At Relocately, we are currently offering international moving services to overseas destinations. In this article, you'll learn more about those services:
An international move actually consists of several steps. As each step is carried out by a separate party, it is very important that each step is carefully organised and prepared. Also, timely communication is paramount to ensure that a moving service goes as planned. Thus, we have specialized on international, door-to-door moves. If you are looking for only partial services such as door-to-port or port-to-door, we are likely not able to support your request as we cannot guarantee an outstanding relocation experience if we are depending on other, unknown third parties.
The first step of an international move is the origin service.
In the context of international moving, the origin service typically describes all the activities that are conducted on the day of the move-out of your current (or former) home. On the day of the move-out, the packing crew comes to your home, taking required packing material, boxes, and all other tools and materials with them to prepare your belongings for the upcoming move. However, dependent on the service level, the services rendered by the packing crew might differ a lot.
Usually, you can decide between no service, basic and full service for the origin service:
No service: As the name says - there are no services rendered by the packing crew. In fact, if you decide to book an offer with no service for the origin service, there won't be any packing crew coming to your home. In this case, you are expected to do the entire work yourself. While this is certainly the cheapest option, we do not recommend it. If you are not a trained professional, the way you pack and wrap your belongings is likely to be insufficient to protect your items during transit. Thus, clients opting for no service at all usually regret their decision once the shipment arrives at the destination. Booking no service means:
- You have to take care of packing and wrapping all your items yourself
- You have to take care of creating the packing list yourself
- You are eligible only for a very basic level of insurance coverage (read more here)
Basic service: As the name says, there are only basic services rendered by the packing crew. In fact, if you decide to book an offer with basic service, this usually means that only the loading of your belongings into the container (if you have booked an entire container for your shipments) or into the moving truck (if you have booked a shared container or loose-loading is required) is included in the offer. This means that:
- You still have to take care of packing and wrapping all your items yourself
- You still have to take care of creating the packing list yourself
- You are eligible only for a very basic level of insurance coverage (read more here)
Full service: As the name says, a full service includes a lot of services that are rendered by the packing crew on the day of the move-out. In fact, if you decide to book an offer with full service, you can trust that the packing team is delivering a great and stress-free moving services by helping you with the following services:
- Taking care of simple dismantling tasks to reduce the volume of your shipment
- Packing of your boxes to minimize the probability of damages
- Provision of all necessary and relevant packaging material (e.g. moving boxes, fleece-laminated overseas bubble wrap, etc.)
- Creation of a detailed packing list for submission to the customs authorities
In case your belongings are shipped in your own full container, your belongings are loaded into the container directly on the day of the move-out. If your belongings are shipped as a shared shipment or you are shipping via your own full container but have agreed to a loose-loading, your belongings will be loaded into a moving truck on the day of the move-out.
If your belongings are loaded into a moving truck, the following happens:
- The packing crew will go drive back to their warehouse, where the moving truck will be carefully unloaded
- Your belongings will be loaded into a sea-freight box made (either made of wood or really strong cardboard)
- The sea-freight box will be closed, locked and labelled for further transport
The second step of an international move is the pre-carriage service.
How this steps looks like is again dependent on whether you are shipping via your own, dedicated full container or via a shared shipment. Here are the description for both cases:
Shipment via full-container: After the container is loaded, a trucking company will take care of getting your container to the port from where it is going to be shipped. Depending on how far you are away from the next port, there are two options how this is handled: If the next port is less than 3-4 hours away by truck, a truck driver will transport your container directly to the next port. If the port is further away than those 3-4 hours, the truck driver will take the container to the next train terminal/depot where the container is loaded onto a cargo train and transported to the port by railway.
Shipment via shared shipment: After the sea-freight box is closed, locked and labelled for transport, a trucking company will pick it up at the packing crew's warehouse and transport it to the warehouse of the shipping agent who is taking care of the transportation service. The transportation service will be explained in the next paragraph.
The third step of an international move is the transportation service.
The transportation service relates to the actual transportation (or shipping) of your belongings from your move-out country to your new home in your move-in country. Typically, the transportation mode depends on where and how you are moving as well:
Transportation via truck: For all transports that are taking place within a country or continent and where a direct road connection exists, most transports are arranged via truck.
Transportation via air: If no direct road connection exists, one alternative is transportation via air. Airfreight services are very fast, but also very expensive. Airfreight might be the best option for you if you have very small shipments that you need to arrive quickly.
Transportation via sea: If no direct road connection exists and you have a large shipment and/or a fast transport is not required, shipping via sea-freight is in many cases the best option. Today, sea-freight is comparatively cheap and very reliable. However, the big container vessel transporting containers across the oceans are slow and thus, shipments via sea-freight do require some patience.
By default, we offer only sea-freight shipments for our customers. The transportation service is very similar for both shipping options (shipping via own container and a shared shipment). Per default, if you ship you own container, your belongings are already loaded into a container. Once this container arrives at the port, it will be loaded onto the designated vessel and shipped off to the destination. If you ship your belongings in a shared shipment, the transportation agent will wait until a couple of sea-freight boxes for the same destination have arrived at his warehouse. Once there is sufficient volume to load a container, the transportation agent will order a container, load it with all sea-freight boxes into the container and load the container onto the next available vessel.
If you are comparing quotes and looking at options for a shared shipment, make sure you compare the transit times mentioned in the different quotes. Some moving companies are either intransparent or state incredibly long transit times, which sometimes mean that you'll have to wait a couple of months until your shipment is actually shipped.
Interesting fact: Commercial shipments are never mixed with household goods!
The fourth step of an international move is the destination service.
Once your shipment has arrived at the port of destination, the container will be unloaded from the vessel. Now, the container has to be cleared by the customs authorities before it can finally enter the destination country.
Taking care of this part of the destination service which is rendered by the destination agent. In most countries, the destination agent is able to take care of clearing customs without your support as long as you have provided all required documents in time. When moving to Canada or the United Arab Emirates, this is different: In those countries, you have to be present for customs clearance. Regardless of where you are moving to in the world, almost all customs authorities conduct examinations of containers importing household goods. If your container is subject to an examination, you'll be facing additional costs that can amount to several hundreds of dollars. You find more information on examination costs in the country guidelines we have listed here: Click this article to see the list of country guidelines
Unfortunately, you can also incur additional costs if you submit wrong or incomplete customs documents or if you submit them too late. To avoid this, we provide you with access to all required documents well in advance through the help of our document manger. See this article to learn more about how we support you with documents and how the document manager works.
After your shipment has been cleared by customs authorities, it is ready for delivery. The destination agent will reach out to you to coordinate a final delivery date. Please note that in most cases, you have to be a bit flexible when it comes to arranging a final delivery date.
For the delivery service itself, you will have the same choices in terms of service level as you had when booking the origin service:
Basic service: As the name says, there are only basic services rendered by the packing crew when delivering your items. In fact, if you decide to book an offer with basic service, this usually means that only the unloading of your belongings out of the container (if you have booked an entire container for your shipments) or out of the moving truck (if you have booked a shared container or loose-unloading is required) is included in the offer. This means that:
- You have to take care of unpacking and unwrapping all your items yourself
- Any dismantled furniture has to be re-assembled by yourself
Full service: As the name says, a full service includes a lot of services that are rendered by the packing crew on the day of the move-in. In fact, if you decide to book an offer with full destination service, you can trust that the packing team is delivering a great and stress-free move-in experience by helping you with the following services:
- Taking care of simple re-assembly tasks
- Unpacking of your boxes on flat surfaces
- Unpacking and removal of all packaging material and debris on the day of delivery