There are many great international moving companies in the UK and some not so good. Below are some top tips for selecting the removal company that’s best for your needs if you’re moving abroad in 2023
Moving home is arguably one of the most stressful things that you can do, and international removals are even more complex. International removals always involve an element of risk, so it’s important that you choose one of the best international removal companies, one with a good reputation and proven track record, to ensure that your move goes smoothly.
Choosing the cheapest international removal company may end up costing you more in the long run, both in terms of stress and financially. If breakages occur, or you have problems with customs and paperwork when you arrive at your overseas destination, this can certainly be costly.
It is important to ask the right questions – is the international removal company telling you what you want to hear in order to get the business, or are they giving you impartial advice?
Liam Witham, CEO of PSS International Removals, was recently interviewed by The Telegraph newspaper for their feature on ‘How to choose a reliable international removal company’.
These are some of the things he recommends looking for when considering the best international removal company for your move.
- How to choose the best international removal company:
- What should you look for in the top international removal companies?
- 1. Removals companies that specialise in international and overseas removals
- 2. Are they members of the British Association of Removers (BAR) Overseas Group?
- 3. Are they covered by the Advanced Payment Guarantee Scheme?
- 4. Choosing a removals company near you
- 5. Service options that are right for your needs
- 6. Getting a quote
- 7. Book a home or video survey
- 8. Check their Accreditations
- 9. Are they a member of the FIDI Global Alliance with FIDI FAIM Accreditation
- 10. Are they a member of the Movers Trading Club (MTC)?
- 11. For European moves, are they a member of Euromovers?
- 12. What other industry affiliations and associations do they have?
- 13. Do they provide Storage options in the UK and in your destination country?
- 14. Are the packing crews and packing materials suitable for international moves?
- 15. Help with documentation
- 16. The number of customers they have moved to your destination
- 17. Can they provide international car vehicle shipping?
- 18. How is customs clearance handled?
- 19. Delivery – Door-to-door collection and delivery
- 20. Who is the destination partner and are they accredited?
- 21. Check customer review websites
- 22. Do they offer shipment protection or insurance?
- 23. Personable, friendly and professional
- How to compare international removal quotes?
- Conclusion – which removal company is best for you?
How to choose the best international removal company:
Step 1: Give yourself plenty of time
You will have a lot of things to organise with your move abroad so it’s best not to leave choosing your removal company until the last minute. Ideally, you should start researching international removal companies at least 6 months in advance of your move and obtaining quotes 3 months in advance.
Step 2: Prepare a shortlist of international removal companies
Using various sources such as Google, migration forums, and personal and industry recommendations, compile a list of potential international moving companies. Using the criteria below you can narrow these down to your three top international removal companies to get a formal quote.
Step 3: Undertake a home or video survey
Ideally, invite your selected companies to do a home survey so they can accurately assess your needs and you can get a better idea of what they are like. If you have a smaller amount of belongings to ship, then a virtual video survey may be sufficient.
Step 4: Compare quotes
Once you have received quotes from all companies you should carefully compare them – making sure to check they are like for like. See below for more tips on how to do this.
Step 5: Make a final selection
The final step is to evaluate each company and compare the service they are offering as well as the price. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that may arise from comparing quotes. Hopefully, you will then be able to make a clear decision on which company is best for your needs.
What should you look for in the top international removal companies?
When it comes to selecting the best international removal company for your needs, there are a number of things that you should be considering that will help you to make the best decision for your individual circumstances.
1. Removals companies that specialise in international and overseas removals
This is one of the key pieces of advice from the Telegraph article: “Don’t hire a company that usually caters to domestic deliveries if you’re moving to Australia. Companies that specialise in international removals will be equipped with the right materials, their staff will have expertise in how to pack the containers, and they will often have a good relationship with Customs.”
Lots of companies claim to offer international moving services, but there is a big difference between moving across town or even the country and shipping your goods overseas. A removals company that specialises in international removals will understand the complexities of export packing, paperwork, dealing with shipping lines, customs clearance and delivery in your new country.
2. Are they members of the British Association of Removers (BAR) Overseas Group?
For removals within the UK, BAR membership is the premier standard for all removals companies, with quality standards that are recognized by Trading Standards. If you are moving abroad, then ensure that the international removal company you choose is a member of the BAR Overseas Group.
3. Are they covered by the Advanced Payment Guarantee Scheme?
You should also check if the international removals company you are considering are part of the Advanced Payment Guarantee Scheme. This will ensure that your removal costs are covered in case the company you use goes under. The scheme guarantees to refund your removal costs or ensure your move is completed in the event of any problems.
4. Choosing a removals company near you
With domestic removals, it can be beneficial to choose a local company, but when it comes to choosing the best international removals companies, you’ll find these are more likely to have nationwide coverage, with either local or regional crews to carry out the packing and collection of your belongings.
Therefore, whilst it’s nice to choose a company that has a local office, this is less important than their experience and credentials in handling international moves. PSS has a number of depots and offices throughout the United Kingdom so you can check to confirm that we have a removal team near you.
5. Service options that are right for your needs
There are a number of different service options to consider, from container shipping for overseas moves, road freight for Europe, box or luggage shipping for small moves and even air freight for urgent shipments. It is really important to consider how quickly you will need your belongings to arrive in your new location and indeed if you will need everything immediately. For example, you might need your work tools straight away, but if you will be staying in rented, furnished accommodation whilst you look for a property then you will not need your furniture as quickly.
Some companies are more suitable if you are considering container shipping, some road freight, and some are only set up to deal with small moves and baggage shipping. There are only a few international removal companies that have the capabilities and experience to offer all of these.
6. Getting a quote
Some companies will give you a ballpark estimate online using an international removals cost calculator, and this is certainly a good place to start if you want a guide to how much your move will cost. However, it is always better to request a home visit in order to get a more accurate quote.
7. Book a home or video survey
A home or video survey is not only the best way for an international removals company to accurately assess the volume of your belongings and other requirements but also a great way for you to assess the company and how they work.
You will be able to see how knowledgeable they are, and how much care they take around your belongings. Plus, you will also be able to make a judgement on how comfortable you feel with them.
8. Check their Accreditations
Accreditations are a useful independent guide to the pedigree of the international removals company you are looking at. But as overseas removals are far more complicated and involved than domestic removals, it’s important that the company you are considering has all the relevant international removals accreditations and affiliations.
9. Are they a member of the FIDI Global Alliance with FIDI FAIM Accreditation
Are they a member of the FIDI Global Alliance, and do they have FIDI FAIM Accreditation? Having both of these important accreditations will ensure your removal company is partnering with the world’s best international removal bodies so that you get quality service in your destination country as well as in the UK.
10. Are they a member of the Movers Trading Club (MTC)?
You may also want to check if the international removals company you are considering is a Member of the Movers Trading Club. This is an industry collective organized by BAR Overseas that allows the best removals companies to join together in order to negotiate the best shipping rates for customers and also ensures they use the best-accredited shipping lines.
11. For European moves, are they a member of Euromovers?
European removals used to be very easy – you could put everything in a van and simply drive there. However, since Brexit things have changed significantly. The processes, paperwork and necessary customs clearance that is required for a move to Europe are now far more complex.
If your UK moving company is a member of Euromovers, it means they have access to a comprehensive network of the best local international removal companies across Europe who will ensure your move is handled correctly and efficiently.
12. What other industry affiliations and associations do they have?
In addition to formal accreditations, you may also want to consider what other companies and organisations the removal company is associated with. If well-known companies are happy to work with them and recommend them, then it is likely that they are reputable companies.
PSS works with a number of well-known companies and organisations including A Place In The Sun, Big Yellow Self Storage, DialAFlight, WorkingIn and the Down Under Centre.
13. Do they provide Storage options in the UK and in your destination country?
Using a company which offers storage services, preferably both in the UK and in your destination country is another useful consideration.
Even if you do not think that you will need storage, it’s good to have it there as a backup in case of unforeseen circumstances such as your move being delayed or your new house not being ready in time.
14. Are the packing crews and packing materials suitable for international moves?
What packing options do they offer? All furniture needs to be export wrapped appropriately for international shipping. Export packing requires a higher standard of packing and is a specialist skill.
You will want to be assured that the packing crew is fully trained and experienced in packing for the long journeys required in moving and shipping your belongings long distances overseas.
In addition, any delicate items that you want to take with you might need special attention such as antique packing and custom wooden crates.
15. Help with documentation
There is a fair bit of paperwork involved in shipping your personal effects abroad and this varies depending on the country you’re moving to. It is important that your removals company is experienced in handling this paperwork and can guide you through completing it correctly. This will be invaluable in saving you potential problems on arrival.
16. The number of customers they have moved to your destination
Another factor that you should take into consideration is whether the company has experience dealing with the country you are considering moving to. Have they helped a large number of people move there or just a few?
This is especially important for shared containers or part loads, as this can mean your shipment leaves a lot sooner and is not waiting longer for the company to consolidate enough consignments to make up a full load.
17. Can they provide international car vehicle shipping?
The best international removal companies can give you the option of shipping your car together with your personal effects, which can save you money. Shipping your car in a container also offers more protection and is highly recommended.
Even if you’re not planning to ship your car, knowing the firm offers this is another sign that they are experienced in international moves.
18. How is customs clearance handled?
Customs clearance is a highly complex area, so it is essential to check that the international removals company that you are considering are qualified and has the experience to handle the necessary customs clearance for the country you are moving to. Different countries will have different requirements, so it is not enough for the company you are looking at to have general knowledge of customs clearance. You should also ask them what other additional costs will be payable on arrival with regard to the items that you are shipping.
Since Brexit, the paperwork is a little more complex than previously, so this is now just as important for European removals as well.
19. Delivery – Door-to-door collection and delivery
This is standard for international removals, but some unscrupulous companies have been known to quote for door-to-port shipping and then charge customers extra for the final delivery. Or, worse still, leave customers to sort this final part of their belongings journey out for themselves.
UK companies don’t have overseas branches in every port and country, so need to partner with other companies in the destination country. Ask your chosen international removals company who they are partnered with and check that they are also accredited for international moves.
20. Who is the destination partner and are they accredited?
When you choose an international removals company you are also choosing their destination partner as part of your complete international removals package. Remember to research the destination partner of your chosen international removals company as well as the company itself. You want to ensure that both of them have good reviews.
21. Check customer review websites
Customer reviews on websites such as Trust pilot are always a good source of opinions, which can help you when making your decision on which company to use. However, it is worth ensuring that you check the overall balance of positive and negative reviews when researching international removal companies, to help you make a more informed decision.
22. Do they offer shipment protection or insurance?
It is important to ensure your belongings are covered for peace of mind so check that the company you choose can offer flexible shipment protection cover. The best cover allows you to choose which items you wish to cover and which items you may not need to cover, rather than having to pay extra to cover everything.
You should always take out additional shipment protection cover for international removals and shipping, as the risks in this type of removal are many and varied. The standard liability option included in most contracts doesn’t offer full compensation if anything was to go wrong, so you should consider taking out enhanced liability or a 3rd party insurance product. Ask for advice on shipment protection options before going ahead with the cheapest; it may not cover everything you want.
23. Personable, friendly and professional
You will be working closely with the international removals company that you select, so it’s important that you get on. However, you will also need them to demonstrate their expertise so that you are certain you can rely on them to do the job with the professional expertise that an international removal requires.
How to compare international removal quotes?
You should create a shortlist of around three of the best international removals companies to obtain quotes from. You should also ensure that all of your quotes are on a like-for-like basis. Check such things as:
- The volume – if not the same check how it’s been calculated differently.
- Door to door (some quotes may only be for door to port leaving you with the problem of getting your belongings to your home or having to pay extra).
- That all your quotes include the same items.
- Packing and packing materials are included.
- Any specialist packing needed e.g. wooden crates or antique packing is included.
- Standard Customs clearance and delivery are included (some additional customs inspection fees and duties will likely be charged extra by the destination customs authorities).
- Are they accredited and using recognised shipping lines?
- Comprehensive insurance or shipment protection cover – this is usually extra so check the cost.
- The deposit required and booking notice date/flexibility if your situation changes.
Conclusion – which removal company is best for you?
When it comes to selecting the best international removal company to help you with what could be one of the most complicated moves you may ever make, there are a great many factors to take into consideration. In our guide, we have set out a number of things that will help you to make the most informed choices possible.
Choosing the best international moving company for your needs may seem quite daunting, but by using the above checklist you can be confident of making the right choice.
You may not be surprised that as one of the top international removal companies in the UK, PSS International Removals meets all of the above criteria and more, so we hope to make it on your shortlist!
PSS has been specialising in overseas moves for over 40 years. We have unparalleled expertise and friendly staff who are dedicated to ensuring your move goes smoothly.
To get things moving you can try our online international removals cost calculator or request a free home survey here.
If there are any things that we have not covered, or you would like more information about any aspect of your international move, then our friendly and personable team are here to help so give us a call on 0800 988 3711 and let us help you make those first steps on what might be the biggest adventure of your life.