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Checklist for how to choose an international moving company

Moving abroad is stressful enough, the last thing you need to add to your stress is not knowing whether all your items will arrive in one piece. We've created this checklist for choosing an international moving company to help ensure you make the best decision possible

Written on 4 July 2024

When you’re moving abroad, it’s vital that you choose the most suitable international moving company to meet your needs. When choosing your moving partner, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about your items arriving, but also about minimising the stress for what is an inherently stressful time.

However, the most important factor is that both your and all your belongings arrive as smoothly and safely as possible.

Mover’s qualifications for international moving

There are some great removal companies that could move you safely locally or in-country with their eyes closed. However, moving internationally requires a different skillset and type of experience to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Check if the movers on your shortlist for international removals are FIDI FAIM certified. FIDI FAIM is a quality standard specifically designed for international shipping.

To get the FIDI FAIM certification International Removal companies are pre-vetted by independent auditors in lots of areas like customer service, facilities and equipment, claims, experience, training and financial standing, which gives you peace of mind that you’re choosing a reputable mover.

Containers vs Airfreight?

At some point your belongings are going to need to be physically moved, either by road, water or air – and likely a combination of all three.

When making the decisions, cost will play a significant part but also how soon you need particular items by. After all, there’s no point putting something you’ll need on arrival in a shipping container because it will almost certainly arrive much later than you.

You should also be able to discuss the size of containers and whether you need a container of your own, or maybe you can reduce costs by sharing a container with someone else.

With so many options available, be sure you’re clear about what’s on offer and the quote and schedule of items arriving meets your personal requirements.

Creating your moving plan and schedule

Different companies offer different timescales for your shipment – this can be down to the method of transport you choose (e.g., and exclusive or shared load) or a specific sailing that has been chosen (some vessels call at more ports which can be cheaper, but slower).

Make sure you understand what the door-to-door transit time is and that it suits your requirements before selecting your preferred quote (this is different to port-to-port sailing time so make sure you’re clear!). Think about what you will do while you are without your items – will you need to stay in a furnished rental, hire in furniture or are you ok living with just the bare essentials while you wait? This can be an even more important consideration when you’re moving with young children.

Reviews and testimonials in your decision making

Reviews on websites are always likely to be positive, after all, nobody is going to choose to put negative reviews on their own website. While these reviews are useful, when trying to understand the experiences of previous customers, ensure you also check independent review sites like Trustpilot or Google Reviews for an unbiased overview.

It’s also important to not be put off by a few bad reviews (unlikely any company will have 100% positive reviews – moving is service provided by humans, with lots of external risks like rough seas and customs handling, so accidents can and unfortunately do happen).

Focus on the overall sentiment and how the company responds to issues.  Read the reviews from a personal viewpoint – is what the customer said (positively or negatively) about the company important to you, and does it give you reassurance that this is the right mover for you?

Also remember that any one star or five star reviews may be misleading as it’s rare for something to be perfect/atrocious. It’s also important that if something does go wrong, the removals company is able to resolve the issues – so other peoples’ negatives might actually have become a positive.

Protecting your important items

Most people will be moving with some fragile/valuable/sentimental items, and protecting these items is imperative for the owner, even if they don’t have financial value.

Check how the removals company plan to pack everything, and how they take specific care of your important items. If they’re packing for you, ensure that you are confident all the necessary care is taken, including checking the packaging materials and crates will protect your items.

After all, your items are likely to, at some point at least, meet with someone who cares less about your items than you do – and however they are handled, you need to be certain that the items are fully protected.

Insurance coverage

Most professional international removal companies offer comprehensive insurance cover to protect you if something gets damaged during the move. In the unlikely event you’re your items get damaged, it’s important to know you won’t be at a financial loss if anything is lost or broken.

It’s also important to what is included/excluded in your cover and what information you’ll need to provide to make sure you’re fully covered in all events.

Documentation and customs clearance

Wherever you are moving in the world, your items will likely have to pass through customs at least once. This will require a not insignificant amount of paperwork to be completed and processes to be followed.

You’ll need to meet certain requirements such as filing of appropriate forms, providing documentation including inventories and make sure you’ve not packed anything that is restricted or prohibited.

When choosing your international moving company, be sure to check that the company you choose has experience of completing these forms and can provide guidance on what is likely to cause issues at customs and ensure your items are not delayed or barred from entry.

Check what's included and excluded in your quote

This can vary between international removal companies so make sure you have a good understanding up front of any charges that are NOT included in your quotation (for example customs inspection charges), and make sure you understand if your quote is a fixed price or just an estimate that could change once your items are collected.

Any additional services that might be included or needed

Will they do the packing for you? (usually advised for international moves), If you’ve got large items to dismantle before moving, can the removal company help you with that? Will they book parking for you if you need a permit or is this something you’ll be responsible for? What about getting items down from your loft? (most movers will do this if the loft is boarded, lit and safely accessible).

Make sure you understand what their service covers in full and that you’re happy with everything you’re responsible for in preparing for the move.

The importance of trust in your decision making

Choosing an international removal company ultimately boils down to who you trust to transport all your items as safely, quickly and securely to you in your new home, and to make the experience smooth and as stress free as possible.

Avoid making a decision based purely on price and check any quotes, plans and previous customers experiences. If you are unsure, always get a second opinion – but do not leave anything to chance.

Check out our list of suggested international moving companies >

In association with

Bournes International Moves