What is an Overseas Move?

What is an Overseas Move? 

Moving abroad is a major upheaval - apart from finding schools, saying goodbye to friends and family, there is all the things you take for granted: driving a car, buying groceries, personal security or even the local language.

And then, there's the move itself! Properly organized, and with professional help, an international move should be perfectly straightforward, especially with professional help. Many of the leading international movers of the world are affiliated to FIDI (International Federation of International Furniture Movers), which sets global operational and financial standards for international moving companies.

Using FIDI's experience of over 730 affiliates worldwide, let's go through your overseas move step by step:

  1. What Makes up a move?

  2. How does it move?

  3. Getting ready

  4. Who is involved?

  5. Planning the move

1. What are the components of an overseas move?

As a general guide, forwarders transport commercial products (from steel products to grain) while movers handle low weight, high value goods. These include household furniture, fine art, antiques, pets, cars and similar personal items. In other words, goods that need special care and personal attention.

Your belongings are personal to you - and therefore need specialist packing and shipping. The last thing you want is to have your possessions shipped as though they were pig iron - so make sure you are booking a mover (better still, choose one of our affiliates!) and not a freight forwarder.

2. How does it move?

How your belongings are moved depends on where you are going. Usually, there is a choice of road, rail, sea or air, and even a combination of them. The kind of transport will dictate the packing materials used, the timings and the cost.

3. Getting ready

Packing your goods is the key to a good move. If your goods are going to parts of Scandinavia or the Far East, for instance, and are unlikely to be unpacked for a while then they need specialist protection. Sub-zero temperatures or humidity don't do furniture any good at all.

The international moving industry has developed a wide range of sophisticated packing materials designed for the safe transportation of household goods. Their packing crews will also have been trained in techniques designed to ensure maximum protection for your belongings throughout the longest journey.

The main risks to furniture are shock, vibration or pressure, weather, security and dirt. Skilful packing, using the correct techniques and materials will go a long way towards eliminating these risks.

4. Who is involved?

Usually, the mover who looks after your departure (known as the booker) will appoint his own agent at destination.

However, if your employer is paying for the move, the company may have a policy on appointing a destination agent itself. However, your day-to-day contact is with the booker until you reach your new country when the nominated agent will take over.

5. What are the various steps to take?

A successful overseas move relies on good planning. These are the main stages to prepare for:

  1. What will you take? Moving is a good time to take stock of your household. There is no point in shipping stuff out of your current loft just to keep it stored in another loft. So be determined, and have a really good clear out. Once you know what is going to be moved you are ready for…

  2. The pre-move survey By now you will have chosen three movers to call. Make sure you give them each the same instructions, otherwise you will find you get different prices and specifications. This is an area where misunderstandings most often occur.

  3. Divide your belongings into what is going to be disposed of, what will go into store (if appropriate) and what may need to go into store at destination (if your home isn't ready).

  4. It often makes sense to send personal goods for the family by air, leaving the rest of your household to follow. This means you can set up a makeshift home quickly instead of staying in a hotel. So decide what should go ahead.

  1. You will need to discuss with your mover specifics including: 
    Valuable articles such as jewellery.
  2. Things likely to cause a problem with Customs, such as alcohol and firearms.

  3. Are you taking garden furniture, climbing frames, boats, gym equipment, motorcycles or cars?

  4. Will your electrical goods work in the new country?

  5. Routing and transit time. Your family needs to be settled quickly. Agree the quickest means of transit - and make clear your expected destination. A door-to-door quote means just that, while a door-to-port quote means your goods are delivered to the nearest port to your address, which could be thousands of miles away.

  6. Whether you want your move door-to-door or door-to-port.

  7. Means of transportation.

  8. What packing material is used depends on where and how you are going. Long haul transport by road will need less packing that goods going by sea container.

  9. Make sure the moving company understands that you expect it to handle all Customs formalities.

  1. Consider your quotations carefully. The cheapest price isn't necessarily the best, any more than the most expensive one is. Just as important as price is whether the mover gave you confidence, knew their business, showed an interest, didn't need prompting all the time.
  2. Moving day. The best advice is to stand back and let the professionals get on with it.
  3. On arrival. Do not go on holiday! Contact the destination agent as soon as you reach your destination country and then stay in touch until your goods arrive. The agent will arrange Customs clearance and will either deliver your goods to your new home or arrange temporary storage.

Anything wrong? If something is damaged, don't leave it. Contact your local agent immediately who will help you make a claim. There is usually a time limit for making a claim.