In life, doing something at the last minute can be the worst thing one can do. The same thing applies to international moving. For the majority of people, international moving is something they experience for the first time. Therefore, they have a lot of things to learn. Also, it takes time to pack things properly in boxes so that they do not get damaged. Shipping documents must be prepared a certain way, and it takes time to create an itemized list of the contents. In the shipping industry, the list of contents is called a “packing list “ or “packing slip”; this document is important for customs clearance and insuring the shipment. Also, there are certain things that one cannot ship. If you start preparing early, you will be familiar with all the procedures. It is also important to contact international moving companies at an early stage and make a reservation with the company of your choice. International moving companies need time to process your application, arrange pickup, etc. It is suggested that you give them about one week to one month of notice.
Unlike with a local or domestic move, in which you use one truck, when your goods are transported internationally, the charges are calculated by either the volume or the weight of your shipment. Except for shipping with a full container service, in which one container is reserved exclusively for your shipment, you will be using part of the cargo space of the aircraft or shipping container. Therefore, you will be charged according to the space your shipment occupies or by its weight. To be more specific, when you are shipping your goods as ocean freight, you will be charged by volume. If you are shipping by air, you will be charged by weight except for cargo that is rather low in weight density. The airline industry worldwide has a concept called “volumetric weight,” in which the volume of cargo is converted into weight so that the company can charge a reasonable amount if the cargo takes up a lot of space but doesn’t weigh very much.
Depending on the policies of the international mover, your shipment may need to be crated, palletized, or packed further in a cardboard lift van. In the case of shipping from Japan, some international movers accept loose cartons while other companies require them to be crated. The reason why many shipments are shipped in loose cartons from Japan when almost all international movers elsewhere insist on having them packed further is that in Japan the workers at the container packing location are very good at loading the packages into containers; thus, the packages will travel quite safely. In many cases of shipping by air, shipments are transported in loose cartons.
I don’t know how many times I have heard that service by air is faster but much more expensive than service by sea. In fact, many international movers say that service by air is suitable when you want your shipment to get to its destination quickly, without referring to the fact that service by air is actually cheaper than service by sea if the weight/volume of the shipment is small. For both air and sea cargo, there are minimums. In the case of sea shipping, the minimum is one cubic meter, which is more than enough for those who are shipping only a few to several boxes. This means that if you are shipping only a few boxes, you will still pay the same charges as if you were shipping a full cubic meter. Air shipping has rates for small shipments as well, which makes service by air less expensive than service by sea. Also, remember that charges will be incurred on a per-shipment base when shipping by sea, which makes sea shipping expensive when one is shipping a small amount. Also, keep in mind that customs clearance is easier and takes less time both at the country of departure and at the destination country.
It is often said that the packages must be “seaworthy” when delivered to the bonded warehouse for shipping. In many countries, international moving companies insist that all shipments must be crated, palletized, or packed further in cardboard lift vans. This extra packaging will significantly increase the volume, though it also enhances safety during transit.
Whether you are shipping commercial goods or personal belongings, one of the most important things is insurance. Although the possibility that cargo will encounter a maritime or aerial mishap is low, there is also a possibility that the cargo will get damaged due to rough handling. Marine insurance covers accidental loss and damage; it requires some evidence that the cargo was damaged or lost. If the amount is large, the insurance company’s agent at the destination company will send a surveyor to observe the extent of the damage. However, if the values are relatively low, you will simply be asked to send photos of the damaged goods and outer packages. There must be some visible damage to the packages, as if there is not, one cannot tell if the goods were really damaged during transit. It is often difficult to determine exactly where the damage was inflicted, as international shipments go through several different sections of transportation. When it is not known where the cargo was damaged, it is called “concealed damage” and treated as if it had been damaged while inside the container.
When you find damage, it is also necessary to contact the carrier’s destination agent and file a claim. You will then receive a reply, which you can submit to the insurance company to file an insurance claim. If you are shipping personal effects, on your packing list you need to declare the so-called “fair market value” or “time value,” and not the purchased value or replacement value, taking depreciation into consideration.
In addition to the charges you pay to the shipping/moving company at the origin, there are some charges you will need to pay at the destination to receive your shipment. The breakdown of such destination charges is different from country to country but some examples are the D/O fee, carrier’s destination agent’s handling, terminal charges, etc. Also, if you use the services of a customs broker for customs clearance and delivery, you will have to pay for customs clearance and delivery charges.
When you ship your effects overseas, you have the option of shipping door-to-door or door-to-port. When you opt for door-to-door, your international mover at the origin arranges not only for pick-up, customs clearance, and shipping to the destination country but also for customs clearance and delivery to your door. Because the company at the origin gets in the middle and arranges customs clearance and delivery at the destination, they will charge you a commission. Therefore, this service will be more expensive than finding a customs broker at the destination and paying them directly. The cheapest option is to go to customs in person and clearing the shipment yourself. Some people wonder if this will be difficult but usually it is not a hard thing to do even if you are doing it for the first time, although you have to physically go to places such as the customs office and the bonded warehouse to pick up the shipment. Normally, customs officers go easy on individuals who come to the customs office and customs-clear themselves. The customs of some countries, such as the U.K. and China request that a customs broker be used, while in countries like the U.S., Australia, and Japan, you have the option of going to customs yourself or hiring a customs broker.
Everything you ship internationally must be packed properly in packages. Simply covering your items with a sheet or bubble wrap is a no-no. For large items, it is generally difficult to find boxes. In such a case, wooden crating would be necessary. The volume will increase considerably after something is crated. Also, if you are shipping large or heavy items, you will need extra men at the time of pickup. The same applies to delivery at the destination. In addition, there will be a fee for unpacking and perhaps a surcharge for delivery to a room. Many people with large items conclude that it would be cheaper to buy those items at the destination rather than ship them.