Moving with an overseas shipping company

If you’re planning on taking all of your belongings with you when you move abroad, using an overseas shipping company can get you there. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you pack your things into a shipping container.

Moving abroad with an overseas shipping company

By Expatica

Updated 9-1-2024

When physically moving your belongings abroad, there are three options available: leave with nothing, leave with something, or relocate all of your furniture and belongings. Overseas shipping can be tricky and time-consuming, but here’s some advice on how to handle the process.


It’s no secret that moving abroad can be stressful. Sirelo’s team of removal advisers is here to help. They provide five free quotes from international moving companies so you can find the best options at the best prices. Wherever in the world you’re moving to, take the stress out of relocation with Sirelo.

Do your research: you or the professionals?

If you want to handle the move on your own, get ready to spend several weeks calling companies. You’ll be gathering quotes, filling out customs paperwork, applying for port documents, getting insurance, and probably more. You won’t realize at first, but relocating overseas can soon turn into a full-time job in its own right.

That’s why you should decide whether or not you want to use a professional relocation agency. Hiring a relocation company will usually cost more than arranging the individual parts yourself. However, it can also give you peace of mind that your belongings will make it safely and securely. This is particularly true if the journey uses multiple forms of transport. It’ll also mean a lot less work for you.

Relocation companies a range of services. From full door-to-door to a simple shipping service, you have your choice of options. To give you an idea of what to expect, it’s a good idea to gather some quotes. The following are international logistics platforms that could help:

Finding the right international shipping provider can give you peace of mind while dealing with the other details of your move. Check ahead of time to avoid any last-minute surprises.

Sell it or ship it?

An overseas move will always be expensive (though a benevolent employer relocating you will hire a relocation agency). The only way to shave down cost is to eliminate all of that stuff. Many expats moving abroad find it difficult to part with everything in their home, or think that they’ll have trouble finding everything they need abroad. Many relocation agencies are seeing increases in shorter-term assignments abroad rather than lengthier ones. All the more reason to pack light, unless you’re in it for the long haul and want to buy a house of your own.

Packing light isn’t for everyone, though. For many families, even ordinary household items and decorations hold sentimental value. When push comes to shove, these one-of-a-kind furnishings are difficult to let go of. If that’s the case for you, overseas shipping companies are a common choice to get your belongings across the ocean.

Prepare your belongings for overseas shipping

Regardless of experience, moving overseas is a big, daunting procedure. Overconfidence is as dangerous as inexperience. In fact, expats moving abroad often face with more bureaucratic work than they originally expect. Do you know the laws your destination country has for importing your household items?

Inspire your packing planning with a few important things to remember.

You definitely need insurance

In the extremely rare event that a storm hits a cargo carrier and your container falls into the ocean, the cargo ship crew must shoot holes in the side of it so the container sinks to the bottom of the ocean. You can’t make these things up.

Although this is a highly unlikely scenario, it is possible. Insurance usually covers the entire loss of a container as part of the arrangement.

Keep your cargo separate

Confusion is not the biggest issue, it’s confiscation. If customs officers locate something illegal, they’ll take everything in the container as part of an investigation. In that case, so all of your special belongings may very well be gone for good.

It’s strongly encouraged to try and fill or rent an entire container if you’re using an overseas shipping company.

Remember the middleman

Be certain that furnishings like exotic lamps, high-tech electronics, and one-of-a-kind furniture pieces have the necessary connections to operate outside the country where purchased. From plug adaptors to specific bed linens, make sure you can achieve your ideal setup in your new home just like it was in your previous home.

Don’t forget to lock up and unlock

Shipping containers don’t travel across the ocean at the highest rate of speed, so develop some patience. It’s common for the entire process (including the actual shipping time and the processing of the shipment by customs officials) to take a few months.

The best advice for anyone using overseas shipping? Don’t pack your house keys inside of the shipping container!