If you’re planning a move, you probably have some questions. In addition to finding a moving company that fits your budget, you might wonder if you should factor in tipping to your overall cost budget.
Tipping in the moving industry isn’t as straightforward as it is in other industries. This is, in part, because movers don’t rely on tips like professionals from other industries do, according to Don Ware, Director of Operations at the United States Movers Association.
[READ: How Much to Tip Valets.]
Still, Ware says tipping is a nice gesture for a job well done.
Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol, agrees. “It’s typical to tip people who have provided a service to you. What I often say is that you want to tip people who have somehow made your life easier.”
Swann and Ware offer their insights on tipping etiquette when it comes to the moving industry:
How Much Do You Tip Movers?
Tipping movers depends on a few variables. For instance, is your move local or does it cross state lines? How much will your overall move cost? How long will your move take?
Most local or intrastate moves are done by the hour, so a tip of 5% to 6% the cost of the move, considering the number of hours worked, is appropriate, Ware says. For shorter-distance moves, Swann recommends tipping at least $10. For longer-distance moves, she recommends giving more.
“Long-distance moves are obviously more expensive, so knowing how much to tip can be difficult,” Ware says. “The packing crew is probably not going to be the delivery crew. In this instance, applying a percentage of the move cost can be way too high for a tip.”
Depending on the size of the moving crew, Ware recommends tipping $50 for each member of the moving crew for long-distance moves.
When the move is complete, you can choose to provide tips directly to each mover or, as Ware suggests, give the entire tip directly to the foreperson or the driver, who can divvy up the tips among the crew. Swann suggests putting the cash tips in an envelope for each crew member with a note of thanks even written on the envelope.
[READ: How Much to Tip Hairdressers.]
When Should You Tip Movers?
In many cases, it’s appropriate to tip movers.
“Movers are providing a service that is making your life easier, so tipping them is a great way to say thank you,” Swann says.
Still, there are times when you might choose not to tip.
“It is OK to not tip in a situation where you received less than desirable service,” Swann says. “Keep in mind that you are paying for the service. The movers are being paid for their time.”
She says this is true whether you tip them or not, as movers are compensated for their time unlike service industry workers who depend on tips to make a living.
Ware agrees: If your budget doesn’t allow for a tip or the service wasn’t what you expected, he says it’s acceptable not to tip.
Should You Provide Food and Drinks for Movers?
Offering your movers water or other non-alcoholic drinks is a nice touch. Ware is based in Arizona, where he says water in the extreme summer climate is a necessity.
But, he says, food is less needed. “If the packing or unpacking is going to take a while, the foreperson should decide on a break for food,” he says.
Do You Tip Movers When They Load or Unload?
Determining when to tip movers depends on the crew. If you have the same crew loading and unloading your items, you can wait to tip the crew when they finish up.
However, if you’re undertaking a long-distance move, there is often a crew who loads the moving truck and a different crew who unloads it. If that’s the case, it’s nice to tip both sets.
“Tip the pickup and delivery crews based on how carefully they did their job and how informative and communicative about the move they are,” Ware says.
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