If you're at the stage of getting quotes from European removals companies then here are some important questions to ask them. This list of questions isn't exhaustive, but it should at least start some valuable conversations that will help you understand the service being offered and what type of company will be providing it.
Questions to ask EUROPEAN HOUSEHOLD GOODS MOVING companies
1. What are their qualifications for European Removals?
Check if they are FIDI FAIM certified. FIDI FAIM is the only quality standard specifically designed for overseas moves. It's a bit like the 'gas safe' register for Plumbers and helps give you peace of mind that you're entrusting a reputable company. Achieving the certification shows you a removal company has been pre-vetted by independent auditors to meet the standards of services required and has all the appropriate licenses and permits in place.
Another qualification to look out for is membership of the British Association of Removers Overseas Moving group.
2. How long will it take for my belongings to arrive?
Is the transport time they are giving you door to door or is this the travel time once the truck has departed? Make sure you understand how long you'll likely be without your stuff. This is particularly important for part load (shared load) services where dates may be flexible and in conjunction with other moves.
The company should be able to give you an estimate of the door-to-door transit time which should include the typical timescale before departing (collection, loading, consolidation) and after arriving in-country (customs clearance, delivery.)
3. What transport option is recommended?
Based on your requirements would they suggest shared/part load transport or a dedicated vehicle? Can they work to your dedicated dates or will you need to be flexible and fit in around a scheduled trip?
If shared is this being sent via another company/consolidator or does your removal company operate transport itself? This will possibly have implications on the timescale (as above) but also who is in control of your belongings at any time.
4. Is the quote door to door and what does it include/exclude?
Are there any charges you might face that won't be included in the quote? This can vary between moving companies so make sure to find out if anything is excluded, for example, customs inspections (typically excluded). TIP: If you don't know some of the information about your move yet, ask what their quote assumes, for example, if you don't have a destination address what area is covered in your quote(e.g., 30 miles of city)? This helps you understand the scope of potential additional charges if something changes. It could also be advisable to find out if the company works with any third parties for any element of your move.
5. Are they a British Association of Removers (BAR) Overseas member? If not, how is my advance payment protected?
Members are pre-vetted to ensure they meet strict standards and they must comply with a code of conduct helping to ensure you receive a professional standard of service, with independent dispute resolution if you're not happy with how any complaints are dealt with.
Find out more about Bournes as a BAR Removal Company.
6. What does your insurance cover?
As with quotes, insurance policies tend to vary by company. Some are all risks cover, some total loss, some include pairs and sets, mould and mildew and mechanical derangement cover, others ask for an additional premium to cover these risks, some policies require you to pay the first part of a claim (The excess) others don't. Make sure you understand your level of protection.
7. Can they offer storage at origin or destination?
If you're planning to stay in temporary accommodation while looking for a new home and you think you might not be ready for delivery straight away ask if your removal company arrange storage and find out about the costs. You may be offered the option of storing it in the UK to follow when you're ready, or storing at destination to speed up delivery if you won't have much notice.
8. What customs paperwork will you need to complete now the UK has left the EU?
Since the UK left the EU any goods (including household goods) being moved between an EU country and the UK must clear Customs. Find out about the customs process and what paperwork you'll need to complete for export and import. This should be the same answer for every company but asking at survey is a good way to test their expertise for moves to Europe (which are now more complicated than a UK move!) and find out what assistance can they give you with what can be a complex process. Even in instances where they legally can't complete documents for you, do they provide the forms? Will they explain how to fill them out and guide you on when to do it?
If one company has a different customs process than others try to find out why. Have they missed something or have they found a way to simplify things?
9. How will the Removals crew handle important items?
Have you got any particular items of furniture or personal effects that you're worried about? e.g. fragile/valuable items? Would they suggest they crate them or use any special packing methods/materials? How will they get your large American fridge freezer out? How will they make sure your chandelier isn't damaged? They should be able to provide reassurance to you that they are experienced and knowledgeable in handling requirements like yours.
10. What's your move plan?
How many days will it take them to pack and load? Does this work for you? If you'd prefer another schedule just ask if it's feasible they can probably make adjustments to their typical plan, although be aware it might affect your costs.
11. What do you need to do in advance of collection and delivery days?
Will you be responsible for booking parking if you're in a restricted area or reserving spaces if it's a shared parking area? Who will dismantle any items of furniture that need taking apart to move? Are you doing any of the packing? What are their tips for being ready for the crew to arrive?
12. How soon do you need to book your removals dates?
What happens if they change? What's the cancellation or postponement policy once you've booked? How long is your quote valid for? Is it fixed as long as your dates don't change? If you don't know your dates yet, after what period would your quote possibly change? (Note: The industry is seasonal so summer moves often cost more, shipping lines can also change their rates and currency fluctuations can affect costs too, so most movers fix their quotes based on either a set move date or a period of time).
13. What items can't you take?
Each country has a list of restricted and prohibited items. Ask your removal company if there is anything you should be aware of that might be on prohibited/restricted lists or would potentially attract additional costs.
14. Where can you read customer reviews for previous European Moves?
Ask if they can point you in the direction of any independent reviews services their customers use for example TrustPilot, or Which? Trusted trader. If they don't use independent review websites do they have reviews on their website or can they put you in touch with previous customers who can help you understand what the move experience is like?
15. Will they provide European standard packing?
Moving to Europe can mean a higher risk of damage, simply due to the longer journey, which includes a ferry or rail crossing. This means it's more important than ever that your items are professionally packed by packers who are trained in the additional risks of European Moving and know the right methods of packing and materials to use to ensure safe arrival.
Check out our Guide to European Removals to find out everything you need to know about finding and using a professional European mover.