The Best Military Moving Companies of 2023

The best military moving companies offer a variety of services that cater to military members to make relocating a painless process.

By Tony Carrick | Published Jan 25, 2023 11:50 AM

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The Best Military Moving Companies Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

Few are more familiar with the process of moving than military families, who move an average of about once every 2.5 years. Often these moves are long-distance, taking families across state lines or overseas.

Since moving is such a big part of being in the military, many military members must have a reliable moving service they can count on to move their belongings safely. The best military moving companies can easily facilitate local, long-distance, or international moves. Ahead are some of the most reliable moving companies in the business.

  1. BEST OVERALL: United Van Lines
  2. RUNNER-UP: Mayflower Moving
  3. BEST FOR MOVING ABROAD: International Van Lines
  4. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: American Van Lines
  5. BEST FOR SELF-SERVICE MOVES: U-Haul
The Best Military Moving Companies Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Military Moving Companies

While cost is crucial when vetting a moving service, there are other important features to pay attention to, including the type of move, the moving distance, and specialty-item moving. Ahead, military members and their families can learn more about these factors.

Type of Moving Service

There’s more than one way to move one’s belongings from point A to point B. Full-service moving companies will load, transport, and unload the customer’s belongings and can even take care of the packing and unpacking (for an additional fee). While these full-service moving companies are convenient, they can cost thousands of dollars.

Those who don’t mind packing, loading, and driving can save money by renting a moving truck. Some companies also rent shipping containers that the customer packs up and are then delivered to the new destination.

Moving Distance

Moves are either local, long-distance, or international. While what a moving company defines as a local move may vary from company to company, a local move is typically within 60 or 70 miles of the original location. Long-distance moves cover greater distances and often cross state lines, while international moves involve transporting one’s belongings across national borders.

Most moving companies typically calculate a local move based on the number of hours the move will take to complete, the number of bulky items the customer is moving, and the number of movers required. Movers base the cost of a long-distance move on the number of belongings the customer has, the number of movers needed, the size of the truck, and the total distance of the move.

International moves are more complicated and expensive because they generally involve greater distances and additional costs for customs, duties, and import taxes. Moving companies can give customers a quote for any type of move, provided the customer can accurately estimate the size and distance of the move.

Military Discounts

Many moving companies often offer discounts to military families. Since moving companies that offer military discounts don’t always publish these special prices, it’s important for customers to ask about these discounts when vetting the company. These discounts are often up to 20 percent. Typically, customers must provide proof of military status to qualify for these discounts.

Licensing and Insurance

When a customer is hiring a moving company, it’s crucial to ensure the service has all the appropriate licenses and insurance to operate. Proper insurance and licensing will ensure the client’s belongings are protected during the move and that the customer isn’t responsible for any injuries that may occur on their property during the moving process. A reputable moving company will have general liability insurance and business property insurance.

Military members will also want to consider if they need a company that is specially licensed to work with goverment agencies. Some military members may need to hire companies with General Services Administration (GSA) approval. GSA-approved companies are able to perform work for the U.S. government. Military members can contact their transportation counselor to see if this licensing is necessary.

Specialty-Item Moving

When vetting a military moving company, customers can consider what kind of specialty items they may need to move. Not all moving companies will move larger pieces of property such as vehicles, pianos, riding lawn mowers, and grandfather clocks. Customers can also consider the cost of moving these belongings, as specialty items will typically increase the overall cost of the move.

Deposit Requirements and Cancellation Policy

Customers will want to note a moving company’s deposit requirements and cancellation policy before hiring the service. Most full-service moving companies and container-rental companies require their clients to make some sort of deposit to reserve the service for specific dates and times. Reputable moving companies will not charge excessive deposits; a few hundred dollars is considered fair.

Cancellation policies also vary among moving companies. While some companies allow customers to cancel up to and including the moving date, others may require up to 7 days’ notice before the move to prevent customers from losing their deposit. Moving companies should clearly communicate the cancellation policy terms before the customer hands over a deposit.

Reviews and Complaints

As with many services, one of the best ways to vet a military moving company is to read the company’s reviews. Most major moving services have an extensive list of reviews on such sites as Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau where customers can see customer ratings and detailed descriptions of the service from clients who have used the service. Customers can also check if a company has had any official complaints filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Our Top Picks

The list below includes some of the top military moving companies in the country. It includes full-service moving companies specializing in local, long-distance, and international moves as well as specialty movers and truck rental companies for DIY moves.

Best Overall

Photo: unitedvanlines.com

Why It Made the Cut: As one of the largest moving companies in the country, United Van Lines offers a host of GSA-approved services to streamline any national or international move.

United Van Lines is one of the top-rated movers in the country, and it’s also an excellent choice for members of the military. The company has some 500 locations around the country, meaning customers benefit from accessing services close to home. UVL carries GSA approval for military moves that require it. Those who are only moving an apartment’s worth of items can also benefit from discounted long-distance rates. Customers can easily access mover contact information, checklists, and tracking from the convenient MyUnited portal.

United Van Lines stands out with its host of extra services, including post-move cleaning and Wi-Fi setup or takedown. The company will also pack and move fragile items and specialty belongings like pianos and grandfather clocks with custom crating for the utmost protection. Some customers report that customer support can be difficult to contact, but UVL does demonstrate a commitment to satisfaction with its flexible policy that allows cancellation until the movers arrive.

For more information, read our dedicated United Van Lines review.

Specs

  • Type of moving service: Full service
  • Moving distance: Local, long-distance, international
  • GSA approval: Yes
  • Deposit required: No
  • Cancellation policy: Free cancellation until services are provided

Pros

  • 500 locations nationwide
  • Specialty and fragile items protected with custom crating
  • Free cancellation as long as no services have been provided
  • Add-on options like cleaning services or Wi-Fi network disassembly available
  • Discounts for small long-distance moving jobs for studio apartments or tiny homes
  • Checklists, mover contacts, and tracking conveniently located in MyUnited online portal

Cons

  • Somewhat challenging customer service experience

Runner-Up

The Best Military Moving Companies Option Mayflower Moving
Photo: mayflower.com

Why It Made the Cut: Add-on services and different tiers of insurance make Mayflower Moving one of the most customizable moving services in the business.

Mayflower Moving is a full-service moving company that allows its customers the flexibility of customizing their moves. With services that include packing, debris removal, and car shipping and different tiers of insurance coverage, Mayflower gives customers the ability to create a moving package that fits their needs. The company also has a host of features that help make moving less stressful, including checklists and an online portal that allows clients to track the location of the moving truck. Should customers need to cancel their move, they can do so up to 24 hours before the scheduled appointment.

Customers will want to be aware that Mayflower does require its clients to purchase moving supplies separately as it does not sell any. However, customers may also appreciate Mayflower’s commitment to altruism through its partnership with Move for Hunger; movers can donate any nonperishables the homeowner has to the local food bank.

Specs

  • Type of moving service: Full service
  • Moving distance: Local, long-distance, international
  • GSA approval: Yes
  • Deposit required: No
  • Cancellation policy: Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the move

Pros

  • Customizable long-distance moving service bundles available
  • Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the move
  • Checklists, mover contacts, and tracking conveniently located in MyMayflower online portal
  • Move for Hunger partnership helps customers donate food before a move

Cons

  • Customers are required to separately purchase moving supplies

Best For Moving Abroad

The Best Military Moving Companies Option International Van Lines
Photo: internationalvanlines.com

Why It Made the Cut: International Van Lines is a designated military mover with a presence in over 180 countries around the globe.

With a broad international presence in a staggering 180-plus countries, International Van Lines can move military members wherever their next change-of-station takes them. The company provides extensive information on its site to help its customers determine just how much they’ll end up spending on an international move, which can alleviate any budgeting stress. Customers will want to note that the online inventory system can be somewhat cumbersome, and they’re on the hook for a 25 percent deposit at booking. However, customers with flexible moving dates can benefit from discounted rates so they can save some money on a potentially costly move.

Specs

  • Type of moving service: Full service
  • Moving distance: Local, long-distance, international
  • GSA approval: U.S. Department of Transportation government military relocation mover
  • Deposit required: 25 percent of quoted price
  • Cancellation policy: Free cancellation up to 48 hours before the move

Pros

  • Services available in over 180 countries
  • Discounts available for customers with flexible moving dates
  • Readily available fee and estimate breakdown information

Cons

  • Somewhat user-unfriendly online inventory system
  • 25 percent deposit required at booking

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Military Moving Companies Option American Van Lines
Photo: americanvanlines.com

Why It Made the Cut: American Van Lines offers fixed-rate pricing that eliminates surprises and services designed for military members.

With fixed-rate services that ensure the move doesn’t become more expensive than expected, American Van Lines is one of the best military discount moving companies. These fixed-rate services even apply to specialty-item moving, which is a service that can become prohibitively costly depending on what’s being moved. Customers can also take advantage of discounted rates if they’ve moving between major metropolitan areas. Customers will want to know that they’re responsible for a 10 to 50 percent deposit, and cancellation is limited to 7 days before the scheduled move. Additionally, customers who require GSA or special USDOT approval for their move will want to reach out to AVL’s customer support.

Eco-minded customers will also appreciate working with American Van Lines. AVL is one of the more environmentally responsible van moving services with sustainability practices to reduce fuel consumption. The company’s trucks have speed limit governors to control fuel consumption.

Specs

  • Type of moving service: Full service
  • Moving distance: Local, long-distance, international
  • GSA approval: Not specified
  • Deposit required: 10 to 50 percent of quoted price
  • Cancellation policy: Free cancellation up to 7 days before the move

Pros

  • Discounted prices for long-distance moving between major cities
  • Sustainability initiatives aim to reduce the environmental impact of moving
  • Fixed-rate services, even for moving specialty items

Cons

  • 10 to 50 percent deposit required
  • Cancellation is limited to 7 days before the move
  • Unclear GSA- or USDOT-approval status

Best for Self-Service Move

The Best Military Moving Companies Option U-Haul
Photo: uhaul.com

Why It Made the Cut: With thousands of locations nationwide and affordable pricing, U-Haul is a no-brainer choice for those looking to DIY a move.

With its affordable costs and a vast number of locations across the country, U-Haul is a great option for those who want to handle a move on their own. U-Haul boasts some 21,000 rental locations, making it easy for customers to use the company for a one-way move to virtually anywhere in the country. Customers can get a quote quickly online and can cancel up to 24 hours in advance. U-Haul also offers a truck-share service that allows customers to pick up a truck at virtually any time by using the U-Haul app on a smartphone.

U-Haul also offers self-storage and U-Box storage container rental (although only one U-Box size is currently available). These additional services make U-Haul one of the more flexible moving service providers.

Customers will want to note that although U-Haul is an affordable truck rental service for many moves, its payment structure, which charges by the mile, may not make sense for some longer moves. Customers can benefit from visiting U-Haul’s website to obtain a quote for their preferred move dates.

Specs

  • Type of moving service: Moving truck rental, moving container rental, self-storage facility
  • Moving distance: Local, long-distance; international shipping available for U-Box
  • GSA approval: N/A
  • Deposit required: $100 for cash payments; no deposit required for credit card payments
  • Cancellation policy: Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the move

Pros

  • Relatively affordable cost
  • 21,000 rental locations nationwide
  • Fast, streamlined online quote process
  • Convenient Truck Share 24/7 self-service available to all U-Haul customers
  • No cancellation or delivery fees for U-Box containers

Cons

  • Per-mile payment structure may not be cost-effective for moves over 100 miles
  • Only 1 moving container size available

Our Verdict

United Van Lines boasts some 500 locations throughout the country, has a flexible cancellation policy, and is capable of handling long-distance and international moves, making it the ideal military moving company. Mayflower Moving, which offers customized bundles for long-distance moving and allows users to track their move online, is also a great option.

How We Chose the Best Military Moving Companies

We considered various criteria when selecting the best military moving services. In many ways, military members require the same characteristics in a moving company as everyone else. They need moving companies that offer reasonable prices, are reliable, boast good customer service, and have a reputation for packing and transporting belongings safely. In addition to these qualities, we considered characteristics significant to military members.

Since moves can often take military members across the country or around the globe, we chose companies with a good reputation for handling long-distance and international moves. Flexibility is also important, so our selections include companies with flexible cancellation policies. Some of our selections also include military-approved moving companies with GSA approval, which is required for some military moves.

Before You Use One of the Best Military Moving Companies

Members of the military will first want to consider what options they have for moving services that the government will pay for before deciding to hire and pay for a service on their own. The Department of Defense often uses its own contracted movers to move members of the military at no cost to the family. However, military members can also find their own mover and then file for reimbursement after the move is complete. The Department of Defense typically reimburses 95 percent of a move, though it may sometimes cover the entire bill. While hiring a mover that the Department of Defense doesn’t contract gives customers a broader range of movers to choose from, it does require them to complete paperwork to receive a reimbursement.

Cost of Using One of the Best Military Moving Companies

The cost of moving, especially if using a professional moving company depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the home, the number of large items being moved, the distance of the move, and even the time of year. Keeping that in mind, the average cost of a move within a 100-mile radius is $1,710. Long-distance moves greater than 100 miles across state lines will cost an average of $4,823. International moves can range from $6,000 to $20,000. These costs are before any applicable military discounts, which are often between 10 and 20 percent.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Military Moving Companies

While there are many options to choose from when hiring a military-friendly moving company, there are many good reasons to hire one of the best military moving companies in the business. A reputable moving company offers peace of mind. The best moving companies know how to package belongings safely to reduce the odds of damage, whether traveling across the state or around the globe. A quality moving company is also more reliable, arriving at points A and B on time. Customers can also expect the best moving companies to have good customer service, which is critical for moves that may span days or even weeks. The best moving companies:

  • Know how to pack and move belongings safely
  • Will arrive at pick-up and drop-off locations promptly
  • Have good customer service that’s on hand to address any issues

FAQs

For those wondering if the military will cover their moving costs or what qualifies as a high-value item, read on for answers.

Q. Will the military pay for my moving costs?

The Department of Defense includes allowances for moving. This will cover all or part of moving expenses and often provides an allowance for transportation to the new location and temporary lodging during the move. Whether the government will pay for the move depends on the type of move. Temporary duty moves, which last for less than 20 weeks, usually don’t allow for a full household move. The military usually pays for a full household move for Permanent Change of Station moves, which are more than 20 weeks.

Q. Do movers offer a military discount?

Many, but not all, moving companies offer discounts to military members, veterans, and their families. Since some companies don’t advertise these discounts, it’s important to ask when discussing the move with a customer service representative.

Q. How long do military moves take?

That depends on the distance of the move. Local moves are typically completed in a day, whereas moving hundreds of miles using one of the best long-distance moving companies could require several days. International moves might even take weeks.

Q. Who is the most reputable moving company?

Moving companies such as United Van Lines and Mayflower, both of which have decades of experience in the moving business, are among the best moving companies for military families. These companies offer a full slate of moving services that suit the needs of military members.

Q. What is considered a high-value item during a move?

High-valued items can include a wide range of belongings. Some common high-value items include flat-screen TVs, tools, computers, jewelry, antiques, vehicles, and furniture.

Sources: Movers.com, Military.com, Military One Source