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How to get a cheaper international moving quotation

Updated on June 3, 2015

For a company related relocation, the company will often pay all relocation costs. However if it is privately paid then you will need to fork out a substantial amount funds yourself therefore it is important to understand ways to reduce the costs.

Self packing / unpacking

You can always knock a big chunk of the price from the start by packing the items yourself. Of course it may not be as secure as a professional packer but it will be saving a lot of costs.Get the moving company to send you the boxes in advance. Some will charge you and others won’t, in any case it will still be cheaper than a full packing service.

Please note that insurance normally does not apply for self packing since the moving company will not able to confirm the condition of the items.

On delivery just have the crew dump the boxes in your residence with no unpacking and it will save you another huge cost.

Some companies may say that the packing and unpacking is part of the whole door to door service, however you should always be able to negotiate

Go for optional insurance

Many moving companies will try to make as much as they can from you through insurance, especially for international moves where insurance is highly recommended due to the length of time in a container and the various points of handling at customs.

There is no need to always go for the full cover. If possible only insure the items that are valuable to you. If you are being forced a full cover option then negotiate, most moving companies should be able to accommodate itemized insurance for specific goods

Avoid crating

Crating is when the moving company will add extra protection by physically building a wood crate around an item and then stuffing the inside with a soft material e.g. paper. Crating is normally recommended for delicate and/or expensive items such as expensive ornaments, artwork and even some sensitive electronics. You may be offered much more crating than is required. Crating can be rather expensive so think about what really needs crating.

Crated items

Reduce any dead space

It is normally no problem for clothes and other softer items to be packed inside drawers when moving internationally. Around 30% of dead space can be eliminated this way and can save thousands in costs if done efficiently. During the survey, make sure you indicate this to the surveyor so they can take this into consideration when calculating the final volume. Clothes can also go into bags to save space.

Comparing shipping methods – Sea shipments

If you don’t have many items to ship, ask the moving company to compare the two options normally available. The options are LCL / Less than container load where your items will go into a wooden tri-wall and placed on a tri-wall or FCL / Full container load where your items will be shipped loose inside a sole container. For smaller volumes e.g. 7-10 cubic meters it is best to compare the two options. Some moving companies with only give you the most expensive but logistically simplest option. Please note that with LCL, small increments in the final confirmed volume can lead to significant increases in costs.

Move items to the one floor

Moving companies may charge extra fees for having to carry items up and down stairs. It may be a lot more work you for but you can definitely cut costs by having everything on the same floor. Two floor is normally fine for moving companies however the 3rd floor may incur extra costs.

Dispose or give away items

When moving internationally you will not need to bring 100% of your furniture. A lot of people like to save money by either disposing of unwanted items or given them away. If you have family or friends with the room, why not consider leaving certain items there, it will be cheaper then storing at a paid facility. Again this will reduce the volume lowering the overall cost.

Avoid very long or irregular shaped items – Air shipments

This is especially for air shipments. You may be initially quoted by weight, however long objects will occupy a large volume. Air cargo is normally calculated by a dimensional volume. i.e. a very large volume would be calculated as a heavy weight, even if the actual weight is very light. Air line companies will compare the actual weight with the volumetric weight and base the charges on the heaviest. Many moving companies will often use this calculation for their costing.

Give accurate addresses

If possible give an exact address for delivery rather than an area, especially when moving to foreign countries. The reason for this is that your local office will contact an office overseas to get internal costing. If only an area is specified or state or region, they are going to be quoted the most expensive area or city for that region, regardless of the city. A good example is in Japan, you could specify a region such as Shizuoka which is the same prefecture as Mount Fuji, however by doing that the Japanese office may quote your local office long haul rates all the way to Mount Fuji when in fact your address is Eastern Shizuoka, closer to Tokyo with much cheaper rates.

Deliver to port

You may be quoted for door to door, however door to port is always an option you should look into if you want to cut around one third of the costs. You will need to attend customs for customs clearance on the appointed day and will of course need to prepare your own transport to take the goods back to your home. In any case it should still be cheaper than having the full delivery service to your door.

Avoid moisture packs

Moisture packs are placed inside containers to absorb any moisture while protecting your goods. You will be told that they are necessary however that would mainly been in the summer in areas of high humidity. Otherwise they may not be required. These can be very expensive.

Avoid hidden extras

Many international moving companies will not include certain shipping charges, especially the Terminal handling charges so be aware. These charges can be anywhere from $150 to $400 and this cost may be passed on to the local mover who can hold on to your shipment before payment is made.

  • Be sure to let the movers know if an elevator is available and if not, how many flights of stairs they will need to travel.
  • If you can, check out parking availability. If the movers are not able to park directly in front of your residence they would need to charge you for a “long carry fee”. The local mover may ask you for the payment before delivering.
  • Avoid holidays and weekends deliveries. This depends on the country you are relocating to however most places will charge extra to deliver outside business hours.
  • Let the movers know if you have items that may not be able fit through the door e.g. a large cabinet or bookshelf. Crane hire can be up to $1,000 in some countries.

It is important that you have the moving company check these points above in advance so that you end up only paying the one fee upfront and avoid very nasty surprises in the end.

Re-pack newer items

New items are subject to local taxes, however custom won’t always know what is new unless it is still in the original box. If this is the case then have the moving company re-pack those items in their own boxes in order to avoid suspicion. Also, note that new items that are not properly declared can cause delays in customs and lead to other customs charges. If you really do need to include new items in their original boxes then make sure this is clearly documented and presented to the mover with the price and proof of purchase if possible.

If you don’t show adequate proof of purchase that the overseas agent will do their own research and add their own value which is normally much more than it’s worth.

TV re-packed in the movers box


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      4 years ago

      With so many scammy companies out there though. You need to be carefully of the ones that seem too cheap to be true.


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