Moving Your Household Goods

Selecting a Removal Company

Ensure you select an experienced International Moving company with experience of your planned destination and aware of local arrangements and import regulations. 

Use this link to generate up to five quotes from leading international removal companies.  All are registered with leading industry bodies to ensure they meet their standards: OMNI, FEDEMAC, LACMA, IAM or FIDI

Evaluate at least three alternative providers.  Get initial estimates online, but arrange an on-site assessment from everyone on your shortlist.  Price is clearly a factor, but be sure that they can provide a reliable, quality service so that your goods arrive on time in good condition.  

Negotiate a binding quote to ensure that there are no unexpected charges later.


Moving Insurance

Ensure that you get the best possible level of insurance cover.  On average one damage or loss claim results from every four relocations.  Better claims records are achieved by the more experienced international removals specialists with one claim in every 10 or more relocations. International relocations are more complex with longer journeys and increased likelihood of claims.  Only a comprehensive, all-risk insurance provides proper coverage against such risks. 

Prepare a detailed inventory with every item realistically valued so that if a claim becomes necessary it will be settled for an appropriate amount. Ensure you allow sufficient time to ensure all items are included in the inventory and that you achieve a realistic valuation.  If an item is not included in the inventory it will not be insured.


Before you Go

Before begin packing make sure that you have thought through what you should take with you.  It is best to reduce the amount of goods you take with you:

  • Furniture – You may be in furnished or unfurnished accommodation, but even if you will be moving into unfurnished accommodation your furniture may be inappropriate for the type of property or for the climate.  US furniture is often large relative to the size of apartments in many Asian locations.  Rental of furniture is an option or you can either buy lower cost styles appropriate to the location or you can often find second hand furniture from expats returning home. If you decide not to take your furniture with you, consider the costs of storage and be realistic about how long may be involved.  Will the furniture still meet your needs when you return or would you be better selling some or all of it now?
  • Electronic equipment – with different voltages and plugs it is often not worth taking your electronic equipment with you.
  • Motor vehicles – the shipping and other costs make taking your vehicle with you an unattractive option in most cases.
  • Customs Duty – Many items, including electronics and motor vehicles may incur significant customs fees.  Ensure your shipping company advises you on any duties payable so that you can decide whether to leave them behind or sell them.


Packing for the Move

International moves result in longer shipping and an increased chance of meeting difficult conditions during the journey, so you should ensure goods are packed as well as possible.  Using professional packers should ensure that goods are safely and securely packed.

If you do decide to pack yourself, ensure that you are organized and have a clear plan.  Identify which items will not be needed and pack them first.  Ensure that you pack by room and mark what is in the box immediately after or as you are packing and which room it is to go in when you arrive at the new home.  Large colour-coded labels for each room can help to ensure it arrives in the correct location.

You will need to ensure that you have an adequate supply of packaging materials, including boxes, tapes and filling material.  Good quality boxes are essential and cheap thin boxes can be a false economy.  Ensure you have a good balance of large and small boxes.

Boxes should be secured on all edges along the bottom of the box before you begin packing.  Always start with heavier items at the bottom of the box.  Boxes need to be protected against sharp items like scissors and knives as well as to ensure the safety of anyone involved in the move.  Tea towels or other thick materials can be used.  Fragile items such as glass and crockery should be cushioned with appropriate materials and placed in the centre of the box.  Paper, bubble-wrap or soft clothing or furnishings can be used.

Use appropriate sized boxes to ensure that they do not become too heavy – ensure you do not exceed around 25 kg for small boxes and 40 kg for large ones.  Use specialist boxes, such as wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes (those that you will not need before the shipment arrives).  Seal the top of boxes with adequate tape.   

Ensure that any high-value specialist items, such as grandfather clocks or valuable ornaments are professionally packed.

Customs Regulations 

Be sure that you are aware of the importation rules and regulations that you will be subject to at the new destination.  Your international removals company should provide advice on requirements and handle documentation and customs clearance.

In some countries there are restrictions on what you may import and some are restricted by carriers from a safety perspective.  This may typically include alcohol, perishable foods and hazardous materials, such as barbecue gas bottles, aerosols etc.

In some cases you are not permitted to pack your goods yourself, a detailed inventory and certified documents covering the contents of the container must be provided by the shipping company.