If you have received a relocation allowance or cash lump sum from your employer as part of an international relocation package, or are moving internationally as a complete lifestyle change, moving your home to another country will be the one of the greatest undertakings in your life. Moving overseas is an extraordinary opportunity and should be a positive experience. So how do you ensure that you get the support you require from a moving company?
Nick Young is a writer with 15 years’ experience in the moving and relocation industry. He has advised hundreds of clients on their household goods moves and has personally moved internationally several times. We asked whether he could share his insider knowledge of the industry and his experience to write an article to help families who are moving to a new house in another country and to provide an idea of the suitability of each option.
What types of moving company are there?
There are many different types of moving company services available to you. Five minutes on a search engine will provide you with literally hundreds of options to choose from. There are so many, in fact, that spending time finding suitable candidates to help you move can feel a bit overwhelming.
To help you save time, we’ve listed the main categories of moving companies you can expect to find:
1. The “domestic” countrywide moving company
These are companies who are specialists in moving within your own country. There are the big-name countrywide brands, and other more locally based moving companies you may be aware of that you have used before to move across town. Whilst they may offer a great countrywide service, international moving is not the same. It involves more complex processes, such as crossing international borders, arranging transportation across thousands of miles, and navigating customs borders and immigration.
Whilst these movers may do a capable job in your home country, do they have the necessary network and contacts with the required experience to handle all of these processes and guarantee an equally great moving experience at the destination location?
Pros: Can provide a good value for moving a whole house within your country.
Cons: Uncertain international moving capabilities.
2. The web-based international move quote website
Quote comparison companies are becoming more prevalent online. They offer to find you multiple quotes from multiple international movers and moving companies from a single quote request form. These are often first to appear in the search engine results thanks to their investment in online marketing campaigns.
These websites offer the ability to provide you with multiple quotes from multiple companies, which can be appealing to many. But what are the credentials of these companies? How do they select the companies to present to you and is this a true representation of the market?
The model they provide is to sell your lead to their list of client companies, so check that you are happy with this. If something goes wrong, who takes responsibility for you? Who will you be working with? It’s important to ask yourself these questions before deciding to go forward with this type of service.
Pros: Good for getting multiple quotes.
Cons: How do they screen the companies they provide to you? Are you happy with these companies sharing your data?
3. The baggage shipment company
These are companies who are set up to move smaller items. For example, if you want to ship a few boxes then these companies can offer a good value through a very simple procedure. On the other hand, if you need to move something more complex or if the timing of your delivery is important to you, then you may want to consider other alternatives. These companies are also less relevant for a full household goods move.
Pros: Good for moving a few boxes.
Cons: Not effective for more complex moves. Less control of timings.
4. The specialist international moving company
A specialist international moving company is able to offer moving services to different countries through the use of their in-house staff. This category of company is able to offer the full range of services required to conduct a successful international move.
When checking on the capabilities of an international moving company, it’s wise to ask if they have their own professional packing crews, how they protect your home and items during packing, if they have staff who are trained and experienced in international move coordination, and how they manage customs procedures. Within this category of specialist international moving companies, there are a few special considerations to focus on:
4a. The own office global network international moving company
These tend to be large companies, with lots of own offices denoted by “dots on the map.” They advocate having the same company brand name at each end handling the move. This is appealing in terms of offering the promise of a consistent brand service, but it does raise a few questions that you should be asking. To my knowledge there is no one company who has an own office in every country worldwide. Does having the same brand name deliver consistency and are the services at destination as high quality as the services at origin? Will you have one point of contact you can turn to for all of your questions, or will you be passed around frequently between different coordinators in different countries?
Pros: Big company capabilities and resources
Cons: Sometimes a lack of personal attention. Tied to their own office network.
4b. The independent international moving company working as part of an approved global network (e.g. FIDI)
An alternative to an own office model, is selecting a moving company who have been verified as part of an approved global network. There are a few global networks to choose from, such as IAM, Harmony, ERC. However, to ensure a high quality move it is recommended to find a company with FIDI accreditation. This accreditation represents a legitimate and established international moving trading history which has been approved by FIDI auditors. The FIDI organisation is established to define the gold quality assurance standard for the international moving industry and to provide access to the best international movers in each city worldwide. So it’s a great idea to check for the FIDI certification before choosing your international mover. This way you are able to choose the best international moving company at origin and destination. Some people may be put off with having two companies supporting you, but your moving company at your origin would normally be who you employ, and they will be accountable for your door-to-door move. A good independent international mover will provide you with a primary point of contact and take responsibility for the service you receive.
Pros: Flexibility and choice. Validation from a professional body.
Cons: Can be harder to find your local FIDI mover.
Choosing a Mover Conclusion
In summary, for a full household goods international move you have a number of choices. The domestic movers, online move quote companies, and baggage shipment companies have their pluses but can be limited in quality and capability.
The specialist international moving companies are more suited to moving a home internationally. They will have the in-house skills, resources and global network which should help your move go smoothly. If having the same brand at each end is most important, then the own-office model will be most appealing. If you want greater flexibility and best-in-class at each end, then the independent international mover may suit you better but remember to check for FIDI certification if you want the best experience possible. A good international mover will take responsibility for your move and provide you with a primary point of contact for the entire door-to-door moving process.
Once you find the right international moving company, you are sure to find that the moving process will become so much easier.
By Nick Young