Getting the move right
You can ease the hassles of an international move by being properly organized and with some professional help.
Let's go through your overseas move step by step:
- What makes up a move?
- How does it move?
- Getting ready
- Who is involved
- Planning the move
- Choosing your mover
1. What are the components of relocation and moving services?
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 and not a freight forwarder.
2. How does it move?
How your belongings are moved depends on where you are going. Usually, there's 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, they need specialist protection. Sub-zero temperatures or humidity don't do furniture any good at all.
The international relocation and moving services industry has developed a wide range of sophisticated packing materials designed for the safe transportation of household goods. Its packing crews would 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?
Several people will be involved with your international move. We encourage companies to work with each other, providing a similar standard of service and care This is known as the agent-to-agent system, whereby two companies work together to provide you with a seamless move.
Usually, the mover who looks after your departure (known as the booker) will appoint his own agent at the 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:
- What will you take?
Moving is a good time to take stock of your household. There's 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's going to be moved, you are ready for
- The pre-move survey
By now, you will have chosen several movers to call. Make sure you give them each the same instructions, otherwise you may get different prices and specifications. This is an area where misunderstandings most often occur.
- Divide your belongings into what is going to be disposed of, what will go into storage (if appropriate) and what may need to go into storage at the destination (if your home isn't ready).
- 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.
- You will need to discuss with your mover specifics including:
- Valuable articles such as jewellery.
- Things likely to cause a problem with customs, such as alcohol and firearms.
- Are you taking garden furniture, climbing frames, boats, gym equipment, motorcycles or cars?
- Will your electrical goods work in the new country?
- Routing and transit time. Your family needs to be settled quickly. Find 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
- Means of transportation.
- The packing material used depends on where and how you are going. Long-haul transport by road will need less packing than goods going by sea container.
- Make sure the moving company handles all customs formalities.
- 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 inspires confidence, knows its business, shows an interest, and doesn't need prompting all the time.
- Moving day. The best advice is to stand back and let the professionals get on with it.
- On arrival. Do not go on holiday! Contact the destination agent as soon as you reach your destination country and 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's usually a time limit for making a claim.
6. Choosing your mover
If you look in the Yellow Pages or the Internet for an overseas moving company, you may wonder where to start! So, first, let's look at the different kinds of companies operating in and around the moving business.
The freight forwarder:
As discussed earlier, the forwarder is usually involved in shipping commercial goods. Some of them do offer to ship household goods, but they are seldom specialists. This could mean they will sub-contract your move or ship it to the nearest port. If your new home is several thousand miles from the nearest port, this could involve huge extra expenses.
The van line:
Small moving companies are involved mainly in domestic moves, and often members of a van line to which it will hand over its international moves. Once the job is booked, it is delivered to the van line for shipment. The van line acts as a huge clearing house for international shipments, controlled by an in-house department specialising in overseas moves, which becomes your day-to-day point of contact.
Your own move may be part of a package of services provided to your company by a relocation agency. It will provide virtually all the services a company will want, from selling your house, helping you find a new one, organising schools and even handling your move by sub-contracting it out.
Many professional movers also have their own relocation services. These offer exactly the same services as the relocation company except that the overseas move is NOT sub-contracted. This gives customers the best of both worlds -- hands-on relocation and hands-on moving.
Dedicated international movers:
The main business activity of these companies is movement of household goods. This means they will be working on a door-to-door basis, using office staff and packing crews trained and committed to private moves. Understanding the personal nature of household effects and the special concerns of customers is a vital function of the professional mover.