When it comes to moving overseas to begin your life as an Expat there are a lot of things that need to be sorted out; and one of the most important of these is to arrange the details of getting your things to your new home. Finding the right international moving company can be a headache but finding the one which suits your needs is vital to ensuring that your transition abroad is a success.
You will have to plan ahead and make your arrangements as soon as possible. Scheduling your move well in advance is always preferable since you will be far less likely to come up against last minute problems.
Different Transportation Options.
When you move to a new home there’s nothing that will help you settle in better than having your familiar possessions around you! Getting your things safely to your new home can be quite a complex process but there are several main ways that you can move your things when you are transitioning to live as an Expat.
There’s a few main ways that you can move your items across the Atlantic to your new home in Italy.
This is the fastest way to move your things to Italy from the United States. Air freight is a fairly costly option though which is why it’s not usually people’s first choice. However, if you need to transfer your items in an emergency then air freight is ideal, especially for smaller, light items. If you start moving all your furniture and larger items by air freight the costs can soon become quite astronomical!
The best way to move your items to Italy is by ocean freight. These are perfect for international shipping although they are fairly slow – with an ocean freighter taking around 40 days to travel from Seattle to the Italian port of La Spezia.
You’ll have to arrange to have your items delivered to the port of your choice on time for your items to be packed on board. Your belongings will be put in shipping containers that are water and weatherproof.
This is obviously not a realistic option if you currently live in the United States and are planning to move to Italy. But ground freight is an option for those who live in other parts of the world particularly Eastern and Western Europe.
FCL and LCL Shipping – What’s The Difference?
There are two ways that you can ship your items by ocean freight. When transferring your items by ocean freight you can choose to use FCL, ‘Full Container Load’, or LCL, ‘Less Than A Container Load’. A standard shipping container is 20x8x8 feet, or 1,360 cubic feet. When you use FCL shipping the entire container is set aside for your items and even if you don’t entirely fill it you’ll have to pay for the whole thing.
Alternatively, LCL shipping allows you to share a container with someone else who doesn’t have enough to fill a container either. This is the perfect way to move your items, particularly if you don’t have a huge amount to transport.
Who Moves Your Items When Transferring Internationally?
Any international move will usually involve several companies and stops along the way. These stages of the process will normally be handled by one shipping company, which you communicate directly as they oversee the transfer of your items. Some moving companies will also deal with all of your documentation and deal with the customs, regulations and taxes that may apply.
You can also work with an moving agent instead of directly working with a moving company. This is somewhat like working with an insurance agent rather than directly with the insurance company. The advantage here is that the moving agent might be physically located closer to your location and also the fact that the agent will work with several moving companies and might be able to select the best for your situation.
If you are planning to work with different moving companies, say company A for moving from your house to the port and company B for moving from port to port etc., working with a moving agent might work better for you.
Some of the key people who will be involved in your move are: Truckers and Moving Company Packers. LCL Consolidators (If you are using LCL shipping then your things will need to be packed up in a shipping container with the items of another shipper), Cargo Carriers and agents at the destination.
Who Are Destination Agents?
Once your items arrive in the new country they will be met by an agent who works for, or with, the shipping company and will collect your items on your behalf. They will then take your goods into short term storage or oversee their delivery to your new address.
If you can, you should try to find out who is responsible for your things at each stage of the journey. This means that if there are any problems you can contact them directly rather than going through the shipping company back at home. Many shipping companies provide an online tracking service which allows you to watch your items throughout the journey.
Different Types Of Moving Options.
As well as the standard shipping options of air or sea freight you can also get a highly tailored service with most good shipping companies. There are many options that are available to you, including:
- Door to Door Transfer Service.
- Door To Port Transfer Service.
- Port To Door Transfer Service.
- Port To Port Transfer Service.
You will have to pay more for the more extensive services; however, if you’re moving to a new country it’s advisable to get as much help as you can so you can focus on finding your feet and settling down without having to worry about chasing down your cargo!
How Do International Shipping Companies Set Their Prices?
The cost of shipping your belongings to a new country can vary enormously, based primarily on the type of freighting (ground, ocean or air), the volume and weight of your goods, the type of moving option that you use and the company that you use. Please refer to my article about the cost of international move for more information:
You can save money on your transfer by using a low budget company whose services will not usually include packing, loading or door to door options. If you want to keep your costs down you can look for a company that has flexible options and basic packages you can choose from.
Another method to keep your costs down is to do a serious decluttering before you leave! There’s no point taking a lot of things to Italy that you will never use or only throw away once you arrive; so try to get your things sorted out before you pack it for the move.
Get Some Quotes Before Choosing A Company.
Once you’ve figured out what you need from a shipping company you can start to canvas the available options and start to request some quotes for their services. You should try to get quotes from at least 3 or 4 different companies.
The first thing you should do when looking for a moving company is to check their specializations and their past track record. Visit the company websites and fill out the forms to get a quote. The more information that you can supply them with the more accurate the quote will be. For instance, you should have the address where you want the items picked up from and dropped off to, an approximate volume of the load and the type of items you are shipping.
Alternatively, you can email the company directly with your details and ask for a quote. You’ll normally hear back from the company within a few days but the sooner you can start to make the arrangements the easier it will be for you to plan your own travel options.
What To Look For In An International Moving Company.
One of the most important things to look for in any moving company is a good insurance program. As well as getting insurance you need to check very carefully what it covers and how well protected you will be. Some company’s insurance only covers your items during the transportation while other policies will only cover your belongings if they have been packed by the movers themselves.
Although your items should be perfectly safe in the hands of the shipping company, accidents can still happen so you should also use a company that has a robust insurance policy available.
You should be able to tell pretty quickly how good the customer service is although you can also check online reviews of the company to get an idea of their customer’s experiences over time.
Find out from company representatives if you can contact them at any time during your cargo’s transfer to Italy as well as the type of support, help and advice they can offer you once your cargo has safely arrived in port.
Can You Track Your Shipment?
The better shipping companies will offer you the option of tracking your items as they make their way to your new address. When you can track your belongings as they travel it will remove a lot of the stress and worries from the process. With a good tracking system you can check up on your cargo without having to call the shipping company to find out for you. NOTE: The tracking information provided by these companies are high level information. Very rarely do they provide detailed tracking information like companies like FedEx do.
International Shipping Is Tricky.
It can definitely feel daunting to get yourself ready for an international move and so the last thing you should have to worry about is your items arriving safely and on time!
You can take the stress out of your move by hiring a trusted shipping company that specializes in international moves. They will handle the process on your behalf and ensure that your belongings arrive safely at your new home.