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How long do international removals take?

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - April 1, 2022

If you're moving internationally and are taking your furniture and personal effects with you it's likely you'll use an international removal company to get your belongings there. But how long will shipping take? 

The answer isn't as simple as you might think. Door to door transit time depends on:

  1. Method of transport
  2. Origin and destination
  3. Selected Vessel 

You also need to allow time either side of transport for packing, collection, customs clearance and delivery. 

Your international removals company should be able to provide you with a guideline timescale for your move based on your individual circumstances. 

The method of transport:

By Sea: 

  • Exclusive containers are the quickest sea shipping option
  • LCL is a close second (a few extra days are added for consolidation).
  • Groupage is slower as you need to wait for your removal company to collect and load all the other shipments travelling with yours, typically you'll be looking in the region of 12-16 weeks depending on your mover (this can vary quite a lot between companies so make sure to ask!).  

By Air:

Airfreight is by far the quickest transport method, which is why it is great for any urgent items. You'll need to add a few days on both sides of the flight time to allow for collection, delivery to the airport, customs clearance and delivery back to your home but it's still a speedy service!

By Road:

  • Exclusive use vehicles are typically the quickest for road removals as the crew can collect your items and then travel directly to your new home abroad to unload. 
  • Dedicated date services aren't far behind. Some additional time may be required to allow loading of other customer's consignments if they are sharing your vehicle but your removal company will plan these around the dates you've chosen. 
  • Part load/economy services are slower as you need to wait for your removal company to collect and load all the other shipments travelling with yours. 

Find out more about transport options for shipping household goods.

Your origin and destination. 

Obviously, the location will determine how long it takes for the ship to sail or the airplane/ truck to travel. Sometimes for sea shipping destinations far inland (particularly in North America), your container will travel by sea to the nearest port and then travel by rail to an 'inland port' closer to your new home. 

The sailing time you've chosen:

Shipping lines sometimes operate multiple routes to one destination, some sail directly and others stop at ports along the way, so some are quicker than others. Your shipment may even change vessel depending on how the shipping line operates your route. (Did you know - you can track your vessel at https://www.vesselfinder.com/ to see where it is. Ask your move manager for the name of your vessel to search for its location). 

If you're in a hurry you can sometimes pay for a ship that travels more directly, or if you want to save a bit of money ask if there is a slower sailing! 

Other factors to take into account

Whilst your shipment might theoretically take only a few weeks to travel, don't forget your own situation and circumstances could have an affect on how long international removals take. 

Many countries have customs requirements for you to have a visa in place or for you to be in the country before household goods can arrive, and immigration processes can take some time. 


Ready to learn more about international moving? Check out our International Removals Guide

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