The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Puts International Movers into 3 categories:
Vessel-Owning. There are about 2,700 FMC-licensed and bonded licensed freight forwarders (LFF)/international movers operating in the US.
Non-Vessel-Owning. There are over 3,300 licensed and bonded intermediaries/agents/non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCC) that have an official service agreement (NSA) with a vessel-owning mover.
Non-Licensed, Non-US-Based, Non-Vessel-Owning. There are over 1,100 international movers that are recognized by the FMC, but not based in the US, and so they do not need a license.
How Does it Work?
Any Mover will typically deliver to any country.
For door to door service,the vessel-owning mover will pick up at your house, send it on their vessel across the sea, and then a second, foreign agent will take it from the port to your new address.
Surprise charges have been known to arise while going through customs at the new country’s port. Some countries are better than others. Terminal handling charges (THC) is the cost charged to unload and load at the new country’s port and is sometimes included in your moving quote, and sometimes left as a variable.
How Long Does Moving Internationally Take?
US to England: 6 to 8 weeks by marine vessel
US to Australia: 8 to 10 weeks by marine vessel
For only a few boxes, it would take about 1 week by plane
How Much Does Moving Internationally Cost?
Rates are based on volume and usually have a 100 cubic feet minimum, and then go by the cubic foot thereafter. An entire 20 foot container holds 850 – 1150 cubic feet. A small one bedroom apartment would take up about 400 cubic feet.
400 cubic feet, US to England: About $5,500
400 cubic feet, US to Australia: About $6,500
20’ Container (989 cubic feet), US to England: $7,500
20’ Container (989 cubic feet), US to Australia: $8,500
(A queen bed will take up 65 to 75 cubic feet, a sofa, 60 to 65 feet.) There are also 40 foot containers, which are ideal if you are moving a car as well.
Insurance and Packing
There are two types of insurance you can purchase for international moves:
All-Risk Marine – This covers any and all damage during your move. It costs about 2.5% of the declared value. You must allow the mover to do the packing for you to be able to purchase.
Total Loss – This only covers your items in the event of a total loss. This costs about 1.5% of your declared value. You can pack the items yourself and still purchase this insurance.
Make sure the mover has a valid FMC license and bond. Link to this verification are found on all mover listings in MoversReviewed.
A mover should be willing to come out and do a survey of your items before giving you an exact quote.
200 international movers have RIM certification which shows completion of advanced training as well as at least 3 years of experience.
Review the brochure from the US Customs – Know Before You Go: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/
Most Common Pitfalls
Additional Charges. Surprise charges going through customs; Or unapproved charges demanded by the mover.
The moving company cannot be reached.
Goods are damaged, and the mover does not handle the replacement properly.
The shipment cannot be located.
To file a complaint and get help recovering a shipment:
Renting and storing a shipping container, or requesting port to port service from your international mover is a less expensive alternative.
Shipping boxes through the post office or other shipping service for quick service for small shipments.
FMC Household Goods Movers FAQ: http://www.fmc.gov/questions/default.aspx#502