Movers California to Hawaii

Planning to relocate to Hawaii sounds like a dream come true. Trading the daily commute down the 405 or I-80 for life with an ocean view from everywhere? Yes! But before you can enjoy the destination, you must make the journey, and with a move across the ocean, doing it yourself is not an option.

How do you find the best mover to get from California to Hawaii?

As with any interstate move, start by looking for companies registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA is part of the Department of Transportation and has jurisdiction over interstate moves, as well as freight haulers, buses, and other transports. Your mover will have a number issued by the DOT, and you can search the FMCSA database for information about the company, including safety history and consumer complaints.

Every interstate mover will provide you with a copy of (or link to) a brochure FMCSA created, called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” This comprehensive resource outlines the rules governing interstate moves and explaining important information like estimates, liability, and arbitration. FMCSA has another pamphlet titled “Ready to Move,” which contains a handy checklist of tasks to complete before you move and resources if you need help.

How do I know which one to choose?

Before you decide, talk to several movers, and get written estimates. Movers must complete a physical walkthrough of your home and create an inventory, which they may also refer to as a cube sheet or table of measurements. This list is the basis for the weight estimate that is, in turn, the primary component in the cost forecast. Make sure the inventory is complete—there is no advantage to you in leaving anything off the list, and it may cause problems later. Don’t waive your right to a visual inspection of the household goods shipment—a phone description of what you are shipping is not adequate, and a reputable mover will be happy to do the walkthrough.

Compare at least three written estimates, and make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If the moving companies present you with noticeably different weight assessments, ask why. A low-ball estimate can be a sign that a company is not being honest with you. If you have a non-binding estimate, your price will go up if the shipment’s weight is higher than what the company forecasts. A binding estimate protects you from an increase in the line haul charges, so there is less risk to the consumer with this type of contract. For that reason, moving operators can charge a fee for preparing a binding estimate. The third option is a binding estimate not to exceed, which means the price can go down, if the weight is lower than anticipated, but can’t go up if it is more. The cap is void if you include extra items, not on the inventory, in your shipment.

What else is included in the bill?

When you receive the estimate, the moving company will supply a copy of their tariff, which is a list of all the fees it charges for services. Examples of fees include per-hour charges for packing, unpacking, crating, assembly, and disassembly of furniture. Fees may also add extra costs for carrying items up and downstairs, or long carries, or waiting time, and additional stops (say, at a storage facility.) These charges are generally known and agreed to in advance, so make sure you examine the estimate and understand what you agree to.

There are some potential expenses that you may not be able to anticipate. These are referred to as impracticable operations. While these are delineated on the tariff, they may not be foreseeable, because they are evident when the mover arrives at the destination for delivery. An impracticable operation can be when the standard moving truck doesn’t fit in the street adjacent to the residence or isn’t allowed to park there, due to local regulations. In that case, additional moving labor is charged because the contents must be loaded onto a smaller vehicle and shuttled to the residence. Elevator deliveries also result in these charges being imposed. The consumer is protected against operators holding their shipment hostage for payment of high fees, however. The mover may only demand payment of an amount equal to 15 % of the moving bill for impracticable operations as a condition of delivery. Costs over that percentage must be invoiced later.

Similarly, suppose you have a non-binding estimate. In that case,  the mover cannot require you to pay more than 110% of the estimated amount for line-haul charges (and services included in the estimate) as a condition of delivery. Amounts greater than 110% can still be imposed but must be billed after delivery. So don’t be misled by a shady operator with a low estimate who claims that the maximum price is no more than 110% of their assessment. That is the ceiling for payment on delivery, not the total amount they can charge you for their service.

What if something goes wrong?

Moving isn’t always smooth, which is why the FMCSA recommends that you ask potential moving companies about their dispute resolution procedures before you engage one. All interstate movers (registered with the FMCSA) must agree to participate in an arbitration program. The mover will provide you with a description of its plan before you contract with them for service. Most conflicts can be resolved amicably.

Another way to ensure that your experience is satisfactory is to protect yourself by choosing adequate coverage for your shipment. The moving company will offer you two options for valuation ( note: valuation is similar to insurance). The coverage offered at no additional cost is referred to as “released value” or waived coverage. This approach values your shipment at $0.60 per pound, by item. That “by item” part is worth paying attention to because the value is not shared among the 8,000 pounds but is specific to each piece. For example, your 20-pound flat-screen television, with an actual cost of $600, will be valued by the mover at $12.00. Even your 3-pound bespoke suit, if lost or damaged, will be reimbursed at $1.80 instead of $300. Think carefully about the second choice, which is Full Value coverage, available to you for a price determined by your mover, based on your shipment’s weight and value.  With Full Value Replacement coverage, the mover will replace, repair or reimburse you for the loss or damage of your possessions, up to the declared value. Keep in mind that if you have valuable individual items (worth over $100 per pound) those things must be listed on the inventory and have their value declared and accepted by the moving company. In many cases, the mover will only assume liability for damage to items they pack.

What else do I need to know about moving to Hawaii?

Although moving to Hawaii involves shipping across an ocean, it isn’t as complicated as an international move, since you are staying within the United States. However, Hawaii is particular about what comes in. All of Hawaii is free of rabies, and the state requires pets to complete a four-month quarantine. There are some ways to reduce that to 30 days, with planning, but be prepared to leave your pet in a quarantine station on Oahu for at least a month, if not longer. There are costs associated with this procedure, and more information is available on the Hawaii Animal Industry Division website.


Written by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving.

If you have any questions about moving, our services, or anything else you think he may be able to help with, you can contact Chris by emailing him at

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