If you’re thinking of moving abroad and need an estimate for ocean or airfreight shipment from the US, Spain, Taiwan or UAE to anywhere in the world or vice versa, iContainers has what you’re looking for. Through our online platform you can get real-time quotes for different shipping lines or airlines, with prices, shipment and transit times for your container shipping or consolidated cargo.

iContainers: What we ship and don’t ship

iContainers doesn’t carry out international moving to certain destinations and doesn’t ship certain kinds of goods. Please note the following:

  1. The origin of your shipment must be the US, and the destination must be a foreign country (exceptions: we do not ship to Mexico neither to Canada nor we do shipment between EU countries, since any of these shipments are normally done by inland transportation).
  2. We don’t do domestic shipping.
  3. The size and volume of your shipment should be larger than 34 cubic feet or heavier than 220 pounds. If your shipment is smaller, our service will be unlikely to be cost-effective for you.
  4. Ocean freight is normally cheaper than airfreight. We can send your goods by air as long as they comply with the rules for air cargo.
  5. Animals, perishables (such as certain type of food), weapons, dangerous products, and flammables cannot be shipped with iContainers.
  6. Vehicles, including both cars and motorcycles, may be shipped, although there are strict limitations in some countries on these kinds of items. The best option is to check with our consultants beforehand.
  7. For certain destinations, due to customs regulation or the country’s specific circumstances, the client must hire a local agent who will take on responsibility for the cargo. Our expert consultants can always advise you on this.
  8. Within Africa, we accept shipments to Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. Any other country is excluded from our services.

How to estimate the volume of your shipment

If you don’t mind sharing a container and your cargo does not fill at least half of the capacity of a 20-foot container, you’ll probably want consolidated shipping, or LCL. This is a very cost-effective way to send your goods. It’s cheaper than a full container. This way you’ll only pay for the space you actually need. However, getting an estimate can be a bit tricky at times; you’ll need to know the exact cubic meterage and weight of your cargo.

What fits in a 20 or 40-foot container?

Every time you consider container shipping, you have two options: a full container (FCL) or consolidated cargo or less than a container load (LCL). If you want to ship a car, for instance, you’ll need at least a 20-foot container, so it’s best to get a quote for FCL first so that you’ll get prices for all three types of containers-20-foot, 40-foot and 40HC. A 40HC container is the same size as a regular 40-foot container, but 12 inches higher.

A 40-foot container can normally accommodate up to 2,120 cubic feet of cargo. A 20-foot container can fit up to 1,060 cubic feet, half the load of a 40-foot one.


  • If the load volume is equal to or bigger than half a container, it’s better to go for a full container (FCL).
  • If the volume you are shipping is small, but you don’t want your items mixed with other shipper’s, then a full container is also your best option.
  • For a vehicle, a 20-foot container is what you’ll need at minimum.

As a general approximation to a container’s capacity, some shipping companies estimate that the contents of a two-bedroom apartment should fit into a 20-foot container.

Taking as an example a 1,200SQFT apartment, all your belongings should fit easily into a 20-foot container if you pack tightly and in durable boxes. 

For a two-to-three-bedroom apartment of about 180 square meters, including living-room, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms all contents should fit into a standard 40-foot container.

Tips for a successful international moving

The following image illustrates a few things to keep in mind when arranging a move:

Moving a car internationally: how to ship a vehicle

At iContainers we have helped many families moving internationally carrying their car or cars with them. Not only cars but even motorbikes.

However, you should consider before shipping your vehicle the regulations regarding these types of goods at the country of destination. Some countries make it very difficult or impossible, or the duties to be paid make the idea not cost effective. So before making up your mind, please consult one of our consultants that he or she will advice you on this matter.

If you finally decide to ship your vehicle, please read the recommendations specified in the image provided herein.

Steps before moving: Documentation, paperwork and proper packaging

It is essential to have all documentation in order to avoid problems (inspections, inability to trace lost or delayed goods, etc.). Mandatory documents include your passport, an EIN number or equivalent, and your work visa. You should also have a detailed packing list of all the items included in your shipment. Having a list containing everything you are going to transport will ease any inspections, or, in cases of loss or delay, it should facilitate the recovery of your belongings.

The freight forwarder or agent at origin should give you a bill of lading. This is a very important document, accepted worldwide,that names the owner of a container’s cargo, and it will allow you to secure the delivery of your belongings.

It is thus vital to safeguard this document, which lists the following information:

  • Shipping details;
  • Forwarder information;
  • Port of origin and destination; and
  • Final destination address

Packing and shipping

Make a detailed list with all the goods you intend to ship. You may also wish to discard those things you won’t be using in your new home. Once you’ve done some clearing, it’s time to pack.  You can do your packing yourself, or hire a company to do for you. Such companies usually have a lot of experience with packing, so your goods may be better-protected and more secure for transportation than if you packed them yourself. If you choose to pack yourself, check with your freight forwarder that you are using the correct packaging and that the truck picking up the cargo can actually get to the collecting point. Usually the most common method of packing is boxing everything and putting those boxes on pallets.

Normal procedure in an international moving

Maritime freight forwarding is a standard way of shipping goods and personal belongings for long distances overseas. This kind of transportation is subject to a series of rules known as Incoterms. Within those rules you can find a regular modality of shipping items from an origin “x” to a destination “y”. Normally, the origin is a zip code, and the destination a port. This is known as CFR standard prices, or CIF if it also includes transportation insurance.  Except in cases in which iContainers offers door-to-door service (such as from the US to Spain, for instance), the moving procedure will follow the following rules:

Other options: airfreight

The option of airfreight for shipment of personal belongings imposes certain limitations in terms of the volume and weight of the items you’re shipping. However, if your shipment meets the specs, air freight can be a better option than sea freight if you are in a hurry or you are not shipping too many items. iContainers provides you with a calculator to help you find out whether this is really the better option for you.