All Questions to Ask Your Mover: the company, the process, and the costs.
As it is well known, moving internationally can be a highly stressful activity, but you can save yourself some trouble, just by choosing the right company. This requires more than just calling and asking for quotes. You must be willing to research, analyze, and ask the right questions. The more you know about the company and its reputation, who they partner with for international removals, which organizations they are a member of, what type of insurance and services they offer, and their quote process, among other things, the more likely you are to find the right one.
Therefore, consider asking each candidate some or all the questions listed below, to ensure that the company you choose will offer you all the services you expect and need.
ASK ABOUT THE COMPANY
1 - Are you properly licensed?
To avoid moving scams and rogue movers, make sure to ask whether the moving company is properly licensed. All professional international moving companies should have a license number.
2 - What moving associations and organizations does your company belong to?
While belonging to an international moving association or organization is no guarantee of a good moving company, it is a very good signal. One of the biggest and most respected is the International Association of Movers (IAM) which has over 2,000 members worldwide.Other well-respected groups include the Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux (FIDI), British Association of Removers (BAR) and European Relocation Association (EuRA).
Most of these groups have minimum standards for members and will kick out companies that do not meet them. Generally speaking, the more organizations a company belongs to, and the longer it has been with them, the better that company is, as it has more endorsements.
3 - Do you have experience with my specific type of move?
Be sure to ask the moving company whether they have ample experience handling your specific type of move. For instance, if you’re moving to a high-rise apartment building, a townhome with multiple stories (and steps), or to a big city, you should inquire as to whether the moving company has any experience with this type of move.
If you have valuable and/or unusual items you should definitely check that they can handle them as well. This could be anything from a wine collection to antiques to classic cars to rare and exotic pets.
4 - Do you have references, reviews and testimonials from previous clients you can refer me to?
When searching for a moving company, consider asking friends and neighbors for recommendations. Even in this day and age, word-of-mouth is still one of the most reliable routes to finding a trustworthy mover.
One of the best ways to find out if a company is reputable is to check with their past clients. Ask the company for references and testimonials.
Check their online reviews: Were they satisfied with the price? Did their items arrive on time? Were their possessions in good condition when they received them? How did they handle communication? Did the company make the moving process less stressful?
5 - Can this company do everything I need?
Moving companies aren’t created equal, and each one has a unique menu of services you can choose from when you’re planning your move. You should never assume a moving company offers a service you need.
Below are just a few of the services that a moving company might offer:
Loading and unloading
Transportation for specialty items
6 - What kind of liability coverage options does your company provide?
Before handing over your things, you’ll want to make sure your belongings are covered in case of a mishap during the relocation. Whether you’re moving across the street or across the country, your professional moving company should have multiple liability coverage options for you to choose from.
7 - What type of insurance do you offer?
If your moving company does not offer insurance, run. All reputable movers will have insurance. However, it’s very important you understand what their insurance does and does not cover. For example, if you go with a shipping company it might only cover your goods while in transit but not while being loaded/unloaded in port. Or a policy might cover damage to your goods, but not theft and/or loss.
ASK ABOUT THE COST
8 - How are your charges calculated?
Moving companies tend to differ when it comes to how they actually calculate the move. So ask the company how their charges are calculated. Typically, you can expect to be charged by cubic meter. You may also be charged extra fees if any of your possessions are particularly heavy.
9 - Can you provide a binding quote or a not-to-exceed estimate?
When beginning your moving company search, be sure to ask whether the company offers binding written estimates for their customers. All add-ons and services, such as stairs, travel time and more, should be included and clearly laid out in the quote.
Many moving companies offer non-binding estimates, which means the estimated price of your move is subject to change, depending on actual costs.
Would you prefer to know exactly how much you’re going to owe ahead of time? Then hiring a moving company that offers a binding estimate is the better option. A binding written estimate ensures the cost of your move will not end up exceeding the original cost estimate.
10 - How will the mode of transport impact the quote?
The mode of transport will also determine the price you pay. Moves within a continent can generally be done by truck or train whereas those overseas will almost always involve ships. You can move goods by air but the costs would be expensive.
11 - What potential fees are not being shown on my quote?
If you want to ensure that there are no surprises when it comes to your budget, then you need to ask the company about fees that are not shown on your quote. It’s not uncommon to receive a bill that is much higher than you originally expected or agreed to. In most cases, this is due to hidden fees.
ASK ABOUT THE PROCESS
12 - Do you offer door-to-door service?
International movers should offer a complete door-to-door moving service, whereas international shippers may only offer shipping between two ports.
This is extremely important to know when comparing costs between companies.
13- What kind of packing materials do you use?
Obviously, you want to make sure your household goods get to the other end of the move intact and undamaged. Therefore, it’s a good idea to understand what types of packing materials a company will use for your move.
Increasingly, companies are offering reusable packing material which is much more environmentally sustainable (not to mention lower cost) than disposable materials.
So, it’s a good idea to find out if your moving company can reuse the materials they use on your move.
14 - Can I track my goods in real-time?
Before hiring an international moving company, you should ask them if you’ll be able to track your items online.
Until a few years ago, you would often have little to no visibility on where your stuff was in the moving process at any given time. However, with the internet and GPS it’s now becoming much more common to be able to track your goods in real or near real time, using the internet or app on your phone.
Does the company use GPS on their shipments? Do they have a special app that you can use on your phone?
15 - Will my goods be stored for any period? If so, how?
When making a move overseas your goods may have to be put in a warehouse while waiting to be loaded onto a ship. It’s important you understand how your goods will be stored (e.g., inside vs outside). Good movers will consider different storage conditions and make sure your goods are protected accordingly.
Be sure to ask your mover if they offer additional storage services and how much it costs.
16 - Do you offer marine transit insurance?
There’s always a chance that some of your possessions may be lost or damaged. In these instances, you need to be able to replace them. The best companies offer comprehensive insurance, specifically full transit insurance. In fact, many of them will even tailor the policy to meet your specific needs.
17 - How long will the move take?
Different companies will have different moving fleet capacities and capabilities. Some can deliver goods on exactly the schedule you want and others will give you a range of options you can choose from.
Companies that offer pre-determined delivery days normally do so because they group shipments together which significantly reduces costs.
Goods by land can be moved as fast as the trucks/trains can drive, whereas shipments by boat can take several weeks if moving to the other side of the world.
18 - What do I need to know about the customs process?
Not only can the modes of transportation affect how quickly your items arrive, but the customs process can also have an impact. Ask the moving company how long customs clearance typically takes as well as what factors will affect clearance. If the company is knowledgeable, they’ll inform you that some countries are more efficient than others. Some have more stringent requirements than others.
19 - Do you handle the entire move, or will it involve multiple companies?
Several moving companies can handle all destinations. However, most international movers have partnerships with other companies for moves they can’t fulfill themselves. These types of partnerships are common among international movers.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with multiple companies being involved and in fact may be unavoidable if you’re moving somewhere out of the way. Nevertheless, any reputable moving company should explain which companies will be responsible for each leg of the voyage.
20 - How will my goods be shipped?
The shipping method will affect both the cost and the speed of your move. Moreover, the more times your goods are moved on or off a different mode of transportation, the higher the risk of damage. Ideally, you want to use as few modes as possible while also considering cost and speed.
For moves just across the border it might just be a simple truck. However, for more complex moves overseas it can involve transportation by truck to port, then by ship to another port, then by train and back to a truck again.
It’s a good idea to search for a company that uses as few modes of transportation as possible.