One of the most common questions about international removals is "how much will my international removal cost?" The answer is not as simple as it may seem.
In this article we will explain how international removal costs are calculated, why the cost between different removal companies can vary and share some tips to keep your costs as low as possible.
The costs of International Removals are made up of 3 elements:
- Origin Services - packing, wrapping, loading and any other assistance you may require.
- Transport (Freight) - moving your shipment from origin property to the destination by road and sea (or air).
- Destination Services - customs clearance, delivery, unpacking and any other set up support you've chosen.
We will explain these in more detail below.
How do we calculate International Removal costs?
There are lots of factors that go into the cost of international removals including:
- Volume of goods
- Method of shipment
- Type of goods
- Speed of shipment
- Origin and destination
- Move plan
- Special requirements
- Move Dates
- Type of company
We'll break each of these down below.
1. Volume of Goods
The size of your move ("volume") is one of the biggest factors of cost as it determines how long it will take to pack and load and how many removals crew that will take; quantity of packing materials; space needed in a container and cost of freight; how long it will take to unload.
Curious to know your volume? check out our shipping volume calculator.
Volume also usually determines the method of shipment you will use.
2. Method of transport
Typically you will either use an exclusive container or a shared container to ship your household goods.
Exclusive Shipping Container
A 20ft container holds roughly the contents of the average 3 bedroom home and is about the size of a single garage. These are best suited to moves that are going to fill all or most of a container.
Exclusive containers are also the quickest method of shipment by sea so are sometimes also used you need your items ASAP.
Shared Shipping Container
Smaller moves or customer who are happy with a slower transit time might be better suited to a shared shipping container. Usually this will either be a 'groupage' shipment where items are loaded into a 20' or 40' container with other shipments of customers moving to the same destination, or an 'LCL' shipment where items are put into a crate and sent by a freight consolidator to destination.
With shared containers you only pay the freight costs for the space that you use.
3. Type of Goods
Whilst most household goods are simple to ship there are some items that can add additional cost to your move e.g.
- Fragile items that need crating or extra packing protection.
- Heavy/awkward items that need special handling.
- Large items that require dismantling/reassembling.
- Restricted items that require additional processes to be completed to customs clear them.
4. Speed of shipment
Typically the quicker you need your shipment to arrive the higher the cost. Exclusive containers are the quickest method of sea shipping, followed by LCL shipments then groupage.
Air freight shipments are the speediest mode of transport and are sometimes used in addition to a sea shipment for important items like baby equipment or clothes.
5. Origin and Destination
Your origin and destination property distance from the port of departure and arrival will also factor into the cost due to the time/fuel to transport your shipment ready to sail.
Most international removals will include loading, transport, customs clearance and unloading (always a good idea to check this though!). You can also often choose additional services on top to make your move easier so consider if you'll need to add this into your budet.
- International grade packing services
- Crating of fragile items
- Handyman services to dismantle items or take down pictures/shelves etc. ready to move.
7. Move Plan
If you have any specific constraints for packing and loading or delivering your move this might impact the cost. Your removal company will plan and recommend the most cost effective way of carrying out your move and the associated schedule, but if that doesn't work for you they might be able to amend this to suit but it may cost them more to do so.
8. Special requirements
Special requirements such as out of the ordinary items or additional collection or delivery points can add to the cost of a move as these may take additional time, equipment etc.
Most moves involve standard access but if you've got any access challenges this could add to the cost of your move for example:
- long carry from the front door to nearest vehicle parking.
- narrow lanes or low bridges that prevent a removal vehicle getting close to your home.
- lots of internal or external stairs.
- doors/hallways that are too narrow for larger items.
Access restrictions can usually be overcome but might require additional time or equipment to handle, for example hiring of an external elevator, extra crew or a shuttle vehicle.
10. Move dates
When you want to move can have a big impact on the cost. Peak periods (for example school holidays) can affect pricing as demand is higher than usual. Moving on a weekend or bank holiday will also usually mean higher charges as companies typically have to pay their staff more to work unsocial hours.
If you can be flexible on your move dates ask your removal company what dates they can offer the best price for.
11. Type of Removal Company
Like any service providers the quality standards between different companies and you may pay more for a higher quality of service. Companies that have achieved quality certifications and professional accreditations have invested in their processes, staff and resources to reduce the risk of anything going wrong during your move, so always ask what their qualifications are and look for FIDI FAIM certified companies.
You can also check the reviews of different providers on independent review sites like Trustpilot.
How much will MY international move cost?
The best way of getting an accurate price for YOUR move is to arrange a home visit with an international removal company. This move consultation should always be free and provide you with a no-obligation quotation which will help you find out what you really need to budget and ensure there are no nasty surprises when you come to your move.
Why are different companies International removals prices so different?
We’re also often asked how different companies' prices can be quite varied, even if they all meet the same standards and are quoting on the same services. the first thing we'd point out is carefully comparing your quotations are like for like and making sure quality levels are the same. Check out this blog post to help you compare the soft factors. Comparing removal company quotations.
But there are also other factors that might mean your costs are higher or lower than others, probably too many to list but here’s some scenario’s that give you an idea.
- Freight cost makes up a large part of your move price. If one company has chosen a cheaper freight option (cheaper shipping line / slower sailing time) then this can change the cost by £100's, so it's always important to check what transit time your shipment is based on to make sure it suits you.
- If you’re the last customer that fills up a groupage shipment the company might discount your quotation to encourage you to book with them so that they can fill the container and get it shipped to improve service times for all customers
- If they already have a vehicle in your area to do the collection they might be able to split some of the transport costs with the other customer(s) to allow everyone a discount
- If the removal company has a quiet week or day they might discount your move as they’d rather do a move at cost than have to pay staff who have no work to do
- Alternatively, if it's peak season or one company is already fully booked you may have to pay a higher premium to get your company of choice
So, as you can see “what is the cost?” and “why does it vary so much?” are similar to asking “how long is a piece of string?” – the best way to find out if you’re not sure is to ask your moving company directly. They should be honest and transparent in their pricing and should be happy to tell you how they arrived at their costs to give you the confidence you’ll receive the service you’re looking for.
International packing costs
When you ship your belongings internationally it's a good idea to get your removal company to do the packing for you and include the cost in your budget.
Packing services are charged on the amount of time it takes to pack and the materials required.
Why do I need professional packing?
International transport is riskier than a local move - your shipment is moved by multiple methods and can be moved by road, sea (or air) and rail all in one journey, with cranes or forklifts moving containers between each. Shipments can face rough sea conditions or bumpy air landings, and often customs inspectors may open and move items in a container whilst clearing your goods.
Having professional packing services may be required by some insurers OR reduce the risk of inspection fees on arrival at destination so it's always a good idea to discuss this with your mover first if you're thinking about doing your own packing.
Are there any other international moving costs I need to be aware of?
Depending on where you are moving from or to there may be other additional costs that your removal company should explain to you in advance of your move.
These could include:
- Customs inspection fees - sometimes these are fixed and applied for all customers, in other locations they may be applied for randomly selected customers or based on the length of inspection time.
- Duties and taxes - most household goods moves are free of duties and taxes, but depending on the contents of your shipment and your eligibility for duty free imports you may face additional charges from customs and excise. Your removal company should help you determine this in advance.
- Storage - if you are unable to take delivery of your belongings right away ask your removal company to explain their costs for storage.
- Insurance - it's important to arrange international removals insurance when you ship household goods abroad. The cost for this should be shown in addition to your shipping costs and is usually based on the declared value of your belongings.
It is always important to ask your removal company if there are any additional costs or exclusions you should be aware of in advance of booking your move. They should be open and transparent, and happy to explain these charges - nothing should be a surprise!
5 Tips to reduce international moving costs
Here are our top 5 tips to help you cut your international move costs:
- Declutter to reduce the volume of goods you need to pack and ship.
- Be flexible on the collection and delivery dates.
- Don't move on a weekend or during school holidays.
- Move with a company that is FIDI FAIM certified (this will reduce the risk of any hidden costs if something goes wrong!)
- Make sure your shipment is properly insured (the cost of insurance will seem low compared to having to replace expensive items if they are damaged, or worse if there is a maritime disaster with your shipping vessel that could leave you liable for part of the costs of recovery under 'general average').
Check out our blog "How to reduce container shipping costs for international removals" for more ideas.
Want to know more about International Removals?
Check out The Ultimate Guide to International Removal Companies to find out everything you need to know to find a great mover and have a smooth move.