As you might expect moving internationally can be quite different to simply moving across town. It can even be quite a scary prospect for some of us. But, like any moves, international moves can be handled simply and efficiently with some planning and expert input. They are, in fact, often easier to manage than local moves as you will be giving more responsibility to your chosen moving company through the process.
The first thing you need to think about is your choice of mover. If you’re relocating because of your job you’ll probably find that your company has a mover you can use or that they will pay costs for you. In all other cases, you should be looking to find a mover as early as possible – there is more involved here than a local move and it pays to get the process sorted well in advance. Try not to be swayed into employing a moving company with no international experience as this can cause problems for you throughout the process. Your ideal choice will be a company with international experience – ideally in the country to which you’re moving. This experience means that your moving company can help you make the best out of your move. They’ll be better equipped to get your possessions to your new home safely and quickly and can help you manage any relevant paperwork etc.
International moves do require careful thought in terms of packing. Your home contents may be travelling in the moving vehicle or by freight via sea or air depending on your destination. They may also be inspected by customs officers. This can mean that your possessions are shifted about more and they’ll therefore be more open to damage and loss. Talk to your moving company to see if they have any special packing tips. Most will simply recommend that you take extra care to protect your goods or have them packed for you. Some companies offer services such as ‘export wrapping’ where your goods are block wrapped – this usually applies for freight moves. This offers added protection – obviously it will cost you more but may well be worthwhile in the long run.
Before an international move you should think about what you’re going to take with you. There is, for example, generally little value in taking major household appliances as electrical standards vary from country to country. It might just be cheaper to sell or store these items and buy/rent new ones when you get there. If your move is permanent then you may want to take everything else with you. If you’re moving abroad for a shorter period then think about what you’ll need for the time you’ll be there. You may not, for example, want to take every book you own if you’re only going to be away for six months. If you’re going to be moving to a hot climate then you won’t need to take your winter wardrobe and you might not want to take items such as antiques or paintings that might be affected by the climate. For these short-term international moves, many find that it is better to take the bare essentials and store remaining possessions with friends, family or in a professional storage facility. You may also find that certain countries have restrictions on what you can bring in or may charge you extra in duty for certain items. Any good international removal company will be able to give up to date advice on these types of issue for you.
Many international moving companies will ask to view your possessions before giving you a quote – especially if you want to move the entire contents of your home. It’s advisable to get them to do this wherever possible. Most international quotes are based on weight or volume of the load so your initial quote may not be the final price you pay, as it will be based on an estimate. This is another reason to only take what you actually need rather than everything you own as it will be cheaper! In these cases you’ll probably find that the representative also draws up an inventory for you. You’ll find that most international movers will also include associated costs and paperwork in your quotation. This can include issues such as taxes, export and import documentation, port/airport charges, customs clearance and any country specific charges that may apply. Check with the company to see that there are no hidden costs associated with your move before you hire them. Some companies don’t include any or all of these services which will mean extra work and costs for you!
You may be offered various options for an international move. If you are moving from one European country to another, for example, then your move will most probably be handled by one vehicle. Go further and you’ll probably be using a freight service associated with your moving company. In this case your mover will get your possessions to the carrier and have them loaded. Once they reach their destination they will either be picked up by a company associated with your original mover or by their overseas subsidiary if they are a larger company. Sea freight is the most common route taken by long-distance international moves. Your possessions will be loaded into special containers and will generally travel on purpose built ships. You may be offered a container of your own or the use of a shared one depending on the size of your shipment. Alternatively, if you’re going to a country that your moving company doesn’t ship to regularly, your goods may simply be handed over to be packed by the shipping company. Goods sent by air freight will obviously have the advantage of speed but may cost more. Your goods will be packed into special containers and could travel on a passenger plane or on a special freight plane.
International moves can often be delayed or held up, especially in more remote countries. It’s a good idea, therefore, not to pack up stuff you’ll immediately need when you get to your destination. This also applies to valuables and many international movers won’t insure or carry items such as jewelry etc. If at all possible try to carry these types of items with you. And, of course, make sure that your move and anything you carry with you is fully insured. You need to pay particular attention to insurance here. Policies can be complicated by destination values and the need to factor in moving costs, duties and any other charges that might apply. Again, talk to your mover for advice specific to your needs.