It’s no secret, no matter how much you plan ahead moving can be stressful. This is especially the case if you’re moving internationally. You have to make sure that your passport is up to date, that you have copies of all your most important documents, and that you have a good grasp of cultural norms.
But of all your priorities, the actual moving process is probably at the forefront of your mind. It’s important that your personal possessions arrive on time and in great condition. Not only that, but you don’t want to exceed your budget in the process. The good news is if you ask the right questions, you’ll be able to find a company that makes the move seamless. Here are 15 questions to ask your international mover.
1. What is your quotation process?
One of the first things you should ask the company is how they go about giving you a quote. The best companies visit their clients in-person so that they can get an idea of what the shipment actually looks like. The best part about in-person visits is that they result in a quote that is more accurate.
There are also companies that simply ask you to complete a pre-move survey. If you choose to take the survey, make sure that you give a thorough account of what you will and will not ship. Also, try to avoid international moving companies that offer quotes over email or phone and cheap estimates that seem too good to be true.
2. Do you offer a comprehensive door-to-door service?
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a huge difference between international movers and international shippers. You see, international movers typically offer comprehensive door-to-door service. However, international shippers tend to only ship between two ports.
Why is this important? Well, it can lead to extra work on your part. Sure, international shippers are usually less expensive than movers, but you’ll be responsible for having your possessions moved to and from the ports. Though international moving companies tend to cost more, they take care of everything.
3. What packing services do you provide? Is full international packing included in the quote?
If you want to have a seamless move, then you need to know who will pack your possessions. Specifically, you need to find out what services the moving company provides. The good news is the most reputable companies offer full international packing, with the option to pack your own possessions. However, before signing up, make sure that the company provides an in-house training program to their packers.
4. How are your charges calculated?
Sure, most moving companies provide the same service. They move your possessions from one location to the next. However, moving companies tend to differ when it comes to how they actually calculate the move. So ask the company how their charges are calculated. Typically, you can expect to be charged by cubic meter. You may also be charged extra fees if any of your possessions are particularly heavy.
5. What moving associations and organizations does your company belong to?
There are several well-respected associations and organizations within the moving industry. And many of these groups require that their members abide by certain standards. So ask the company what organizations they are apart of. You can verify their membership by doing a quick search online. Just because the company is apart of professional groups doesn’t always mean that they will deliver quality service. However, it can offer a little extra assurance and help you weed out others. The main associates to look for are the International Association of Movers (IAM), the Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux (FIDI), British Association of Removers (BAR) and European Relocation Association (EuRA).
6. Do you offer marine transit insurance?
There’s always a chance that some of your possessions may be lost or damaged. In these instances, you need to be able to replace them. The best companies offer comprehensive insurance, specifically full transit insurance. In fact, many of them will even tailor the policy to meet your specific needs.
7. Who will be delivering my effects at the destination country?
When choosing an international moving company, it’s very important that you know who will be delivering your personal possessions. Find out if the company is partnered with other moving companies stationed in your destination country. These types of partnerships are common among international movers. Get the name of the company, their contact information, and a detailed account of their process.
8. When will my effects be delivered?
One of the most important questions to ask the company is what is the date of delivery. The movers should be more than willing to give you a time frame. This will help to ensure that you’re able to meet your specific deadline.
9. How will my effects be shipped?
You need to know exactly how your possessions are going to be shipped. Why is this? Well, the shipping method will have a significant effect on the speed and cost of your move. In most instances, how your items are shipped depends on how complex your move is.
For example, if you’re moving across the border, then your items may be shipped by truck. However, if you’re moving overseas, it may involve several forms of transportation and shipping companies. Not only is this more expensive, but it also increases the risk of your possessions being damaged. So it’s a good idea to search for a company that uses as few modes of transportation as possible.
You should also ask about how your items will be arranged in the shipment. In some instances, your possessions may be shipped in the same crates as others so that it can save money. In this case, you may prefer to ask for your own shipping container so that you can keep better track of your belongings.
10. How long will my move take? I.e. over how many days will the move be completed?
Find out when your move will be complete. The schedule of the moving company depends on how large their fleet is. While some have the ability to complete the delivery on an exact date, others will only be able to offer an estimate. Those that offer an exact date typically cost more than those that offer a range.
11. Do you have reviews and testimonials from previous clients you can refer me to?
One of the best ways to find out if a company is reputable is to check with their past clients. Ask the company for references and testimonials. You should also ask your friends, family, and co-workers if they have any experience with the company. Were they satisfied with the price? Did their items arrive on time? Were their possessions in good condition when they received them? How did they handle communication? Did the company make the moving process less stressful? Check their online reviews.
12. Can I track my goods online?
Before hiring an international moving company, you should ask them if you’ll be able to track your items online. Even if the company has a stellar reputation, it can still be a little nerve-wracking to place all of your possessions in their hands. The best companies understand this and make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible. There’s hardly anything more assuring than being able to track your items in real-time. Does the company use GPS on their shipments? Do they have a special app that you can use on your phone?
13. Do you use subcontractors, temporary labor or any other third parties?
It’s essential that you know if the company works with a third party. There are many instances in which companies employ temporary workers. So before you accept the quote, make sure that you understand who will be handling your belongings.
14. What do I need to know about the customs process?
Not only can the modes of transportation affect how quickly your items arrive, but also customs. Ask the moving company how long customs clearance typically takes as well as what factors will affect clearance. If the company is knowledgeable, they’ll inform you that some countries are more efficient than others. Some have more stringent requirements than others. The best companies will give you an idea of what you can do in order to speed up the process. If the company seems to know very little about customs, then you should definitely avoid working with them.
15. What potential fees are not being shown on my quote?
If you want to ensure that there are no surprises when it comes to your budget, then you need to ask the company about fees that are not shown on your quote. It’s not uncommon to receive a bill that is much higher than you originally expected or agreed to. In most cases, this is due to hidden fees. There are many companies that hide their fees on purpose so their quotes look more competitive. However, there are some cases in which the company simply forgets to include the fee. So it’s always a good idea to ask.
Sure, moving internationally can be stressful. However, you can easily cut down on some of the hassles by choosing the right moving company. And this takes more than simply calling around and asking for quotes. You must be willing to do your research and ask the right questions. The more you know about the reputation of the company, who they partner with, what organizations they’re apart of, what type of insurance they offer, how knowledgeable they are, what services they offer, and their quote process, the more smooth the process will be.
Matt is a veteran of the moving industry, a recognized moving expert and is the founder of MoverFocus. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History. He also has completed the EiM (Essentials in International Moving) course from the FIDI Academy. His advice has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, Business News Daily and The SpareFoot Blog Go. Read more.