Moving Advice

Moving On Your Own

Driving Trucks in Manhattan Guide – Renting a Truck and Moving on your own? Read this first

Damaged truck on highway

by Paul Lenkiewicz

Renting a moving truck and doing the move on your own is possible in New York City. We covered the costs associated with renting the truck and equipment in How much does a do it yourself move cost in New York City. Another important aspect of doing a do it yourself move within New York is the truck routes. Unfortunately as of this writing, Google Maps does not offer truck navigation for NYC.

If you rent a truck, you are considered a commercial vehicle and should follow all signs for trucks/commercial traffic. This includes any cargo van you rent from a truck rental company. The only possible exception is pick-up trucks. We recommend to ask about the specific vehicle you are renting at the rental office. The penalty for driving a commercial vehicle in a restricted area is a moving violation which will include a fine and potentially points on your license, depending on the county. Each distinct neighborhood may present unique challenges, and the guide below should prepare you for how to navigate Manhattan. 

Common signs to look out for

No Trucks Allowed on Any “Parkways” in NYC

Any road that ends in “Parkway”, often abbreviated to PKWY, automatically means a ban on trucks and commercial vehicles. Parkways are particularly popular in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and serve as major routes to get to and from residential neighborhoods, yet if you are in a truck you are not allowed to be on them. Also, it is notable that many of these Parkways will have a clearance of under 10 feet, and many even mid-sized box trucks you rent will not clear the overpasses which can result in a catastrophe. Here is a shortlist of popular parkways

These roads serve millions of vehicles every day combined, and some do not have good alternate routes, but that excuse will not work when you are pulled over in a truck on any of the roads above.

Congested street
Every day thousands of trucks make it in Manhattan – you can too

Manhattan Restrictions

There are many restrictions in Manhattan, and in particular if you are driving a 26’ long truck or bigger, you need to be very conscious of turning from/to tight streets. Other important restrictions:

Manhattan is a very restrictive place when it comes to trucks. Based on the list above, 100% of freeways in Manhattan have a ban on trucks. You must use truck routes, which include 1st and 2nd Ave, 42nd Street, 34th Street, Broadway and 6th Avenue.

Are Moving Trucks Allowed in NYC and NJ Tunnels?

Many tunnels in and around Manhattan allow limited size trucks. Any truck with length of up to 20’ should be fine to go into NYC Tunnels, which include:

Lincoln Tunnel connecting Hudson Yards to Seacacus, NJ

Holland Tunnel connecting Tribeca to Jersey City, NJ

Battery Tunnel connecting Brooklyn to Financial District

Midtown Tunnel connecting Long Island City to Murray Hill

That being said, all of these tunnels have specific entrances you must use. Only one of several Lincoln and Holland Tunnel entrances allow trucks! Keep in mind the Midtown and Battery Tunnels are paid in both directions, while Lincoln and Holland tunnels are only paid when crossing from New Jersey into New York. For most up to date restrictions check Trucker’s Resources.

Height restriction sign
Be aware of the height of your moving truck when driving in New York City

The Height of the Moving Trucks is Very Important Around New York City

Before you start driving the rented truck, you need to become aware of your clearance. The clearance is usually designated on the side panel of the truck, and for reference, it will likely vary somewhere between 9’0” and 13’6”. As I already mentioned, most Parkways will have overpasses with clearance as low as 8’6”. Outside of parkways – where trucks are not allowed anyway, there are locations around the 5 boroughs where the clearance may actually be 11′ or less, so even if you are allowed to drive a truck through you need to pay attention to signage. Central Park has several low clearance overpasses. Midtown and Battery Tunnels have a limit of 12’1″ which is not a lot! Many U-Haul trucks are taller than that. More information about NYC crossings can be found here.

You should also be aware of hanging branches, signs, and wires. I have seen many drivers hit a branch while parallel parking. It is easy to develop tunnel vision while parking a large truck, and be very vigilant about the curb and cars around you only to end up ripping open the roof of your rental because you completely missed the low hanging branch.

Street congested with trucks
If you do not want to drive a moving truck, hire a full service moving company on CityMove to help you!

Are you ready to drive your own moving trucks in NYC?

Driving a truck in NYC, particularly in residential neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn can be challenging. You can always get a quote from CityMove by using our onboarding form to see how much it will cost you to hire one of the many full-service moving companies on our site. Whether you need the moving truck, or just need the moving labor, many experienced movers are waiting to quote out your specific job. After you post your move, you will receive price quotes, and are able to browse CityMove Verified Reviews for each moving company. Our Verified Reviews are the most trustworthy on the internet.