- Cost & Time Examples For International Moves
- Start Early With Preparations
- Visa And Passport Information For International Relocation
- International Car Shipping
- How Cars Are Shipped Internationally
- Residency In Another Country
- Storage During Your International Move
- Transportation From The Airport
- Renting A Home In A New Country
- Making Sure Your Insurance Is Set For Your Overseas Move
- International Health Insurance Policy
- Auto Insurance During An Overseas Move
- Working When You Make An International Move
- Turning Utilities On When Moving Overseas
- International Moving Guide
- Related Information
When you are ready to take your life, and your personal belongings to another country, our dedicated team is here to help every step of the way. As a consumer in search of a company who will put your needs first and make sure your property is handled carefully, it is best to start reaching out to company agents no less than 90 days ahead of the planned date of the move. There is a good reason to start planning this far in advance. You want everything to go smoothly and not find yourself facing delays or issues with customs.
Whether you move to the next city, or even from one side of the country to the other, you are going to find that there are many things that must be taken care of to ensure the move goes smoothly. An interstate move can cause stress, but have you ever considered making a hop across the ocean and starting a new life in another country? Many people enjoy spending time living the nomadic lifestyle and moving from one country to another for the excitement and thrill. Others find that due to work or family, a move overseas is something they must do to continue down the path they have chosen.
If you have been making plans for a global move for any reason at all, you will quickly realize that an overseas move is one that will come along with many country specific regulations and will not always be as easy as moving down the street or even to another state in your current country. When you are ready to take your life, and your personal belongings to another country, our dedicated team is here to help every step of the way.
Cost & Time Examples For International Moves
|Houston to Puerto Rico||$3,000- $4,900||$5,400- $9,000||3-5 weeks|
|New York to UK||$3,700- $5,200||$7,000- $9,500||3-5 weeks|
|Miami to France||$4,000- $5,500||$7,300- $9,900||3-5 weeks|
|Detroit to Germany||$4,600- $6,300||$8,500- $11,500||3-5 weeks|
|Phoenix to Costa Rica||$4,100- $7,000||$7,600- $12,600||3-6 weeks|
|Philadelphia to Hawaii||$4,500- $6,200||$8,500- $11,500||4-6 weeks|
|Memphis to Spain||$5,000- $7,000||$9,300- $12,500||4-6 weeks|
|Las Vegas to Japan||$4,600- $6,300||$8,600- $11,600||4-6 weeks|
|Seattle to Argentina||$3,700- $6,200||$7,000- $11,500||4-8 weeks|
|Los Angeles to Australia||$4,400- $5,900||$8,100- $11,000||5-7 weeks|
*Please note that these estimates do not include taxes, customs fees & duties, insurance & quarantine inspections. They assume easy access to both pick up and drop-off addresses and do not allow for special items such as pianos.
Estimated Weight (based on home size):
- 1BR=2600 lbs - 3900 lbs
- 2BR=3900 lbs - 5200 lbs
- 3BR=6500 lbs - 9100 lbs
- 4BR=9100 lbs - 14300 lbs
- 5BR=11700 lbs - 19500 lbs
Start Early with Preparations
It may take little planning to pack up a small truck and move across town to a new apartment or house, but when you move overseas, you must take quite a bit of time to plan everything to ensure safe and efficient services are utilized from start to finish. An international mover based in the United States is required to register their business with the Federal Maritime Commission to move personal goods to another country.
As a consumer in search of a company who will put your needs first and make sure your property is handled carefully, it is best to start reaching out to company agents no less than 90 days ahead of the planned date of the move. There is a good reason to start planning this far in advance. You want everything to go smoothly and not find yourself facing delays or issues with customs.
Visa and Passport Information for International Relocation
Most countries globally will require a visa for entry and it is very important that you obtain the right one for your move. While most people will be able to get a tourist visa without a hassle, you may need to do some extensive research and take care of living arrangements or even income before you can qualify for a residential visa in some countries.
You need to check with the consulate or embassy of the country you are planning to move to. Some people try to rely on travel and tourism sites, but the information you get from those may be dated and inaccurate. The embassy or consulate will have the latest information on which visa you may be eligible for or which you need for your move. Some countries will allow you to apply for your visa online while others will require you to come in person to the embassy.
You will need to obtain a passport before leaving the country for your move overseas. If you are in the United States, you can get your passport from the U.S. Government. Photos for passports may be taken at a local post office. Passports may be expedited if you must leave soon. There is however, an extra fee to expedite services sooner than the standard 4-6-week time that a passport is usually issued.
International Car Shipping
There are many countries that have excellent choices for public transportation. As a matter of fact, countries like Switzerland, Japan and the United Arab Emirates are well-known for having great transportation resources for residents as well as tourists who travel to their country. Other countries however may lack in transportation choices and it can be difficult to get around without a personal car or even a personal motorcycle or small motorbike.
If you need to have a car shipped along to your destination when moving abroad, you may find it a little daunting to have to worry about planning to ship your vehicle. The process of international car shipping can be simple to do when you contact one of our agents for advice on bringing a car along with you. We export cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles and other types of vehicles to countries worldwide.
Unlike moving a car domestically, an international move will require more paperwork and will be held liable from numerous regulations from both U.S. customs and customs in the country the car is shipping to. The way a vehicle is moved is also going to vary when shipping overseas. A-1 Auto Transport works with the best auto shippers in the industry to ensure all customers can ship their vehicle safely.
How Cars Are Shipped Internationally
Cars can be shipped in a variety of ways when shipping internationally. We can ship your vehicle with any of the following depending on your personal preference.
Ro/Ro - If you are shipping your vehicle across the ocean, one of the most common ways to ship will be on a Ro/Ro ship. Vehicles are driven onto the ship, strapped in place on the deck and then transported overseas. This method is called Ro/Ro and means rolled on/rolled off as the vehicles are rolled or driven on and off the ship. These ships are cost-effective as each ship can hold hundreds of cars, thus making the cost lower for each customer.
Container - Containers are an ideal way to ship valuable cars and trucks overseas. They are loaded onto the same ships that other cars are shipped on, but when the car is loaded inside a large shipping container, it will not be exposed to the elements during shipment as cars on the ship deck will be. Container shipping will cost a little more than Ro/Ro but for owners of luxury cars and other high end vehicles, the extra cost is just added protection for a valuable investment.
Air Freight - While not used excessively when shipping motor vehicles overseas due to the cost, some people do prefer to ship their luxury cars, classic cars and other high dollar cars via airplane. This is the best way to get a car delivered quickly and during flight, your car will remain safe and secure.
There are numerous ways to ship a car internationally and when you want the best overseas shipping services, you can count on us. For a price that you will appreciate, be sure to fill out the International Car Shipping Quote Calculator.
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Residency in Another Country
It is not always easy to become a permanent resident when you move to a new country. Some countries will allow you to earn residency if you are able to purchase land in their country while others will only allow you to stay as a tourist for several months at a time. For some people however, living as a permanent tourist is just not acceptable and being able to become part of a country as a legal resident is very important.
Easier for Residency
If you have not already decided where you want to move, you may want to know that Panama, Ecuador and The Dominican Republic are not difficult to gain residency if you are able to invest in the country by purchasing property or by starting a business to employ local citizens. Colombia is another country that you could invest your money and become a resident. Your investment would be considered something of a gift or donation to the country and must be no less than $25,000 USD but it could garner you the right to become a resident.
These countries also have monthly income limits that you must earn or have access to every month. Colombia can be as little as $600 USD monthly while Panama is $1000 USD monthly. While these may be the minimum income limits required to stay in many countries, don’t expect to live like a king overseas on such a small income requirement. Many do however live comfortably depending on the country they reside in.
Tough to Establish Residency
There are also quite a few countries where establishing residency may not be very easy at all. The United States is one country that is not easy to move to. You must enter with an approved job or with family who already lives in the U.S. to establish permanent residency. It can take many years to proceed through immigration in the U.S.
Other countries that are not easy for foreigners to establish residency include Germany, Switzerland and Japan. In Germany, applicants for residency must be able to prove they are able to contribute to the national pension plan and they must be able to speak and understand the German language.
In Switzerland, you will be required to live in the country for no less than 10 years before you can even apply for residency and in Japan, you will also need to reside in the country for 10 years before you can apply for residency. Once you have lived in Japan for 10 years, you are eligible to apply for Japanese citizenship and will be required to renounce your previous citizenship.
In many countries, those with permanent residence status will be eligible for country sponsored health benefits and other residency benefits. Residency may also provide permission for you to work or attend school in a country that otherwise would not allow it. It is very important to thoroughly research any country you are thinking about making a permanent relocation to so you can ensure you will be able to stay long-term if you are planning a permanent move.
Storage During Your International Move
While many people grab a backpack, hop on a plane and never look back, others enjoy the possessions they own and want to keep them throughout the years. Unfortunately, not everything can easily be flown over or shipped to a new country. What do you do when you have important items but can’t bring them along? You may have a few choices. You could leave them in your home if you are planning to return. You could leave them with a friend or relative or, you could place them in a safe and secure storage unit where they can stay until your return.
Planning an international move takes a lot of careful planning. From gathering multiple quotes to speaking to agents at various shipping companies to see when the best date to ship everything will be, there are going to be many things you must take care of. During a move as hefty as an overseas move, there are going to be things you won’t be able to take along and fortunately, you are going to find some great self-storage options in every state in the U.S.
Some great reasons to place goods in storage include:
- Less paperwork
- Less cost to ship
- Less clutter
It can be expensive to ship household goods overseas. In some countries, you may be looking at a tax rate that is equal to the value of your property. This is especially true for motor vehicles. You could potentially be facing a shipping bill upwards of $8000 USD to ship a container filled with personal household goods and a car at the same time. Most people try to cut down on the number of items they bring along during an overseas move.
It is best to sort through everything one room at a time to see if you have items that you never use or have no need for. These items are best shuffled away to a local donation center or given away to someone who can use them. You could also host a moving sale to make a little extra cash ahead of the move. Downsizing can save you quite a bit of space for things you need during the move.
Once you have sorted everything and decluttered your home, you now need to determine which household goods should come along and which should be placed in storage. Storage units can range in size from a small 5x5 up to a 12x12 or larger. Be sure to choose a unit that will fit everything inside without allowing too much extra space.
Some self-storage units may be lacking a secure environment, but if you plan to store valuable furniture, family heirlooms or even a car, you should choose a facility that offers security. Some storage facilities offer security cameras while others offer physical security 24 hours daily and gated grounds so no one can enter without a key or passcode.
Try to venture outside of your immediate area when possible. You may find several storage facilities close to your home or office but when you travel outside of your immediate area, you are apt to locate more and may even find some that are much nicer than the ones nearest your home or office. It is good advice to check company reviews online to see what others may have experienced when storing their items. You will also want to check the gate hours to see when you will be able to enter to place everything inside the unit or to remove items when you return.
It is also a good idea to check the units out to see if you can spot signs of mold or mildew. Many facilities offer climate controlled units and if possible, it’s a good idea to utilize one to prevent your furnishings and other goods from becoming mildewed or ruined from dampness during the time they are stored. Check several storage facilities before settling on the one you will use. This allows you time to check out units, compare price and make an educated decision on which company offers the best storage for the price they have on their units.
Finding a great storage unit is a very important step when making a move overseas. Another important step is to hire the right shipping company to ensure your personal belongings are moved safely. Ready to get started? All you need to do is submit our easy quote form so we can assist with all your shipping needs.
A-1 Auto Transport has helped thousands of people make a move overseas when they are planning to retire, move abroad with friends or family or when they just want a change of pace and we have the resources and knowledge with more than 20 years of experience to ensure that you have all the information necessary to ensure that your move goes well. When you have questions about moving overseas, we have the answers you need.
How far in advance should I contact an international mover when I am moving overseas?
It is advised to contact an international moving company no less than six weeks in advance. Many companies prefer that you contact them at least 90 days from the move so everything can be carefully scheduled.
What is the difference between door to door service and port to port service?
When you have your household goods or other property shipped door to door, the moving company will arrange to load everything up at your home and deliver it to the port for you. Once it arrives in the new country, they will have it taken to your new home. When you ship port to port, you will be responsible for having your goods transported to the exit port and from the entry port to your home.
Will it be necessary to fill out forms for customs?
Yes, you will need to fill out forms for customs when traveling to most countries worldwide. The forms that must be filled out will vary from one location to another as each country has its own regulations for importing personal property.
Will I need to purchase insurance for my household goods during shipment?
We offer excellent choices for insurance coverage on all international moving services. If you prefer to insure your items on your own, you may also choose to do so. Per rules set by the Federal Maritime Commission, all worldwide moving services originating from the U.S. must be covered by insurance.
Are there any items I will not be allowed to bring with me?
You can bring most household goods and personal items when you move overseas. There are some restrictions that most countries worldwide will have in place to deter the entry of specific items. These items can include:
- Fresh foods
- Religious Material
- Flammable Materials (gas, oil, paint, matches, aerosol cans and other flammable material and liquids)
- Used Automobiles
- Building Materials (soil, brick, wood, cement and other materials)
For a comprehensive list of items not allowed, you will need to check with the embassy or consulate to the country you are moving to.
How can I get a price for international moving services?
Getting a quote for an international move is easy to do. All you need to do is fill out the instant quote form on this page and an agent will be in touch with your quotes as fast as possible.
Transportation from the Airport
In recent years, airport travel has faced many changes when it comes to international travel. While traveling by air is safe, you will need to know what to expect when you arrive at the airport in your new location overseas. Terrorism has caused many airports around the world to tighten security. This means that baggage checks may take more time, lines may be longer for security checks and customs may spend more time looking closely at your passport and other documentation when you arrive.
When you arrive at the airport, you will be directed to the exit by following signs posted throughout the airport. Most airports will require you to check out through immigration before you can leave the airport if you are flying in from another country. When customs ask you questions, be sure to answer them honestly and speak clearly. Never act upset or talk loudly as they may take those actions as threatening.
Once immigration is finished and says you can proceed, you will need to grab your luggage. After you find your luggage, it is possible that you will need to go through a customs checkpoint and declare your property before you can leave the airport. This will vary depending on the country you are in and the laws they may have. If you need to declare property, simply stand in line and wait your turn. Customs will inspect your luggage and if everything is legal in the country, you will pass through quickly and can be on your way.
Some people book rental cars ahead of their flight so they can pick a car up at the airport car rental desk. This is great if the airport has a rental agency to book with. If there is no car rental available, you will need to hail a taxi or call one to pick you up. If you have been to the country before and know where the buses travel, you may also be able to wait on the bus or even the train and travel to your new home or the hotel you will stay in. When it comes to transportation from the hotel during your international move, you will most likely find several options to choose from depending on the area of the world you have travelled to.
Moving overseas can be a daunting task, but when you work with the right company to handle shipping your property, you can rest assured that all will go smoothly. When you are ready to get started on your journey, be sure to submit the quote form for shipping and an agent will contact you with the best prices in the industry.
Renting a Home in a New Country
When moving to a new country on the other side of the globe, finding a place to rent is something you may want to check into prior to booking a flight and moving. If you can take a vacation, even a short vacation, try to do so and make plans to meet with an experienced local real estate agent in the country you are moving to.
Renting a home will offer you a little flexibility on where you live. If you find a rental but find that you don’t necessarily like the local area once you have moved, renting allows you to search for another home. It is important to use a realtor during an international move as they will know where the homes are that will best suit your taste, style and overall rental budget.
Check Online - Before you speak to the real estate agent, it may be a good idea to check online to see if you see homes for rent in the city you want to live in. This way, you can speak to the realtor about the areas that you may believe would be best for you. You may also find a home with a great rental price and all the amenities you want. If so, you can check with the agent to see what they know about the area and if they would recommend it as a good place to live. Never send money overseas, or even city to city, to rent a home. You never know who the money may go to and if the advertiser even owns the property. It is best to pay in person when you arrive. Taking a vacation allows you time to search for a home and pay rent before you fly over for your long-term move.
Vacation Rentals - A beautiful home right on the beach sounds like the perfect getaway when you are on vacation to a tropical island or to a country with spectacular beaches and sunny weather. These vacation homes can also be expensive when trying to find a permanent place to live. You should try to avoid vacation rentals unless you only plan to stay for a week or so before moving on unless you enjoy paying twice as much, or more, for a home to rent.
Try to Negotiate - When at all possible, try to negotiate on rental price when you move overseas. You may be surprised but many home owners will drop the rental price if they know you are planning to stay long-term. It may not work all the time, but it is always worth a try if you want to save as much money as possible.
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Making Sure Your Insurance is Set for Your Overseas Move
When it comes to your health and well-being when you move abroad, you will need to know what type of health coverage you will be eligible for as a foreigner who has just moved to the country. Some countries offer exceptional health care services for everyone, including tourists and it may be very inexpensive or even free.
If you have needed medical services in the United States, you may know how expensive medical care can be in the U.S. The high rates you find in the U.S. are not always found in other countries. If you are relocating to a country that offers universal healthcare, chances are that you will not need to worry about obtaining health insurance as your medical needs will be taken care of.
You may however want to have an insurance policy if you want to use a private physician or go to an expensive medical clinic as most of the time, universal healthcare will only cover the major hospitals and clinics where everyone goes for treatment.
International Health Insurance Policy
While some countries offer universal healthcare, other countries offer no healthcare at all and you will need to have a source of cash for medical care or you may want to invest in a good travel insurance policy. An international health insurance policy will be of great value if you need major medical care or you need to be transported to a hospital that it outside of the country you are in.
An international health insurance policy is great for someone who travels frequently and may not be able to rely on finding a local insurance policy or using a policy from back in the United States. No matter where you are moving, be sure to check out the local medical care ahead of time so you will know where to go if you are sick or who call in an emergency health crisis.
Auto Insurance During an Overseas Move
You already know that auto insurance is required when you live in the U.S., but did you know that it is also required in countries around the world? If you plan to drive when you move overseas, you need to make sure you have a good auto insurance policy or you may find yourself banned from driving and your car could be exported back to the U.S.
Many U.S. based insurance companies offer international auto insurance coverage, and while it can be expensive, it will be necessary if you want to ship your car and drive it while you are abroad. You can also find local insurance agencies worldwide and purchase coverage when you move.
Many countries require that you purchase an auto insurance policy from a local agent only and they may not accept a policy from outside their country. Moving to Canada or Mexico? Chances are that your U.S. based policy will cover you in both of those countries.
Before you move, be sure to contact your local insurance agent and let them know you are moving overseas. You need to check and see if you need to buy marine insurance to cover your car during shipment overseas. If you own a luxury car or other expensive vehicle, it is a wise decision to ensure your car is covered by as much insurance as possible during its journey overseas.
You also must have a valid driver’s license to drive your car or even to rent a car when overseas. While many countries will allow you to drive with your U.S. license, some will require you to obtain a local driver’s license to drive.
The best way to find out about the local auto insurance laws as well as laws pertaining to driver’s license requirements is to contact the embassy of the country you are moving to. This way, you can make sure you have the required paperwork and will be able to take care of everything when you arrive in the country so you can legally drive and your car will be covered.
Need to move your car overseas and want the best price possible? Be sure to take a moment to fill out the simple quote form and an agent will be in touch soon.
Working When You Make an International Move
Unless you are retiring and have a steady source of income, you may have no option other than to find a way to work when you make an international move. Some countries may have restrictions and will not allow foreigners to work as they very understandably want their own citizens to be able to take the employment positions, but if you are able to work remotely from your computer, you can still have a steady income.
Let’s face it, even if you have a monthly income that will cover your housing, utilities and food, there are still many things to do that will cost money and having a little extra is always beneficial. If you are a writer and can write about your travels and get paid, you are set! Photo journalists are another group who fares well when living the nomadic lifestyle.
Not everyone is a writer or photo journalist however and will need to find a suitable place of employment if possible. Here are a few positions you may want to consider if you live in a country that will allow foreigners to work:
- English Teacher
- Office Assistant
These are all service industry and manual labor positions, but they are sufficient to earn a little extra money to make it from one to the next. You will most likely need to apply for a work visa so you can legally work no matter where you are living. In some countries, your employer will need to send a letter before you move so you can obtain the work visa.
Pointers on Finding Work in a New Country:
- Check social media pages for the country
- Join expat groups and talk to others in the country
- Search for work online
- Apply for work online before you move
- Print numerous copies of your resume
There are several organizations you may want to check to help find employment when living abroad. These include the following:
Alliances Abroad - This organization offers work in a variety of countries and even offers temporary hotel stays during the time you are working.
Council on International Educational Exchange Work Abroad Program (CIEE) - This organization offers employment services such as help with obtaining work permits in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand for people in search of short term work. They also offer student exchange programs and educational scholarships.
BUNAC - This organization offers work services in Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
If you plan to live abroad and want to work while you are in your new country, be sure to take time to research employment laws for foreigners before you move. Also, be sure to contact the embassy for the country you are moving to so you can find out which visa you need and what you need to do to work when you arrive.
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Turning Utilities On When Moving Overseas
utIt doesn’t matter where you choose to live, you are going to need running water and electricity and most likely, internet, cable and telephone. If you move anywhere within your own country, setting up utilities is usually a simple task to undertake. When you move to a new country, utility services may be a little confusing to locate and have turned on.
Most of the time when you move, your home will be connected to the main electrical lines as well as water. Unless you are buying a new home that was just built, a rental home or a home for sale should already have the proper equipment ready to be turned on by the local utility company.
Before you move it is advised to contact the utility companies to ensure everything will be turned on and ready to go when you arrive. You don’t want delays with utilities, especially when you are in an unfamiliar country.
Electricity and Gas
In some countries, such as the UK for instance, gas and electric companies are not public facilities. Since they are owned by private businesses, it is good to shop around to find the company that offers the lowest rates for service. In other countries, you will need to rely on the government agencies for gas or electric service.
Water service is often a service that is already connected to a home and will simply need to be turned on by the proper authorities when you move.
You are most likely used to relatively fast internet speeds if you live in the United States. When you move overseas, you may get lucky and find reliable internet or you may find internet that crawls at a very slow pace. Some countries, including the UK, have dial up service packages as well as broadband. It’s probably been years since you’ve sat down at a computer and used dial up, if you have ever used it at all and you know how slow dial up can be. If you work remotely with your computer, you will want to check in advance to see what your choices for internet service will be when you move.
Television service will vary from one country to another. In many countries, you will only be able to find local government channels while in the next country you may find hundreds of channels ranging from children’s television to channels with adult situations. Satellite is a good option if you want to skip the cable company and have access to more channels or a larger variety.
Before moving, it is always best to do plenty of research to see where the utilities are supplied from and where to go to have them turned on when you arrive. It may not be as simple as calling an agent or ordering service online when you need utilities during a move overseas.
The best way to enjoy your new utility service is to ensure you have everything you need in your home. To get your personal property including your television or computer shipped overseas, be sure to fill out our easy quote form to get your move started.
International Moving Guide
- International moving definition, history and types of moves
- The complete modern international moving process
- The benefits of hiring a moving or an auto transport company
- Picking the right moving company
- How to avoid scammer
- Preparing for the move: packing
- On land: road vs land
- Air shipping
- Sea shipping
- International military moves
- How much will it cost?
- Take it or leave it? Benefits to shipping vehicles for expatriates
- Know your rights: what to expect of your shipping company when shipping a vehicle overseas
- International vehicle shipping proces
- Cross country moving company
- International house moving tips
- International freight forwarders
- International moving and storage
- International moving for students
- International moving insurance
- International moving services by sea freight
- International pet moving
- International relocation services for families
- Moving overseas air freight
- Worldwide movers
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I know if an international moving company is trustworthy?
As with any company, it's always essential to conduct a thorough background check before contracting with them. However, when choosing an international mover, the first and most important factor is to make sure they are correctly licensed.
All international moving companies must be registered with the Federal Maritime Commission or have a Freight Forwarder permit. You might also want to consider a moving company that is a member of a federation such as FIDI Global Alliance or the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).
If the moving company you're considering is registered and associated with a governing body, they are more than likely trustworthy.
How will my goods be moved?
There are two types of international shipping. There is ocean freight and air freight.
Understandably, air freight is the quicker option, but also the more expensive of the two options. Because of this, you may consider air freight for your smaller and more necessary items that you'll want available immediately when you arrive at your international destination. Things such as clothes to get you through a season, essential items for your kitchen, etc.
Ocean freight is less expensive but comes with a longer transit time. There are three ways to ship via ocean freight:
- Shared containers are the most economical method to ship freight that is not enough to fill an entire container. If you don't have enough to fill a container, companies will consolidate your goods with other goods.
- A lift van – A lift van is a plywood crate explicitly built for international shipments. In addition, lift vans are used to ship smaller amounts of household goods.
- An Exclusive Container – These are the sealed steel containers for larger shipments that you're used to seeing.
How are my goods unloaded, who picks them up at their destination, and can they move door to door?
When your goods reach their destination at the port overseas, international moving companies will connect you with a local shipping agent who will help you with your goods' customs clearance and delivery.
You generally have a choice for unloading your container. You can:
- Arrange for the container to be unloaded at the port and hire a local moving company to deliver your household goods to your new home or
- Arrange for the entire container to be delivered to your new home and unpack it yourself.
Depending on your wishes, a transport broker or international moving company can cover all the details involved in unloading your goods at their destination.
What items are prohibited from being moved internationally?
Be sure not to move prohibited items because moving companies will reject them and, if not, can attract significant penalties. These items include – combustible materials, construction materials such as cement, bricks, rocks, soil, firearms, explosives, toxic substances, and live plants.
The customer's responsibility is to ensure that their items can't spill over, leak, or damage other goods.
What packing materials are used when moving internationally?
Most moving companies will help you pack your belongings using various materials such as unprinted newspaper and tissue paper, plastic tape, permanent markers, boxes in varying sizes, bubble wrap, padding for corners, etc.
Be sure to speak with your transport broker or international moving company to discuss your questions or concerns about packing for your move.
How do I track my goods while in transit?
International moving companies provide online tools to help you track your shipment in real-time. All these tools can provide you with coordinates of your shipping container in real-time.
Some tracking systems will also provide the shipper with information regarding the different stages in the transportation process, including any details of status changes of a container.
Some status changes of your container to be aware of are:
- When your container is en route to the shipper
- When your container arrives at the terminal and is in cue for customs clearance
- When your container is loaded onto the vessel at the port of origin
- When the vessel departs with your container
- When the vessel carrying your container departs from the port of transshipment
- When the vessel carrying your container arrives at the port of destination
- When the consignee has the shipment
*Transshipment transfers from one ship, truck, freight car, plane, or other conveyance.
If I need to store my goods for a time, can this be done? If so, how?
You can work this out with your mover. Keep in mind, however, that storing goods for a length of time can be expensive.
Usually, if your goods don't fill a container, items will have to be moved to get to yours or others'. Your goods will be removed and taken to a warehouse to make for a more accessible and less expensive pickup.
In general, you can count on free to five days of free storage at your destination. After this, the charge is approximate $50-$100/day, depending on the amount of freight.
Most shippers don't want to pick up their goods. It's a big deal and can be a hassle. Let your freight forwarder (the company that ships and receives goods on behalf of other companies) know the destination address you want your goods delivered to, and they will arrange overland trucking to that destination.
*NOTE – It's best to know your destination address before the shipping of your goods—the more time you give the freight forwarder, the better – for them and your wallet.
Should I be concerned about duties and taxes, and how much will they be?
Some countries allow household goods and personal effects to enter their country without duties and taxes. Some don't.
You can learn about general guidelines regarding duties and taxes by contacting the consulate or embassy of the destination country.
Most moving companies will also have a customer service department that can give you general guidelines regarding duties and taxes for your destination country.
How many companies are involved in an international move? Will a third party be involved?
How long will it take to ship my goods internationally?
Shipping companies can't guarantee an accurate delivery time for your goods. However, the tracking number they provide you will help you keep track of your goods' location while in transit.
You can consider days when shipping by air internationally and weeks to a couple of months for shipping by sea.
An essential factor in selecting a shipping company is to choose the company that provides the estimate that most satisfies your needs. When speaking with international moving companies, consider these factors:
- Customs clearance
- Current restrictions due to COVID-19 – government-imposed limits have led to suspending some delivery routes or delays on open routes.
- Standard or express services
How is insurance handled?
Insurance against certain losses is a good idea; you can self-insure or buy insurance from a third party.
The question you're answering is, "What insurance best meets the needs of my family and me?"
Moving internationally today via air or sea is an automated system because of technological advances. Big ships can carry as much as 35,000 containers per voyage and still be able to load, unload, and rearrange for the next port all in one day.
Even with the advancements in technology and excellent automation, things can go wrong – goods not making it off the plan, containers getting lost, containers falling into the sea, mechanical or technical failures can damage containers, etc.
Don't let this worry you. Just like anything, there is always a chance of accidents and mishaps. Thus, insurance makes sense!
There are two types of International Moving Insurance:
Total loss coverage – This keeps you covered if your entire shipment is destroyed or lost. For this insurance (and all insurance), you will have to include a detailed list of the moved items.
You can pack your shipment if you want total loss coverage.
*NOTE – when movers load your shipment, they will make an inventory list for you. This list is for customs clearance and is not always suitable for insurance purposes. Be prepared to make a detailed list of everything, and if anything is considered "precious" in monetary value, you may need to provide a sales receipt or estimator's valuation.
All-risk cargo insurance – Unlike total loss insurance, all-risk cargo insurance covers partial cargo. For example, if you have one or two damaged items or a box goes missing, all-risk insurance will protect what is lost.
Unlike total loss insurance, you will have professional packers prepare your shipment to purchase all-risk cargo insurance.
How does the quotation process work? Are there in-house estimates?
The most highly regarded international moving companies will visit their prospective clients in person to get a good idea of what they want to move. They can give a more accurate quote after seeing the belongings.
Do all you can to avoid international moving companies that offer you quotes via email or phone. In addition, if you get a quote that seems "too good to be true," it probably is.
How are shipping charges calculated?
Moving companies can differ in how they calculate a move. So, ask upfront how they calculate their charges.
The most typical way is by the cubic meter (so goods can fit in containers), but there also may be extra fees for duty charges and taxes, storage fees if you need to keep your belongings safe for a while, and visa fees depending on your destination country.
How does the customs work when shipping internationally?
Customs can affect how quickly your belongings arrive and will be ready for pick up.
Ask your moving company how long customs usually takes depending on your destination. In addition, they should know about the different levels of customs efficiencies in different countries. For example, some countries have more strict requirements for entry than others.
If the company you're speaking to doesn't know much about the customs process, then consider it a red flag and find a new company.
Are there any hidden fees I should know about when moving internationally?
It is always wise to ask a moving company about hidden fees. It's not dissimilar to buying a car. There's the sticker price, and the price on the contract is usually different.
You must ask about every fee and understand what it's for so you know what you're paying for and what might be unnecessary.
Some companies will hide fees to appear more competitive, so make it your mission to know all costs included so you know upfront exactly what you're paying for.
Should I expect to give a moving deposit?
International moving companies charging a deposit is standard practice. They will request a down payment to reserve a move date, especially during peak moving season (mid-August and stretching through October according to PLS Logistics Services) when their services are in high demand.
If you cancel your move, the deposit gives them some compensation for their loss in profit opportunities. However, a company taking a deposit is not a way to determine trustworthiness. It's up to each moving company what they choose to do.