Moving home is considered to be one of life’s great stresses, and the challenges of moving to a different country on the other side of the world will add even more stress.
So while many people may have minimal belongings, when it comes to packing they may be surprised as to how much they do own and what they will need to take.
The first important tip when looking for an international firm is to check the company’s credentials.Check the British Association of Removals Overseas Group
British expats can check the British Association of Removals Overseas Group, or BAR, as this will show they are covered by an advance payment guarantee scheme – which is an insurance against the company going bust and the expat having to pay again for their belongings to be moved.
In addition, expats need to appreciate that the international mover will be delivering a high level of customer service and is also reliable which is why it will pay to check whether they have Fidi Accredited International Mover (FAIM) status which is confirmation that they meet quality standards for international moving.
Also, with the rise of social media it is possible to carry out a check of the international moving firm’s feedback from customers and check online reviews. In many ways, this is the easiest and quickest way to get a feel for the relocating firm since the reviews will be honest.
Expats looking to move their belongings overseas should also not be shy about asking the removal firm for their insurance details since the expat needs to be reassured that everything has been covered by the firm’s insurance company.
The main reason for asking about insurance details is that most international removal firms are only covered for the goods that they packed and not for those packed by the expat and their family; if something is damaged in transit and it hasn’t been packed by the removal firm then the expat will not be recompensed.
Other important tips when looking for international removal firms include:
– Be wary when a removal company asks for a very large deposit. This is not considered to be best practice.
– Be even more wary if the company asks for cash in hand.
– Always ask several firms to quote in writing but do not just opt for the cheapest
– Ask the removal company how long they have been trading
Depending on the overseas working assignment, the expat may be taking the bare necessities for living in a new country for several months, but if they are there for a very long period then they should consider using a firm that offers a packing service to ensure all of their belongings are safely stowed and protected.
Indeed, this additional service will not cost much more and will save the time and stress of having to pack belongings when they are busy dealing with other issues such as finding housing, organising visas and finding a school for their children.
Another reason why they should opt to use a packing service is that the customs agency for the country they are moving to will require an inventory of the belongings when they arrive, so it makes sense that experienced personnel who do this regularly should not only pack the expat’s belongings but also make a detailed list that will meet a custom officer’s needs.
Important tips when it comes to packing for an international removal firm:
– The importance of decluttering before packing cannot be stressed enough. Get rid of items that are no longer needed or can be used overseas, particularly electrical goods. Taking less will also reduce shipping costs.
– Make a detailed list of possessions. Many removal firms will suggest this as an idea to help expats decide which items they really do need to take with them and which they can do without.
– Get a floor plan of the new home. Expats would do well to get a floor plan of their new home so they can see where their furniture and belongings will fit in. This will also help with the decisions of what needs to be taken and what needs to be left behind.
– Prepare the documentation. Before leaving the country, expats should appreciate the documentation they will need for their travels and ensure everything is in date and easily accessible when needed. These will include things like driving licences, passports and marriage certificates.
– Scan and store documents. For peace of mind it’s always a good idea to scan or digitally back up important documentation so it can be accessed easily when needed.
There are also other considerations expats need to appreciate. These include carrying out the same obligations that they would have to do if they were moving home in their own country.
For instance, they will need to tell various utility suppliers about their change of address, including government agencies such as HM Revenue and Customs.
If the expat is renting out their home while they undertake an overseas working assignment, then they don’t have to inform everybody of their change of address but there are still some agencies that need to be informed that the expat has left the country, including their doctor’s surgery.
Indeed, when contacting HMRC, the expat should make clear that while they are overseas they will be paying tax on their income so they need to appreciate the tax policies for their new country and ask HMRC for any relevant rules and regulations that may be applicable to them.
Expats should also inform their bank that they are moving overseas and that there will be foreign transactions occurring. More importantly, the expat needs to make sure they can access their funds while living overseas and having an online banking facility would be worthwhile.
Of course, many expats will be offered a relocation package by their employer which will usually take care of this issue of finding an international removals company, but for those who do not have this facility, here are some tips on choosing the right international movers:
Plan ahead. The process of finding an international removal firm can take time and they may have a busy schedule and be unable to help. It’s important the expat starts researching them as soon as possible and contacts several for an estimate.
Get an estimate. It’s important that the estimate is given in writing but it must also be accurate so the firm should really send someone to assess the expat’s home so they can calculate exactly how much will be packed for the overseas move. Ensure the estimates are on a like-for-like basis.
Ask for recommendations. While searching online for reviews and opinions will be time well spent when searching for international removal firms, finding someone who can recommend a company could prove to be invaluable.
Check your insurance. If the international removal is not covered for your belongings perhaps you will have insurance cover with your household contents insurance provider. Check with them to see whether the cover will pay for damage and repairs when the items are being packed and in transit.
Use an accredited firm. We’ve mentioned this before but it is crucial the expat understands that a firm that has accreditation is obliged to meet the professional standards set by the organisation.
There are also questions an expat could ask an international moving firm and these include:
– Will the belongings be in their own container or in one shared with other people?
– Does the estimate include port and terminal handling charges?
– If the expat has paid for a packing service, is there an unpacking service included as well?
– Does the removal company understand whether they have access to the new property?
– What is the timeframe for the removal process?
– Has the company got customs clearance?
There are other tips that expats can utilise to save money that do not involve the services of a relocation company.
For instance, by organising and arranging things early an expat can save money by snapping up the best deals in advance from removal firms, airline companies and hotels.
Expats could save quite large sums by booking the cheapest flights as early as they can since these are the lowest prices. It also avoids the last-minute panic of being unable to buy tickets for flights and it only takes a few minutes to use an online comparison website to find the best offers.
Also, when it comes to buying flights it may pay to break the journey since splitting flights can be much cheaper than flying direct. It’s also possible to build in little breaks for a day or two so the expat and their family will be refreshed when they arrive in their new country.
Another great way to save money is to start a spreadsheet which will list all of the tasks that need to be tackled and also to compile a list of outgoings and income so that a budget can be maintained and the expat isn’t spending money they don’t need to spend.
Remember too, it’s also highly likely the expat will need to spend a day or two in a hotel when they land in the new country before they move into their new home so this is a cost that needs to be met.
Finally, another important issue that is often overlooked is that expats should use the experience of the international removal firm to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Most firms will give details of the tasks that need to be done in preparation for the international move and many will also provide floor and carpet protectors – this might be an important aspect when moving into the new overseas property since the expat will be liable for damage caused.
The removal firm will also give details of which items cannot be packed into a shipping container; not just because they may not travel well and are easily broken, but also because the culture the expat is moving to may forbid such items. Understanding the customs regulations could be crucial to ensure the move runs smoothly.
There may be good and bad times for undertaking an international removal to another country. For example, there may be a major festival in place so there may be road closures or difficulties in travelling which will bring unnecessary headaches and costs.
While this article highlights the important tips when an expat is looking for an international removals firm and the ideas are based on common sense and experience, there is also another issue that someone looking to move overseas needs to consider.
That issue is the responsiveness of the firm that has been contacted and the friendliness of its staff. This is a huge factor when choosing a company to entrust belongings with and it’s important that the expat is relaxed with the firm’s staff and trusts its people to transport their belongings safely to their new home.
Fidi, the largest alliance of professional international relocation moving companies, offers a wide range of information for expats who are looking for an international moving company on their website.
The British Association of Removals Overseas Group is a useful port of call for British people moving abroad.