Home Expat Moving between countries in practice, Part 2

Moving between countries in practice, Part 2

written by pickie piggie 10th March 2017

In my previous post I described nuances of moving around. Today I will show how it looks like in practice…

So… whether you pay yourself, or the company sponsors you there will be most likely a need to engage a relocation company. You may of course try to send your stuff by yourself, but it’s a lot of work if you have furniture, quite a bit of of belongings, multiple appliances, computers, etc. On top of that, if you ship to a country that is really far, and has completely different set of laws than where you reside you will definitely need a professional help. It’s just easier to delegate the job of dealing with customs, insurance and the whole paperwork to the company that does it every day.

And yes, it’s really convenient 🙂

Some relocation companies are international corporations, some are very small. The latter seem to be ‘attached’ to big players like BIG4, or banks. They support them in relocation work that is very frequent for these companies and are typically handling the ‘sending’ side of the relocation. They are managing the ‘receiving’ end by engaging partners in a destination country.

I personally prefer large corporations as they cover both ends in an unified way, plus I somehow trust them more than a company that looks like a small shop (easy to be dissolved). Mind you, it’s all your belonging we are talking about!.

My only experience with the large companies is with Crown Relocations and… they are great!

In the interest of full disclosure – they didn’t pay or sponsor this article in any way – I am not a shill – I just happened to use them 3.5 times so far, between 3 countries, including once where my wife and I paid for the relocation ourselves so it itself tells you something about our trust in their capabilities. If they ever sponsor me I will definitely update this article :)))

The relocation begins by either you or your sponsor company contacting the relocation company. They will send a rep agent to your location who will do a quick survey walking around the place and measuring how much stuff you plan to send. It’s a very quick process – all you have to do is to walk them through the rooms and pinpoint things you want/don’t want to move. If you ship by air, worth thinking a bit before the meeting as the air freight is really expensive and if you are offered it as a part of the relocation package, use it in the best way by shipping the really necessary stuff this way.

Once you do the survey, you just need to fill-in some quick paperwork; before they leave they will pass you a few more documents to look at as well. This includes some guides, info about your destination, and the documents and forms for the insurance – it typically comes in a form of a bulk insurance, or itemized insurance (sometimes you can do both, f.ex. itemized for the very expensive stuff that you want to have covered separately).

That’s it.

The next is actual move.

Well, hold on. Before this happens, you need to ensure you walk through the whole place and prepare it for moving.

  • Remove batteries from the devices.
  • Throw away, or give away chemicals, sprays, aerosols, thinners, paint, etc. that can cause a hazard during the transportation.
  • Throw away stuff you don’t need.
  • etc.

Luckily, you don’t need to come up with these ideas. The agent will leave a pack behind that will instruct you about the basics. It will also give you some hints about the destination country and the name of the agent who will be receiving you.

Speaking of batteries… the clean-up typically ends with a lot of them left behind:

With regards to packing… avoid the temptation. Do not pack stuff on your own. Anything that is packed by you and not the relocation company will be excluded from the insurance coverage!

Okay, now you are ready.

The guys arrive to your place and… chaos ensues.

Well, not yet.

First they will try to protect the place from an accidental damage. As you see on the pictures, the entrance is covered with a protective piece of wood board to ensure the door frame is not damaged and the door is held by a ad-hoc made cardboard wedge.

Depending on the size of your belongings, you will get a few guys to come to pack your stuff. They will bring a lot of packing materials and tools with them, so make enough space for it:


They will now walk around the place again, redo the survey and mark items you want to discard.

Then they will divide work between themselves and will start packing. They typically work very quickly and with one guy per room you will be packed within a few hours.

Each box will be labeled:


Note that boxes used for books will be small – that’s because they are heavy – this is also another reason they don’t like you to pack on your own!!!:

The boxes for clothes are wider and larger in general:

Very soon the boxes will start piling up:

When all the boxes are packed, the supervisor will do some paperwork with you and boxes will start leaving your place. Each box will have a number and the high-level description put on an asset inventory. Once this is completed, you have to sign the Service Completion Report. The document is just a manifest listing all the stuff packed, and appropriate legalese.

As a part of the paperwork you will also fill-in the Goods for Disposal form instructing the team to throw away/dispose the unwanted items. I heard some of these will be given to charities. They will also ask you to fill-in a No Unpack form – you can choose to get the team (at the destination) to unpack for you, or you can do it yourself.

Packing at your residence may sometimes go wrong. To ensure they are covered (in case of issues) the supervisor will also ask you to fill-in a Residence Condition form – describing the state of the affairs after the removal of your stuff (this includes flooring/damage to walls, etc.).

Okay, now boxes are out…

The car arrives:

And getting ready:

And now the flat is totally empty:

At this stage you have a few days in a country, you don’t have a furniture to sleep on so you will typically rent a room somewhere. Then you take a flight, arrive to your destination country, and then rent a room for a few days (I suggest using a serviced apartment as it’s cheaper than a hotel, and more practical). Once settled down in a new place you are waiting for the arrival of your stuff. It may take 2-3 months, depending on the location (f.ex. between Asia and Europe).

You use this time settling down and looking for a place to rent (unless you are coming back and are lucky enough to own a place at your destination).

Finally, after waiting for some time you get a notification when your goods arrive.

They are here!

Unloading commences…

The guys ensure the flooring and the doors are protected (did I mention unified process?):

Boooxes full of booooks are piling up quickly:

As the boxes come in you mark them down on a sheet:

Once everything is delivered, the guys will unpack stuff for you.

Congratulations, you have moved!

Some final random thoughts:

  • Packing takes ~2-8h.
  • Unpacking takes similar time.
  • You will lose some items on the way.
  • You won’t be able to control the pace of the packing and unpacking; don’t even try; these guys know what they are doing, are super quick, and you will be just an obstacle.
  • Keep an eye on their work. Be around. They will ask you questions about specific items.
  • If you have any items that use weird packaging (hello iMac) you need to help them to pack it. It can be a real puzzle so practice beforehand 🙂
  • Avoid offering food and drinks (we did once, and the tea ended up on the wall – a simple accident). They bring their own food/drinks and use bottles that usually don’t allow the content to pour out.
  • While packing yourself is not advisable… do pack stuff that is either very delicate, or all just small items. The best is to use transparent boxes/bags as whatever you put inside them, the guys will be able to see and inspect it before packing.
  • For precious, especially small items keep them with yourself all the time.
  • Don’t forget to keep the suitcases with you – put them aside – if you forget, they will pack them as well 🙂
  • Allocate enough time for cleaning the flat after removal, and before the arrival. Don’t leave it till the last minute as it can be quite stressful, especially if your flight schedule is tight. Do not remove the stuff the same day as you fly. You will miss the flight, most likely.

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