Moving Abroad: Steps for Shipping Internationally

Moving in general is a momentous decision. While moving around the block requires a particular amount of planning, moving overseas takes move planning to a whole new level. An international move is exciting and challenging at the same time – finding the best location, researching the customs of a new culture, and learning a new way to communicate will all help you to have a positive experience. Of course, moving your life also includes moving your belongings, and doing so internationally requires expert advice.

Your international relocation likely requires significant planning including inventory surveys, documentation processing, and a complex breakdown of ocean or air freight managed by an expert in the field of international moving logistics.

Where do I begin?

A pre-move survey is an invaluable way to start the planning process for your international move. Surveying your belongings, identifying packing and unpacking needs, and establishing a budget with an experienced international moving company sets the stage for a smooth process.

Top international movers will hold specific licenses and certifications that support their expertise in international moving and shipping procedures and will provide highly trained coordinators to manage the process with you.

In the United States, for instances, one such certification is the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) certification, offered through the US Department of Homeland Security. C-TPAT is a voluntary program that demonstrates commitment to securely and accurately moving your goods based on the standards of U.S. Custom and Border Protection. Most providers specializing in international moves will also offer service-level-agreements (SLAs) designed specific to moves abroad that will outline all aspects of your move process, as well as protection coverage options.

This type of enhanced planning will also help you identify what may and may not be allowed to be transported to your destination country. There are regulations and restrictions related to certain items, like electronics, appliances and more, especially in terms of the customs review process. An experienced move coordinator will assist you in understanding the documentation and requirements needed for the seamless transport.

For example, while Suddath® can’t obtain documents on your behalf, we do work with our overseas partners to clarify and simplify the requirements for you to get them. You would then submit the documents to us, and we obtain the clearance.

During the home survey, there are several steps that an international mover will take to provide you with an accurate quote for moving your belongings abroad.

At Suddath, weight and volume are estimated using handheld devices for accuracy. This technology enables estimators to select appropriate household items and container sizes to accurately estimate the volume/cubic measurement of an individual shipment (road, surface, air, storage). For international moving shipments, the estimator is required to include an appropriate density factor to establish the weight.

What do I really need to bring with me?

Once you have determined what you can and cannot bring, it is helpful to take an honest look at your belongings to determine what you may or may not need.

Keep in mind standard sizes in other countries for doorway openings, ceiling heights, staircase width, floor layouts and more may not accommodate your current furniture. Consider yard sales, online sales, charity donations and passing items down to family members to help you pare down your inventory to lighten the load.

Next while working with your mover, you can gauge whether moving certain items is cost effective versus purchasing new once you get there. If the cost of shipping, taxes, customs and other regulation paperwork outweighs the worth and the need, you may want to rethink shipping that item. Plus, what you need overseas may also be determined by your length of stay. A temporary assignment in another country may warrant short- or long-term storage for the items in question. A storage solution can be worked into your moving quote as well.

How will my items ship?

Reputable movers offer multi-modal methods of transportation for shipments to international locations.

Shipment options by sea and air for overseas transports and ground options for connected land masses can be used in conjunction to create the most the cost-effective plan for your move. Air freight sports a higher price tag, but if you have downsized your inventory and time is of the essence, it may be a viable option. Sea freight is more affordable and can accommodate larger volume but length of moving time could be increased. These are items to discuss with a move coordinator during the quoting process.

Moving companies will often load shipping containers at full capacity or opt for less-than-container-loads (LCL) where you will share container space with other moves to transport your freight. Your goods will still be in an individual shipping crate, but it will be placed into a larger container with other individual shipping crates.

Containers are then inspected, waterproofed, packed and secured at the warehouse or site of shipment origin awaiting their next stop. There are also custom crating options that can accommodate particularly sensitive or fragile contents – for example when moving antique furniture, musical instruments like pianos, or fine art overseas.

Packing and unpacking services also help to ensure that your belongings are secure for the long trip. Using proper materials and skilled techniques to pack household goods is critical to maintaining the original condition of your items. Adequate cushioning, manageable weight and breathability of certain items should be considered when packing the home.

Other international moving issues to consider:

Pets. While they are a member of your family, moving internationally poses certain steps to take when bringing along your furry friend. Things to consider include: potential quarantine time in certain locations, accurate health records compliant with vaccinations, and the best mode of transport for their safety and security.

True international movers work closely with experts in moving pets, and can refer you to reputable organizations they have worked with before. One such organization being PetRelocation, which offers full pet relocation services.

Technology needs in a new country. To stay connected via cell phone, internet access, etc., you will want to evaluate what items you may need to bring with you or purchase new upon your arrival in your new location. Relocating to areas in Europe and Asia can present different scenarios for cell coverage, internet options and more, so researching ahead of time will help define what products you may need.

For a large move abroad, there are many to-do items on the checklist. Luckily, Suddath has simplified procedures and can guide you through the entire process. With over 10,000 successful international moves per year, as a true international mover with global reach to nearly every country in the world, Suddath will get you there efficiently, within budget and as stress-free as possible.

Click here to get an international moving quote from Suddath.