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Moving your belongings to another country is a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. In the wrong hands your personal possessions could end who knows where!

So, how do you choose the right international shipping company?

The first thing to do is to create a shortlist of companies that will ship your goods from your location, a lot of companies are regional so this is a priority.  Once you have found the companies in your area you need to then check out the details.

Things you need to look out for are:

  1. Licenses – depending on where you are, the removal company may need a license, make sure any potentials have the correct ones.
  2. Insurance – insurance for your possessions is critical – do not trust your goods without making sure the company & your items are insured! You will usually pay extra for this – make sure it is in your contract.  Also make sure you know what your cover includes.
  3. Business Checks – are they a legitimate business? Where are their offices?  Do they have adverts locally e.g. in newspapers or the Yellow Pages?  Do a search on the internet to see if you can find out any scams or negatives about them.
  4. Reviews – if possible find people who have used them before, check online or better yet ask your friends at home and abroad of their experiences.
  5. Documentation – you will need insurance and a contract as a bare minimum.  The removals company should also ask you for a full itemised list and what they are taking.  They will also have to deal with customs so make sure they have all this in hand.
  6. Procedures – find out what the procedure is for collecting, transportation and delivery.  You might be surprised.  My removal company ended up moving other people’s goods in the same van and it went via another country stop off.  At some point during the weekend it took to move my goods some items were left out in the rain including my expensive laser printer.  Make sure you know 100% what will happen to your goods when they leave your sight.
  7. Speak to someone – give the company a call to get your answers, you often get a good feel for customer service and how a company handles itself when you speak to someone in person.  Don’t do all your checking and question answering by email/internet. Apart from anything else you need to make sure you can access help if an emergency takes place.

The above items are the minimum you need to know about a company before you hand over your cash and your possessions.  Of course, when you have cut the list down to a few you then need to get quotes for your goods.   Don’t forget to get at least 2-3 quotes so you don’t get ripped off.  If you have a lot of items, or valuable items then the removals company may have to come to your home to do an itemised quote.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net