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International Shipping Services

There are three main methods of moving household goods around the world: dedicated vehicle (removal truck), shipping container and air freight.

1. Dedicated vehicle

Your possessions are packed and loaded into the vehicle, driven directly to your destination, and then unloaded and your possessions unpacked. The use of dedicated vehicles is usually confined to moving within a continent, such as Europe. This service allows you to specify collection and delivery dates.

2. Shipping container

There are three options when using a shipping container.

I. Exclusive container: Your own container is packed and loaded at your residence, security sealed and taken immediately to the port for shipping. This avoids delays and usually means the shipment can follow a pre-determined schedule. Typically 20 ft or 40 ft long metal containers are used. Freight costs are fixed and based upon the size of the container.

Many countries, including the UK, allow customs clearance to be done without a physical inspection, so the container goes intact to the final residence before being unloaded. However, heightened security – in the USA for instance – means that more containers are being ‘pulled’ for either X-ray or physical inspection.

Australia and New Zealand have strict quarantine rules so will always have the containers unloaded for full inspection, usually at an agent’s Customs-bonded warehouse. If special inspections, fumigation or cleaning is required, expect an additional charge to be made.

II. Groupage by container: This is where a number of household consignments are loaded into one container and then shipped to the destination. It can take time to consolidate a full load and some companies delay this even further by waiting until a large 40 ft container is full. Groupage does minimise the overall cost, but only if you can afford to wait.

The container will be consigned to one selected agent at the destination who will act for all the customers. No one client can gain access to his or her goods except via the agent. Make sure the minimum service you accept is ‘cleared Agent’s warehouse free and ready for collection’, otherwise be prepared to be held to ransom. Some companies have used this ploy to charge more after initially quoting low rates to get the business.

III. LCL via freight forwarder: LCL means Less than a Container Load, with transit organised via a freight carrier. The advantage with LCL is that there is no delay while waiting for groupage, but it is more expensive. Your mover will collect and pack your possessions into a protective crate. Care must be taken when choosing a forwarder as there are many who offer cheap rates but are not skilled in handling your cherished possessions.

3. Airfreight

Ideal if you urgently need some items at your destination, perhaps the bare essentials to allow your family to survive while waiting for the main sea shipment to arrive. A small consignment sent by air can be cost effective.

Airfreight is charged on size or weight, whichever is the greater or directed by the airlines, which like to avoid their aircraft being full of low-paying volume cargo. As a guide, allow 5 kgs per cubic foot for the weight-to-volume ratio. As with LCL, it is unwise to send loose goods to airports as the handlers are not known for their tender loving care. Professional removal companies will over-pack in special palletised airfreight modules to protect your possessions and minimise the weight.

Your choice of transit method will depend mainly on how much you have to move, when you need it at the other end, and how much you are willing to spend. Your Move Manager will be able to advise you which is the most appropriate method to suit your requirements and make all the arrangements on your behalf.

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