How to ship your goods internationally

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International container shipping tips and information

Whether you’re moving for work, starting a new life abroad or retiring to warmer shores you’ll probably want to take at least some of your possessions with you. Probably all of them, sofas, beds, clothing and all. There are two options when it comes to international shipping; Air shipping and sea shipping, each with its own pros and cons.

Sea vs air shipping

Sea shipping is far more common, especially for big moves and is usually cheaper. However it is a lot slower than air shipping, taking a few weeks, or more, for a great distance. Air shipping is great for smaller loads, or if you need your things immediately moved. Something that surprises many people moving abroad – when your goods are packed up by the removal company, they aren’t immediately placed on a ship and off they go; the container will remain in dock until a ship is scheduled to depart and the loading and offloading takes a while. When you think about it, that’s to be expected, of course, but the time a shipment takes still shocks some people.

How much will it cost?

International shipping depends on such a plethora of criteria it is nearly impossible to suggest an ‘average’ figure for a move. Some shorter, lighter moves may only cost £1,500 and some could see you parting with upwards of £10,000. The only way to know for sure is to get an international shipping quote. The hidden bonus of shipping your goods (if you’re from the UK) is that you don’t have to pay VAT on it!

Get FREE quotes here – just fill in your details below and you’ll receive up to 5 quotes from removal companies who can help you move.

What size container do I need?

The standard container sizes are 10 feet, 20 feet and 40 feet long. For an average family – who are not shipping a vehicle – a 20 foot container will suffice, this will allow you to move a fair amount of furniture; sofas, beds, dressers etc.

Companies will always offer a size calculator, which allows you to accurately calculate the volume and weight of your home contents. They will even send someone to your property to assess your home contents thoroughly, if you wish (highly recommended!).

Do I need insurance?

Shipping companies will offer you insurance, this is rarely included automatically. The cost varies with what you’re shipping and is normally somewhere between 1-5% of the total value of your goods.

Insurance for sea shipping is always a good idea, especially for a large ocean crossing – the fact that most shipping companies include a “debris clearing” service should give you an indication as to what is going on during shipping.

What extra services are included?

You can expect door-to-door service to be included with any large move. Some companies will also include a packing, loading, un-packing, un-loading service as well, some will charge extra.

Having a company do the packing for you can save you time, and they will generally be able to physically pack more into the same space due to their experience.

Shipping a car

There are shipping companies that specialise in vehicle shipping, domestic and international. Before you ship your car you’ll need various documents including; a letter from the lien holder (if the car is leased or rented, or not entirely your property) a shipper export declaration form, declaration of dangerous goods form and ensure that your car insurance covers international shipping.

Make a note of any damage already on the car before you ship it and ensure that it will work once it gets to the other end!

More information on choosing the right removal company for you.

And lots of other tips on packing and preparation here.

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  1. Don’t forget to think about how to continue to get your stuff that you may not be shipping right away… items that you may not find in the host country. package forwarding companies like US Global can help.

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