How to choose an international removals company

Choosing an international removals company

Moving home can be a daunting task. We’ve all moved house at least once domestically, so just imagine how much more planning and care an international move requires.  Relocating abroad is an exciting time, but can be a stressful experience for your family and a logistical nightmare for you.

You are doing more than just moving your belongings from one place to another, you are changing your whole life and that of your close family too.  What is needed at this time is a company who knows intimately the challenges posed by an international move, with the expertise and experience to guide you through as painlessly as possible.

Removals companies can be found in every town in the country,   but how do you really know if a particular business has the skills, experience and ability to handle your international move?    We have compiled a handy guide to the main pointers you should consider when setting out on your journey to a new life abroad.

Be specific in your search

If you are looking for a removals company via a search engine, make sure you use a specific key word or term – ‘international removals’ or ‘international removals companies’ generate specific results than generic key words like ‘moving company’.   If you are using a directory (offline or online) make sure you access the international removals category rather than the domestic removals category.  Not all removals companies are the same, some specialise in international removals services, and some domestic movers do not have the breadth of experience to handle international shipping.

How will they manage your move?

Moving internationally is a very complex process and the last thing you need is to be handed from pillar to post every time you contact your moving company. Find out whether they provide a named Move Co-ordinator for you – this will ensure you deal with the same person whenever you need to get in touch.

Get prepared

Your moving company should send a consultant to your home to assess the volume of the goods you want to ship. The more detail you can provide to the consultant at this stage, the more accurate they can be in providing you with a quote and the less chance there is of something important being missed.   If you are going to buy items to include in your shipment, make sure you give a list of these to your move consultant so these can be included in the survey.   Prepare a list of questions – if the company is a competent international removal company, they should be able to provide advice and guidance on what you should take and what you should leave behind.  They should also have a sound knowledge of the customs requirements of your destination.

Understanding your quotation

Several factors influence the total cost of your move. These include the volume of goods being shipped, the mode of transport – i.e. air or sea – the timescale required, packing materials used, insurance rates and the buying power of the company you choose to handle your move.

Remember to compare these key points when receiving quotations from multiple companies:

  • Compare the estimated volume.
  • Check any additional services you discussed with the consultant are included.
  • Check what is not included.
  • Check the number of days to complete the pack.
  • Compare the recommended packing materials.  Export packing is the term reserved for packing for international moves.  Blanket wrapping is generally used for domestic moving.

Remember that as in any product or service comparison, there is usually a relationship between the price and quality

Do they offer storage in your new country?

It may be necessary to put your items into temporary storage after they are shipped overseas, as it can take time to finalise your living arrangements. Find out what support the company can offer in this area – do they have their own storage facilities or an international network to call upon?

Do they provide export packing?

An international removal company should professionally pack your goods for export. This minimises the chances of damage occurring during transit, particularly during long sea voyages. The most common cause of damage to goods is scratching, denting or breakage caused by rough seas, so by ensuring your goods are well packed the chances of such an instance occurring can be reduced.

Are they members of a trade association?

Membership of a trade association is a reflection of a removals company’s approach to providing a professional service and protecting its customers’ interests.  Members of the British Association of Removers ‘ Overseas Group or membership of the international trade association FIDI is a fair indication that the removal company is committed to providing the highest quality standards.

Do they have quality standards?

Many removal companies use quality management systems as a management tool to ensure they deliver consistent service. Check to see if the company has a formal approach to managing quality, or carries a quality accreditation to help them maintain their quality standards. For international moving, businesses that have the FAIM ISO quality accreditation have been through a rigorous audit to ensure their processes meet the highest standards in the industry. Both these industry bodies foster best practice in the international removals industry by ensuring standards in business operations, finance, management and customer service are met.

Do their customers back up their claims?

Positive endorsements of a product or service are one of the strongest factors in making a decision to buy, so when doing your research pay attention to what people say about them. Most companies will post positive reviews on their website, but it’s worth investigating whether customer feedback forms an intrinsic part of the organisation’s improvement strategy – that way you know that any feedback you provide used to improve the service offering.

For more information about moving overseas contact your local branch of Pickfords on 0800 289 229.

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