Understanding your long distance moving quote in Canada

Understanding your long distance moving quote in Canada

In the past several years, MovingWaldo collaborated with dozens of long distance and cross country moving companies and learned plenty about their various pricing models. We gathered information that is often unspecified to help you better understand your moving quote and make the right financial decisions when moving. Click on the buttons below to learn more about each part of your long distance moving quote. 


Featured in this article


Hiring a Van Line vs a local moving company 

When it comes to long distance moves, there are two options to consider: hiring a local moving company or a van line specialized in cross-country moves. There are pros and cons to both options, but if pricing is your only concern, it is generally more cost-effective to choose a local moving company for moves under 5 hours, as they charge by the hour.

A move over four hundred (400) kilometers or five (5)+ hour drive is a good threshold to start considering a van line.

Aside from cost, delivery dates and truck size should also be considered. Local moving companies can often provide a more precise delivery time for shorter moves (as there is very little unknown), while van lines may require more time to deliver your shipment due to loading multiple households in a single truck. 

Van lines also typically have longer trucks, which may not be ideal for dense metro areas like Toronto and Montreal or less accessible driveways, but can be more efficient for larger moves.


Van Line

Local moving company


  • Less expensive on longer trips.
  • Larger trucks, making them beneficial for larger moves.
  • Experienced with long distance moves.
  • May be economical for shorter moves.
  • Able to lock specific moving date.
  • Same crew that load and unload your belongings.


  • Unable to lock a specific moving date.
  • Accessibility issues may arise in crowded areas, which may require specialized handling of your belongings.
  • Can be very expensive on longer moves because it is charged by the hour, including the drive back.
  • The company may not be properly insured.

Pricing models: Weight based vs Hourly 

Weight based pricing

Weight based pricing is the most commonly used pricing model for long distance moves in North America. Larger and experienced moving van lines typically charge by weight for long distance moves. 

The company will provide you with a price based on the estimated weight of your items and the distance. Movers may also charge a fuel surcharge, a shuttle fee, an area surcharge, and various related fees.

How are these additional fees calculated?

Van lines will likely charge a Fuel Surcharge, typically 20% of the Transportation charge based on shipment weight and route. For example, a $5000 Transportation charge incurs a $1000 fuel surcharge.

Additional charges may include:

  • Shuttle Fees: Incurred when a smaller truck is needed due to parking constraints. The mover may need to park their large truck at a dedicated warehouse further away and send a local truck to your home. These fees apply at origin and/or destination, and are often based on weight (e.g., $0.1/lbs).
  • Area Surcharge: Applied for off-route locations. Charges vary by company and may be a percentage of transportation cost or calculated based on the weight of the shipment. Applicable at origin and/or destination.
  • Additional Fees: Various charges such as handling fees, stairs fees, insurance, packing, material, and storage in transit may apply. (read more below)

To provide a weight based rate for your move, the company will need to precisely assess various aspects, including:

  • A detailed inventory list to estimate the weight 
  • How they will access your home 
  • Detailed information about special, unique items that need to be disassembled and reassembled.
  • Detailed information about highly fragile, valuable items that require protection like crating. 

Why is an inventory list important?

An inventory list applies to both weight based and hourly priced moves. Providing your relocation specialist with a complete inventory list allows them to accurately estimate the weight/volume of your items, and therefore determine the right size truck(s) and the right number of workers. It will also give you peace of mind due to a more accurate estimate of the final price of your move.

Van lines will initially visually estimate the weight of your items for your quote (whether in person or virtually). On the day of your move, they’ll use industrial scales to officially weigh the items and determine the final price. 

Hourly pricing 

Hourly pricing is uncommon for long distance moves in Canada. 

It is common for smaller local movers that offer long distance moves. Note that these local movers are often less specialized than larger moving van lines, who charge based on weight. 

When is hourly pricing convenient for long distance moves? Hourly pricing may work to your advantage if you have fewer items and are moving less than 400 km away. This is because local movers, who typically charge lower rates than moving van lines, will have the proper expertise to move you a shorter distance. However, if you are moving over 400 km away, hourly priced move are likely to end up being more expensive.

For hourly priced moves, you will generally be provided with an estimated labor time.

What is included in my estimated labor time?

Your estimated labor time will include an average of the time it will take to complete the following tasks. 

  • Prepare, pack, protect, dismantle, and load your belongings at your current location.
  • Drive the truck to your drop-off location.
  • Unload the truck, reassemble the furniture, and finalize the move. 
  • Drive back to the moving company’s warehouse or office

Good to know: Experienced relocation specialists can accurately calculate your estimated labor time by taking a detailed list of your inventory and asking the right questions about your home. It is especially important that the estimated labor time is made clear beforehand by any moving company with an hourly pricing model. 

The hourly pricing model

When discussing with your moving company, you might hear them say “We charge from office to office.” This means that for long-distance hourly moves, companies typically include travel time (from their office to your home and from your home to their office) in their charges. 

Additionally, they may add a per kilometer fee for this route (e.g., $0.5/km). 

Travel time is a crucial factor in determining moving costs, varying based on distance and traffic. Although some customers may question the fairness of paying for travel time, it’s a necessary consideration for moving companies to cover their expenses.

What is travel time?

Travel time is the total time it takes for the moving company to: 

  • Drive from their office to your pickup location.
  • Drive back to their office from your drop-off location.

Types of fees you may see on your moving quote 

As all moving companies have different fee-related policies, certain special items may have a greater impact on the final cost of your move than others. 

Crating fees

These fees will likely be applied to highly valuable and fragile items like paintings, sculptures, and grand pianos requiring protection from weather and transport bumps. 

When an item is worth a couple of thousand dollars or more, the long distance moving companies will have to either build a protective crate themselves or hire someone to do it for them. As liability risks are very high, whether you have premium insurance or not, you may have to sign a waiver of liability. 

Heavy item fees

These fees may be added on for items over 200 lbs, as more movers may be required to move them and additional effort will be needed.

Overnight  fees

If the movers take an entire day to load the moving truck and will drive to your drop-off location the next day, they may charge an overnight in-truck storage fee.

Extra stair fees: It is quite common in Canada’s high-rise buildings and townhouses for movers to charge an extra stair fee per mover and per flight of stairs above the second floor. This won’t apply if an elevator is available.

Taxes: Your provincial tax is charged on the total price of the move. 

If you are moving to a different province, you will be charged taxes for the destination province.

How insurance works for long distance moves

Long distance movers in Canada typically offer 3 types of insurance protections: release value protection, premium insurance, and full value protection. Find the best one for you for a stress-free move. 

Type of insurance 

What it covers

How much is covered

Cost and deductible 

Release value protection 

Damage done in the moving truck

$0.60 per pound of the damaged item

Cost already included and no deductible

Premium insurance

Pre-determined specialty items worth over $5000

An appraisal form for higher value items will be required to determine replacement value

$150 – $250, typically no deductible.

Full value protection 

Damage done in the moving truck and in your home 

Between $5 – $10 per pound of the damaged item

Cost is at least a few hundred dollars and deductible cost will vary

Release value protection (basic insurance)

Release value protection is the basic insurance that is usually included in the price of your move by default and is based on provincial regulations. Moving companies will refer to this type of insurance as the $0.6/lbs coverage. 

What it covers: The release value protection covers your belongings while they are transported in the moving truck. It does not cover any damage done to or inside your home. 

How much is covered: This type of insurance will cover $0.6 per pound of a damaged or broken item. For instance, if a 150 pound (68.04 kg) table broke in the truck, the mover will be required to give you $0.6 × 150 lbs = $90. 

However, many long distance moving companies will want to keep up their reputation and fix the item themselves through a maintenance worker that is either employed by them or that is in their network. Note that if, to save time, you ask a mover NOT to protect an item properly and the item is scratched, the mover is likely not going to cover the repairs or even the release value protection.

Cost and deductible: While it may vary, most companies will not charge for this insurance and will also not charge a deductible in case of a claim because of how little it covers. 

Premium insurance

While not as widely advertised, Premium insurance is essential if you have valuable items worth over $5000 such as artwork or a grand piano. Premium insurance will cost you approximately $150 – $250 and the deductible may or may not be applied.

Full value protection (extra insurance)

Most long distance moving companies in Canada provide full value protection at an extra cost to add a layer of protection to anything that could happen during the move. 

What it covers: Unlike the basic protection, full value protection covers damage that may happen to or in your property.

How much is covered: While it may vary, full value protection usually covers between $5 and $10 per pound. For instance, if a 150 pound (68.04 kg) table is broken during the move, the coverage will be $5 × 150 lbs = $750. 

Important: Here the fix or replace principle will often apply, meaning that the mover will have the choice to either fix the item or replace it with an item of an equal value. It does not mean that you will get a $750 check. 

Cost and deductible: Selling this extra protection in collaboration with their insurers, movers may price this coverage differently from one another. Some moving companies may price it based on either the value and weight of your belongings, the number of bedrooms, or all three! 

Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for full value protection. The deductible cost will also vary depending on the company. While this protection can be very reassuring and help drastically in case of an incident, it’s important to understand the cost and protection it provides, as it may not be beneficial for you. 


When hiring long distance movers you can still reduce your moving costs by undertaking certain responsibilities like protecting fragile items, selling items yourself, and more! Or, for instance, is it really necessary to hire packers and movers? Looking for the best long distance mover? Check out Canada’s top long distance moving companies.



Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

Share this article on social media

Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

Relevant for your move

How much is your move?

Find a mover

Easily compare multiple quotes

Organize your move

Guided through a checklist

Internet packages

Get up to speed on the new deals

Address change

Update your address in a few clicks

Join the network

Become a trusted vendor in your service area

For agents and brokers

MovingWaldo is a one-stop-shop that simplifies tackling moving tasks

What is MovingWaldo?

We guide millions of families through each step of their moving process, helping them save time and money, and making sure nothing gets left behind.

Trouver un déménageur

Comparez plusieurs devis

Organisez votre déménagement

Guidé à travers une checklist

Changement d’adresse

Mettez à jour votre adresse en quelques clics

Forfaits internet

Soyez au courant des nouvelles offres internet à domicile

Rejoignez le réseau

Devenez un fournisseur de confiance pour desservir votre région

Professionnels de l’immobilier

Prolongez la relation avec vos clients grâce à votre propre plateforme de déménagement personnalisé

Qu'est-ce que MovingWaldo ?

MovingWaldo est un guichet unique qui simplifie la planification du déménagement

Get our printable change of address checklist directly in your inbox