How to Move Your Possessions
A cargo ship
is often a cheaper way to move possessions overseas.
The decision has been made. It may be
for pleasure. It may be for a mixture of reasons. But one
thing is for sure. Moving abroad creates a labyrinth of
checklists that need to be checked off before you set sail
to the new place you will be calling home. One of the top
items on that mile-long list is how to deliver your beloved
belongings to the foreign land of choice.
The following is a list of must-do’s
to guarantee a successful, worry-free, reasonably-priced
- Once you have made the decision
to make the move, start separating out belongings
that are absolute requirements in your life abroad,
what stuff is ready to go to a new home and which
items (if any) will need a place of storage while
you are away. Separating these items out
can take up space. It is nice if an area like a bedroom,
garage or large closet can be the designated organization
zone for the divided things.
- Plan on having a garage
sale at least a month before leaving. This
helps to get rid of the definite not-needed items,
earn a few extra dollars, and create space to help
organize the leftovers. A way to incorporate some
fun into the event is to throw a barbecue/going away
party. Invite the neighborhood, friends, and family
to rifle through your castaway belongings before the
general public is allowed. Though it may be a little
harder to haggle for a good price with a friend or
loved one, at least you will know it went to a good
- As the pile grows of “to be shipped” items, start looking for sturdy boxes, differently sized bubble wrap and strong tape now. The earlier you start organizing, making
a list of the items, and carefully packaging them,
the happier you will be in the long run. Do not leave
it till last minute. Your precious items deserve better.
Although it is possible to hire your moving company
to wrap, box and label all of your stuff, it is nice
to know exactly where everything is when the customs
officials decide to open the crate. As you are putting
the items in boxes, have a friend or loved one help
write down the detailed list. That detailed inventory
list will be your friend later down the road. Also,
use more tape and bubble wrap (or clothing and blankets
for cushion) than you would think necessary. The extra
padding and tape will assist your goods in making
a safe voyage.
- Check with your new country
to find out the restrictions or duties on bringing
your United States household goods into the country. Each
nation is different. Some are lackadaisical;
others will tax certain items heavily or forbid them
all together. For example, Argentina does not allow
electronics like televisions and posts an 80%
tax on an automobile’s worth.
- Choosing a moving company.In today’s world of globetrotting, the business of moving someone else’s personal belongings internationally has grown beyond a one-company monopoly. Therefore doing your homework on the different companies out there is vital. There are a number of operations that will help with the process, whether you are located on the west or east coast of the United States. Depending on where the final destination is, it may be beneficial to hire more than one business to help with shipping the goods within United States territory, storage of the container before shipment and the final transfer to end resting spot.
Most companies base their shipping fees on the amount of weight per container (or a portion of a container if your shipment is minimal). Also, the price varies greatly whether shipping via air, road, or sea. Obviously, going the water route is slower and less costly. Other aspects that make the final bill less cheap include packing materials and labor costs attached if they do the packing, loading, and shipping to the place of departure, clearing of customs at destinations, and the final delivery. Make sure to ask for a transparent pricing list, references or testimonials from past clients, the ability to have a means of tracking the goods, and insurance options.
Another important subject to bring up is making sure your goods arrive in the time needed. The moving company will be knowledgeable about shipping times and when your items should begin their journey. One other aspect to question is the company’s credentials. Ask if they are members of the FIDI (an organization created to uphold international moving companies to high business ethics) and are certified with the ISO 9002, the Registered International Mover Certification, and the Overseas Movers Network International.
- Insurance. Insurance
can be multi-leveled, depending on what your final destination
is. Of course, it is vital to get insurance on the goods
while they are being shipped. Most shipping companies
offer insurance policies. Another means of securing your
investments is to check with your native country’s
insurance agent about your house insurance policy. Some
policies will cover your goods abroad or offer an extension
while they are in transit.
- Getting your stuff through
customs. This is an important part of the
equation. Some countries are more lenient and not
too investigative when foreigner’s personal
belongings come through the line-up. The variation
in standards can even depend upon the individual customs’ station
and each different agent when it comes to the way
things are handled. If you do not speak the language,
it is highly suggested to hire a company to assist
with the paperwork. The shipping company that you are
dealing with will most likely know a customs agent.
If not, the country’s embassy should have a
list of reputable businesses.
- Bringing a personal automobile
can be easy or difficult, depending on the new country. Ask
the embassy of any restrictions. As stated before,
there may be taxes on the value of the car and you
will need to show multiple notarized copies of the
title, VIN number, and details of the ride. A couple
of points to think about when deciding whether or
not to bring the car: is the car going to be difficult
to be serviced in the new country and will it stand
out like a sore thumb (some countries demand the original
country’s license plate to remain in use).
- Can the
family pet come? That was a requirement when
we were choosing where to live abroad. Most countries
have thrown out the quarantine idea — though
it is vital to ask your new country’s embassy
the rules and regulations (and a word to the wise — ask
more than once, sometimes things change or the person
asked was not exactly in the know.) There are a few
different aspects that are similar across the board.
An official veterinarian’s health, vaccination
and history report must accompany the pet at all time
as well as an appropriately sized crate. There are
businesses created solely to assist you with the move
of your furry friend; everything from a horse to a
snake has made the move to a life in a foreign land.
If your pet is small enough to fit under the airline
seat or is a search and rescue animal it may be able
to ride with you in the cabin of the plane. Different
airlines have different policies and methods to move your pets abroad.
If you start your packing early, do
your homework with country regulations and research the
different moving company options, you will avoid
headaches down the road. It will give you the chance
to do what really matters when moving abroad; staying in
the moment when saying goodbye to loved ones, seeing new
and exciting things while making the transition, and learning
the ways and words of your new chosen culture.