Common International Moving Questions

As an international moving company, we get asked hundreds of questions on a daily basis regarding moves overseas.

And although some of them can be answered with a simple yes or no, the majority of them are usually two or even three part answers depending on the clients’ needs and specifics of the move itself.

So, we’ve gathered some questions that we get asked frequently by those preparing for an international move so that anyone else trying to find out the same information won’t have to look far. Here’s a list of the four questions:

  1. How do I figure out the volume of my shipment or cubic footage?
  2. Can I pack on my own and do I need special boxes?
  3. What is included in the service?
  4. Will I need to pay duty tax on my goods?

Note: This is not another international moving checklist. However, if you are interested in getting that information, we also have a detailed checklist for those moving overseas.

Question #1: How do I figure out the volume of my shipment or cubic footage?

Assuming that you’ve already begun the initial research part of an international move, meaning you’ve looked at a few overseas relocation services and maybe even come across a few online moving quote forms, you most likely noticed that the size of the shipment is based on cubic volume/ft and not simple metrics like how many boxes you are shipping or the length of a couch.

Now, there is a mathematical way to find out the cubic volume so that you can determine the amount of furniture or household goods you actually want to move. But it is much easier nowadays and convenient to use an online tool to calculate the volume of a shipment. Some companies, like us, have an estimation tool built right into their quote forms.

Another way to get this information is simply to call one of the company’s specialists. If they are good at what they do, then they will be able to give you a pretty accurate figure over the phone.

Question # 2: Can I pack on my own and do I need special boxes?

The answer to this question is really a matter of preference and it will lead into question #3, but in almost every case, international shipping and moving companies give customers the choice to pack themselves and box everything up.

We always recommend that items be professionally packed since goods have a long ways to go whether you are using ocean freight or air freight.

If you elect to pack on your own, you’ll have the option to: a) have a shipping container delivered to your residence which will be picked up after you’ve loaded everything b) have the items wrapped, packed and picked up by local team of movers and then transported to your moving companies nearest location c) deliver your cargo yourself to the warehouse of the company you are using to move overseas.

The last two options are usually the case if you are located within reasonable distance of your mover.

Addressing the second part of your question, you don’t actually need to have special boxes; however it’s highly recommended to use sturdier corrugated boxes.

At the least, we always tell clients that if they are going to pack themselves to use new boxes, as already used/older ones can be worn down and make the contents more susceptible to damage.

Questions #3: What is included in the service?

Having this questioned answered by the relocation company either during the consultation process or after you’ve received an online quote is absolutely vital because you could end up getting a great rate and then getting the short end of the stick.

Our international moving quotes include a breakdown of everything covered in the service you’ve selected so that nothing is left unaddressed. It’s important to find out exactly what the breakdown entails and what you are paying for.

For instance, there are a few different service options that we offer, and are common among other established forwarders. Here are some of the common services you may come across:

  1. Door to Door: The least stressful and most straightforward way to move your household, as your household items are picked up from your home in the USA and delivered to your new home in the UK for example.
  2. Door to Port: As the name entails, the service only covers your move up until the point where the shipment arrives at the port of entry. For someone that wants to pick up their items overseas, this is an option to consider.

There are more types, but these are the two most common and the services really depend on your preference in terms of convenience and cost.

Questions #4: Will I need to pay duty tax on my goods?

This last question greatly depends on the following criteria of your move overseas:

  • Final destination
  • Status of residence
  • Types of goods and the condition
  • Duration of ownership prior to shipping

Since each and every country has different customs regulations, banned goods/commodities, quarantine requirements and classifications, the best way to get the most accurate information is to find your destination country’s government website or customs website. However some sites won’t have an English version and the next best thing to do would be to speak with an international relocation specialist.

Europe is a really good example to use for this particular question. As the EU is an economic union, the member countries generally share a commonality when it comes to household goods moves and import duties.

Although it doesn’t apply to every case, in Europe or around the globe, if the items you are shipping as part of your international move are used, you have owned them for six months and have lived in your country of origin for more than a year; you’ll be able to import them without having to pay a duty tax.

Once again, this isn’t something that applies 100% of the time to 100% of the countries overseas, but it should give you a good understanding of what to expect.

If you do happen to be preparing for an upcoming move overseas and would like to find out what it’s going to costs or just have specific questions, you can contact us online or use our form to request a free international moving quote.

Written by Martyn Cohen

The Cost of Living in Spain

Written by Damien Shields

Spain has long held the interests of Americans looking for an expat adventure. From Hemmingway’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War to many students studying abroad in Madrid to the world renowned El Bulli restaurant’s influence on many of our top chefs, Spain just holds a certain kind of magic for Americans. And with their relatively low cost of living, you can experience that magic of moving to Spain yourself.

With the glaring exception of Madrid, a couple can expect to get by in Spain for around $20,000 per year and with a little money in the budget for going out and experiencing Spain’s world famous cuisine. Let’s take a look at how the prices break down.

Rent:

Again, excluding Madrid, rent in Spain is very affordable. Two-bedroom apartments can be found for as cheap as $850/month and it’s not entirely unreasonable that you could get a three-bedroom house for as low as $1600/month; which is great if you plan on bringing or having kids. Utilities average around 116 Euros but still makes it cheaper than many American cities.

Dining Out:

Let’s be honest, you’re not moving all the way around the world to prepare all your meals at home. Part of the experience of going abroad is tasting the local flare as only they can make it. Luckily, doing so won’t break the bank. Mid-tier dining for two, including wine, can be found for $20-$40. You can save extra money by buying the daily specials, called menu del dia. 

Groceries:

Because every meal shouldn’t be taken at a restaurant if you want to live affordably, you’re going to have to buy some groceries. Again, the prices here are not too steep either. You can expect to pay about $70-$80 per week on groceries and keep in mind that the food you’ll be getting is extremely fresh and mostly organic.

Transportation:

Getting around in Spain is another affordable perk. Local public transit costs less than $3 dollars for a one-way ticket. Gasoline, however, is a little more expensive than in America, close to $5 per gallon when converted as they measure in liters. Luckily, as with most European cities, cars are not necessary to get around.

What You Can Expect From Your Move To France

Written by Alex Bach

Just as there aren’t cheeseburger-eating cowboys shooting guns on every street in America, not every street in France is lined with baguettes, not every Frenchman is anti-American, and not all sparkling wines are Champagne. Knowing what to expect when moving to France is crucial if you want to get the most out of your stay. Here are some of the things, both good and bad, that you can expect to find when you begin your French expat journey.

And if you need help with the logistics of your journey, we’ve helped hundreds of families relocate all over the world and can make your move to France as painless as possible.

Managing Your French Expectations:

  • The bread really is as fresh as everyone makes it out to be. Made daily, your bountiful bread options in France are going to be better than almost anywhere in the world. Ditto their pastries.
  • French women aren’t necessarily the friendliest towards female expats–possibly because they feel all their french men are out to woo them. As with any move, you should try and find a community of other expats to help cut down on the loneliness from time to time.
  • Shorter workweeks! In France, the national full-time work week is 35-hours.  If you work any longer than that you automatically get paid overtime–which you can spend on more crepes, wine, and cheese.
  • Speaking of which…the food really is just as good as its made out to be. Seriously, even the smaller, street fair could pass for Michelin-rated cuisine in America. Part of that is due to the abounding freshness of the ingredients as they joined with many other European countries in banning GMOs.
  • Speaking of “speaking,” you will need to know passable French in order to enjoy your stay in France. Remember Ted Nugent’s infamous quote from a while back “Speak English or Die,” it’s kind of like that, but with French! France’s aversion of catering to your linguistic needs (even if they speak English) is probably the most realistic stereotype you’ll encounter. But don’t think of this as a downside: the more French you learn the more you’ll feel at home and the less you’ll be treated as an outsider.
  • Lastly, moving to France will not be easy. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get legal clearance to move to and work in France. But know that once you do you will truly be in for one of the greatest adventures of your life.

Best High Performance Convertibles for A Summer Cruise

Written by Damien Shields

Summer’s just around the corner, and that means so is convertible season. I mean, what better way to enjoy the weather than by going on a long cruise with the top down. But in order to do that you’re going to need the right the car. Here are some of the best convertibles for the 2014-2015 season.

And if you need help getting your dream convertible to your joy ride launch point–be it Dubai, the Australian Coast, or Hawaii–Schumacher Cargo can help. We ship thousands of cars every year and have the experience and skill to get yours to your new home safely.

Best Convertibles of 2014-2015:

2014 Ferrari F12 Spider:

FERRARI F12 SPIDER

While certainly not in everyone’s price range, if you can afford this gallant machine you won’t regret it. This retractable hardtop features 730-hp from a 6.3 liter, 12-cylinder V-engine–and might be Ferrari’s fastest roadster yet!

2015 Ford Mustang GT Convertible:

New FORD MUSTANG GT CONVERTIBLE

Although significantly cheaper than the F12 Spider, the Mustang is in no way a significantly lesser ride. The start of a whole new generation of mustangs, the design is one of the best they’ve had since the late 60s and the iconic Shelby Gt500. The 2015 GT convertible features a 6-speed manual transmission and a 5.0 liter V-8 engine. This horse gallops!

2014 McLaren MP4-12C Roadster:

MCLAREN's Epic MP4-12C ROADSTER

McLaren took the top of their famous MP4-12C model to give their customers a convertible experience with all the style and speed of the hardtop model. Capable of reaching speeds up to 205 mph, this beast is driven by a 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine with 592-hp and can do 0-60 in a whopping 3.2 seconds. This car will turn heads and break hearts.

2014 BMW 4-Series Convertible:

BMW's new 4-series hard-top

The 4-series is a newer line but one that still has all the power and grace of their other iconic lines. This stylish hardtop has several different engines to choose from: starting with a 2-liter diesel 420d, advancing up to the 3-liter inline 6-cylinder turbo 435i and ending at the mind-blowing 8-speed ZF automatic. Bad drives are not to be had in this beauty.

2015 Lexus LF-CC:

Lexus’s new convertible–scheduled for release in 2015–is a challenge to BMW’s convertible above. It is still in the works and remains very secretive but the company’s stated goals are to produce a GT as sleek and powerful as any of the German models.

Things to Watch Out For When Moving to Italy

Written by Mark Neville

While moving to Italy might be part of your dream expat adventure, there are some things you should know or expect when you arrive. That is, if you want to enjoy your experience and not find it embittered by disappointment or, as many unfortunate travelers find out, outrageous parking tickets.

Not to worry, we’ve got a list to help manage those expectations. Keep these things in mind when you arrive and your adventure will be that much more enjoyable.

And if you need help with the actual move to Italy itself, Schumacher Cargo is once again happy to oblige. We’ve helped hundreds of families make international moves and can make a difficult move a breeze.

What to Know When Moving to Italy:

Theory of Relativity:

The first thing you should be aware of when moving to Italy is that time works a little differently here. One man’s 5 o’clock might be another’s 5:45.

That is, strict timetables and schedules do not exist here; they are more of a suggestion. Think of it as island time, if that helps. Or just think of it as more time to enjoy this new country while you wait thirty minutes for a tour to start.

Park at Your Own Risk:

Parking doesn’t work the same as it does in the US. Parking zones and their according fees are designated by color and can be a huge hit to your wallet when you get back to your car…if it hasn’t already been towed. Learn the color codes, or, simply try not to drive.

Tip Culture:

You might have heard that most of Europe doesn’t have a tipping culture and you’d be right. Despite that, many people, and not just Italians, will try to take advantage of American’s notoriety for tipping, meaning you’ll be spending even more money. Don’t feel you have to tip, unless someone really goes out of their way.

Sicily vs. Italy:

Don’t call a Sicilian Italian and vice versa. Don’t say “capeesh” to a mainlander. While much of America’s Italian lexicon is derived from American gangster films, which neither region cares for, much of the “Italian” being spoken in there is an American form of Sicilian.

Don’t assume you know Italian culture based off modified Sicilian culture: the two see each other as vastly different. Think of it as the difference between England and Ireland if that helps.

No Mafia Jokes:

I mean it! The mafia is a real phenomenon and still very much an institution in many regions of Italy. And it is absolutely not something you should casually joke about with your waiter or cab driver or pretty much anyone…especially as your jokes will likely be steeped in offensive stereotypes.

Top Myths That Need to be Dispelled Before Your Move to the UK

Written by Mark Neville

No matter where we move to, whether it’s from the suburbs of New York to the Big Apple, from Chicago to Boston, or from San Francisco to Singapore, there are always going to be a few misconceptions out there that will, at best, get you tagged as a tourist and, at worst, lead to you offend the entire country. Here are the myths you need to dispel before moving to the UK.

Top 5 Myths About Living In The UK:

  1. The UK is just England and Scotland, right? Wrong, the UK includes England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and–the one most Americans commonly forget–Wales.
  2. There is only one “accent” in England. Wrong again. Just as people from the Bronx have a different accent than, say, Long Island or Atlanta, Georgia, so too are the accents of England different. Most accents have to do with class and location and can change significantly over the course of a 45 minute drive: see The Beatles trademark Liverpool accents as compared to Steve Coogan’s Manchester lilt.
  3. Everyone loves Fish and Chips. While many do love the popular pub food Americans have associated as possibly the one and only dish served in England, the most popular food in the UK is actually curry. The penchant for the exotic flavor has to do with the country’s former imperial relationship with India.
  4. No ice for your cocktail! This myth has thankfully faded away for many gin and tonic drinkers out there. You can now expect most of your cocktails to come with ice–though you should know that your beer will be a litter warmer than the ice cold taste of the Rockies. The good news is that it will have more flavor as the home of the Extra Special Bitter, Brown ale and IPA!
  5. All rain all the time. While England is certainly a rainy place (most islands usually are) not every day is a gloomy, Seattle-soaked day. Many days the rain will come in a brief afternoon shower offsetting a gorgeous sunny day.

Things You Need to Know About Your Move to Switzerland

Written by Jason Lowder

Before moving to the land of neutrality, chocolate and Cuckoo clocks, there are a few things you need to know about Switzerland. Some of these things might be splendid, some unusual, and a few you should probably watch out for or keep in mind.

Moving is made of two components: the excitement and the hard work.  Let Schumacher Cargo Logistics handle all the hard work for your move to Switzerland, allowing you to focus solely on the excitement!

Things To Know Before Moving to Switzerland:

  • Switzerland has one of the best economies in the world–700 years of neutrality and the world’s most recognizable banks will do that. With that stable economy comes a great quality of living(high cost), well paying jobs, and a strong openness for foreign residents and workers.
  • You’ve got Mountains and Mediterranean Climates! A gorgeous repository of mountains and lakes, Switzerland’s close proximity to the Mediterranean also gives it a very temperate climate that makes summer and spring unforgettable.
  • Finding a job in Switzerland is competitive as an outsider. If you’re looking to make the move try and find work before you go, either with some of the larger Swiss companies or with American companies that have offices in Switzerland, they might be able to help you transfer.
  • You can also take advantage of Switzerland’s three-month grace period for foreigners. This period allows non-residents to stay in the country for three months while they try and find permanent work.
  • Income taxes are lower in Switzerland but that’s because the costs of living in Switzerland are so high.
  • Leave the guns at home. Switzerland does not feature much of the same second amendment fervor we have in America which possibly has something to do with the fact that they are a neutral country…either way, leave the guns back in the states.
  • Baby names for Swiss residents have to be taken from a pre-approved list. Don’t expect to be able to pop your baby out and name him Apple Pie Asterisk. If you do, you’ll have to request official permission from your embassy which will be a long and tedious process.

Top Things Every Expat Should When Moving to Amsterdamn

Written by Mark Neville

Amsterdam is more than just canals and “coffee shops.” With their super-friendly, laid back community, incredible food and history, and their high quality of life, Amsterdam is becoming a major attraction for American expats looking for a European getaway.

But what should you do first upon your arrival?  We’ve compiled a list of the few absolute musts that should be at the top of your agenda.

Need help making the move? We can help move your household items to Amsterdam so all you’ll have to worry about are getting your feet into a pair of clogs.

Top 5 Things to Do When You Move to Amsterdam:

Get a Bicycle:

Amsterdam is one of the world’s greatest biking cities. Having a bike opens up the city; not only making it easier, faster, and cheaper to get around but it also functions as a great tour. With all sorts of different bike paths, you’ll be able to give yourself your own bicycling tour of your new city.

Museum Tour:

Amsterdam is renowned for having some of the best museums in the world and some of the best artists in the world. First and foremost you’ll have to check out the Rijksmuseum, then the Van Gogh museum, then follow that up with the Rembrandt House Museum. On a more somber but equally important note, you’ll have to visit the Anne Frank house and see the famous/infamous attic.

Tour the Canals:

Other than its “coffee shops,” Amsterdam is best known for its canals. Amsterdam can go toe to toe with Venice in a gondola-off any day. Even though it might seem a bit “touristy” remember that you are still technically a tourist…and why not get the “touristy” stuff out of the way early.

Eat!:

This item is very simple: taste the local cuisine of the Netherlands. From delectable pastries to sausages and cheeses to their vast ends of the various minority cultures that have settled in Amsterdam, their cuisine is one of adventure.

Coffee Shops:

You simply have to finish Amsterdam’s notorious coffee shops at least once (if only to see what all the fuss is about). Returning home to America and telling your friends you never visited a coffee shop would be like coming back from Paris and saying you never saw the Eiffel Tower.

How Semi Trucks are Shipped Overseas

Written by Damien Shields

Shipping semi trucks internationally is generally limited to using the Ro-Ro method in which they are driven into the hull of a roll on roll off vessel.

However there is another option which we are currently using to ship two semi trucks to New Zealand. From the images, you can see two trucks being loaded onto 40ft flat racks from our loading yard in Los Angeles.

semi truck on a flat rack container

These trucks are brand new, and will be on the water for 15 days before they arrive at the port of Tauranga in NZ.

How They’ll Be Loaded:

The trucks are flush loaded on one side and blocked and braced into position using high capacity strapping.

shipping a semi truck

Considering each one of them weighs anywhere between 16,000 and 20,000 lbs, making sure they are strapped and blocked correctly with proper equipment can save the heartache of having the vehicles show up damaged.

The racks will be lifted by crane from the terminal at the port of Los Angeles onto the top level of containers stacked on board.

Flat racks are essentially 40ft containers without walls. This allows for out of gauge cargo, which will not fit inside the container, to be loaded and stacked on the top row.

transporting oversized truck

We then have the capacity to load units that are wider and taller than the dimensions of the 40ft units.

This is an alternative to Roll on Roll off which is generally used for over sized vehicles..

Prepping You For Your Move to Norway

Written by Alex Bach

Norway is one of the most fascinating countries in the world: they convert their garbage into fuel and even import garbage from other countries.

In summer you can schedule a midnight tee-time since the sun does not set. Also the country is considered a kingdom and they’ve even knighted a penguin. And with an excellent cost of living, moving to Norway is one of the best decisions you can make for a quality expat experience.

Economy:

Norway has an excellent economy at the moment. It would have been even better had the financial collapse not decimated the country’s retirement fund, but they’re still very well off. Most jobs offer very competitive living wages…much more than their US equivalents. The country offers free healthcare and college tuition for their residents as well.

On top of that, the US dollar to Norwegian Krone is trading very favorably to the US; approximately $0.17 to 1 Krone. As such, the US dollar will help make up for the higher cost of living.

Rent:

Rent is very affordable in Norway.  Even their most expensive 1-bedroom apartments in the city center are cheaper than in your average American city: approximately $1,600 a month, which would be hard to put you into a studio in Manhattan! And while the city can be a bit competitively priced to other American cities, the suburbs offer much cheaper solutions.

Transportation:

Norway’s public transportation system makes it very easy to get around the country. They have long-distance buses that can carry you from city to city, as well as the more traditional trains and planes. A local ticket will typically cost around $5.50 USD. Gas in Norway is about 14.74 Kroners per liter, or about $2.46 USD.

And if you want to bring your car with you, Schumacher can assist with that major move as well. Find out how we can ship your car to Norway.

Food:

Due to certain shipping restrictions, getting quality groceries in Norway is not always an easy or a cheap thing. US citizens accustomed to grocery stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods will be in for a rough surprise. So while it might cost a bit more to find quality produce and foreign items (kiwis, tea, lemons), you can still get your staples like milk for fairly cheap.