Advice for Moving Your Possessions Abroad

Whether you’re emigrating, relocating for a new job or merely spending a year abroad you will likely need to move at least some of your possessions.

First, you will have to decide what you are shipping and how you’re going to ship it. Air freight services are fast and are charged by weight, while sea freight takes a little longer and is charged by volume.  So depending on what you are shipping you will need to decide on how quickly you want your goods and how much you want to pay.

Moving Abroad

Small Goods

  • If you’re just going for a few months and can manage to fit your belongings in a suitcase consider paying the airline a little more to take the extra baggage and have it travel to your new destination with you.
  • If this isn’t possible, try using a parcel service like UPS and TNT and post the items to yourself. Some international moving or shipping companies may also offer this service, but if you’re just moving a small amount of things it is probably cheaper to use a parcel service.

Large Items / Lots of Goods

If you’re moving house or moving a lot of belongings, it is probably worth contacting international moving companies to ship your things. They tend to use varied forms of transportation depending on where you’re moving from and to.

  • By road: a lorry can take the contents of a three bed house to the new home and drive straight to your new address. This can take from a few days up to a few weeks
  • Sea freight: if you’re moving home, with a lot of possessions shipping is advised. You can purchase space in sea freight containers that range in size and price. Shipping your belongings internationally can take up to three months.
  • Air freight: if you’d like some items quickly, consider flying them to your new destination, just remember it is costly!

Depending on where you’re shipping to and what you’re shipping, the costs can vary greatly. It is worth getting several quotes from multiple moving companies before you commit. As a general rule of thumb, the more you send the cheaper per cubic foot it is.


  • Haggle – It’s important to bear in mind there aren’t usually any fixed costs in shipping. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • Ask about additional costs. If moving isn’t planned and researched thoroughly, people often find themselves lumbered with unforeseen extra costs. Ask your moving company about collection and delivery. You will likely be charged to get your belongings from the port in the destination country to your new address and sometimes more is charged for possessions to be moved to additional storeys, or the moving of large objects like pianos (as this takes more than two people). Be as clear on costs as possible before you move.
  • Insurance – are your goods insured? The removal company will often offer you insurance, but sometimes moving is covered by home insurance, so check with yours before as this tends to be a lot cheaper. Write a list of the contents of the shipping container so you can check to see if anything goes missing. It might also be worth taking photos of items like furniture which could be scratched or damaged. You would then have proof of condition to potentially claim this on insurance.
  • Check with your moving company whether there are any items that you cannot take to your destination country, or if there is any heavy duties or taxes on certain items. Also ask if there is any documentation you will have to take with you to get your goods into the new country.
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