10 things you need to know for an international move

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Tips to avoid a mess of an international move

1.      Verify with regulations at the shipments destination about clearing customs for your personal items. I.e. Are there special permits you need to obtain prior to loading your cargo? Ocean freight can be tricky. In some countries, you need to have certain documentation in place to avoid having to pay taxes again for your own belongings.  In other places, there are certain items you cannot bring for one reason or another. So spend some time investigating or hire a broker at the destination to verify everything for you.

2.      When choosing to insure your cargo for your international move, it’s best practice to take pictures of all of the items being shipped. If you have to file a claim, you have proof of what was shipped. 

3.      When loading a container, the cargo will move so it should be safely packed and secured. Not only does the container move on the road, but it is also lifted high into the air which can risk heavy impact during loading and unloading. This happens very quickly and it’s normal for containers to bump into each other a bit. Additionally, there can be a lot of rocking going on while the vessel is at sea, so cargo can shift heavily within the container. Making sure to distribute the weight of your contents throughout the container. It makes it easier for the container to be lifted. 

4.      If there is too much room for cargo to move, it greatly increases the risk of damages. This also goes for personal belongings inside of the moving boxes. If your items can shift back and forth inside a moving box, chances are they’ll be damaged by the time they arrive.

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5.      Cargo straps are the best options for securing cargo. Using wooden materials for dunnage can be tempting, as it is usually easier to access for a lot of destinations. But wooden packaging materials need to be heat treated and stamped etc. depending on the local regulations. If untreated wood is used and customs finds it, it can cause very steep fines. 

6.      There is no assistance (“white glove service”) during the loading process. The truck driver is only there to pick up the cargo and take it to the port.

7.      Take a picture of the seal and container number on the container and make 110% sure it matches what is listed on the Bill of Lading. This can deter a shipper from excess fines and holds if it doesn’t match.

8.      Due to the constant variables of logistics, no dates or times are guaranteed

9.      Household goods are usually defined as items you have owned for six months. While it’s tempting to buy new things and keep it in the box you received it in, it’s a bad idea. If customs inspect the cargo at the destination, they may view that as smuggling and tax the cargo or seize it.

10.   Timing is everything in an international move. Always prepare to move at least three weeks ahead of time. Attempting to move on shorter notice can cause a higher rate and potentially cause delays.

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