International Movers San Francisco

Overseas Moving Companies SF

Finding an international mover near you is a challenging job. Even if you are experienced at moving, relocating to another country is more complicated than moving state to state or making a simple local move. There is ground transportation at the beginning that looks like a regular move. Next, the shipment gets loaded onto a container for transport to the destination country, where it goes back onto a truck for the rest of the journey.

How do I find an international mover in San Francisco?

If you are moving at the request of an employer or the U.S. government, your move may be entirely or partially paid for by your sponsor. If so, that is great, because international moving is expensive. There are many rules about what you can transport, and you need a move manager to coordinate the process. Your best bet is to identify a company with international expertise to ensure a less-stressful experience.

As with any relocation, take your time and perform your due diligence. Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations. Check with the Better Business Bureau and the FMCSA to validate that the company you are considering has a good safety history and a lack of complaints. The Federal Maritime Commissions has an Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution, which also maintains complaint history regarding international moving organizations.

Consider an agent for an international moving company licensed with the Federal Maritime Commission, which makes the following recommendations for a satisfactory relocation:

  • Use the moving company’s packing services and request that your items will be shrink-wrapped and palleted. Ask the mover to create a detailed list of packed moving boxes, and that each container be assigned a number on the list.
  • Make sure anything used outside, such as bicycles and garden equipment, is clean and free of insects. Check with the mover before including grills or lawnmowers—they may not be allowed in the destination country.
  • Carefully check to see that the inventory accurately labels items (like “Tiffany goblet” not “wine glass”) and provides size, make, model, and serial number for larger items such as electronic components and televisions.
  • Validate that the mover’s inventory and description of the condition of contents is correct. If you find a discrepancy, discuss it with the mover and note it on the packing list.
  • Never ship cash, stock, bonds, jewelry, coins, and photo albums—take these things with you.
  • Remember that plants, seeds, pet food, pesticides, firearms, and meat products cannot be exported to other countries by individuals.
  • Ask about customs clearance—some companies will offer the clearance service as part of their international moving package, while others will expect you to manage this on your own. It would help if you prepare for either scenario and also understand the financial implications of customs clearance.

Consumer advocates advise against accepting an estimate from a company that does not conduct an in-person inspection of your household goods. This inspection is an essential step in any moving quote, and experts recommend that you obtain at least three visual estimates before settling on a moving company. Before you choose one, ensure that you understand all of the parties involved in handling the shipment, and which one has the ultimate responsibility for guaranteeing the delivery. The contract may include disclaimers in the fine print—read them and discuss them with the company rather than rely on the salesperson’s assurances.

Verify the insurance coverage for your shipment on all portions of the international journey. Some shippers do not cover any losses that take place at sea unless the entire vessel is lost. It may be wise to obtain third-party marine insurance for the overseas part of the shipment. Ensure you have a receipt with contact information from the company that took possession of your shipment, as it may be different from the booking agent. There are frequently many participants in an international shipment, which can cause confusion if you are trying to track down your belongings or file a claim.

It is always critical to conduct reference checks on overseas moving companies, but the degree of importance is more significant with an international move. The company you choose has a big responsibility: to oversee various aspects of the shipment, coordinate different subcontractors, and ensure that your goods don’t get rejected by the destination country’s customs officers. It is worth your time to talk to some recent customers who can share their experience with you. Checking references is also a good way to be sure that you are not dealing with a shady operator. If the potential mover doesn’t have customers they want you to talk to, that is a bad sign.

What should I move with me to another country?

International shipping is costly and slow. In many cases, the home you will be moving to is smaller than the one you leave behind, although there are exceptions to this. With these things in mind, consider how much of your household goods you want to bring along. That calculation is different for each of us, and the determination includes other variables like the length of the planned stay, the attachment you have (or perhaps other family members have) to the comforts of home) and even your innate sense of adventure. Having a familiar bedroom set might comfort a homesick child but be unnecessary for a family excited to explore the unknown.

Can I ship my car from San Francisco to another country?

If you are moving abroad and want to take your car with you from San Francisco, talk to the San Francisco moving company. Every country has its own rules about the ages and types of vehicles it will allow to be imported, and the regulations and costs of import. Sometimes tariffs are required if the importation is permanent but can be waived if it is temporary. In some European and other countries, there are rigorous emissions inspections needed for entry.

In many cases, a vehicle shipped to another country must be free of liens or accompanied by a letter of permission from the lienholder. The car must be specially prepared for shipment, usually with nothing in the trunk or cabin, and little gasoline.

Shipping your vehicle internationally can cost anywhere from $1000 on up, depending on the method of transportation, distance to the port (even though San Francisco is a port, the vehicle may travel to a different port if being shipped to Europe), and how quickly you need it to arrive at the destination. A container shipment will cost more than a “roll on/roll off” transit, where your car is basically parked on a vessel for the journey. Also, you may want to get an insurance policy to cover your car while it is being shipped. Many things can go wrong during the transit process, including hurricanes, piracy, flooding, or fire. Consider a total loss or all-risk policy to protect your investment and exposure in case of the unexpected.

Written by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving.

If you have any questions about moving, our services, or anything else you think he may be able to help with, you can contact Chris by emailing him at

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