International Moving – Shipping Cargo Overseas

Here’s how to organize an overseas household move with an international moving (removal) company or international shipping company.

Although moving abroad requires more advance planning and cost than a domestic move, the logistics of shipping household items from one country to another can be broken down into several simple steps. Following the guidelines below can help ensure a smooth household move.

Learn Regulations and Restrictions

Each destination country has its own rules and regulations regarding household moves and shipping automobiles. Forr info on the most popular destination, Spain, see this post. Taxes on importing automobiles, for example, can vary dramatically. Consult the consulate or embassy to learn:

  • What documents are required
  • If items brought into the country for personal use are tax-free
  • Maximum quantity of items to avoid commercial import taxes
  • Regulations on importing a car

Decide What to Bring

Overseas moves can be simplified by bringing along enough furniture and household items to set up house upon arrival. This helps minimize shopping trips for basic necessities in a new country, and might save money as well. Also decide if shipping a car or buying one abroad is more practical or affordable.

In addition to basic household items, consider bringing:

  • Seasonal clothing
  • Kids’ toys
  • Books
  • Home décor items
  • Toiletries and dry shelf food items that are unavailable or more expensive overseas.

Decide Where to Buy Appliances

If the home and destination countries use different electrical sources – 220V compared to 110V, for example – consider such factors as warranty, ease of repair, and currency exchange rates when deciding whether to purchase major appliances abroad or from a domestic store which specializes in overseas appliances. If purchasing appliances from a domestic vendor, allow ample time for the goods to be delivered prior to moving day.

Check Compatibility of Electronics

Check household electronics to see if they are compatible in the destination country. Many televisions, computers, DVD players, cordless phones and more accept 110 to 220V input, and will require only a prong adapter to work in the new country. Televisions and DVD players will need to be multi-system.

Choose a Shipping Company

Call a number of companies before deciding whether to use a full service international moving (removal) company or a commercial shipping company. An international mover’s fees might include packing and loading of household items and furniture; a shipping company will leave all the work to the individual who is moving, although it might offer loading help for an additional fee.

Ask what documentation, paperwork, and fees are involved.

Schedule the Move

Find out the transit time from door to overseas port. In most cases, this will take several weeks or longer. Plan to pack and ship goods well in advance of the family’s actual departure.

If housing is still an uncertainty, pick a shipping schedule that allows the cargo to arrive about two weeks later than the family. This avoids the possibility of paying hefty fees at the port for not moving cargo, or unexpectedly having to look for temporary storage.

Moving Day

Be fully packed and have reliable moving help at the scheduled time. Most shipping companies allow only several hours in which to load a container, and will charge a substantial fee if this takes longer.

Collecting and Moving Cargo

Be prepared for delays, and try to be available to go to the port as soon as notification is received that the cargo has arrived. Expect to:

  • Show proof that the shipping fee has been paid
  • Pay a receiving fee and deposit to the shipping company
  • Hire an agent to deal with custom officials (optional).

Once released, the cargo will need to be moved. If ground transport wasn’t arranged by the shipping company, plan to hire a truck at the port, and possibly workmen to unload the container.

International Moving Simplified

Moving overseas involves uncertainties, but with advance planning and by following the tips above, an international household move can go smoothly. For more details on organizing a move abroad, read International Moving Checklist. Also see VoIP Phone Service and Vonage vs. Magic Jack to learn about affordable Internet calling to a home country from overseas.

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