Moving -- whether it be across town or across the country -- can be a hassle.

However, you can avoid some of the problems by planning ahead. The more you know about movers and the rules and regulations governing them, the fewer expenses and hassles you will have.

Selecting a mover is the first step. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Contact your local Better Business Bureau for a reliability report on a mover you are considering.

Interstate movers are required to furnish copies of their performance record for the previous year. By checking the record, potential customers can learn such information as how punctual the company has been.

The cost estimate, which is only an educated guess, may not be the best factor to rely on in choosing a mover. The rates for interstate moving are filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission and tend to be very competitive. So, beware of an estimate that is unusually low.

Interstate rates are based on the weight of the customer's household goods, the distance to be traveled and any extra services, such as packing or unpacking.

Intrastate, or moves within the same state, are not federally regulated and rates vary. Generally, these movers work at an hourly rate. The way to save money is to save the movers' time; so be organized.

Availability of movers varies. They tend to be busiest during the summer and the first and last weeks of each month.

Customers should make arrangements ahead of time on how the moving bill will be paid. Generally, personal checks are not accepted on interstate moves.

A moving van operator has the right to expect payment before unloading a person's belongings. The Interstate Commerce Commission, however, governs demands for payment that far exceeds an estimate.

If the bill is more than 10 percent over the estimate, customers can get delivery by paying that estimated cost plus 10 percent. Then they have 15 business days to pay the remaining charges due.

Ask the mover about liability for loss or damages and consider purchasing additional liability coverage.

Customers should plan to move important documents, currency, jewelry and family heirlooms themselves. Also, interstate movers are not allowed to accept plants, pets or explosive materials.

Plan to be on hand for the delivery of goods and check each box and carton promptly for problems. If a claim is needed, file it as soon as possible with the company agent in the destination city.