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International Relocation FAQs

How much time should I allow before arranging relocation services?

You should contact your international moving company about 6 weeks prior to your move to schedule an in-house visual survey. This survey is a detailed walk through of your home and will usually take about a hour. The survey allows us to examine what will be moved and gives us the opportunity to suggest the best services available to meet your specific needs.

What can and cannot be taken with me?

As soon as you know that you are going to be moving overseas, you should contact the local embassy or consulate of the country you are moving to. They will have all of the updated information regarding the formal entry requirements for you and your family, and can give you an idea of what you can and cannot take in your shipment. Our customs information page will list certain items that are restricted/prohibited by virtually all countries. If you are being relocated overseas by your company, check to see if they have a policy about what can or cannot be shipped under their guidelines.

Can I pack my own shipment?

Generally speaking, we do not allow “PBO" or packed by owner items. While you may wish to pack some items yourself prior to the arrival of the moving crew, you should be aware that customs officers in most overseas countries will be looking for inventories that show owner packed items. This will lead to an increased likelihood that your shipment would be called for a full examination. We recommend that if you do wish to organize certain items, then leave the packing cartons open for the crew to inspect the contents, verify the condition and make the proper entry on the packing inventory which is reviewed by customs officers. In addition, owner packed goods will not receive full insurance protection.

What is the Extended Protection Program?

International household goods shipments travel over great distances using many different means of transportation. Considering the circumstances regarding the transit of international shipments, the extended protection program will provide peace of mind. We have a very low claims ratio based on the quality of our packing materials, our trained and experienced labor, and the utilization of the best transportation services for your shipment. We offer an extended protection program based on Full Replacement Value Coverage in the country of your destination. Full Replacement Value coverage can only be obtained if a valued inventory is submitted. A valued inventory is a list of each item to be moved and its value in your destination country. Your International move coordinator will provide additional assistance with the completion of your valued inventory.

Who will handle my shipment at the destination country?

National has developed a large network of business partners throughout the world who adhere to our high quality standards of service. We will assign one of our partners as your service provider at destination to clear your shipment through customs and arrange final delivery to your new residence.

What are my responsibilities?

Your responsibilities revolve around compliance with the regulations regarding you and your family's entry into the country of destination and the documentation supporting your household goods move. We will be able to advise you on the necessary documentation, but you should contact the embassy or consulate personally to verify all of the requirements. Regarding the move itself, you should be present throughout the packing and loading process, and sign the packing inventory, shipping documents and insurance paperwork. Your move coordinator will be able to answer any specific questions you might have about your role in the process.

How will my shipment be transported overseas?

There are three methods for shipping international household goods: sea freight, air freight or the combination of the two. For sea freight shipments, we load your possessions into lift vans or a steamship container. A lift van is a large wooden crate made specifically to move household goods overseas. These are used if you'll need storage at your destination or if your shipment will not fill a steamship container. A steamship container is a large rigid steel container that can be loaded on and off an ocean going vessel with ease. These large containers come in either 20 foot or 40 foot lengths and can hold up to 1,100 cubic feet or 2,200 cubic feet respectively. An air freight container is much smaller than the typical sea containers and is generally used for small, time sensitive shipments. A variety of sizes are available and they are normally constructed of industrial cardboard. Again your move coordinator will be able to explain the most appropriate container for your specific shipment.

How do Weight, Volume and Density effect my estimate?

Household goods are not as dense as steel bars, they fill the same area with much different weights. The density of a shipment is a mathematical ratio between size (volume or cubic feet) and the net weight of a shipment. Density is established by how well your shipment was packed. Normal density, for household goods, should fall in the 5 to 7 pound per cubic foot range. The higher the number the more dense, or heavier per cubic foot, the shipment is.

How long will packing, wrapping and loading take at my residence?

Depending upon the quantity and type of items that are to be moved overseas, an average home will require 1 to 2 days for packing, wrapping and preparation. An international crew will consist of 2 - 3 members throughout the duration of your move.

How long will my shipment take to arrive at my overseas destination?

When shipping to or from the United States an average delivery time for sea freight shipments is between 4 and 6 weeks. Some locations along popular trade routes such as Europe or Asia may have shorter transit times, while locations, in more remote destinations may consume the entire transit window. For air shipments, you should allow about 1 to 2 weeks for door-to-door delivery. Air shipments do not always travel the same way as a passenger flight. Air shipments are routed differently and can be subject to delays due to a shortage in volume to a specific destination. Your move coordinator will be able to give you a more accurate transit time based on your specific shipment requirements.

What is permanent storage or SIT storage?

Permanent storage is long term storage and SIT is an acronym for storage-in-transit. If you are transferring overseas for a predetermined amount of time, you may choose to leave some of your household goods at origin in long term storage. If your belongings arrive at your destination city before you are ready for delivery, we can arrange to have your shipment placed in SIT as temporary storage.

Glossary of Terminology

If you’ve never relocated before and even if you have, the overload of terminology used can sometimes be overwhelming. Please view our glossary of terminology defining the main terms used by National Van Lines and international relocation providers worldwide. If there are other terms we can help clarify please contact us.

We prefer to answer each shipper's questions and concerns with individual attention. If you have a particular question that you would like addressed, please contact us and a move coordinator will discuss solutions for your relocation.


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National Van Lines International Division
1225 Gardner Road, Broadview, IL 60155
708.450.1273 FAX

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