1) Do not assume that service by sea is always cheaper than service by air. No particular shipping method is cost effective for shipments of all sizes and weights. Choose the most suitable shipping mode depending on the volume and weight of your shipment. This includes Japan Post surface mail, courier service (such as FedEx Express or DHL), service by sea and air by an international freight or a moving company.
2) Service by air can be cheaper for small shipments. However, it can also be expensive for something which is light but which takes up a lot of space because both actual gross weight and so-called volumetric weight, i.e., volume, are used in calculating air freight charges. See the explanation for this in the section about volumetric weight on the page “Rates for Service by Air.”
3) If the charge for service by air is about the same as the charge for service by sea, or is more expensive but only slightly, go for the air shipment. Destination charges, i.e., the charges that you will incur on the destination side, are less expensive for air shipments than for sea shipments.
4) Use door-to-port service and custom clear your shipment yourself by going to customs in person at the destination rather than shipping it door-to-door. This will save you a lot of money. If, for some reason, you require customs clearance and delivery service, it is recommended that you make an arrangement with a local customs broker in the destination country rather than having an international moving company in Japan act as the middleman, since there will be additional charges imposed by the Japanese shipping company.
Note that in some countries, you will be asked to use a customs broker, while in other countries, like Canada, you will be asked to come to the customs office in person.
5) Ship only the items you can pack yourself.
6) You may not want to ship large objects such as beds or sofas. Such items may be profitable for international movers in Japan, but if you consider the cost of: a) the extra manpower needed for pickup; b) the charges for crating; c) the cost of delivery from the destination terminal warehouse to your residence; and d) the charges related to unpacking and removal of debris, you will understand that the fee will be very expensive. Occasionally we receive inquiries from prospective customers regarding shipping large items, but they soon come to realize that it is not worth shipping such items internationally from Japan. The only items that some customers do ship regardless of cost are traditional pieces of Japanese furniture such as tansu, as they cannot be purchased in the destination country. Therefore, such items may be worth shipping from Japan.
7) If you require storage because you will not be in the destination city/country for a few months and will therefore not be able to pick up your shipment immediately, it is best to arrange for storage on the Japan side. The storage fee is much more expensive in destination countries than it is in Japan.
8) Do not trust the estimated volume of your shipment assessed at the time of the onsite quotation. Some international moving companies send staff to your residence to conduct a survey, but from our experience they have a tendency to overestimate the volume. While they mean well, the reasoning behind this is that they would rather lose business by quoting high charges than to quote low charges based on a small volume and, after the shipment turns out to be much larger than expected, find themselves in trouble with their clients. Onsite estimation works well for local or domestic moves, but not for international moves.
A majority of people understand the way shipping charges are calculated. We quote each customer rates based on a cubic meter (many other international moving companies in Japan do it this way, too), and the charges are calculated by the *actual/official* volume of the shipment, not by the guesstimated volume. Our system ensures that you pay for what you ship. No more. No less. No guessing.
Approached with the right attitude, an international move from Japan can be an interesting experience and provide you with insight into how freight and shipments are transported from one country to another, starting with the processes involved in the origin country, continuing with the shipment of necessary documents and ending with customs clearance at the moving destination. You’ll be able to accurately explain to your friends and families the work involved in international shipping and importing foreign products into your home country.
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your overseas move from Japan. Almost everyone shipping internationally is doing so for their very first time, and is therefore new at this. Happy customers are those who learn a number of things while they prepare for their move and become familiar with the process. It is a typical case for one to say, “Familiarity breeds content” (not “Familiarity breeds contempt”). In other words, if you learn about and are familiar with something, you will be content, although nowadays this proverb could be interpreted in a few other ways.
Never ship large items that are simply wrapped and not packaged in boxes just because you didn’t have larger boxes on hand. It is a big no-no in international moving. These will get easily damaged, and international carriers (i.e., container lines and airlines) will not even accept such packaging for international transport. Large items need protection too. Everything should be correctly packed in boxes.
Make use of various websites related to international moving on the internet. It is recommended to visit the website of the customs office of the country of your moving destination.