The key to a successful and uncomplicated international relocation is knowing what to expect and preparing for all the stages ahead of time. We take the guesswork out of moving by laying out a series of manageable, scheduled events.
During your move, use our resources. You will find that Allstate representatives reserve a wealth of information and provide essential guidance to help you prepare and execute your move, assisting you every step of the way. As specialists experienced in overseas moving, we help secure the safe transportation of your belongings. At your final destination, an Allstate overseas partner will assist you from customs to the final delivery.
Below is a comprehensive guide to be used as your road map to planning from start to finish for a trouble-free overseas move:
Understanding Your Move:
- Order for service and limitation of Liability
- Packing and Loading
- Preparation of Appliances
- Types of Transportation
- Transit Time for Goods
- Shipping Costs
- Other Possible Expenses To Prepare For
- Selecting a moving date
- Resources Available
- Customs Regulations
- Items To Take
- People and Places to Notify
By land, sea or air, Allstate Moving Systems can move you anywhere. Our representatives are available to help guide you through every detail of your international move.1. Order for service and limitation of Liability
At the time your goods are loaded and again at delivery, you will sign an agreement known as an order for service. It will contain all charges for services performed, in addition to terms and conditions under which your goods are moved.
On the order for service, you will have the ability to select the level of carrier liability for your goods in terms of dollars and cents per pound, per item/package (for details view our Shipment Protection section).
Note: To protect yourself financially, take pictures of your furniture and valuables as proof of ownership in the event of loss or damage. Also take photographs anything that might need to be disassembled for transit so the destination crew will know how to reassemble the items upon arrival to your new home.
2. Packing and Loading
When the packing team arrives at your home, your personal belongings will be placed in appropriate cartons or containers. To protect your goods from damage, items will be individually wrapped in paper pads as needed. Made of shock-absorbing fiber, the paper pads are used exclusively for international relocations.
Once your shipment has been prepared for loading, it will be placed inside one or more containers. The type of containers selected will depend on the mode of transportation, the size of your shipment and your destination. Your shipment can be loaded into one or more of the following:
- Steamship containers
- Air containers
Before the packers arrive at your home, make certain all of the appliances you plan to take have been cleaned and serviced (check your owner’s manuals for cleaning instructions). Allow drying time for any major appliances that use water or produce moisture before packing, to avoid mold or mildew build-up during the move.
All mechanical and electrical equipment must be serviced prior to your move. Most washers, dryers, air conditioners, refrigerators, stereos and grandfather clocks have components that must be secured by a trained technician. Items not serviced will be noted on the inventory as “not serviced – loaded at owner’s risk”. At your request, Allstate can arrange for the necessary appliance and equipment servicing for an additional cost.
4. Types of Transportation
Your shipment will be forwarded via one or more modes of transportation:
- Motor freight carrier
- Steamship line
5. Transit Time for Goods
The type of transportation used, the distance covered and the time required to clear customs will affect the transit time of your shipment.
Allstate Moving Systems utilizes a system to track your shipment.
You can receive updates on your shipment by calling contacting your representative.
6. Shipping Costs
To determine the moving costs, an Allstate Moving Systems representative will come to your home for a FREE in-home estimate. Be sure to show the agent everything that will be moved. The estimate you receive will detail the charges for packing and transporting your household goods.
Services not typically included in estimates are:
- Extra pickups or deliveries
- Servicing of electrical appliances
- Additional insurance (in case any item is lost or damaged in transit)
7. Other Possible Expenses To Prepare For
- Travel accommodations
- Travel insurance
- Customs duties and/or taxes on your household goods
- Possible storage of your belongings at origin and/or destination
- Shipping your car, plus customs duties
- Automobile conversion to meet government standards
- Document fees for passport, visa and permits
- Inoculations and a physical examination
- Pre-move trip to find housing
- Temporary housing until a permanent residence is found or until your furnishings arrive
- Cross-cultural training in advance of your move
- Tuition costs if your children will attend private school abroad or in a boarding school at home
1. Selecting a moving date
Things to keep in mind when determining your moving date:
- Try to plan your move for regular working days to avoid overtime charges incurred on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
- Try to avoid moving on the first or last few days of a month, because these tend to be the busiest moving times.
- Check your destination country’s holiday schedule to ensure your move date won’t result in unnecessary delays.
Allstate’s representatives can provide a variety of services to assist you with your move, from information about your destination and customs regulations, to cross-cultural training, housing assistance and settling-in services (some of the services are fee-based). Other resources for information include a consulate, embassy, customs office or chamber of commerce for your destination country/city.
3. Customs Regulations
Check with a consulate, embassy or customs office for your destination country if you have specific questions on items you want to take with you. If something is questionable, obtain written assurance from the consulate/embassy that the item can be admitted as part of your shipment.
As your shipment goes through customs, it is important that you be on hand to answer questions, to provide additional documentation, if necessary, and to pay any duties that are levied against your goods. Upon paying, keep the official receipt. Some duties may be refundable when you leave the country.
The items below are commonly regulated in customs:
- Household Goods: Most countries permit duty-free entry of used household goods; some only allow free entry of items less than a year old. Before buying any items to take abroad, determine if it is worth paying duty on them.
- Limited Items: Items that may have limits if packed in your household goods shipment are alcohol, tobacco, cameras and unexposed film. When feasible, carry these goods with you.
- International Laws: Transportation of flammable items, such as matches, candles, paint, and cleaning and lighting fluids are prohibited.
- Personal Accessories: Personal items such as clothing, furs and jewelry are usually duty-free as long as they are for the owner’s use and not for resale. We suggest that jewelry and furs be shipped via airfreight or carried with you in your personal luggage to prevent theft.
- Medication: If you carry any prescription medications with you, follow the suggestions below to avoid problems.
- Carry your medicine in small quantities.
- Keep medications in appropriate prescription containers (list your doctor’s name, pharmacy and medication name on the label).
- Carry a letter from your doctor stating your condition, confirming the medication, including a telephone number for verification.
- Pets: Before moving your pet to another country, consider two factors. (1) Will your pet be allowed in the destination country? If yes, a health and/or rabies certificate might be required from your veterinarian. (2) How much will it cost you? In most cases, you will be required to pay a duty on your pet and pay a fee for your pet to be quarantined. Depending on your destination county, your pet could be quarantined for a few weeks up to a full year.
- If you do take your pet, be sure to do the following:
- Get your pet’s medical records from your vet
- Provide your pet with a travel identification tag – in addition to his/her permanent identification.
- Schedule your trip to ensure your pet doesn’t arrive at the destination on a weekend or holiday when customs facilities are closed.
- To help speed up the clearance process for your pet, write to the port entry veterinarian advising him or her of your pet’s arrival date, flight number and other required information.
- If you do take your pet, be sure to do the following:
- Houseplants: Bulbs, seeds and houseplants cannot be packed as part of your household goods shipment. Many countries prohibit the entry of plants and bulbs. If seeds are allowed, find out if a special permit is necessary, and carry the seeds with you.
- Motor Vehicles: Before shipping your car overseas, check for any fees and import regulations versus the cost of a comparable car at destination. Certain makes of automobiles might be prohibited. Models that are allowed might require an entry permit and modifications to meet emission or safety standards. When shipping a car, nothing can be left in the interior or in the trunk, except normal accessories – such as a jack and a spare tire. Customs also may permit transporting the vehicle’s hubcaps, extra air filters and/or engine parts in the trunk.
- Firearms: Handguns and other weapons are prohibited in many countries. Firearms that are allowed will require permits. Do not include any weapon in your household goods shipment without written assurance from a consulate or embassy of your destination country that it will be admitted. Remember that all ammunition is prohibited in shipments due to the risk of explosion.
- Money: Restrictions can be placed on the amount of currency you can take in or out of a country. This includes cash, money orders, traveler’s checks and any other negotiable securities.
- Antiques: Your precious collectibles might be duty-free if they are at least 100 years old. To verify this, you will need proof of antiquity from an appraiser. It is wise to have antiques and collections appraised, and to forward a copy of each appraisal to your Allstate Representative.
- Food: Your destination country might restrict or prohibit the entry of certain foods. Typically, processed foods such as canned goods are acceptable, whereas items such as flour, cornmeal and beans are not.
4. Items To Take
Regardless of how your household goods are transported, there are many items you may want or need to take with you – clothing, bedding, medications, valuables, work materials or any other items you will need on hand between your new home and your old home. If your shipment is moving by sea, you may consider sending some items you will need right away by air. Some examples and ideas of items you may want to take include:
Electric Adapter: Some countries in the Western Hemisphere have an electric power of 110 volt, 60-hertz (cycles per second) alternating current (AC). However, the majority of countries run on 220-440 volt, 50 hertz AC. Depending on your destination, you might need converters, transformers, voltage regulators or adapter plugs.
Remember that converters work only with the same type of current- an appliance manufactured to run on AC will not work on direct current (DC).
In addition to transformers and regulators, you also might need adapter plugs. Appliances with flat-blade plugs are common in the United States, whereas European countries often use plugs with two or three round prongs.
As well as differences in electricity, television broadcasting varies from country to country. Receivers manufactured for the U.S. market most likely will be incompatible with foreign signals.
School Records: Take copies of your children’s transcripts with you. If you move during the school term, ask for the grades your children have earned in classes at the time of withdrawal. If your children are in junior high, middle or high school, try to obtain a curriculum guide or course description of classes your children are taking.
You can receive addresses of schools abroad by requesting the Directory of Overseas Schools, which is updated annually and cross-indexed by country, city, residential status and name. Check your local library or request a copy by visiting International School Services.
Medical Information: Prescriptions for eyewear, dental records (both from physicians and hospitals) should be taken with you. If medications are listed by brand name, have your physician include the generic name. Gather details on the dates you or your children received immunizations.
Hard-to-Find Items: Some items may be hard-to-find, expensive, nonexistent or of less quality overseas. Consider packing extras when you move. Some hard-to-find items may include:
- Specific Clothing Styles
- Baby food (tip: have a blender oversees to prepare your own baby food)
5. People and Places to Notify
You will need to alert many people of your upcoming relocation. Suggestions for people and places to contact follow:
Power of Attorney: Before moving, you might want to execute a power of attorney, which will designate a person to act on your behalf. If you do, provide this person with a key to your safe deposit box, an up-to-date will, insurance policies, appointment of your children’s legal guardian (should the need arise), and copies of the legal documents you are taking with you. These documents might include birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, bank drafts, letters of credit, tax documents and Social Security records.
Insurance Agent: Find out if your automobile and homeowner’s insurance polices will be valid at your destination. If not, you consider taking out a new policy. A recommendation letter with your driving record from your current insurance agent may help you receive coverage overseas.
Travel Agent: Unless your employer is handling your travel arrangements, you might find that using a travel agent can save you time and trouble. If traveling with a pet confirm that your pet can travel with you as accompanying baggage, rather than in the cargo area.
Post Office: Inform your post office that you will be moving, inform them when to start holding or forwarding your mail and complete the post office change-of-address. Keep in mind that some magazines, books and records sent through the mail might be prohibited in foreign countries.
Government Tax Department: If you are expecting a tax refund, notify the appropriate revenue department that your address is changing.
If you are a U.S. citizen relocating outside the continental United States, keep a record of all moving-related costs. Some expenses might be tax-deductible if they are itemized on the appropriate Internal Revenue System (IRS) form. U.S. citizens can ask the nearest IRS office to send all of the government publications and forms needed for living as a resident of another country.
If you are a resident of a country other than the United States, check with the country’s appropriate governmental department for tax information.
Finance Companies: Notify any banks or finance companies with which you are doing business. A lender’s permission often is required when moving unpaid items out of the country.
Before moving, open a bank account at a worldwide financial institution. By using a bank with offices at your origin and destination, services and cash may be more accessible.
Doctor/Dentist: Inform your current physician and dentist that you will be moving, and ask for recommendations they might have for counterparts in your destination country. If they can’t provide suggestions, ask a consulate or embassy of your destination country, or The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT).
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1. To Leave a Country
- Certificates of Registration
- Any items in your possession made in another country should be registered with customs at origin in order to bring them back
- American vehicles don’t have to be registered when leaving the United States with proof of possession:
- Certificate of title with you as owner
- A state registration card
- A Federal Aviation Administration certificate for any aircraft
- A motorboat identification certificate or a yacht license for a boat
- Foreign and domestic firearms must be registered with customs
- Export Declaration Form
- Declares your household goods and motor vehicle(s) to be shipped out of the country
- Allstate will complete this form before your shipment is packed
- We advise that you not pack any boxes. Doing so can cause delays, as customs officials usually inspect boxes that are “packed by owner”
Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to confirm which documents you’ll need when immigrating. Start obtaining the appropriate documents as early as possible. Waiting for approval can take several months, if not longer. For some applications, you will need duplicates of your passport photos. Also, copies of any marriage certificates or divorce decrees can facilitate obtaining permits, be sure to bring them along.
When entering the United States, the documents you will need depend on whether you are a returning resident or a non-resident. A U.S. citizen will need a passport; a U.S. resident alien will need a reentry permit or an alien registration receipt card issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services. A non-resident will need a valid passport and visa issued by U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Non-residents also should check with a consulate or embassy to see if they need a labor and/or immunization certificate.
If you’re moving to a country other than the United States, you might need several documents in addition to your passport. Confirm with a consulate or embassy of you destination country which of the following documents you will need:
- Letter of Recommendation, addressed to the appropriate consulate/embassy
- The letter should be from a bank, commercial or industrial firm, trade association, chamber of commerce or public official
- The letter should include your occupation, title, business references and any documents verifying a good credit history
- Residence Permit
- May be needed before leaving your country of origin or you might be allowed to apply for it at destination
- Many foreign countries require new residents to report to the police or local registration bureau immediately upon arrival
- Work Permit
- Working without authorization might result in deportation
- International Driving Permit
- Confirm your destination country recognizes an international driving permit
- For a permit application, contact your local American Automobile Association (AAA) branch
- Immunization/Medical Certificates
- Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to determine which immunizations and forms are required in your new country
- Have all required inoculations three or more months in advance, if possible, for full protection
The following are miscellaneous questions you might want to ask a consulate or embassy of your destination country:
- Are original documents required?
- Do they need to be translated into the destination country’s main language?
- Do any documents need to be legalized by a consulate or embassy before departure?
- Are there restrictions on the quantity of goods I can bring?
- Can I bring more than one shipment?
- Are other taxes or fees involved besides duty?
- Are model or serial numbers of electrical items and /or appliances required for customs clearance?
- Are there special laws or regulations regarding women and children?
- What is the availability of “special family need” items services (such as dietary needs, medical treatment and prescriptions)?
1. Following Up
With the excitement of arriving at your new home, make sure you do not forget follow up on a few details:
- Contact you’re your Allstate representative and let them know where and when you can be reached.
- Register with the nearest consulate or embassy. All countries may not require this but it is recommended.
- Ask if there are any additional charges on your shipment, such as extra handling for storage (be prepared to pay any additional cost when your household goods are delivered).
- Be available to accept deliveries when your household goods arrive.
- Check the goods carefully, if there are any missing or damaged boxes, mark them in the inventory.
- Immediately report any loss or damage in writing to your Allstate representative.
Life in a foreign country can be exhilarating or frustrating, depending on your expectations and preparations. Information and organization are essential when “starting over” in a new country. Because you need information, remember to use your resources: Allstate Resources, a consulate or embassy at your destination country, customs offices in your home and destination countries, bookstores and your public library.
Experiencing difficulty in adjusting to a new country is normal, even if you have prepared yourself in advance. If this happens to you or someone within your family, some suggestions that may help are:
- Allow time off from work for activities that help you cope with the stresses of adjustment, such as sports, outings or just curling up with a good book.
- Maintain ties with family members and friends in your home country and build a support system in your new community.
- Resist the urge to make snap judgments of your new country and its people (including applying stereotypes), and make comparisons to home. Appreciate and be sensitive to cultural differences.
- Above all, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations. View the experience as an adventure that will broaden your horizons.