All You Need to Know about International Moving, Shipping, and Storage Services

What are moving, storage, and shipping services? What can go wrong during an international move and how can you avoid this? And what about the costs of moving your household overseas? We answer these questions and help you understand the processes involved, so you can have a better experience when moving abroad. Let’s GO!

Just like you, your international relocation will be unique, needing a particular set of moving, storage, and shipping services, at a certain cost. Companies spend an average of 16.3 million USD a year relocating employees. In this guide we explain suitable household moving services, what to expect when moving and storing your belongings overseas and the related costs because we want to help you GO!

Do I need International Moving and Storage Services?

You could face numerous issues moving and storing your items when relocating to another country. For instance, a record number of cargo crimes were recorded in 2019 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa regions. Did you know your goods are most vulnerable to theft when they are being transported by road? It’s another reason to use international moving experts you can trust.

What are International Moving and Storage Services?


International moving services allow you to transport household goods overseas. The main difference between international moving and international shipping services is that the former includes personal support. Some of the common features of international moving services include:

  • Hands-on assistance during the moving process—you can request a dedicated move coordinator.
  • Every aspect of the move is arranged for you.
  • Inventories at the origin and destination, packing, and even the option of unpacking your belongings for you.
  • Partial or full insurance coverage.



International shipping services only deal with transporting your goods from origin to destination, via land, sea or air. Shipping companies usually transport multiple shipments together and they do not pack your belongings for you.

Generally, international shipping companies rely on you to make sure your goods are packed safely and do not offer insurance for damaged or lost items. Bear in mind there is more chance of your property getting lost if it is mixed with shipments from different owners. In addition, keep a close eye on prices for various forms of shipping, as they tend to change regularly.



Shipping by sea can be better if you want to transport heavy or large goods, which cannot be shipped by air or road.
You can also ship smaller items by sea, and they can be placed with other small loads (less than container load or LCL) to fill a container and save you money.
Sea shipping is the most environmentally friendly method of freight, producing fewer carbon emissions than shipping by air or road. This form of transit also takes less time than it used to due to faster ships and upgrades in route infrastructure, like canals. You can now get guaranteed delivery days when using ocean freight.



However, nine times out of ten, ocean freight is slower than air freight. In addition, when you share a shipping container (LCL), it is cheaper than a full container load (FCL), but it takes longer. This is because it takes more time to load an LCL container as you are receiving cargo from different sources.




Shipping by air is faster than land or sea. It is also safer with regards to damage and theft. Plus, if you are moving from a city that has an airport to another city with an airport, the shipment takes an even faster and more direct path.
You can use a consolidated freight or “consol” service, like an LCL in sea shipping, where your goods are stored in the same space as goods owned by other people, to save money.



Air freight is more expensive than sea and road shipping. Air freight can cost 16 times the price of an equivalent ocean freight service. And there are more restrictive size limits for air freight. On a cargo plane, your shipment can be no more than 96 inches tall.




Shipping by land is cheaper than transporting your goods by air or sea. It’s also easier to keep track of your shipment and know when it will arrive.



It can take longer than shipping by air, and of course, it is only possible where there are suitable roads. Plus, most cargo thefts happen when goods are being transported by road.



Storage facilities come in different sizes. In general, the bigger the unit and the longer you need to use it, the more it will cost you. But this isn’t always the case. Some storage companies give you a loyalty discount for using their facilities for a long period of time. Units will be more expensive if they are located close to major cities, such as London, New York, or Paris. In terms of size, common storage units are 50, 75, 100, 150, or 200 square feet.

Types of Storage

There are two forms of storage: full-service storage and self-storage. With the former, the storage company collects your items and returns them at a mutually convenient time. With this service, the company will also create an inventory of your items, which can also include photographs.
With the latter option, you have to take the items to the storage facility yourself. This is cheaper, but only possible if you have a vehicle to transport your belongings.
As well as these basic forms of storage, there are different facilities depending on what sort of items you want to store.

Indoor Storage

For valuable or fragile items, you should choose climate-controlled indoor storage, where your items will be safe and preserved. Climate-controlled units have consistent conditions, meaning your items won’t be damaged by moisture, heat, or wind. If you want to store delicate items for a long time, indoor storage will provide a more appropriate, protected environment.

In urban areas, indoor storage can be cheaper, because there simply isn’t much space to build outdoor storage units. However, it costs more to keep indoor storage buildings heated and ventilated, which increases the price. Shop around for an option that suits your budget and needs.


Outdoor Storage

If your items are not fragile, you could choose an outdoor storage unit. Outdoor units are better for storing items, such as motor vehicles, boats, and trailers, than more fragile goods.

Although they might not offer as much protection, they are still secure. Plus, you have the convenience of being able to drive up to these units and load and unload quickly and easily. This could be an important factor if you are paying by the hour for a removal van. Also, outdoor storage tends to have larger unit options than indoor storage.

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What are the Major Risks of Moving and Storing Your Belongings Internationally?

The four deadly sins of moving household goods internationally are loss, damage, theft, and a lack of preparation.

Of course, it is impossible to guarantee your belongings will not be damaged, so it is important to do your homework and choose an international moving service you feel comfortable with. Good moving companies should have some form of insurance that covers damage and loss, at least to a reasonable cost.

Loss and damage

It is possible your belongings could get mixed up with someone else’s during transit or your items could be delivered to the wrong address.
If your items are lost or damaged in transit, you can make a compensation claim. For this, you will need the following documents:

  • If transporting goods by sea: an ocean bill of lading, a contract between you and the sea freight company, outlining the terms and conditions of service.
  • If transporting goods by air: an airway bill is another version of a bill of lading, but for air shipping.
  • If only using road transit: an inland bill of lading details the goods being transported, and serves as a receipt of goods, and a contract between you and the transit company.
  • An inventory list detailing everything you are transporting, and in some cases condition reports.
  • Purchase receipts of your personal belongings, if you still have them.

If your items are lost or damaged after being put in storage, you should provide your inventory list, ideally prepared and signed by you and the driver who took your goods from your origin country. This document is sometimes called a “Household Goods Descriptive Inventory”. It says what items are being transported and the condition of each item.


There was an increase in cargo thefts in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) in the first nine months of 2019. Also, in 2019, 28,502,000 USD worth of goods were stolen from July to October.
According to TT Club, an international travel and logistics insurance company, there were on average eight cargo thefts per day in 2019.

Lack of Preparation

Loss and damage are nearly impossible to avoid; however, you can give your relocation the best chance of success by planning ahead. Choose a relocation services company with expertise in international moves and contact them for more information.

Ask them what steps to take next and they might suggest additional support you hadn’t thought of. Finally, use their guidance to do more research into any documents and permissions you need to move items to and store items in your destination country.

What to Expect When You Hire International Moving and Storage Services?

First, you need to choose shipping and storage services as appropriate to your needs. There are many providers out there, so do your research, and choose an international moving partner that fulfills your requirements.

Decide if you only need one service that a specialist in that area can provide, or if you need a relocation services company that provides support with several aspects of your relocation. Contact your international moving company of choice and speak to one of their representatives about the support you need, to make sure they’re a good match.

Professional Cargo Assessment

Once you contact your company of choice they will ask how many rooms you want to move, which will allow them to assess the approximate volume of your cargo. They might also ask you to complete a form with additional information on the items you want to send. In the best case scenario, an international moving specialist will visit your home to see the items you want to transport, and then determine the correct packing and shipping options, as well as the materials needed to pack.

Shipping Options

For the next step, the international moving service will suggest the best shipping options based on your origin and destination countries, the specifics of your cargo, and when you want your goods to be picked up and to arrive in your destination country.

Receive a Quote

Based on your goods and the shipping options you agree on, the company will prepare a quote for you, as well as an estimate of when your items will arrive. It is then time to sign your contract, which could include specifics about insurance coverage or liability waivers, an inventory list of your items, plus photographs and written descriptions of their condition before shipping.

Shipping Day

The international movers will come to collect and load your household goods on the date you agreed.

Arrival Day

You will see your belongings again when they are delivered to your new home overseas, where you will sign to confirm you have received your items.

Why organize all this on your own? InterNations GO! has international moving services to make this process much easier and faster. Contact us to know more!

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How Much does It Cost to Move and Store Things Abroad?

Basic shipping costs usually depend on the weight and size of the items you have to move, the distance you want to send them, and how long shipping takes. Also, you might pay extra fees for special care over your fragile items.

These are just some of the variables that could affect the total cost of shipping your household goods. Storage pricing tends to be more straightforward.

Shipping goods

When you move household goods over a long distance, you are usually charged a fixed fee, not a price per hour. As an example, to move a three-bedroom house from London to Berlin using sea transit, the average cost is around 7,000 USD. Moving the same cargo by sea from London to India could cost 12,500 USD. Prices vary depending on the time of year you decide to move your goods with peak season being summer.


Air is usually the most expensive form of shipping. If you want to use air freight to transport goods worth 10,000 USD, from New York to Osaka, it would cost around:

• 2,300 USD for 250kg
• 900 USD for 125kg

That’s before you add insurance. International moving insurance costs between 200 and 1,000 USD.



Sea shipping can be the cheapest. In fact, The World Bank says shipping by sea can be 16 times cheaper than air.

Other factors that affect the cost of an international move are shared vs exclusive use of shipping containers (sharing is cheaper), the departure and arrival ports (popular ports can be cheaper), and any assistance with packing, unpacking, disassembling and assembling items.

When shipping cargo by sea, the two most common container sizes are 20 feet and 40 feet, plus there are full container load (FCL) and less than container loads (LCL) options.

As an example, World Freight Rates estimates the following costs for transporting goods worth a total 10,000 USD, from New York to Osaka:

• 40 feet FCL: 2,000 USD
• 20 feet FCL: 1,700 USD

On top of this, international moving insurance could add another 1,000 USD to the cost.



Road transport is around four to five times cheaper than air transport. If you are relocating within Europe, moving a three-bedroom house by land from London to Paris would cost about 1,600 to 2,500 USD. From London to Barcelona, it would be approximately 3,700 to 5,000 USD.


Storing goods

Storage services are priced based on the size of the unit, how long you need it, its location (more expensive near major cities), the length of time you need it, and the type of unit (air-conditioned, ground floor with direct access, etc.).

The following prices are for different parts of the world, based on using 100 square feet of storage space for one month.

Asia (Singapore): 180 USD
Africa (South Africa): 43 USD
Europe (London, UK): 250 USD
US (New York, US): 250 USD
South America (Sao Paulo, Brazil): 250 USD

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How to Choose the Right International Moving or Storage Company?

One of the first things you may need to do when planning your relocation is to contact international moving and storage companies, but which should you choose and how do you select the best ones for you? Some of the factors to consider include:

Range of Services

There are companies that only offer limited relocation moving services. For instance, some focus on moving boxes overseas, and others only offer storage services. Some companies have limitations on the amounts they are able to ship, while others specialize in transporting your vehicles abroad or transporting fragile items.

On the other hand, there are companies that provide an all-encompassing service, where moving assistance, storage, and shipping services are included. This type of international moving services company could be more convenient if you have lots of different things to move and store, and if you have limited time to manage the many steps involved in moving and storing your belongings overseas.


When you’re moving and storing precious belongings, it’s reassuring to know there are experts in charge. So, make a shortlist of potential providers, and research them to understand their level of expertise and experience.


Are you concerned about your belongings being lost, stolen, or damaged in transit? You can purchase shipping insurance so that if anything goes wrong, you will be reimbursed for the value of the items.
Remember to carefully read your moving company’s conditions of carriage to see exactly what sort of insurance, if any, is included. In some cases, the company will have limited liability insurance, which might not cover the cost of high-value items.
You have to place a level of trust in the company you decide to use, so if you are particularly concerned about certain belongings, consider using a partner that is used to transporting valuable goods.

Geographical Reach

A simpler issue is that your options for moving and storage companies will vary depending on your origin and destination country. Most moving companies only offer services to a limited range of destinations, usually the most common countries and cities for expats. But don’t worry, InterNations GO! provides door-to-door services all around the world, through its global network of moving partners.

What are the Benefits of Using Professional International Moving and Storage Services?

It Makes Life Easier

Put simply, knowing your valued possessions are being moved and stored by professionals gives you peace of mind and allows you to plan other things, like language lessons or healthcare.

This relief means you will have more energy to focus on settling into your new home and giving a worthy first impression to the friends and colleagues you meet.
Plus, it would be virtually impossible to move your household abroad without professional and large-scale help, so these services are a necessity.

It Saves a Lot of Time

Choosing a relocation services package of shipping, storage, and other moving support (if needed) rather than individual companies for each service, can save you time and money.

Using different partners will increase the likelihood of delays, as each company will work differently. It will be faster to keep each task on track when you only communicate with a single international moving partner.

It Diminishes Risk

Relocation and storage professionals have done it all before and are the best people to take care of your move.

Even if you have moved abroad before, it is likely you lack the specialized and updated knowledge that experts have. This experience is invaluable for a successful international move.

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Additional Services You Might Be Interested In

InterNations GO! has a range of services that can be tailored to suit your individual needs. Whether you are moving abroad alone or as a family, we assess your situation and provide expert guidance to help you make your international relocation as smooth as possible.

We Help You GO!

We offer guidance on visa applications and help you find a home overseas, even before you arrive in your new country.

We Ease You In

Once you have moved abroad, our settling-in services help you register with local authorities. We then make you feel like a local with tailored language and cultural training.

We Bring You Together

From school searches to pet relocation, we help you and your loved ones stay strong together.