Expat Guide To International Removals


Starting a new life in another country is a big step for expats – and moving home across the world is one of the problems they face.

Once the decision to go is made, organising the move while juggling work, health and travel arrangements for a family can prove difficult.

Many expats face the same issues – and have the same questions about that big move.

When to start making arrangements

You need at least three months to sort out an international removal firm. The first step is speaking to at least three for quotes.

The quote involves a home inventory, information about customs and quarantine arrangements in your new home country and the finer details of packing and shifting all your belongings thousands of miles.

Planning is the key to a successful international move. The operation can be expensive, so use the opportunity to throw out all those unwanted items that will cost you money to transport for no good reason.

Most removal companies will have country packs with key information for new expats.

Shall I sell up and buy new stuff?

This is the first question most expats ask. The answer is it depends.

Moving an average three-bedroomed family home from London to Sydney costs between £3,500 and £5,000. Buying all new furniture and household items will cost a lot more than that. Just consider for a moment that your home insurance sum assured is probably £50,000 to replace

Many expats won’t be able to buy the things they want in many cities – and if they can, they are likely to be a lot more expensive because they are imported from the UK anyway.

How do I find a reliable international removals firm?

Customers have good and bad experiences, so who to choose is really down to you, but some trade bodies will protect your interests and do monitor standards.

Look for the British Association of Removers (BAR) logo, which has an Office of Fair Trading approved customer code.

Other logos to watch for are the FAIM quality standard and membership of the federation of International Furniture Removers (FIDI) or the International Association of Removers.

What should my quote cover?

The quote should cover the cost of the move, without extras or hidden charges. Standard items include:

  • The container space you need
  • The level of service
  • An itinerary and times of departure and delivery, including consignment tracking
  • Customs and quarantine information and clearance
  • Storage costs if your furniture and belongings are to follow on after you have left the UK
  • Packing costs

Insurance is an important factor and is generally in addition to the quote. You may find shopping around for insurance may turn up a cheaper quote.

A list of terms and conditions will come with the quote. Check them out carefully because any extra charges, for example if you cancel the shipment, will be detailed.

Can I choose transit methods?

Yes. The method of transit will affect the cost.  Most shipments will involve a mixture of road, rail, ship and air freight, depending on your destination.

Road and rail are the cheapest and best options in Europe.

Further afield, you can opt:

  • A full container by sea
  • Groupage – sharing a container and only paying for the space your goods take up
  • Air freight – the most expensive but quickest option

Many customers opt to send essential day-to-day items and clothing by air freight while the rest follows by sea, road or rail.

Don’t forget if you are not moving near a railhead or port, you will need road transport at the other end to deliver your container.

How long does the move take?

This depends on where you are going. Schedule at least eight weeks to allow for transit times and customs clearance. Your international removals firm will handle this for you. One of the benefits of a FIDI accredited firm is they will have agents in most countries and large cities to ease the transit process.

What happens if my container is lost or stolen?

This is why you should take out transit insurance. Some firms will decline to ship uninsured containers.

You are covered for breakages, losses or stolen goods by most policies – plus you have a 14-day window after the container arrives to check the contents and make a claim.

Who manages the move?

The UK company will manage the move for you – and that includes dealing with overseas agents.

Download the Free Pension Transfer Guide

Expat Pension Transfers Guide

iExpats.com expert writers have created a simple guide to Expat Pension Transfers just for you.

Find out how you could save tax, increase growth and investment opportunities with this simple, no-nonsense guide that will introduce QROPS, SIPPs and QNUPS options and talk through the pros and cons. Download the free guide by following the link below

Leave a Reply