International Relocation: 20 Top Questions and Answers
We get a lot of questions about the International Relocation process. Here are the top 20. If you don’t see your question listed, please call us — and we’ll answer it! We’ve been the International Relocation Company of choice since 1982, and we are here to help you.
- I’m relocating overseas, and need international moving. What is the first step?
- What’s a survey?
- How far in advance do I need to make arrangements?
- Can I get a rough estimate over the phone?
- What kind of container do my goods travel in?
- Are there more or less expensive options?
- Can I pack my goods myself, and will this affect the price?
- What about Customs?
- Are there restrictions on what I can ship?
- When is payment required?
- What methods of payment do you accept?
- What if my employer is paying the charges?
- What is included/excluded in the price?
- Can I insure some of my goods, and not insure others?
- What if I don’t fully value my shipment?
- Is there a guideline for me to know if I’ve undervalued?
- Do I need to separately detail every single item?
- Is there a deductible?
- What do I do if I have an insurance claim?
- How will my furniture items be prepared for transit?
1. I’m relocating overseas, and need international moving.
What is the first step? If you are planning an international relocation, the first thing you should do is contact us for a free pre-move survey.
2. What’s an international move survey?
On a survey, our local office will visit you at your residence to discuss your relocation needs, and assess the weight and volume of your belongings and any other cost factors. We’ll then provide you an estimate quote for your relocation.
3. How far in advance do I need to make arrangements to move overseas?
The importance of advanced arrangements varies depending on the time of year. The summer season tends to be when the largest number of people are moving, so our schedules will be filled farther in advance for these times. There are generally two appointments you need to set: the first being a pre-move survey and the second being the actual packing & loading day(s). While we will do our best to accommodate your needs on short notice, you should ideally contact us for a survey about 6 weeks prior to your expected departure date.
4. Can I get a rough estimate over the phone for my international move?
It’s important to understand that pricing for international moves is not “menu-based.” Each move is unique and the price is customized and influenced by numerous variable factors such as weight/volume, origin/destination, special packing needs, difficult residence access, air vs. ocean, etc.
Because of the numerous variables involved, over-the-phone estimates can be very misleading, and are generally discouraged. It is in your best interest to have our local office perform an on-site survey, so that we can offer you a more accurate estimate. These surveys are typically free of charge.
5. What kind of container do my goods travel in when I’m moving to another country?
The standard overseas transport container is the steamship container. The primary sizes of these rectangular steel containers are 20 ft. (20x8x8 ft., holding approximately 1100cubic feet and 7000 lbs. of household goods) and 40 ft (40x8x8 ft., holding approximately 2300 cubic feet and15000 lbs.).
If your shipment size is significantly below the capacity of a steamship container, it may be more cost-effective to transport your belongings in a lift van(s). Lift vans are large, wooden crates generally measuring 7x4x7 feet (LxWxH). Lift vans typically hold around1000 lbs. of household goods.
Corrugated Air Vans (or CAY’s), are utilized for air shipments. Also known as tri-walls (three-layer cardboard walls), CAY’s are available in multiple sizes and are designed to be protective, yet size and weight efficient.
6. Are there more or less expensive options for moving overseas?
Cost is determined, in part, by speed of transit. An air shipment is substantially more costly than an ocean shipment. As such, many of our customers choose to send a small air shipment of more essential belongings, to be followed by the remainder of their goods in an ocean shipment.
There are also multiple cost options with ocean shipments. The primary options are FCL (Full Container Load), LCL (Less than Container Load), consolidation, and groupage. (note: the following definitions may vary, depending on local terminology across the world). As a Full Container Load shipment, you have exclusive use to a steamship container. As a Less than Container Load shipment, your belongings are loaded into lift vans, and then handed over to a company which combines LCL shipments from multiple companies into steamship containers – thereby sharing the cost of the container. However, customers may feel their goods are more secure with an FCL exclusive-use service.
On routes that UniGroup Worldwide has significant volume, we can offer consolidation service, in which we consolidate LCL shipments ourselves (even more cost savings than standard LCL service). Likewise, in a groupage shipment, numerous shipments are combined; however, they are loose-loaded into a container, rather than separated into lift vans (saving more cost). Customers tend to feel more secure with their goods separately contained in their own lift vans, rather than loose-loaded with others’ goods. While consolidation and groupage services are less expensive, the transit time is usually 1-3 weeks longer (or more) because of potential waiting time needed to gather enough shipments to fill the steamship container.
7. Can I pack my goods myself for my overseas move and will this affect the price?
If you have a small groupage shipment, you may choose to drop it off at our local warehouse pre-packed for some cost savings. But generally in a door-to-door move, because packing is only part of the services performed at origin, packing your own goods typically does not result in any cost savings.
If you do pack some of your belongings yourself, the boxes do need to be left open for our crew to inventory, as UniGroup Worldwide is held responsible by Customs for the contents of a shipment.
Please note, if you are insuring your shipment with UniGroup Worldwide, any goods which you pack yourself will only be eligible for a claim if the carton arrives showing external damage.
8. What about customs issues for my international move?
Unless not allowed by the local government, our standard service includes customs clearance procedures, but not any duties or taxes which are assessed by the government. UniGroup Worldwide does have an extensive database of customs information available to our customers. However, please note that due to the frequency of change in government policies, our information should only be considered as a guideline. You should always contact the local consulate or embassy to confirm customs requirements.
9.Are there restrictions on what I can ship internatioonally?
Restrictions on what can be imported varies between countries and should be checked with the local consulate or embassy. The most commonly restricted items are:
International moving – restricted goods:
- ivory products
- drugs & medications
- religious statues or ornaments
- articles on endangered species list
Meanwhile, certain items should not be included in an overseas shipment due to the hazardous nature or high value of the goods. Such prohibited items are:
International moving – hazardous goods:
- aerosol spray cans
- bleaches, paints, thinners
- fire extinguishers
- gasoline, oil, lighter fluid, kerosene
- open containers and bottles
- propane tanks (unless purged and certified)
- weed killer, insecticides, poisons
International moving – high value items:
- coin and stamp collections
- irreplaceable documents
10. When is payment required for my overseas move?
If you are a private party paying for the move yourself, standard policy is for payment to be made following the origin packing and prior to the release of your shipment from the origin warehouse.
11. What methods of payment do you accept for international moves?
We accept payment via credit card, cash, certified funds (money order, certified check, etc), or wire transfer. Sorry, but we cannot accept personal checks.
12. What if my employer is paying the charges for my international relocation?
Prior to moving your shipment, we will only need a purchase order or letter of intent for payment on company letterhead with address, fax/phone, and authorizing signature. We will run a standard credit check to establish the billing account, then issue a full invoice to the company directly.
13. What is included/excluded in the price for my international move?
Some inclusions/exclusions can vary from situation to situation, mainly depending on the countries involved. For example, in Brazil and Argentina the government will not allow a company such as UniGroup Worldwide to be involved in customs clearance, and Terminal Handling Charges are billed directly to the customer by the government. Nevertheless, the following can be referred to as a general guideline.
Included (on Door to Door service level): Packing, pick-up from residence door to door transportation. Terminal Handling Charges (THC), delivery to residence, unpacking, basic furniture set-up, and removal of debris at time of delivery. THC & Customs Clearance procedure are included unless not allowed by local government.
Excluded: Unless otherwise noted, quotes do not include insurance, potential customs duties, taxes, storage, specialized packing/crating, nor fees for shuttles, long carries, hoisting, nor any container detention or demurrage charges due to circumstances beyond our control.
14. When moving overseas, can I insure some of my goods, and not insure others?
Unfortunately, no. If you take insurance with UniGroup Worldwide, you do need to value and insure all of your goods. The basic reason for this is that the premium charged is mathematically determined based upon averages of full coverage. If the premium was based upon an assumption of partially covered shipments, we would need to charge a higher premium.
15. What if I don’t fully value my overseas moving shipment?
If you undervalue your shipment, then any claim would be subject to co-insurance. For example, if you assigned a value to your shipment which is only half of the true value, then if a claim were to arise for $250, you would only be eligible for a claim of $125.
16. Is there a guideline for me to know if I’ve undervalued when shipping overseas?
A general guideline would be around $10 per pound (or $20 per kilogram). However, when valuing your shipment, it’s important to realize the cost of household goods does vary from country to country, and you should adjust your valuation accordingly.
17. Do I need to separately detail every single item in my international relocation?
Not necessarily every single item. For example, you may group 10 shirts for a total value of $300. If just one of those shirts should be lost or damaged, the value of the claim would proportionally be $30.
20. How will my furniture items be prepared for transit overseas?
You furniture items are wrapped in a durable, seven-ply paper pad. This pad is removed upon delivery and disposed of by the delivery specialists. Fine finish items and/or antiques requiring additional support are covered with a protective layer of foam pad prior to wrapping.
Contact Us today to discuss your upcoming international relocation and how we can customize a moving strategy for your specific needs.