4 Mar

International Moving

  • By: Doug MAUSHARDT
  • News
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International Shipping

International shipping and international moving is exciting, but it can also be difficult. Chances are good that you will do this only once in your life, and most people will never do it.

Surveys and Estimates:

Cost to overseas destinations is based on weight and (cubic) measurement of the household goods when packed for shipment. It includes air or ocean transportation charges and packing and unpacking services of the carrier’s origin and destination agents. Most shipments will be shipped in 20′ or 40′ containers. It does NOT include charges for storage, servicing of appliances, custom duty, liability coverage or extra pick up or deliver.

International rates are not regulated and can be very competitive.

What Not to move:

Many articles of household goods cannot be shipped internationally and your mover should supply you with this list (plants, foods, flammables). You should also be informed, if known, of custom regulations to identify any boycotted manufactures or materials which are prohibited in the destination country, such as liquor, fire arms or ammunition. You can contact the nearest consular of the destination country and obtain a copy of the latest customs regulations.

Custom duty for importation of automobiles varies from country to country and is sometimes extremely high.

Pets are forbidden in some countries and others may require an entry permit, health and rabies certificates or a quarantine period up to six months or longer at the owners expense.


Packing for an overseas move is very different from that of a move within the United States. Everything must be wrapped and arranged inside large waterproof plywood, metal or fiberglass boxes called lift vans or loaded directly into ship containers (20 ft and 40 ft). You should NOT pack your own goods. Due to recent terrorist threats, self-packing is not allowed. The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 dictates what can and cannot be done on international moves. Professional movers use specially designed cartons that are heavy enough for fragile items. All items not boxed are and should be wrapped in a thick corrugated brown paper. Everything is then fitted into the container. Most movers will pack and load the containers at residence.

Valuation and Claims:

Like packing, placing valuation on international shipments is quite different from placing valuation on a move within the states or a local move. Forwarders limit their liability from $.10 to $.60 per pound of weight of each shipping package. A second plan of protection is full coverage, which you can declare full value for the whole shipment or you can “itemized” items you would like protected. The coverage establishes value of an item before shipment. For each item lost or damaged the coverage will (1) pay up to the value established by inventory before shipment, or (2) pay the cost of repairs up to the declared value of the item or (3) replace the item with a like article up to the declared value. Any item claimed as “extremely high value” will require a “Certificate of Authenticity” supporting the declared value.

Required Documents:

Completion of several documents should be completed to avoid complications at destination. Applications for these forms should be made as far as in advance as possible.

Passports, Certificate of Registration, US Export Forms, Visa, Residence and Work Permits, Medical and Immunization Certificates, International Driving Permits, and Marriage Certificate.


Most international movers will require payment at completion of load. You can go directly into the office and make payment on site, for the actual weight and services. Once payment is received, your shipment will be released and sent from port of origin. If payment is not made, your goods can sit at port and collect storage cost, at your expense. Most international quotes are good for 30 days. Rates change constantly. If any duties or additional charges are required at destination, you will pay the selected destination agent at that time.

For more information on the international moving process, we suggest you read this great article from MovingScam.com: A GUIDE TO INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING by Ed Singer at Sonigo International Shipping – www.sonigo.com

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