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Moving Tips

Moving to a foreign country can be an overwhelming task. It can be an intimidating and complicated mire of forms, shipping schedules, international contacts, and legal documents. How will you see to all the details?

The answer is simple: You won't. We will.

Our expertise lies in knowing the details, and applying the skills that make International transportation more stable - and less stressful for families and corporations alike. When you relocate to a foreign country, there are always crucial decisions that need to be made in a timely manner to ensure swift and effective moves. Listed below are a few aspects that need to be kept in mind:

  • Ask the moving company for references from customers they've recently moved. All reputable international moving companies will have plenty of testimonials from satisfied customers. They will also have very few, if any, complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure the moving company is willing to assign you an International Move Coordinator to oversee your move from start-to-finish. Without this person, you'll deal with a new employee at every stage of the move, increasing the likelihood of some aspect of your move falling through the cracks. At Arpin, we provide you with a personal move coordinator from the very beginning of your international move. This coordinator will be your only point of contact throughout your journey overseas, meticulously handling every last detail of your move.
  • The most important factor to ensure a smooth and successful international move is to select the right mover for the task. Always go with a well-known, reputable company.
  • When searching for a mover, you should consider at least three companies, so you can compare their prices and services.
  • Approach the international mover well in advance and be as familiar as possible with your needs since many international moving companies specialize in shipping different commodities.
  • Remember to check the international movers' documentation and licensing. For international movers, you can check their licenses by going to the Federation of International Furniture Removers’ (FIDI) website at www.fidi.org. FIDI is an international organization that monitors and sets up standards for international movers. 
  • Inquire about their insurance policy. Additional insurance on your items is always advised when you are moving internationally. You should perform an itemized inventory of your household goods, complete with precise valuation of each item. You can even include the cost to you of moving the item. For instance, if you are insuring a large screen television, add the pro-rated cost of moving the item to the full value of replacing the television. Ask your moving company for complete details and as always, get as many opinions as possible before making a decision.


Making the choice of what to ship and what to leave behind is a lot easier if you have a good idea as to where you will be living. The decision of which items to ship is more difficult if you do not have a housing arrangement already made.

Procure a floor plan, the approximate size of rooms, etc. Once you can visualize your new personal space, it will be easier to decide which pieces of furniture will fit in well. Depending on the country you are moving to, keep in mind that spaces may vary, i.e., you may not be able to fit your full-load washer and dryer in your new dwelling, or your brand new LCD flat screen TV may not work with the technology available in your new location. Your Arpin Move International Group Relocation Coordinator will provide you with destination information to help you learn about your new host country.  Also, take into consideration the length of your stay. If you are moving for less than 12 months, perhaps getting a furnished dwelling may make more sense; in that case, maybe a small air shipment is all that you need.

It is NOT recommended that you pack your own boxes.

Considering the distance and the rough haul, you should ideally let the professionals handle the wrapping and packing of your belongings. Also, PBO boxes oftentimes draw the attention of customs officials and result in inspections and delayed delivery.

Moving storage facilities are both affordable and convenient. If the international move is temporary, you can benefit by storing a great deal of your belongings.

We recommend that you avoid holding the container for more than 5 days, as you would then need to pay additional charges.

You might want to consider selling or donating your current appliances since different countries operate on different plug types or voltage and most electrical appliances will require some sort of adapter. By doing this, you can alleviate the hassle of having to deal with tricky adapters and save money by not shipping the old appliances; instead buy new appliances with this money!

Before you move, contact the embassy of your new host country regarding advice on visas, or if a corporate move, make sure your HR department has all your work permit documentation in place. A lot of countries will not release a container full of household goods unless a valid proof-of-work permit is showen at importation.

The customs regulations should be given due consideration and cross verified as they are subject to constant change. Always rely on what your International Move Coordinator is telling you, and not on what you may have found online as the information could be a bit dated. Import/Export regulations change on a daily basis and not necessarily announced.

If you are planning to ship your car or truck, you should expect plenty of restrictions. Import restrictions differ from country-to-country and you should research the allowances of your destination.

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding shipping your automobile:

Are you licensed to drive in your new host country?

Does your vehicle meet the environmental standards required?

Is the cost of insurance prohibitive?

Is the cost of shipping your vehicle within your budget?

If you’re looking into moving overseas, make sure to study up on the licensing requirements that the international movers may need. Some international moving companies are based overseas and some are based within the United States. To get a firm understanding of the international mover you may be dealing with, you should consult with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) or FIDI.

International household goods movers are required to be licensed with the Federal Maritime Commission as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary, otherwise known as an OTI. A reputable international mover would be licensed by the commission with a tariff and bond. However, what you should know about the FMC is that its rules and regulations are only for companies that travel overseas. If you are considering hiring a moving company to help you relocate to Mexico, the FMC standards do not apply, because, as mentioned, there is no ocean travel involved. You must research different information and licensing.

There are two different kinds of OTI’s. One OTI is known as ocean freight forwarder (off), the other is known as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC). Ocean freight forwarders are required to obtain a license to provide moving services to those in the United States. U.S.-based NVOCC’s are required to be licensed; however, the NVOCC’s that are not based in the U.S. are not required to be licensed.

The non-U.S. based NVOCC’s do have the option of choosing to get a license.

If the moving company considers its own financial responsibility, it would get a license because it lowers a their insurance rates.

When is an Ocean Transportation Intermediary required? It’s required when any individual or entity that is a resident of or incorporated in the United States and performs Ocean Transportation Services in the foreign commerce of the United States.

What does that mean exactly? International moving companies based in the U.S. need a license to transport household goods into a different country. Outside of making sure the moving company has proper licensing, consider the currency of the country you’re moving to, as well as any information available through the U.S. Embassy located in the destination country or the CIA country factbook.

Comparing International Moving Companies

Sorting through the various international moving companies can be exhausting. But, choosing the right mover can make all the difference in the world. You’ll want to choose someone with the knowledge, expertise, and resources to get you where you need to go. 

Start Searching for an International Moving Company

To begin your questioning of international moving companies, be sure to find out how many moves the company completes annually, and their international network. Arpin has more than 385 agents in North America and offices in the EMEA and APAC regions. Arpin Group moves approximately 30,000 families annually.

Another consideration is the ability to easily track your shipment. Are you able to track your possessions online throughout every stage of the move? Arpin’s online shipment tracking service ensures that you will know where your belongings are throughout their transport overseas. By entering your shipment number via our online portal, you are one click away from knowing where your international shipment is at all times.

Other Considerations When Selecting an International Moving Company

When you are choosing between companies, be sure you understand a few basic things. First, be aware of the rates and charges that will apply to your move; not all companies will be upfront about all the moving fees. Be certain of the mover's liability for your belongings, valuation coverage they offer, and type of claims protection they have. Also, ask the companies how pickup and delivery will work. Though it seems very basic, on-time pickup and delivery is essential when traveling overseas.

Here are additional resources from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to help educate you on moving and safety:

Protect Your Move - http://www.protectyourmove.gov
Consumer Outreach - http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/