Relocation options for moving to Russia
If you're moving to Moscow or Russia, what's the best way to send your furniture, belongings or car? Read about air freight, shipping and international relocation to Russia.
Moving your belongings to Moscow or Russia doesn’t have to be a stressful process, with road, sea and aerial freight options all available for moving your belongings.
Whether you’re moving to Russia from Europe or farther afield, before choosing an international moving option there are many things to consider to ensure your belongings arrive safely, you keep costs down, avoid damage and breakages and receive your belongings on time. You can see a list of moving companies and relocation companies for moving to Russia.
How can you decide which international moving option is best for the items you need to move to Russia? This guide explains the pros, cons, delivery timeframes and estimate prices so you can pick the top international removal option for your move to Russia:
- Air freight
- Road freight
- Shipping companies
- Hiring an international moving company
- How to choose an international moving company
- Customs and importing a car to Russia
Air freight companies usually offer regular services to the main Russian airports, such as Domodedovo, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don and St Petersburg.
Air freight rates
Air freight is generally the most expensive relocation option. Costs depend on both the weight and size of your items, and some providers will place limits on what you can and can’t ship. In addition to standard shipping costs, other fees such as minimum shipment charges, handling charges and insurance will need to be factored in too.
Air freight transit time
Moving with air freight is the quickest way to relocate your possessions, and if you choose a door-to-door service, you could reasonably expect your belongings to be delivered in 7-14 days (depending on the location).
Air freight is often a preferred option for people moving small quantities of possessions. Some home movers choose to send the majority of their belongings by road or sea and choose air shipment for smaller, more urgently-needed items.
How to find air freight companies
The majority of relocation companies will provide quotes online and some websites offer price comparison services. While online quotes are useful to obtain estimates, they will often only offer a ‘ballpark figure’ and will fail to factor in the additional costs of your move to Russia, such as insurance, packing and delivery.
It is therefore advised to narrow your research to just a few of the most reputable companies and contact them directly to obtain a full quote.
How air freight works
This depends largely on the level of service you choose: While it’s possible to simply have your belongings collected, if you choose a full door-to-door service you’ll need to have your items surveyed professionally, and in some cases packaged to the company’s standards.
Once you’ve handed over your belongings, you should be given specific information about which flight your shipment will be on and how you can track its progress.
Packing for air freight
You can pack your items yourself with your own materials or purchase packaging materials from the shipping company. Alternatively, you can pay the company to package your items for you.
Who should move with air freight?
It's important to consider both the cost and logistics involved. Think about how soon you need your belongings and how far they will have to travel once they reach Russia. If you’re in a hurry consider air freight, but if you’re on a budget and time is not an issue, choose road or shipping freight.
If you’re moving to Russia from within Europe, doing so by road freight can be a cost-effective relocation option.
You should be able to choose from a direct freight or a groupage freight. A groupage shipment involves your belongings being relocated to Russia with those of other customers using the same company. This option is cheaper but can also be slower as your goods might get held up in warehouses around Europe.
If you’re moving to somewhere remote or you’re in a hurry, a private or direct freight is a better option, albeit more expensive.
Freight transit times
Freight transit time of course depends on from where you’re moving your belongings but to provide a comparison air freight might take you a week while relocating using road freight could take up to six weeks for groupage trucks and a couple of weeks for direct shipments.
Find freight companies
As with air freight, you can use online comparisons or contact freight or international moving companies directly for quotes.
How the freight process works
Once you have chosen an international moving company, you will agree on a pickup date and put together an inventory of your items. Once collected, you should be able to track the progress of your belongings but this varies so check with the company you’re using before booking.
Who should move with freight to Russia?
If you’re moving from mainland Europe and you’re not in a massive hurry, road freight can be a cost-effective option.
Move to Russia with shipping companies
For those moving to Russia from outside Europe, container shipping is a popular choice. Shipping freight is also a cost-effective solution for relocating large items, such as whitegoods, furniture items and cars. With Russia being such a vast country, it has a few dozen ports dotted around its perimeter, so you’ll need to research how often suppliers deliver to your nearest port if you arrange freight shipping on your own.
As with other forms of transport, the cost is dependent on a series of factors, although shipping freight tyipically works out significantly cheaper than doing so by air.
Freight shipping transit times
Freight shipping can take a while. If you send a direct shipment from North America, it can take 8–10 weeks to arrive, or from Australia and New Zealand you could be waiting as long as three months.
Container shipping: How the process works
Different shipping container options are available for customers with different load sizes and budgets. Shipping containers come in set sizes, with a 20-foot container able to hold the contents of a three-bedroom house and a 40-foot container more suited to a four or five bedroom house.
There are several options to consider.
- If you have a full container load or less than a container load: If you have enough belongings to fill a full container, they will be loaded into a steel container and taken to the port, before being directly transported to their location. If you have a smaller load, this can often be crated and delivered in a similar way.
- Groupage shipping freight: this is the cheapest and slowest method. Your belongings will be shipped together with those of other customers. They will usually arrive by sea to a central European warehouse and then be shipped to you via truck.
Packing for freight shipping
As with other forms of transport, your options depend on the company you use. Some shipping companies won’t offer you insurance on your goods unless they pack them. If you arrange your relocation through an international moving company they will offer to pack your items for an additional fee, although you can still typically opt to pack your own goods.
Who should use shipping freight?
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to move your belongings to Russia from outside of Europe and you’re not in a rush, this option is the most viable, particularly for large items.
International moving companies can take some of the stress out of your move by providing door-to-door services. While this is the most expensive option on paper, by the time you’ve factored in the costs and time required for each stage of moving, it’s sometimes the safest bet. Other factors, such as customs and arranging multiple transport types, are also typically handled by international movers.
Timeframes for booking an internationl moving company
If you choose a high level of service (such as a door-to-door option), you’ll generally need to give plenty of notice as the best international moving companies are in high demand. Ideally allow at least three months between first contacting the company and your move to Russia, as your relocation company will likely ask to visit you and survey your belongings before providing a final quote.
Packaging and international moving companies
Before making a decision about packing, check the terms and conditions of the contract, as some companies won’t give you insurance if they haven’t packed the shipment themselves. While it costs more, having your items professionally packed can also save you considerable time.
DIY versus using a moving company
It is possible to arrange each stage of the moving process yourself, cutting out the need for a moving company. Whether you should do this depends largely on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in, as while the financial savings can sometimes be significant, this is not always the case once you factor in the cost of your time.
If you do decide to move your belongings to Russia yourself, make a clear list of everything you’ll need to deal with, including the administrative elements such as insurance and preparing an inventory, and always err on the side of caution regarding time frames.
Your first step is to check that your prospective companies are registered with an official industry body, such as the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, International Air Transport Association or the British International Freight Association in Britain.
It’s vital to do plenty of research before diving in. Look into online reviews and testimonials, and ask friends and family if they have any recommendations. Ultimately, you’ll be making your decision based on the perceived quality of the company, their quote, their reviews and your own gut instinct.
The first time you speak to prospective companies on the phone, ask lots of questions, such as if they can provide a specific itemised price list for you, to what degree you can track your shipment and what rights you’ll have if the delivery is delayed or damaged.
You’ll need to put together a comprehensive inventory of your possessions, including the brand, serial number and model number of any electronic items you’ll be moving to Russia. You may also need to pay customs charges on some of your items. You can also import your car temporarily into Russia, although conditions apply.
For full information about Russian customs procedures (in English), visit the government website.
Need advice? Ask Expatica's relocation expert on our Ask the Expert page.
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