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How To Move Household Goods Overseas

How To Move Household Goods Overseas

If your work is taking you abroad for a couple of years, then you may want to move your household belongings to the country. However, all of this can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it is your first move. This means that you might be unable to do things right unless you prepare beforehand.

But not to worry, in this guide, we'll show you how you can ship your household goods overseas and share the dos and don'ts in this regard.

1

Assess The Practicality Of Shipping Your Household Goods Overseas

Assess The Practicality Of Shipping Your Household Goods Overseas

This may seem a bit off-topic, but it should be your first consideration: you need to assess the practicality of the whole thing before going ahead with it.

Is it even worth bringing all of your household items overseas?

After all, this is going to cost you thousands of dollars in transport fees, packing, unpacking, customs clearance, and so on. The only practical scenario here would be if you were moving to another country long-term, at least a couple of years.

If your work is taking you to another place, but you're not planning on staying there for a long time, then it would be more practical to rent a pre-furnished home. Renting is more practical in the short term; just compare the total costs before deciding.

Considering that you're moving permanently or at least long-term, you might want to get started with your preparations.


2

Select A Freighting Company

The first thing you need to do is go online and look for a decent shipping company that can handle your goods with care and transport them overseas safely and in pristine order. Of course, you can't rely on their words alone; you need to read through their customer reviews on independent sites such as yelp, look for their work history, and ask for reliable references.

An ideal candidate should be insured, licensed, and well-reputed in the business. For instance, A1 Auto Transport has maintained a flawless track record of excellent customer service, and we aim to carry this trend onwards.


3

Pick A Shipping Container

Pick A Shipping Container

Goods are packed and sealed inside shipping containers, but these containers don't come in the same size. Instead, you'll have to pick one that fits your shipping volume accurately. You can make a fair estimate here if you've already created your packing list (more on that in the next header), but if you're confused, your transporter will be more than pleased to assist you here.

Containers can range in size between 20 to 50 feet, and as the size increases, the cost of renting the container also goes up. You need something spacious enough but without it being excessively expensive. Pick a size that leaves little room once everything is loaded inside instead of cramming up stuff in a smaller space.


4

Pack Your Stuff & Prepare A Detailed List To Present To The Customs

You can safeguard bigger objects via shrink wrapping, i.e., this applies to lampstands, chairs, beds, and so on, but for the smaller objects, you should group them up based on their similarities and then pack them in labeled cardboard boxes. Of course, you don't have to do all of this yourself; you can ask your transporter to do so.

You'll need to provide a copy of your packing list to the customs department of the country you're shipping to. This list details all the items you've shipped, the specifics of all boxes and what they contain, plus all the other items (i.e., furniture). You need to make this list as detailed and accurate as possible to avoid any troubles with the customs clearance.

You'll start with listing all of the boxes you're shipping (be sure to list the contents on the box as well for convenience), then move onto the bigger stuff. Mention the contents of each box and add any necessary details (i.e., fragile, liquid, dry, etc.) on the list.

You'll also have to state the total weight (can be calculated individually and then summed up) and monetary value of your entire shipment at the end of the packing list. Make sure you double-check everything so that nothing is omitted.


5

Pick A Container Load Option

Once you've selected the appropriately voluminous container, you'll have to decide whether you want to go for full container load (FCL) or less container load (LCL). The former is the simpler but costlier of the two options – your shipment will take up all the space inside the container, and you'll ship your goods by yourself.

In the latter case, you'll share the space of the container with other senders shipping their goods via the same transporter. This will help you save money if you're running on a tight budget and don't have that many goods to ship.


6

Work Out An Estimate On The Total Costs For Shipping Your Goods

The costs of shipping household goods overseas can cost you a couple of thousand dollars, but there are ways to minimize the sum, i.e., using the LCL shipping option, securing tax exemptions, and so on. But before you can do anything here, you need to take out your calculator and sum up the costs to find out how much each option costs.

Several factors become relevant here, such as:

  • The size of the container
  • Total volume and weight of your goods
  • Whether you've opted for FCL or LCL
  • Shipping distance  between the departure and destination ports
  • Whether you ship during summers (peak season; highest cost) or winters
  • Delivery option – port to port delivery, drop and fill option (delivered at your doorstep, you'll have to unpack yourself), or door to door delivery (the company will pack, transport, deliver, and unpack your goods)

Based on this information, you can choose between a convenient but costlier option or a cheaper but less convenient option.


7

Pack Your Container Properly

Next, you need to pack your container as per good practices and guidelines. Of course, you can ask your transporter to handle this part for you or do so yourself. Just be sure to prioritize safety over convenience. Use shrink wrapping to safeguard bigger items, i.e., furniture, while you can keep the smaller ones in cardboard boxes.

When placing the items inside the container, be sure to align your stuff such that they use the least possible volume. Make sure that you follow all the rules and guidelines regarding the weight limit of the container and try to place your goods as such that the weight is distributed evenly. If you're not careful here, you risk tipping over your cargo.


8

Gather All The Necessary Documents Beforehand

You'll need to prepare some documents beforehand to provide to the country's customs department being shipped to. The exact list varies from country to country, but you can learn up-to-date requirements from the concerned customs department website.

Here are some of the most commonly asked for documents in this regard:

  • A detailed and accurate packing list
  • A power of attorney form granting the shipment company the right to arrange the transport of your goods
  • Copies of your ID and passport

If you're also planning on taking your car with you (which is covered under household goods by several countries and will be exempted from tax if you ship it as such), then you'll also need to arrange for the following:

  • The original title of the vehicle
  • Lading bill
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Proof of insurance coverage

Just be sure to comply with the import regulations of the country, and all will be good.


9

Receive Your Shipment

The customs regulations vary from country to country; in all cases, the department will check your goods to ensure that the information you provided is accurate. You'll be taxed for your shipment based on this information unless you qualify for a tax exemption.

Just be sure to follow the dos and don'ts well. You can ship things like your household goods, furniture, clothes, children's toys, your vehicle, and so on. But there are other things that you can't ship internationally:

  • Plants and pets (live animals)
  • Food items and drinks
  • Medicine, household cleaning products, perfumes, etc.
  • All forms of drugs, including tobacco
  • Any weapon (melee, ranged, etc.)
  • Flammable items (these usually carry a warning on them)

Plus, you can't use any items you shipped as household goods for commercial purposes.


10

Understand The Customs Regulations

Understand The Customs Regulations

The customs regulations vary from country to country; in all cases, the department will check your goods to ensure that the information you provided is accurate. You'll be taxed for your shipment based on this information unless you qualify for a tax exemption.

Just be sure to follow the dos and don'ts well. You can ship things like your household goods, furniture, clothes, children's toys, your vehicle, and so on. But there are other things that you can't ship internationally:

  • Plants and pets (live animals)
  • Food items and drinks
  • Medicine, household cleaning products, perfumes, etc.
  • All forms of drugs, including tobacco
  • Any weapon (melee, ranged, etc.)
  • Flammable items (these usually carry a warning on them)

Plus, you can't use any items you shipped as household goods for commercial purposes.


11

Receive Your Shipment

Once you're done with the customs clearance, you'll have access to your goods. Based on the shipment option you opted for, i.e., port to port delivery, drop and fill option, or door to door delivery, you'll either have to unpack your things yourself (first two options), or you can sit back and relax while the moving company does it for you.

And with that, you're done!

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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NO. 018191NF
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Paramount, CA 90723
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ABC Worldwide LLC
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Boca Raton, FL 33431
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FMC 22206
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Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
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6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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