When our international move team arrives at your home, take the team leader on a tour of your home ensuring that he or she understands what items will not be packed and those items requiring special care. Your personal belongings and breakables will be packed in appropriate cartons to protect them from damage, larger items will be individually wrapped in export paper pads as needed. Made of shock-absorbing fiber, export paper pads are used exclusively for wrapping furniture for international shipping.
Once your shipment has been inventoried and prepared for loading, it will be placed inside one or more containers. The type of containers selected will depend on the mode of transportation, the size of your shipment and your destination. Your shipment can be loaded into one or more of the following:
- Steamship containers
- Air containers
- Lift vans
A lift van is a wooden or plywood container with skids. It is normally loaded and unloaded from a truck by a forklift. Lined with water-resistant paper and caulked to prevent leakage, lift vans might range in size from 185 to 210 cubic feet. The lift vans are then combined with other crated cargo into steel shipping containers for ocean transport. Large shipments are loaded directly into steel ocean containers.
To transport small shipments by air, the most common containers used are tri-wall boxes. Constructed of triple-layer, wax covered corrugated cardboard, the boxes range in size from five to 100 cubic feet. When sending a large shipment by air, goods normally are crated instead of boxed. The crates must comply with dimensional specifications to meet aircraft cargo requirements.
Your shipment will be forwarded via one or more modes of transportation:
- Motor freight carrier
- Steamship line
After your shipment has been packed and loaded, it will be transported by truck or rail to the port of exit. Depending on the type of transportation selected, the container(s) will be loaded into a vessel or into an aircraft.
Logistics of Your Move
We will select the most cost effective container for your move based on your specific needs, the logistics of the country you are moving to as well as the weight and volume of your personal effects.
- Constructed of plywood with a 2-inch by 4-inch wooden frame
- Skids are attached to the bottom of the container so it can be handled by a forklift.
- Usually lined with water-resistant paper and may be caulked as necessary to keep your goods dry.
- Steel straps are placed around the outside to secure the lift van.
- Standard sizes are 185 to 210 cubic feet. Other sizes can be built to hold bulky items
- Generally used if total shipment weighs less than 500 pounds. Shipments weighing 2,000 to 4,000 pounds are based on current pricing conditions.
- Can be used for storage as well as transportation, which prevents additional handling
- Preferred when the destination country lacks the capacity to handle steamship containers
- Constructed of steel and resemble motor freight trailers
- Twenty-foot containers hold approximately 1,100 cubic feet while 40-foot units hold about 2,200 cubic feet
- Can hold more than a single lift-van and are used for large or bulky shipments. To effectively use a steamship container, a minimum of 700 cubic feet
- (approximately 4,000 pounds) is suggested
- May not be suitable for shipping to some foreign countries
- Ocean carriers (steel) containers cannot not be utilized for storage purposes
- Steel containers provide the best protection of a shipment compared to other containers
- Lower transportation charges are possible if the minimum requirement for weight and volume are met
Air Freight Containers
- Constructed of triple-layered waxed corrugated cardboard, they range in size from 18 to 96 cubic feet. Larger containers are fitted with skids for ease in moving with a forklift.
- Restricted to certain dimensional specifications in order to pass through aircraft cargo doors
- Recommended for fast delivery of personal effects.
Your shipment may be moved by rail or motor freight to the port of exit. It will then be shipped via air or ocean to the destination port.
- Provides unlimited access to most geographical areas throughout the U.S. and other parts of the world
- Used to transport steamship containers, lift vans and full trailer overload cargo
- Provides expedited pickup when necessary
- Capable of transporting more goods in certain trade lanes by stacking steamship containers over long distances
- More cost effective than a motor freight carrier
- Frequently used to transport steamship containers to and from an ocean port to inland locations
- Most common way to transport shipments internationally
- Significantly less expensive than air freight
- Normally comprises the longest leg of a move, in terms of distance and time spent in transit
- Most cost efficient means of transporting large shipments, greater than 600 cubic feet or 3,000 pounds
- Reduces transit time; used to send time-sensitive items
- Recommended for certain countries, depending on the nature of the shipment and final destination.
- Ideal for smaller shipments
- Cost is based on cubic size and destination
To Depart a Country
This travel document attests to the bearer’s identity and nationality. Passports are needed when leaving and entering most countries.
To obtain a passport, you must have a photograph taken. Order at least two prints for the passports, but as many as a dozen. Passport-size photographs often are requested when applying for other documents.
Follow the detailed instructions for your country of origin on format of photos and documents needed for application.
Valid passports, especially those from the United States, are in high demand on the world black market. Protect it! Notify the passport office immediately or closest embassy or consulate if it is lost or stolen.
Certificates of Registration
Any items in your possession that were made in another country should be registered with customs before you leave your country origin. This includes goods such as stereos, appliances, cameras, jewelry and bicycles, etc. If you take the foreign-made items back to their country of origin, you must have proof of previous possession. Otherwise, you could be charged duty for them. To register items, take them to the nearest customs office.
Foreign-made vehicles including ATV’s, motorcycles, boats and airplanes also will require registration. American vehicles don’t have to be registered when leaving the United States, if you have proof of possession, such as:
- A certificate of title on which you are named the owner
- A state registration card for your automobile, truck, camper or motorcycle
- A Federal Aviation Administration certificate for any aircraft
- A motorboat identification certificate or a yacht license for a boat
Whether foreign- or domestic-made, firearms must be registered with customs to prove ownership. Make certain the firearms will be allowed at destination before taking the time to register them. If you return to your country of origin, you will need these registrations to avoid confiscation of your firearms. Original titles, free of lien are required for all automobiles, motorcycles, boats or motors in order to export from U.S. territories.
Export Declaration Form
This document declares your household goods and motor vehicles to be shipped out of the country. A UniGroup Relocation agent will complete this form on your behalf before your shipment is packed. We advise you not to pack any boxes yourself, because doing so can cause delays, as customs officials usually inspect boxes that are “packed by owner.” Inspections always result in additional charges and these charges are the shipment owner’s responsibility. Inspections range in cost from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
To Enter a Country
Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to confirm which documents you’ll need when immigrating. You cannot start too early to obtain the appropriate documents. Waiting for approval can take several months, if not longer. For some applications, you will need duplicates of your passport photos. Also, copies of any marriage certificates or divorce decrees can facilitate obtaining permits, so be sure to bring them along. At a minimum, a visa and work permit will be required.
When entering the United States, the documents you will need depend on whether you are a returning resident or a non-resident. A U.S. citizen will need a passport. A U.S. resident alien should have a reentry permit or an alien registration receipt card issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. A non-resident must have a valid passport and visa issued by U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Requirements for non-resident and visa vary by nationality. Non-residents also should check with a consulate or embassy to see if they need a labor and/or immunization certificate.
If you’re moving to a country other than the United States, you might need several documents in addition to your passport. Confirm with a consulate or embassy of your destination country which of the following documents you will need.
Before obtaining a visa, you must have an up-to-date passport. A visa is an endorsement certifying that your passport has been examined and that permission has been granted to enter a country for a specified period of time.
Letter of Recommendation
When required, this should be addressed to the consulate/embassy to whom you are applying for a visa. The letter should be from a bank, commercial or industrial firm, trade association, chamber of commerce or public official. The letter may be from a family member or close personal friend. The letter should include your occupation, title and any business references – plus state you are financially responsible. Also, any documents you have verifying a good credit history might be needed.
Depending on where you’re moving, you might need this permit before leaving your country of origin. In some cases, however, you might be allowed to apply for it at destination. In many foreign countries, new residents must report to the police or local registration bureau immediately. Some countries such as China and Brazil, in addition to others, prohibit issuance of a Residence Permit until the client arrives and completes other requirements.
This is normally a prerequisite to gaining employment in another country. Responsibility for obtaining this permit rests with the employer. Working without authorization might result in deportation, fines and jail. Additionally, further reentry might be affected, if a country’s work-related polices are violated.
International Driving Permit
If you will be driving your car in your new country, check to see how long you can drive on your current license. Ask if your destination country recognizes an international driving permit or if you should apply for a license in your new country. To obtain an international permit in the United States, you will need an application, two passports-size photos and your valid U.S. driver’s license. Your U.S. license must be at least one year old and cannot expire while you’re living abroad. If you plan to reside in that country for more than 12 months, normally a driver and license for that country will be required.
If you have a driver’s license from another country, contact the automobile club in your home country to see if an international driving permit is available. If you are in the United States and would like a permit application, contact your local American Automobile Association (AAA) branch or: American Automobile Association, 1000 AAA Drive (Mail Stop 100), Heathrow, FL 32746; (407) 444-8408 or (407) 444-8364.
Some countries might not recognize the permit for driving. However, because it is written in nine languages, it could be helpful identification should you need to communicate with the local officials.
Note: Do not let your current driver’s license expire if possible. If you do, you might have to undergo the complete testing process upon your return.
Your destination country might require that you show, along with your passport, a validated International Certificate of Vaccination Health Card as proof of vaccination against certain diseases. This form is available at passport offices and most city, county and state health departments. Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to determine which immunizations are required in your new country. Have all required inoculations three or more months in advance, if possible, for full protection.
A medical certificate from an examining physician might be required for visa applications. Some consulates and embassies designate the examining physician and provide medical examination forms.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travel (IAMAT) offers travel clinical record forms, also called medical passports, to use in detailing your medical history. For a form, which is helpful should you need medical attention overseas, write to the IAMAT at 417 Center St., Lewiston, NY 14092, or call (716) 754-4883.
Anyone planning to live in a new country is encouraged to contact the nearest consulate to verify all the required documentation.
Other Questions to Ask
The following are miscellaneous questions you might want to ask a consulate or embassy of your destination country:
- Are original documents required?
- Do they need to be translated into the destination country’s main language?
- Do any documents need to be legalized by a consulate or embassy before departure?
- Are there restrictions on the quantity of goods I can bring?
- Can I bring more than one shipment?
- Are other taxes or fees involved besides duty?
- Are model or serial numbers of electrical items and /or appliances required on the inventory or special forms for customs clearance?
- Are there special laws or regulations regarding women and children?
- What is the availability of “special family need” items services (such as dietary needs, medical treatment and prescriptions)? How much prescribed medications may be entered through customs?
- Must I declare my shipment upon my personal arrival?
- Must I arrive in my new country before my shipment arrives?
Arriving in Your New Country
Amid the excitement of arriving at your new home, you will need to follow up on a few more details.
- It is recommended you notify your country’s nearest consulate or embassy.
- You should contact destination agent who will be delivering you items. Let that company know where and when you can be reached.
- Make an inquiry to determine if there are any additional charges on your shipment, such as extra handling for storage. Be prepared to pay this when your household goods are delivered.
- You must be on hand to accept delivery when your household goods arrive at your residence.
- It is important that you inspect your goods thoroughly. If there are any missing or damaged boxes, mark this in the inventory. Please retain a copy of the delivery receipt with any notations.
- Immediately report any loss or damage in writing to the agent at destination and your international coordinator.
- Signing the inventory indicates that you received the shipment. Reporting of damage of loss is a separate action.
Moving Terms Explained
Accessorial Services – Work performed other than routine transportation service performed at your request, such as appliance servicing, extra pickups and storage. Charges for these services are in addition to transportation costs.
Claim – A statement of loss or damage to household goods.
Destination Agent (D/A) – The agent in the delivery city or locale that provides delivery services.
Door-to-Door Service – The relocation of household goods from residence to residence.
Duty – The fees imposed by a country’s sovereign laws on imports or exports
Estimate – An approximation of moving costs, size and bulk as determined by an agent’s physical survey of a shipment.
Inventory – A detailed list of your household goods, describing each item and its condition at loading. The inventory is prepared for you as your goods are professionally packed. The owner or designated representative must sign the inventory confirming the description and condition. It is used as a customs document for clearance of the shipment. Upon delivery, you also can use the inventory to check for any possible loss or damage.
Liability – The maximum amount for which UniGroup Worldwide Moving is normally liable in connection with loss or damage of cargo while in transit or storage.
Lift Van – A wooden or plywood container used mainly on overseas removals, built specifically to transport household goods.
Order for Service – The itemized receipt for your household goods and agreement for their transportation, including the terms and conditions under which the goods are moved. Your signature acknowledges the household goods have been “released to the carrier.”
Order Number – Used to identify each shipment, the number appears in the upper right-hand corner of the order for service. You will need this number as a reference whenever you have a question about your shipment.
Origin Agent (OA) – The agent who provides services at origin, such as packing and loading.
Storage-in-Transit (SIT) – The temporary warehousing of your household goods. If you request storage, check with your agent to see what kind of transit and storage protection you have. Depending on how long your goods will be stored, you might need to apply for an extension of your protection policy.