International Moving Costs and How to Reduce Them

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International Moving Costs and How to Reduce Them

International Moving Costs and How to Reduce Them

2 of the things many people worry about when moving overseas are the moving cost and how high it can get. The major portion of your international shipment cost comes from contracting an international shipping company to transport your freight to the destination country.

Moving costs are based on the following factors:

  • The size and weight of your shipment: The more goods you move, the higher the moving cost will be. This is applicable to both weight (air freight) and volume (sea freight). You can go for a groupage shipping share or LCL if your shipment does not fill the entire container capacity. You will only pay for the space you need, so the shipping fee will be lower.
  • Distance to destination: The moving cost will depend on how far away you are moving.
  • Route of transport: Some routes are more common than others. The move is less expensive for a common international destination, such as U.S.A, EU, and Canada, unlike those that are not common. This is due to increased competition and supply to such countries.
  • Mode of Transportation: Your shipping cost varies greatly depending on the mode of transportation you request. With air freight, moving is the most costly while sea freight is the cheapest way. Road (truck) is the first and also the last mode used in transporting goods.

Average costs start at a minimum of $1,000 USD, and may go up to and above $10,000 USD for international moves.

The Cost of Packing and Unpacking Services

Some moving companies take additional fees for packing / loading and unpacking / unloading your shipment. The additional fees may depend on the country where you are moving to.

The country’s customs document requires all moving companies to vouch nothing unlawful or illegitimate is being dispatched. Illegal or prohibited items are firearms or weapons, narcotics or drugs, and other things you may not be aware of, such as animals or plants. If a moving company gets caught violating the law, they may be banned from that country or may lose their license and have to pay fines.

You can talk with your mover and see if there is anything you can do to lessen the packing and unpacking costs. You can pack your own things to lay aside some money. Just be sure to leave your boxes open for review or inspection. You can also unpack your things in the new house.

Average costs start at a minimum of $100 USD and typically go above it.

Cost of Moving Insurance

Insurance is sometimes incorporated in the quoted price of many moving companies. Remember to always check the insurance coverage.

There should be some kind of maritime insurance policy if your belongings are to be shipped via sea freight. Be sure the insurance can cover the total value of missing and damaged items.

Average cost start at a minimum of $100 USD and may vary for shipping items of high value, rare or unusual.

Cost of Storage

For an overseas move, there could be some extra fee for storage services added to the moving costs. This is due to conflict in coordinating the shipping dates and your date of relocation.

Therefore, you need to take into consideration the time or date when your shipment will get in, because they will be stored until you pick them up.


A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. can help you move your household goods nationwide. Call 888-509-3213 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote on interstate moving services.


You may need to store or save your belongings in storage temporarily while you are searching for a home overseas. For a temporary move, you can pay for storage services until you return.

Average costs start at a minimum of $100 USD monthly for one small or two-bed apartment. Rates can go up from there. The rate could also go down due to competition.

Customs Duty Charges and Taxes

Before moving, check the customs duty tax in the country you are to relocate to. Countries like the U.S.A allow most household goods to be shipped with an exemption from duty payments.

However, countries like the UK have more complex rules depending on the country you are from. For instance, moves from outside Europe may be charged for duty and taxes, whereas moves from within Europe are exempted from the payment of taxes and duty.

Mostly, customs duty, taxes, and charges are charged on the basis of your property’s value.

Average cost: Free and unlimited, but it depends on the type and value of the goods you are to take with you.

Visa Processing Fees

A visa is necessary when entering a different country, whether the purpose is for education or employment. There is an exception though: If you’re relocating within Europe, a visa is not required. Securing visas for both study and work will require a couple documents to start and complete the process plus the charges that come on top of it.

The fees vary in each country. It is an additional charge that will be part of your expenses when moving.

Note: The cost of travelling within Europe does not depend on the country, and the amount is approximately a thousand dollars each time.

Legal Fees

Using the resources within your reach is recommended, whether you are applying for a visa or getting a clearance from Customs. Use the internet to visit the websites of the government agencies that require you to secure clearance as part of the moving process.

A few individuals prefer hiring legal assistance from a lawyer out of convenience, particularly when relocating to a different country.

Note: The charge varies by origin and it usually costs around $100 per hour (the service fee is usually a fixed price) and the amount may even go beyond a thousand dollars for the regular service they offer.

House Expenses

When relocating to a different country, you must check how taxes are applied. This is dependent on which country you are planning to move to.

The housing cost in the US differs in every geographical location. For instance, if you are getting a property outside urban areas, the cost will be relatively less expensive.  In addition to this, you will only pay for real estate taxes if you are the owner of the property. Taxes vary. They may start at 0.28% for some states and then go up as much as 2.29% for states like New Jersey.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom does not have a real estate tax. If you’re purchasing a property, there is a fee called the stamp duty which you must pay, amounting to around 12%, for the total property cost. Take note the buyer will take care of the cost, not the property seller. A council tax is collected every year which is approximately $1000.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Lastly, you must account every fee and possible expenses when moving to a different country. Part of the expenses is getting new appliances and other necessary items for your home’s improvement.

When relocating, you may bring your own furnishings to save costs, but you will still need new appliances because of voltage compatibility. Always remember that whenever you use an appliance which has a different voltage, it may cause issues. Check the type of voltage first upon arrival and usage.

Clothing also plays a significant factor when moving. You need to check the temperature and the type of clothes you need to wear when you move. Do some research first about the weather in the country you’re going to and purchase appropriate clothes for your convenience.

Moving Tips to Save Money

  1. Go for Sea Freight.

Sea freight is the least expensive option when it comes to moving items across countries. It’s a better choice in terms of pricing compared to air freight. On the other hand, it takes longer as well.

For example, with air freight, you would only need 2 days to complete to move from the United States to Australia, whereas if the shipment is made via ship, it could take a month to complete it.

  1. Prepare Yourself Early

Each second counts when it comes to shipping, and it is always more convenient to start it earlier than later. When organizing your items and dates, doing it as early as possible will prove to be your best ally. On the other hand, poor planning and prioritizing always results in additional costs.

Time affected papers are visa fees, employment permits, pet’s clearance fees, etc. Expediting these would lead to higher costs in most cases.

  1. Find Time to Check Ticket Prices

Getting a reasonable priced ticket does not require much planning. Securing the lowest cost depends on your destination, time, and season.

Securing tickets at least 2 months before the desired departure date will lower the cost for short distance trips. Getting them 5 months ahead will do the same for long distance travel. Instead of buying them online as soon as they’re out, waiting for promotional prices is always a better choice.

One idea to get great deals is to compare prices on Sundays and to book during the off-peak season. There are websites, such as Hitlist and Cheapflights, which will notify you of promotional prices. Always check your email for these alerts.

  1. Dispose of Items You Will Not Use

If you plan to move to a different country, you need to prioritize which items you’ll bring with you. Consider taking more cash instead of things you do not need.

You may sell, donate, or simply hand over unnecessary things to your family or relatives. If you are unable to give them away, you can simply put them into the trash can. You may also rent some storage space for items which have sentimental value.

  1. Choose the Appropriate Shipping Option

When bringing light weight items, choosing a Less than Full Container Load is less expensive than using the Full Container Load, because you will be able to maximize the space you are paying for. Sharing space with other customers is one way of doing this.

  1. Apply for a Foreign Savings Account

Opening a foreign bank account is another step to stay away from bank troubles. If you are moving to a different country and getting paid in a foreign currency, you may want to open an account to lessen fees in the future.

You need quite a large deposit to open a foreign bank account. However, doing so will keep the process relatively easy compared to not having one. Among the benefits of having a foreign account are the low fees and charges.

  1. Relocate to a Less Expensive Country

Choosing a country with a lower cost of living is a practical decision when moving. For instance, if you want to move to a country which has a warm temperature, instead of choosing Australia, you may choose an Asian country as well.

Fuel costs, food, and other items are more affordable. However, you must also consider aspects like the local health industry, educational institutions, and the peace and order situation of the country you are moving to.

  1. Learn to speak their language

Learning the language is the key to everything. Upon arriving in a foreign country, one of the best things you can do is to learn basic greetings or statements. If you have children, it will make it easier for them to adapt and gain friends.

Understanding and using the native language will give you an impression that you are part of the community and help you defend yourself from scams. There are apps that help you translate a language which you can download using your phone or laptop.

  1. Organize your Tax Status

Before you move out of your country, you need to update your tax status to avoid paying taxes incorrectly. Countries like the United Kingdom and the United States make it easy for their citizens to file for tax exemptions.

  1. Pack your Belongings Personally

Packing your belongings personally will help you save on fees when moving. It will require extra attention, but it will be worth it. You just need to wrap the items carefully to avoid any stains or damages when relocating. The shipping company can give you the packing materials, and you may ask for help from some of your friends.

  1. Search for Deals

Look for the most practical choice. Search and compare prices. If the price seems too low, check their insurance coverage, service charges or other services which may cost you more in the long run.

Post Moving Costs: The Lifestyle

Education

The education of your children should be planned considerably. If you’re moving to the United Kingdom, state education will cost almost nothing, unless your children attend a private institution.

However, it may be necessary to enroll your children to a private school and pay tuition fees if state education is not available where you are moving to.  In countries like UAE, the cost can be as high as £10,000 in a school year.

On the other hand, you can enlist your kids in a state school in Europe, although the language barrier is something you have to consider. If you are migrating to an English speaking country like Australia, it’s still essential to find a school system where your kids will feel more comfortable.

Health Care

It is also important to prepare for your medical care. You may be used to a highly subsidized or even free health care, but this may not be the situation where you migrate.

You will need to sign up your children with your new country’s appropriate health authorities, and state healthcare claims or benefits usually begin once you’ve started paying what is equivalent to the local insurance contribution’s policy of said country.

Also, it is likely for you to have an additional expense for medical care within the first few years after your move. If you’ll be relocating outside the EU, healthcare subsidies may not be applicable and you will have to shoulder your medical expenses, although getting an insurance provider is possible.

Financially, there should be money allocated for your family’s medical care, whether it’s coming from your savings or from your income. It’s important you plan ahead to avoid placing your loved one’s health in peril.

Taxes

As much as we’d like, sadly, there is no way we can ignore them. Taxes in the country where you relocate can influence the amount you take home. However, there are countries, like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bermuda, and Qatar where you don’t have to pay income taxes.

In some cases, you can deduct the cost of your moving expenses out of your taxes (for example, if your move was for a particular reason or if you are staying for a longer period).

If you are receiving any kind of child benefits, you’ll need to take into consideration the benefits system of the country you are moving to. Inevitably, your international moving experience will vary depending on your choices.

Understand your taxes, your income, and how it will affect your moving arrangements. Get a detailed estimate from several moving firms to obtain the best price.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

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