How-to December 15, 2022

How to Choose a Moving Company When Relocating Abroad

Maya Brown

Born in Atlanta, Maya has called many places home in her lifetime. She's a content writer and moving expert who loves to help people relocate smoothly.

Every relocation requires a lot of planning – there’s a lot to think about, and it can get overwhelming pretty quickly, especially if you’re moving overseas. That’s why figuring out how to choose a moving company is one of the most important steps during this process. So, here’s our guide full of tips on how to pick a moving company and make the move that much easier.

Start with research – the most important thing you should gather from this process is if each firm you’re considering is legitimate, and you should have a certain number of companies by the end of it. When you have a few movers in mind, check if they meet all of your requirements, schedule an in-house assessment, and inform yourself about their insurance policy and contract options. When you have all of this covered, it will be easy to make a final decision.

Finding Reputable Movers Means Half the Job Is Done

When you’re moving internationally, there is a lot to consider, from gathering the essential documents needed for traveling overseas to preparing yourself for the inevitable culture shock. Because of that, your to-do list can get quite long when you start thinking about all of the relocation essentials you need for the whole ordeal to go over smoothly. So, don’t let finding professional help right for the job be one of the things you forget during this process.

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How to Find a Good Moving Company – Start With a Thorough Search

You’re probably wondering how to select a moving company in order to have an efficient move. There are thousands of companies to choose from, so make sure to avoid the common relocation mistake of starting your online research late and having to go through the stress of a last-minute move. When you have enough time to do a thorough search and verify all of the important information, you are significantly minimizing the chances of becoming a victim of relocation scams.

So, let’s look at what to consider when choosing movers:

Get Recommendations From the People You Know

It’s a good idea to ask people you know who have moved abroad before, such as your family members, friends, or business associates. They will surely have experiences and recommendations to share, and their opinion will nudge you in the right direction for your search. Besides, you might pick up a few relocation hacks and tips on the way!

Take Several Companies Into Account and Check Their Online Reviews

You should start with a simple Google search, but don’t end there – be systematic, compare different businesses, and make a spreadsheet so you can have a good overview of all of the information you find. When you’re checking online reviews, it’s important that you look at other places besides their website, as these can be easily fabricated. Searching for reviews on popular third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau gives you a better picture of their work ethic.

Check if the Services the Movers Provide Meet Your Requirements

Finish your online review search with a couple of potential companies, and then figure out if the services they provide match your requirements for the move. So, what to look for when using a moving company? There are a few standard things every reputable relocation firm provides, such as packing assistance, but your main concern is to search for movers that provide the services of relocating abroad, such as international moving by sea. If you need to relocate your vehicle as well, it’s important to check if they provide overseas vehicle shipping.

How to Choose a Moving Company to Hire – Check Their License

If you’re wondering – what is the most reputable moving company? Well, it’s simple – if a business is reputable, it should have a proper license and federal registration. So, before you make any contact, it’s important to make sure that they have their Department of Transportation (DOT) number, which should be stated on their website.

When you have their DOT number, you can see if they are properly insured and licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and you will also be able to see if there’s any complaint history. It’s a good idea to also check if they’re a member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), as there is a Code of Ethics every mover needs to abide by in order to be a part of this institution.

A woman researching an international moving company
Don't forget to verify the company's DOT number

If You’re Still Not Sure How to Find a Moving Company Right for the Hire, Here are a Few More Red Flags You Should Avoid

So, you’ve checked reviews, licenses, and the services they provide, but you’re still not sure if they are completely legitimate. Here’s a list of a couple of red flags you should also take into account:

  • The business has only positive reviews – any business that’s been in the industry for a long time will have mixed reviews, and they won’t delete them because they understand you can’t possibly please everyone,
  • The firm doesn’t have that much experience – sure, it’s nice to give a chance to newbies, especially if it means paying less, but if you want to ensure quality and professionalism, you should go with experienced professionals,
  • They don’t contact you a few times to take care of details – a reputable firm should contact you a few times before your relocation day and come to your home to assess the value of your items and estimate the price of your move,
  • They require a large deposit before the move day – it might seem strange, but requesting a deposit is not a standard practice in the industry, and if you’re asked for one, it should never be above 20% of the total amount.

You Need to Schedule a Few In-House Estimates to Help You Make Your Final Decision

Knowing what you’re packing for relocating abroad is not enough to set the budget you’ll need for the move. The good news is that you will know just how much money to put aside once you schedule an in-home estimate. This implies a visual assessment of your belongings to come up with an accurate pricing of the whole ordeal based on the amount, value, and weight of all items. When a mover comes to do the assessment, they should make sure to note down each item you want to move from the living room to the attic and storage space.

So, schedule an in-home inspection with each mover a few weeks before the day you’re relocating overseas, and have them inspect the items in your home, such as the furniture you want to pack and bring with you. We recommend that you do this with several companies so you can compare the prices. While it’s simpler to get estimates over the phone or by email, they won’t be accurate, and you might end up having to pay much more than the initial estimate required.

Don’t Forget to Ask What Kind of Contract They Offer

Once each mover gives you an estimate, it’s the perfect time to discuss the relocation contract they can offer you. There are three possibilities:

  • A non-binding contract – the final payment can’t be more than 10% above the initial offer, and any additional costs must be paid within 30 days of delivery,
  • A non-binding to-exceed contract – the initial offer is the maximum amount you’ll be required to pay, and there can’t be any additional costs,
  • A binding contract – guarantees the price for the move and all of the additional services you might require.

Once You Know Each Cost Estimate, You Are One Step Closer to Choosing Your International Moving Company

As we’ve mentioned, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, so stay away from offers that are significantly less than others, no matter how appealing they might be. You’ll definitely get charged way more once the trip is over. Low estimates are a sign that a mover is not aware of the scope of the whole ordeal and that the job won’t be done professionally, or it could be a full-on scam.

Calculator and a notepad lying on dollars
Once you know the offered prices, you will be able to figure out your budget

While You’re Getting an In-House Assessment, Find Out if There’s Anything They Won’t Move

Maybe you have some items that require special equipment in order to move, so it’s a good idea to use this chance to figure out if there are things the movers won’t move. If they refuse to move ordinary appliances such as the refrigerator or the washing machine, that could indicate they don’t have much experience or the equipment needed to safely transport those items. So, use every possible information you get during the in-house assessment to narrow your options.

Movers loading possessions into a van
Make sure to ask your movers if there's anything they won't transport

Don’t Make Your Final Decision Yet – There Are Still a Few Things to Consider

After you’ve compared the estimates and got valuable information during the assessment process, you might already have your final choice in mind. But moving abroad is not something to be taken lightly, and there are still a couple of things you should consider before making the final decision. Figuring out the liability coverage will surely bring you a step closer to the ideal pick.

Check the Type of Liability Coverage They Provide

One of the biggest reasons why people have relocation stress is because they worry about their belongings getting damaged or stolen during the process. So, it’s important to inform yourself of the liability coverage a certain business offers. There’s full value protection, the most comprehensive but also the more expensive liability coverage. With this option, the mover will offer you repair, replacement with a similar item, or a cash settlement if anything were to happen to your belongings.

The second option is the mandatory released value protection, which is much cheaper, but you will be compensated according to the weight of your shipment (60 cents per pound per item) – the actual value of the item will not be considered. If you go with just this type of coverage, your movers might offer you separate liability insurance from a third-party agency that can cover the rest of the settlement.

Make sure you have the right insurance if anything happens to your things

Now That You Know Everything You Should Consider, It’s Time to Make a Final Decision

If you’ve done your research thoroughly and taken each step to ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate and reputable firm, you will be able to make the final decision. If you need an extra push, it’s as simple as trusting your gut. Having anxiety is completely normal when you’re relocating across the world, but with the right professional help, there’s nothing to worry about. You will be breaking the language barrier and starting a new chapter of your life in no time!

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