the moving industry. One of the points was the issue of conducting virtual surveys as proof that the moving company is legitimate.

In a final rule for the transportation of household goods, the US Department of Transportation and FMCSA made virtual surveys equal to physical surveys. If you’re new to this topic and you’re wondering what virtual surveys are and how it came to this, we’d love to explain.

Backstory - Long Distance Moving and Precise Inventory Lists

Moving companies started working in the 1940s and had very humble beginnings. Now, the relocation industry is one of the most important ones in the US. As a matter of fact, the moving industry generates $86 billion in yearly revenue, hires a lot of people, and helps Americans move all year round.

Before companies started to use the internet, there were only two ways for a company to know what the customer is relocating so that they can plan and charge for the move - creating an inventory list over the phone or in person.

However, those two methods proved to be inefficient since the conversation over the phone left room for mistakes, and on-site surveys took a lot of logistics, time, and money. A simple thing such as bad weather could cause traffic jams and lateness and then postpone everything that should have been done that day. That could only mean being unproductive and losing money.

There Are More Ways to Do a Survey

Today, there are four ways to get an accurate inventory list from a client:

  • Over the phone,
  • AI,
  • On-site,
  • Video call.

All of these methods have their pros and cons. Some are cheaper but can cause confusion, while some are expensive but very accurate.

In 2017, FMCSA discussed whether they should still allow telephone surveys since they can cause potential problems during pick-up. When it comes to on-site surveys, in the document named “Your rights and responsibilities when you move” required by federal law, the following is stated:

“You should avoid brokers and movers that are not registered with FMCSA, refuse

to perform a physical survey of your household goods and require cash only


Does this mean a company that doesn’t send a surveyor to the location is fraudulent? It isn’t exactly clear. This document also states this:

“If you are moving from a location within a 50-mile radius of your mover’s (or its agent’s

or brokers) place of business, the estimate must be based on a physical survey of your

household goods unless you waive this requirement in writing before your shipment is


This can only leave the reader with the impression that the only way to get an accurate inventory list is in-person. Until 2022, when FMCSA amends the changes.

There’s an Update

The final rule that the FMCSA brought regarding household goods relocations applies to how to educate and protect people from fraudulent companies. They required changes on binding and non-binding estimates for additional services, signing blank or incomplete documents, and other suspicious things a moving company can ask. This inevitably means they also had to touch on an important topic - virtual surveys.

Important Changes to Remember

According to the FMCSA rule, virtual surveys of household goods are allowed. The definition of physical surveys now includes live or pre-recorded video instead of in-person surveys. Also, motor carriers must now conduct surveys beyond a 50-mile radius.

The definition of the physical survey has changed: Now, it’s a survey that is carried out physically or online. If the survey is conducted digitally, the home goods motor carrier must have access to live or recorded video of the household goods so that it can clearly identify the items that need to be transported.

That means that if a moving company wants a precise list of items moved to another state, it is the same if the surveyor comes to a location or performs it online. 

In-person and online surveys are now the same thing, and if the radius of the relocation exceeds 50 miles, a moving company is required to perform a survey.

FAQs Answered in the Document

In the frequently asked questions section, FMCSA answered a few more concerns regarding making estimates, their changes, and charges. Read on to find out what you should know and how to feel more comfortable when moving.

Q: Are there any instances when a revision of the estimate will be allowed?

A: No. Pursuant to the 2022 regulatory updates, revised estimates are no longer permitted. A new estimate must be prepared.

Q: Are movers able to complete a new estimate onsite?

A: Yes.

Q: Is a new estimate valid if the movers have loaded some items?

A: No. A new estimate must be prepared before loading.

Q: Is the new estimate required to indicate or identify that it is a new estimate?

A: Yes. The new estimate should note the time and date the new estimate was prepared.

Q: Must the new estimate clearly describe the shipment and all services provided from the original estimate, plus the additional HHG tender by the shipper and/or services requested by the shipper?

A: Yes. The carrier’s new estimate must clearly identify all the goods and services to be transported. 

Q: Can the carrier charge the shipper to provide an estimate?

A: Maybe—depending on the estimate type. A charge can be assessed for a binding estimate. However, this charge must be in the carrier’s tariff. A carrier may not assess a charge for preparing a non-binding estimate.

If you have more questions or concerns, you can check out other informational videos on the consumer protection website.

The Best Virtual Surveys Are at Your Fingertips

We know that getting a precise inventory list takes time and money, and we also know that nobody has either of those to waste. And we’re not talking only during the summer. A professional moving company that wants to make the best use of its resources knows how important it is to have salespeople doing only sales tasks and not spending several hours a day doing surveys. Also, going on-site for a live survey requires a lot of money, it’s time-consuming, and usually lacks the staff to perform well. If the company operates cross-country and has offices in several states, what happens if your good surveyors are only in the big states? The list of problems goes on.

Farsite Offers Professional Virtual Survey Services for Moving Companies

If you’re looking for a team of experienced and efficient professionals who know everything about moving and surveys, contact us. We’re a team of highly trained virtual surveyors with 10+ years of experience. We were once movers, foremen, dispatchers, and moving business managers, so we know exactly what the pain points are. With our help, you'll save money and time while increasing the number of closed deals and, of course, revenue. Use our calculator to see how big the return on an investment will be.