Moving 101: Shipping Damaged Items

Moving 101: Shipping damaged items

Perhaps you aren’t ready to part with the broken ceramic knick-knack your kids made you or the laptop you just haven’t gotten around to fixing yet. That’s all right! Movers are willing to move broken or damaged items, too. But you’ll need to note that the item is damaged. Let’s talk about damaged items and how to ship them.


Perhaps you reupholster as a hobby or you have a damaged piece of furniture that’s been in the family for years. While small incidents of staining or chipped legs are documented with the rest of the move, big issues will need to be handled separately. If a bed does not fit to form, it must be noted. If your sofa is missing its cushions, this must be noted as well. If anything is so damaged as to lack functionality, it is likely that the residential moving company will take pictures.


In case something appears to be wrong during delivery, the moving company can reference these pictures, files, and other documentation to assure that this was the condition the item was packed in. There are some companies that will not pack furniture that is broken beyond a certain level of functionality; for instance, if the item is covered in mold or the wood is splintering. These items may be bagged and shipped at the owner’s risk, but they may also not be accepted if they risk damaging the other items in the shipment.

Cracked Glass or Delicates

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most broken of them all? It’s you, mirror. But a cracked mirror is rarely a cause for concern with a moving company. With permission, they will apply packing tape to the cracked portion and pack it as they would any other delicate breakable. However, if the item is broken beyond all use it is very likely that it will be denied packing.

To some extent, moving companies will move broken or shattered items. If it has little financial value, they are more likely to move it than not. If the item is delicate glasswork from a family member that retails for a small amount, it will probably be okayed to pack. If it is a many-thousand-dollar vase that is missing huge pieces or is otherwise unstable, the moving company may request that you pack it and maintain responsibility for it—or that it be discarded entirely.

Broken Electronics

It is rare for moving companies to refuse to ship broken electronics. Unless they are a hazard to the rest of the shipment, most nonworking electronics are simply tagged. The client can sign the tag indicating that they realize the item does not work, and some companies may decide to photograph or otherwise store a copy of this tag for insurance purposes. The item is then packed as any other electronic would be.

The sole exception would be electronics, as aforementioned, that pose a hazard to the rest of the shipment. Shattered CRT monitors, for instance, are incredibly risky to ship when broken due to the possibility of electrical discharge years after being plugged in. We recommend that you discard these risky items before the moving truck gets there.

Other Broken Items

Most other common, damaged personal belongings are likely to be okayed to ship, assuming that the client is all right with the item being marked as a broken good. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not an item is going to be okayed to ship, show it to the moving company inspector shortly before moving. They will know.