Can all residential moving companies handle international moving?
Moving internationally is more complicated than moving locally, and professionals have more to organize when your household goods are traveling to another country. More to organize means a more difficult move, and a more difficult move means you will need a mover who knows what they are doing and has plenty of experience.
It’s common for residential movers to also provide international moving services, but many of these movers only perform international jobs infrequently. Given the complexity involved in an international move, you’ll want to verify a few things before hiring a professional.
Do I need a professional to move internationally?
If you’ve done a lot of self-service moving over the years, there may be a temptation to go it alone, but if you don’t have the training and knowledge involved with international moves, delays (or worse) are difficult to avoid.
That’s largely because naval or air shipping isn’t as simple as loading up a moving truck and driving it to the next town over. Different types of packaging is involved, access to loading areas is not always easily available, multiple parties are involved with transport (and you’ll need to maintain communication with all of them), and your belongings will need to pass through customs, which requires a lot of important paperwork. If you don’t keep a close eye on the process, your things could be held in storage for weeks or outright barred from entering the country.
A professional moving company ensures this doesn’t happen, while maintaining contact with everyone involved and, of course, doing the tough physical work to get your household goods on the boat or plane.
Five Things Your International Moving Company Should Offer
Hiring a professional international mover makes sense, but only if it’s a reputable, knowledgeable mover. Here’s what to look for in an international moving company:
Experience is essential in an international mover, and ideally, the professional you choose will have at least 10 years of international moving experience. It takes years for moving businesses to set up their processes and gather the resources they need to do a proper job moving people overseas.
It’s even better if a professional mover has experience moving other clients to the same country you’ll be moving to. Every nation differs in how they handle customs, and if your professional mover knows what to expect, they are much more likely to avoid any issues with customs.
Proper memberships and certifications
Experienced international movers tend to be the most skilled and connected professionals in their industry. However, experience alone isn’t quite enough to pick out the best from the rest. To do that, you’ll want a professional who also has relevant certifications and memberships through industry organizations.
For example, all professional residential movers should be members of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). Through the AMSA, international movers can become a Registered International Mover (RIM) and certified through the RIM International ProMover program. There are only a few hundred RIM-certified moving professionals, so this is a major mark of competence.
Membership through the Federation of International Movers (FIDI) and Overseas Moving Network International (OMNI) are both excellent industry associations for professionals to be a part of.
With AMSA, RIM, FIDI and OMNI connections, your international mover will be up to date on industry trends and standards and able to react to changing international moving conditions.
Accidents do happen on occasion, even to the most talented, organized movers. Reputable movers know how to minimize the damage these accidents cause, but insurance is still critical to protecting your things and yourself. At the minimum, your international mover should provide coverage for your belongings, workers’ compensation for their employees and automobile liability for their trucks. Many professionals opt for general liability insurance for additional coverage and peace of mind for clients.
Without this insurance on file, the client could be held responsible for damage or injuries, and that could be expensive.
Enough resources and manpower
There is a lot of packing, loading and driving to do when moving internationally, especially when moving a large home’s worth of furniture and belongings. To get all of these items out of the house and to the ship or plane, your international mover will need plenty of packaging supplies, cargo space, moving appliances and manpower. Reputable, experienced movers usually have no trouble with this, but it is important for professional movers to survey the client’s home ahead of time to determine if additional resources, like special dollies, are necessary.
Strong communication and customer service
Communication and customer service are major priorities for any move, but they are particularly important for international moves, where communication lapses could produce extended delays.
From the start, a professional mover should be a willing, even proactive, communicator. After all, the moving company will be talking with everyone responsible for handling your belongings, so they should keep you in the loop as to how the move is progressing. Strong communicators also head off problems before they emerge, so they don’t cause the client additional stress.
Why should an international moving company provide an in-home estimate?
All residential and commercial moves necessitate an in-home estimate before the client hires the mover. It’s recommended that families get at least three in-home estimates prior to picking a professional in order to secure the best possible value.
Some moving companies offer estimates over the phone or through e-mail but resist the convenience that such estimates represent. Chances are, you’ll end up paying more at the end. That’s because these estimates aren’t binding and it’s extremely difficult for even experienced firms to guess at the move’s cost without seeing the property. During an in-home estimate, the mover will make a note of what they’re facing, so they know how many people are needed, how much equipment, how large of a truck and how much time they will need to get the job done right. This is all done to make the moving process as smooth as possible.
International moving is a challenge, but an experienced, knowledgeable, and well-connected professional will be up for it. That way, you and your family can focus on the important things, like getting accustomed to living in a new country.