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Moving abroad: Comparing International Removal Quotations

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - April 1, 2022

So you’ve picked your companies to get a quote from, you’ve had the Move Consultants round and showed them everything you want to move and now you’ve probably got at least 3 very different looking quotations in front of you – how do you choose? 

Comparing quotes can be tricky because every removal company has their own format and way of showing your costs, so here are our top tips on what to look for to give you a good chance of comparing like for like: 

 Before we start though, one BIG note...


We can’t stress this enough. When you’re handing all your worldly possessions over to a company you need the protection provided by a quotation in writing that comes with a contract and the relating terms and conditions. Read them, make sure you understand them and agree with them and that if you’re not happy with any of them that you get any agreed alterations in writing.

The British Association of Removers provide standard terms and conditions approved by the Trading Standards Institute to protect consumers so this is another great reason to look for the badge.

Compare based on your move criteria and what's important to you

What is most important to you? Are you deciding just on price or are there other factors to consider, for example, the move plan; handling of special items; knowledge and experience; additional services; insurance and accreditations? We’ll come to these below in detail but having in mind a clear picture of what’s important will help to compare.

Check all the quotes are like for like

Of course, our first instinct will be to look at price before anything else, it's only natural, but be careful not to just look at the £ signs - it's important to make sure the quotations are based on a like-for-like service. 

Five main things to check:

  • Volume of items to be moved - Are they all the same? If one is quite far out it’s strongly recommended to ask why, one might have included an area others missed (i.e. lofts, garden or sheds).
  • Transit time - part of this could be down to the method of shipment (see below) but part can be down to the shipping time selected and the route of sailing. Often slower sailings are available that are cheaper. If speed is important, check the door to door transit time, and bear in mind any costs you might incur elsewhere for waiting longer, like hotels, eating out or furniture rental. 
  • Method of shipment - are you paying for your own exclusive container or sharing? Does this affect transit time at all? 
  • Services - Are all the removals companies basing their prices on the same level of service? What packing is included? Is there a shuttle vehicle or outside elevator needed due to poor access? are they including any parking fees (if applicable) or other additional charges?
  • Additional Fees - Some destinations charge container inspection fees or other import charges, sometimes these are applicable for all customers and pre-payable, for others, containers are selected at random or costs may vary so the mover may exclude these and suggest you pay these locally. Make sure you're clear if these are included or excluded and that you've been given guidance on what to expect. 

Call the removal company and let them know if you spot something they’ve done differently they’ll either be able to explain the difference or correct their quote if they misunderstood your requirement and you didn’t want something included. 

This is where getting 3 quotes comes in handy because you can usually spot if someone is significantly out! 

Compare the move schedules

calendar date - move scheduleIs the move planned over the same amount of days or are some all in one day while others taking two for example. Does one plan work better for you? If so let all the companies know that’s the way you’d prefer to work so they can adjust prices if it changes anything.

Compare the quality

Rosette of QualityBeing able to portray a professional image but that this isn’t always a guarantee of a reputable company. Like in your shortlisting process now is time to go back over Reviews, Accreditations and professional associations to get a feel for the quality of service.

A note on Destination Agents
An international move is broken down into Origin Services (packing and loading, transport to docks) Freight (ocean or air transportation) and Destination Services (customs clearance, transport to your home, unloading and unpacking).

It’s a good idea to ask who your mover will be using and check that the destination agent is a professional company too - i.e. do they have the same quality accreditations that you would expect here? Companies with established relationships with destination agents (i.e. through the FIDI network) offer the added peace of mind that they are experienced in working together, so should provide a smooth transition and preferable rates.

Compare the price

Pound sign indicating the price of removal companiesHowever tempting it is no decision should be driven purely on price. Look for value for money based on what you can afford and what you’re prepared to pay to meet your moving goals - are there additional safeguards, services or credibility that one mover has over another that adds value to you in terms of peace of mind and lower risk?

Cutting corners to get a cheaper price could result in:

  • Damage or Loss which means time-consuming claims process or worse, not getting your money back at all.
  • Stress during your move if something goes wrong and your company doesn't have the resources or experience to respond quickly. 

..and don't forget to include insurance costs

When you do your financial comparison include the cost of insurance if this is a service you are going to accept. Typically insurance premiums are based on a % of the value of your belongings. Check the level of cover you are being offered - is it new for old? does it include pairs and sets, mechanical derangement or mould and mildew? Is there an excess? 

All things being equal....

If you’re happy that everyone is offering you the same level of service, the same level of quality and the same volume and rough price then I’m afraid there is no magic formula for making your decision and it will be down to your personal preference.

Who made you feel most comfortable dealing with the process so far? Who has given you the most confidence, who do you trust? The culture of a company will determine their processes and customer experience and your experience so far is a good indicator of what your experience will be like once you’ve booked, so, who do you want to work with?

A note on negotiating with removal companies: Don't be afraid to negotiate, if you've compared all of the above but your preferred mover is too expensive based on a like-for-like service from another mover. 


Ready to learn more? Check out our International Removals Guide


Topics: International Removals Costs, Preparing to Move, International Removals

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