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Container shipping options for moving household goods overseas

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - July 28, 2020


Photo by David Dibert on Pexels. 

Most international removals companies will offer a range of container shipping options for moving goods overseas. The best method for you will vary according to:

  • the size of your shipment (also known as volume of goods).
  • how quickly you need your items to arrive
  • how much your budget is to spend on shipping

Typically the following container shipping options will be available to you, although some international removal companies may use different names for the services or offer slight variations. 

container shipping options for household goods

Full container shipping (exclusive use)

20ft, 40ft or 45ft containers

Depending on the volume of your belongings they will be loaded within an exclusive use 20, 40 or 45 foot steel container which will be sealed and transported to the port for shipping to your destination.

At destination the container will be customs cleared, delivered and unloaded at your new home. Your international removal company will help make all the arrangements and ensure all the paperwork is in place for customs clearance.

This service is direct therefore provides the quickest transit time so is one of the best shipping options for moving goods overseas that are of a large volume. (Not sure of your volume? Check out our shipping volume calculator).

full container shipping for household goods

Shared container shipping (part loads)

If you are moving a smaller volume of belongings we offer shared container services. This is where you share the space in a shipping container with other customers moving to the same destination. We still offer all the same services for collection, delivery and managing the paperwork and customs clearance process.

This is a cost effective method of shipping for smaller moves as you only pay for the space you use, however transit times are slightly slower than a dedicated container load as consolidation is required prior to departure.

There are typically two types of shared container shipping: 

LCL (Less than container load) Shipments

Your belongings are crated (in what's called a 'lift van') and sent through a large shipping consolidator with lots of regular volume being shipped to your destination, almost as speedy as an exclusive container, add a couple of days on for consolidation.

lcl container shipping for household goods

Groupage Shipments

Your belongings are loaded within a container with other customers of your chosen removal company that are moving to the same destination and then shipped all together once they've all been collected.

The speed can be slower as they will have to collect and load all the other shipments but is often the most cost effective way of shipping smaller loads.

Airfreight shipments for household goods

An alternative to container shipping when you require some or all of your items quickly airfreight provides the quickest shipping option for moving goods overseas, meaning you can be settled in your new home faster.

For larger moves this method is not as cost effective as a sea shipment due to the significantly higher cost of freight.

which container shipping option is best for me?

Here’s a breakdown of how to select the right service for you based on your priorities, your mover should be happy to give you an idea of the costs of each option to allow you to compare.

Full container (FCL) moves

  • Size: Best for large moves. A 20ft container is around the size of a single garage but 40 and 45ft options are also available for bigger homes. 
  • Cost: Most expensive by sea, but best value for large moves. 
  • Speed: Quickest sea method of shipping
  • Ideal for: When you have a full household move

Get a free full container quote

Less than container load (LCL) moves

  • Size: Small/Medium moves (a single room or just a few items)
  • Cost: Less expensive than FCL as you don't pay for empty space in a container but more expensive than groupage as you're paying for speed.
  • Speed: Same as FCL + a couple of days for de-consolidation
  • Ideal for: When you have a smaller amount of belongings but don't want to wait too long for them to arrive

Get a free lcl quote

Groupage moves

  • Size: Small/Medium moves (a single room or just a few items)
  • Cost: Cheapest method of sea shipment
  • Speed: Slower than FCL/LCL depending on your destination and how many other customers are moving at a similar time as the mover needs to sell the remaining space in your container (however it can be very quick if you are the last to fill a container!)
  • Ideal for: When budget is your biggest consideration and you can be flexible on arrival time.
Get a free groupage quote

Airfreight moves - alternative to sea shipping

  • Size: Very small shipments - a few boxes or cases
  • Cost: Most expensive
  • Speed: Quickest possible 
  • Ideal for: When speed is the most important factor and you only need a few key things with you as soon as you arrive

You can find out more about the full range of services available from Bournes International Removals here.  

Don't know your international shipping volume?

Knowing your volume of goods is often one of the first steps in deciding the right method of shipping. Check out our shipping volume calculator to work out how much space you might need! Feel free to send us your results for a free, no obligation quote. 

Download the international shipping volume calculator

want to know more about international removals?

Check out our International Removals Guide

Topics: International Removals

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