When asking for a quotation, always make sure you have a way of
confronting the price. A flat rate is always more complex to judge than an
estimate reporting each cost separately, and there are a lot different costs
that compose your shipment quotation.
So make sure you ask for a break down.
Call moving companies and have them come out and give you a quotation. If company A gives you a cheaper option than company B, ask company B if they can match A’s quotation. Don’t assume that the quote they give you is final.
Make sure that when you move you are fully insured for the REPLACEMENT VALUE of your items. It is likely that your household items will arrive in one piece, but should an accident occur, you will lose your whole “home.” Therefore, make sure any sentimental items are carried with you, and that the insurance value you are claiming will really cover your shipment.
- Evaluation is conducted in either cubic meters or cubic feet (be ready to convert into the one you are more familiar with).
Time allotted for packing
- Based on the type of shipment (if there are pianos or valuable paintings that require special packing), you want to know how long it would take to have your stuff loaded onto the container.
Going out costs
- These will have to have all the fees on export, which should include port fee, handling fee, documentation fee. Normally they are part of the original price, which includes the price for packing. Storage costs at this end should not be applied to you, in case the shipping company cannot meet the shipping date (sometimes maybe due to incomplete paperwork).
- You need to know for how long your shipment will be in transit and what shipping route it will follow. You can enquire about the shipping schedule, which is available for the public, to find out how much loading and unloading of containers will take place during that route.
Laws and regulations change constantly and sometimes the shipping company
may "forget" to mention fees that will inevitably be charged on the
receiving end (they will not forget to bill you for it!).
You may want to ensure that these costs are included:
- Import documentation (they range from translation of inventory to certificate of usage, from certification of documents by the receiving embassy to appliances list etc.)
- The fee for the local shipping company to deliver your goods and collect all cartons or crates used for the packing (that is what you should expect when you contract state door-to-door service)
- Storage cost (the storage at the wharf, while the delivery to your door is arranged)
- Custom clearance. This cost depends on what you have in your shipment.
- Handling charges. On arrival, at the terminal you pay a fee which is based on the shipment size.
- Local taxes. In some jurisdictions you may have these taxes added to the duty ones.
- Pick up and delivery point. You have different costs if your shipment is door-to-door or door-to-port, make sure you clarify this ahead of time. Otherwise, on the other end they will charge you for the port-to-door in addition.
How the shipment will travel also makes a difference. Inside a container your goods may be packed in:
- wooden crate (also called "lift van"), which increases the volume but is extremely safe and you could require to hold onto the keys
- cartons (also called "loose load") stored in a container (you may ask to hold the key of the container too)
- In the course of the estimate survey, the moving company agent will
point out which items require a special handling. Be sure to decide, for
example, if you need all the paintings crated, as this adds volume to the
shipment and it costs to make the custom crate for each painting.
So, unless there is a valuable painting, you might want to review which one to crate specifically.
- leaves marks that will not disappear on furniture, so make sure the company has wax paper to place in between. You need to discuss these issues with the company prior to them starting the packing.
- Moisture is enemy number one, make sure they use silica gel to absorb
the moisture and that no plastic is used to wrap them, as it will encourage
the development of moulds.
Make sure they use tissue paper and brown paper. Moth balls damage rugs.
- Some items might take advantage of the cardboard wardrobe provided by the moving company, be aware that it adds volume and sometimes half of its size stays empty. So check if they have different heights on wardrobes.
- Moving companies work in alliances, so the moving company packing on
your end will not necessarily be the same one on the receiving end.
Ask who will be handling your shipment on the other side and for peace of mind you may want to enquire about the company reputation.
- If you have been there before you know how stressful the packing time
To avoid making it more complex than necessary, ask to have someone in the crew that speaks a language familiar (the elected language is usually english) to you. Also, if you can, ask a friend if he/she can be around, since the crew works in more than one room at a time. This makes it difficult for you to make sure everything is going according to your request. It makes a lot of difference if you place a colored sticker on each item supposed to be left behind (for example green to go, red to stay).
Do not write the instructions, since in some places you will have illiterate people moving your goods.