How Does the International Moving Process Work?

by / Tuesday, 04 April 2017 / Published in International Moving

You’ve made the decision. You’re moving to another country. Congratulations!

It is a wonderful adventure to cross borders, experience different customs, and participate in new cultures.  But what do you do with your stuff?  International moving isn’t simple, but it isn’t impossible either.

Over 3% of the world’s population lives in outside one’s country of origin. And 1/3 of Americans claim they would be ready to leave the States.  International moving is on the rise.  Here is how the process works:

Who is Involved in International Moving?

There are at least 12 identities you need to be aware of.  This list will help you navigate international moving websites and make sense of a country’s regulations:

This list will help you navigate international moving websites and make sense of a country’s regulations:

1) The Shipper/Exporter

  • This is you.

2) The Shipping Company or Mover

  • Contracts out various elements of the move  to other companies.
  • Organize the move, monitor its progress, and hopefully deliver a seamless and as quoted international moving experience.

3) The Origin Agent

  • This is who does your Visual Survey.
    • Visual Survey?  YES! It is crucial for someone to visually survey what you will be moving, any access issues to manuvering your belongings, and pack and load the stuff you’re moving.
    • This is the most accurate way of getting a quote for your international move.

4) Freight Forwarder or Authorized Agent

  • Contracted to take your belongings from your house to the port of call
  • Most countries require such entities to be licensed.  If they are not licensed, choose another company.
  • Handle export documentations

5) Consolidating Warehouse

  • Place where you stuff waits for other stuff in order to full a shipping container
  • Nothing ships unless at capacity

6) Container Line

  • Company that owns the shipping container

7) Export Port

  • Where your stuff (in a container) goes onto a ship
  • Make sure the language in this part of the quote reads, “from warehouse” and not simply “from port”
  • Ask for Origin Port Fees and Origin Terminal Handling Charges if they are not explicit on the quote

8) Ship Line

  • Company that owns the ship
  • Make sure there is online tracking
  • Read the fine print about extra costs due to port strikes or violent weather

9) Destination Port

  • Where your belongings, the container, will enter the country where you are moving to
  • Make sure quote includes Destination Port Fees and Destination Terminal Handling Charges
  • Almost always these charges are in the local currency

10) Customs Bonded Wareshouse

  • Where your belongings wait until they clear customs
  • Customs regulations vary based on the country
    • Spend a lot of researching regulations for international moving
    • Some countries require you to be there in person where others do not

11) Destination Agent

  • The company that will take your belongings through customs and deliver them to your new home
  • Check the quote for who this company is and,
    • check references,
    • ask about their handling of fees and laws, and
    • if there are any issues (read: fees) with accessing your new dwelling and,
    • make sure you are paying for, “to door” and not just, “to port”
  • Ideally, push for a company that is fluent in your native language

12) A International Moving Broker

  • The cheaper option on the internet because they are:
    • Usually not licensed
    • Do not provide itemized quotes
    • Often leave out additional fees for delivery, storage time in port, etc
  • Avoid them

Overwhelmed?  Don’t worry!  Here are tips to help gain a peace of mind

  • Don’t skimp on money.
    • As the adage goes, “You get what you pay for.”
  • Insist on Visual Surveys.
    • There are so many variables that a guesstimate, just won’t do for your sanity, the safety of your belongings, or your bank account.
  • Read all the fine print.
    • This isn’t renewing your Netflix account, this is international moving
  • Get everything in writing
  • Research insurance options as they can vary drastically across companies.
    • Some companies call it “valuation” or “coverage” but it is all the same thing
  • Get at least 3 quotes, read every word, and insist they are created in conjuction with a Visual Survey

But First, Figure Out What you are Moving

As you are probably finding out, international moving is expensive.  So, it is in your best interest to take some time and determine what you really want to move.

Organizing your belongings is the goal.  Essentially, you’ll be deciding if you wish to bring something with you, sell it, or store it.

Somethings to consider when going through this process for moving internationally:

  • How long will you be living in your new country?
  • What sort of living situation will you have?  An apartment?  A 3-bedroom home? Are you moving alone, with a spouse, or a multimember family?
  • What is the size of your new home and how easy is it to access?
  • What is the weather like?  Are there four seasons?
  • How will you be spending your free time?
  • Is it easier and cheaper to rent or buy certain items in your new country?
  • Why are you moving?  Solely a job so you want the comforts of your home or are you moving to experience a new life so your old belongings just won’t do?
  • Is there a family member or friend in your country of origin who can ‘adopt’ your belongings for when you’re away?  This is great for family heirlooms.

When do I start?

As soon as possible.

The moving process is always busy, can be frustration, and often emotional.  From a logistics perspective, you’ll want to select a Shipping Company or Mover at least 2 months prior to your departure date.

This means you’ll need to start getting quotes (with the visual survey) no less than 3 months before you move.

If your move-date is more immediate, you’ll need to enlist some trusted friends or family to handle aspects in your country of origin.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the process.  97% of the world’s people don’t experience international moving.  So take the time to appreciate the opportunity.

Make plans for keeping in-touch with friends and family you will be leaving behind, take some language classes if relevant, and always say yes to those wanting to throw you a bon voyage party.

Contact us with your questions, concerns, and for a quote!  With over 24 years of experience, we are your international moving professionals.

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