The REAL cost of moving and How to avoid hidden charges

International Moving and shipping costs comprise of many components, which generally fall into five categories. Moving companies can be a little vague, and since this can significantly affect the overall moving cost, it is advisable to identify this early in the process before you commit to one mover or another. The golden rule is to get everything in writing.

How to avoid hidden charges: The REAL cost of moving;

So, let’s take a more detailed look and try to identify where we are likely to find hidden charges and how best equip you to avoid them.

1. ‘Hidden charges’ at origin

he moving business is ultra-competitive. Salespeople and surveyors are highly incentivised to secure your move. It is essential to discuss all aspects of the move at origin, but critically you need to ensure the quotation you receive reflects this. Failure to do this may result in additional charges.

Examples of services which should be included in the quotation (if applicable)

  • Crating charges (wood)
  • Stair access
  • Shuttling charges
  • Parking fees
  • External hoists/lifts
  • Third-party / ie. handyman

Note: above charges may also be applicable at destination.

2. Generic moving costs

This relates to costs you would normally expect to incur.

These would include; 

  • Dismantling of basic items,
  • Professional packing and protection 
  • Loading into container, 
  • Port charges - including THC 
  • International freight, 
  • Clearance through customs
  • Delivery to your new residence, 
  • Unpacking and set up of basic furniture. 

3. Insurance charges

The first thing to say is insurance charges will not be included in the quoted price, unless it explicitly specified in your written quotation, so you need to budget for this as the costs can become substantial.

Moving companies and air/sea freight carriers provide very basic liability insurance but this is little more than a token gesture. A tailored, comprehensive transit cover is essential. Moving companies can arrange this for you with premiums ranging between 2 – 4% (applied to the declared value of your items).

4. Import duty

Increasingly, an individual repatriating or possessing documents to legally migrate to a country is likely to avoid paying import duty for a one time import of used personal effects and household goods.

There are exceptions however with certain countries applying VAT or another form of tax. In a few isolated cases certain countries will impose duty and taxes on all items. Many South American, African and Asian countries impose high charges, especially on electronic.

Whilst unlikely to provide any concrete guarantees, your moving company should be able to provide some accurate guidelines.

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5. ‘Hidden charges’ at destination

If you know the address you are moving to, provide this to the mover and make sure any additional charges are included in your quotation. Street address, and post/zip codes can be useful. Access is extremely important so be candid and transparent about this.

If you are not sure of your new address, (which is not uncommon), bear in mind the following charges may be applied.

  • De-Crating charges
  • Stair access
  • Shuttling charges
  • Parking fees (very common especially in cities
  • External hoists/lifts
  • Third party / ie. handyman
  • Port Storage / Demurrage

Key questions to address/ask..

a). How likely are demurrage / port storage charges at destination under normal circumstances? ie. assuming no strikes or delays/bad weather etc.

b). How comprehensive is the re-assembly? (Most moving companies may only re-assemble very basic items even if they dismantled them at origin).

c). How close can the container / delivery vehicle maneuver in relation to your residence? (It is highly likely additional charges will apply).