FMCSA proposes household goods broker regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is inviting comments until May 9 on its proposal to require brokers who arrange the transportation of household goods to comply with additional consumer protection requirements. This rulemaking responds to provisions in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), and to a petition for rulemaking from the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

Based on complaints and comments submitted to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA says it believes some household goods brokers “are acting deceptively, particularly on the Internet.” Problems and challenges FMCSA has identified include:

  • Minimal or no requirement to disclose contact and nature of operations information;
  • No protection of consumers from unlicensed, illegal motor carriers;
  • The practice of quoting estimates of charges without providing written documents;
  • No requirement for brokers to disclose refund policy for customers’ deposits when shipments are cancelled;
  • No significant identifiable capital investment, reputation and standing in the community, or insurance concerns;
  • Consumer lack of knowledge and experience with moving transactions; and
  • Internet brokers providing false or inaccurate information on their websites.
  • FMCSA says its proposal addresses those problems. The agency proposes to amend the current broker regulations in part 371 by adding a new subpart B specifically for household goods brokers. For the most part, those rules reflect mandates from SAFETEA-LU and recommendations from AMSA in its petition for rulemaking. Some language would echo certain provisions of part 375 applicable to motor carriers of household goods.

    The proposal adds some teeth to FMCSA’s oversight of household goods brokers by incorporating civil penalties required by SAFETEA-LU. Specifically, the proposed regulations would specify minimum penalties for household goods brokers that operate without the necessary FMCSA registration or make estimates without the necessary contracts with household goods motor carriers in effect. FMCSA also would increase the amount of surety bond or trust fund currently required for household goods brokers to $25,000 from the current $10,000.

    For a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, visit and search Docket No. 17008.