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International Moving Terms You Should Know

If you are moving internationally for the first time, it may seem like everyone around you is speaking a different language. From distinguishing between a consignee and transferee to navigating abbreviations such as HHG, there are many terms specific to the industry that make it difficult to understand the process. Bookmark this page to help you keep up with the most frequently used moving terms.

Agent overseas

Usually another moving company appointed to act as a partner in your move. The most likely situation is that your mover will appoint someone at destination to receive your shipment, clear it through Customs and arrange final delivery.

AWB

The air waybill (AWB) is the most important document in airfreight transportation. It serves as a contract for carriage and shows all relevant information about the shipment, the shipper and the consignee.

Bill of Lading

This is your contract with the carrier. It is your receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation. Your signature on this document acknowledges that your goods have been loaded on the moving van and “released to the carrier”.

Bonded Warehouse

A warehouse that meets with local Customs specifications and allows shipments to be stored pending clearance by Customs.

Consignee

The person/ the company to whom the shipment is to be delivered.

Consolidator

A company or person that will collect less than container load (LCL) shipments from moving companies and ship them to destination once a full container load (FCL) has been obtained.

Container

A modular steel box that is designed to hold goods during transport on sea and land.

Customs

Legal body in charge of formal inspection of goods before allowing a shipment into a country.

Customs Clearance

Formal inspection procedures carried out before allowing a shipment into a country.

CWT

Abbreviation that stands for the rate or charge per 100 pounds.

Declared Value

Value the owner declares its goods to be for the purpose of insurance. This will form the basis of your insurance cover and it is important that it reflects the value of your belongings.

Demurrage charges

Demurrage charges are those which are charged by the customs warehouse stations when the goods are stored and not cleared within the specified time i.e., these are the charges for excess period of storage of goods.

Destination agent

The moving company appointed to act on your behalf at destination.

Detention charges

Alternative term for demurrage charges.

Door-to-Door shipment

Transporting the shipper’s goods from their residence at origin to their residence at destination. This type of move will increase the degree of control you have over the move and subsequently minimize claims.

Door-to-Port shipment

Transporting the shipper’s goods from their residence at origin until the port at destination. This tends to happen if the shipper has decided to arrange transport with a destination agent of their choice from the destination port and tends to be done by a shipper when they want to save money.

Export

Shipping of goods outside country borders.

Export Wrapping

Method of packing household goods and personal effects for transportation overseas. Usually involves heavier and more specialist materials.

FAIM

FIDI Accredited International Mover

FAIM Standards

Criteria’s to become a FIDI Accredited International Mover (FAIM).

FCL

FCL stands for Full Container Load. One container contains one consignee’s cargo. An FCL shipment has specified move dates as agreed with your mover.

FIDI Association

The FIDI Global Alliance covers over 100 countries worldwide represented by 25 FIDI Associations. A FIDI Association is an association of moving companies, or a distinct section of such an association, which is recognized by FIDI as representing the views and interests of FIDI companies in a country or region. FIDI recognizes its associations by their FIDI names.

FIDI Moving company

The FIDI alliance comprises over 600 international removal companies, all accredited by the FIDI Accredited International Mover standard (FAIM).

Groupage

Filling a container with shipments that are less than container load (LCL). The entire container is filled by your own shipments but can contain several transferee’s small shipments and as such you act as a consolidator.

HHG

Abbreviation for Household goods – typically transferee’s private belongings to be moved.

High value inventory

An insurance company proposal form(s) where an individual item, pair or set in excess of $3,000 (or whatever the individual policy dictates) is specifically identified for coverage during the international move.

Inbound shipment

Import of household goods.

Insurance certificate

The official insurance document given to you by the insurance company. You will need this in the event of a claim.

Inventory

A list of your belongings to be moved or a list of your belongings in transit or in storage.

LCL

LCL stands for “Less than Container Load”. When a shipment is not large enough to fill one full size shipping container, it is packed in liftvans or wooden crates and loaded into an ISO container. So, multiple shippers will share the container.

Liftvan

A crate used in the packing of your belongings.

Marine Insurance

Insurance specifically to cover your belongings whilst in transit over long distances and/or across water by vehicle, ship or aircraft. The policy will cover specific marine risks.

Origin agent

The moving or shipping company appointed to handle your move at origin.

PBO

Abbreviation that stands for “Packed by owner”. When you choose to pack your belongings yourself, either into cartons supplied by the mover or into your own boxes. Insurance companies often refuse to insure goods packed by their owners.

Packer

Person in charge of packing, wrapping, loading the goods at origin and unpacking, unwrapping, and unloading the goods at destination.

Packing List

This document lists all the goods that are packed in a shipment and has 4 main purposes: It is used to check the goods at all stages of handling; as a receipt, therefore the importance for the customer of signing for agreement when the goods are collected and unpacked; as an attachment to the insurance certificate as it is the evidence that the goods were shipped and their conditions at the time of packing; for customs clearance as proof of the goods which are being imported.

Port-to-Door shipment

Transporting the shipper’s goods from a port to destination residence. This is quite unusual; these moves are mostly taken care of by national companies contracted for an international move.

Pre-move survey

Survey organized by the moving company at client/transferee’s house to assess the volume or weight of the goods to be moved to provide an accurate quote for the move.

Quotation

Detailed written proposal of the moving service and price offer, drawn up and signed by the service provider.

Replacement Value

Value of goods equal to the replacement cost at destination.

Ro-Ro

Roll on, Roll off. Method of sea transportation typically for cars.

Shipper

Usually – but not always – the customer whose shipping requirements are being serviced.

SIT

Abbreviation that stands for “Storage in Transit”. Temporary storage of your household goods in the warehouse of the moving company, pending further transportation.

Survey Form

Standard document issued by the moving company where during the pre-move survey visit, the surveyor notes down all the details that will enable the booker to make a cost estimate and later a firm quotation.

Surveyor

The employee responsible for doing the pre-move survey at client house.

Transferee

The person being relocated or assigned to work in another country.

Warehouse

The building used to store the goods (in transit, short term storage, long term storage).