Moving can be an overwhelming undertaking on your own, and even more so when an international move is required. However, in both cases a local moving company may be able to assist. To ensure you choose the right mover for your specific needs, it is critical to compile a list of essential questions to ask an international moving company.
What Is Different About Moving Internationally?
Moving from one home to another that is miles or even states away is a different experience than moving internationally. Some things that an international move requires that a domestic move may not include:
- Registration with appropriate foreign entities
- A license to move individuals internationally
- Packed boxes that may travel via cargo ships rather than moving vans
- Special documentation (which may include passports, visas, etc.)
- Some items may not be eligible to be moved to a foreign country
- Customs paperwork
12 Essential Questions to Ask an International Moving Company
As you can see, there are some big differences between moving domestically and internationally. For this reason, it is recommended to have a detailed list of questions that are tailored specifically for international movers. Here are some great questions to ask:
- How long has your company been in existence? A company who has existed for several years or more will have more experience and knowledge, should have a positive reputation, and should have plenty of reviews to consider.
- How long have you been doing international moves? The more years of experience a company has with international moves, the better. It indicates they are familiar with the process and already know the ropes, which can cut down on unexpected complications.
- Are you licensed to be an international mover? Movers must be registered and licensed in order to offer international moving services. Verify their registration with the Federal Maritime Commission.
- Do you provide packing services? Many large corporations moving employees overseas will recommend that you let the movers pack you up as well. This can ensure boxes are better balanced and items are more secure against movement, cutting down on the risk of damage.
- Do you offer in-house estimates? Before you can get a valid quote on the price of moving, your belongings need to be assessed and inventoried. A reputable company will send a representative to determine the amount of items needed to be moved and provide a rough estimate.
- What does the estimate include? Every moving company is different, but when moving internationally there can be additional fees for packing materials, custom inspection, destination port, terminal handling, and delivery. It is important to know what their estimate includes and what it does not before you choose a company.
- Can you tell me if I need any special documentation for the move? Some moves require extensive information so that there are no issues with customs upon arrival.
- What items cannot be moved internationally? This list may vary depending on the specific country you are moving to, but a reputable company should be able to provide you with a basic list of items they cannot move.
- Do you offer storage solutions? Especially for individuals who are moving overseas for a few months or years, many opt to leave some of their belongings behind to retrieve when they return home. Be sure to ask the moving company if they offer storage solutions.
- Will the items being shipped go directly to their destination? Depending on the moving company you choose, it is possible that your belongings could have to make multiple stops and even change vessels. While shipping the items directly to the final destination is often preferred, those that take an indirect route are not bad but do require immense organization and planning.
- Do you offer moving insurance? This is a crucial detail for a successful move. With all your belongings on their way to an international location, it is key to ensure you have sufficient insurance coverage for those items. Ask about different moving insurance plans and their inclusion of coverage and liability.
- Do I have to go to the customs office when I arrive? The answer to this question may also vary depending on your final destination. The moving company you work with should be able to provide you an answer to this question.
While all these questions may seem like a lot, when moving out of the country it is important to not take chances. With so many additional considerations, making sure you are partnering with a moving company that is up for the task can yield a much smoother and more enjoyable process.
How to Choose the Right Moving Company for Your International Move
Although there are some specialized questions to consider when hiring an international mover, some things shouldn’t change no matter where you are moving, and these are three of them:
- Reputation. A company with years of experience generally has a great reputation. Do a little extra research to see what previous clients of the company have to say about their own interactions. Also check to see if the company has been recognized with special awards or designations in the industry.
- Ownership. The mission statement and vision of a company all begin with its ownership. Family-owned businesses rely on their name to extend their reach into the community and beyond and can be a great place to start.
- Hiring Process. Look for a company that takes great pride in their name and uses good employment practices such as employing full time workers as opposed to contract workers and conducting employee drug screenings and background checks.
Now that you know which questions to ask an international moving company, you can be better prepared to make moving from one country to another a smooth process with the help of a trusted moving partner.