What to Do If Your Movers and Belongings are Late

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated March 4, 2022
Two professionals moving furniture in the new house
Photo: stevecoleimages / E+ / Getty Images


  • Lateness on the part of moving companies is more common than you may think.

  • The best way to deal with late delivery or pickup is to notify the corporate office.

  • Starting small projects in your new home is a good way to keep yourself busy while waiting for the movers to arrive.

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If you arrive at your new home before your professional movers—who are transporting everything you own—it’s normal to feel nervous about falling behind schedule.

Moving is a stressful time, and it doesn’t help when your movers and all your personal items are running late. Here’s what you can do if your movers are running late with your belongings and how to use your time wisely while you wait.

Movers are Late for Pickup

First, don’t freak out. There are lots of reasons your movers might be late. Most likely, a delivery ran longer than they anticipated, something happened with the moving truck, or other unavoidable incidents. 

Follow these steps to figure out what’s going on:

  • Contact the moving company: Call the head office of the moving company and talk to management. They should be able to tell you exactly why the movers are late and give you an updated time of arrival. 

  • Use your time wisely: If you have any last-minute tasks, complete them now. You can use the extra time to label boxes, finish cleaning, or load boxes into your car.

  • Research other options: If you can’t reach your moving company or aren’t getting a concrete explanation for their late arrival, you can contact last-minute movers and research other options. This tactic may work if you haven’t paid a deposit to your original moving company. But if you did pay a deposit, you might end up fighting to get it back if you switch to another company on moving day.

Movers are Late for Delivery

Workers from a moving company carrying boxes
Photo: Zero Creatives / Image Source / Getty Images

If your moving company already has your belongings, but the truck is running late for some reason, try not to panic. Instead, contact the company’s corporate office to notify them of the delay and find out how long you’re going to be waiting. Then, you can use your time efficiently.

Delay Time: A Few Hours

If your moving company is a few hours behind for one reason or another, this is the perfect time to take care of some odds and ends.

  • Start cleaning: Complete some cleaning tasks in your new home. After all, cleaning will never be as easy as when the house is empty.

  • Run errands: Use the extra time to pick up groceries, home improvement items, and anything you’ll need to enjoy your first night in your new home. Make sure the moving company has your cell phone number so they can call you if they arrive earlier than planned.

  • Explore the area: Check out your new neighborhood, especially if you moved to a new city. Drive around, take a walk, or talk to your new neighbors.

Delay Time: One or Two Days

A one- or two-day delay is a stickier situation than a delay of a few hours. If that’s the case, you should be in close contact about the status of the delay and the whereabouts of your belongings. Follow these steps to manage your time wisely:

  • Make sleeping arrangements: Figure out where to sleep if you don’t have a bed in the house. You may need to check into a hotel for a couple of nights or buy an air mattress to tide you over.

  • Tackle improvement projects: If you have a day or so on your hands, tackling projects like painting rooms, changing the locks, or putting in new carpeting are good tasks to take care of while your home is empty. 

  • Work on the exterior: Why not do some work on the exterior of your home? Starting a landscaping project only requires a few tools and a trip to your local nursery or home improvement store.

Delay Time: One Week or More

A delay of a week or more is not an ideal situation, but you can still make the most of your time before the movers arrive. This unfortunate situation is a good time to complete large-scale projects, such as installing new flooring or paving the driveway.

What Recourse Do You Have if Movers Are Late?

When you hired your movers, you should have signed a contract that stated the specific date on which your belongings should arrive at your new home. This document is called the Bill of Lading, and your driver must give you a copy before they start loading your items. 

Unfortunately, there are no specific laws in place that require moving companies to compensate you financially if they’re late with your delivery. However, if you are having trouble getting a hold of the moving company and your things are missing, you may have fallen victim to a moving scam

If you suspect this is the case, contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration immediately and file a claim. Your state may also have an agency that specifically deals with moving scams and complaints.

Can You Sue a Moving Company for Late Delivery?

Technically, a late delivery is a breach of contract, unless a grace period is built into the verbiage. However, it may not be worth your time or effort unless items were damaged in transit or the company was egregiously late with your delivery. Sometimes it’s best to let them know you’re unhappy, leave an honest service review on their website, and move on from the situation.

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