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What are the different types of international removal service?

What are the different types of international removal service?
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Which removal service is right for your international house move?

There are several different types of international removal service, each with different benefits and disadvantages. This article will help you to decide whether road removal, air freight or sea freight is right for your family as they relocate to a new country.

Road removals

A road removal involves your domestic goods being loaded into a van and driven to your destination. This option is only really practical for European moves. International road removers usually quote for a door-to-door service. When you choose a removals firm it pays to ask if they have experience in moving to your destination. Personnel who are familiar with the geography, road system and the language at your destination will make your move much easier.

Sea freight

For a cross-continent move sea freight is the most economical answer. Sea freight is very slow, though: it can take a couple of months.

When you move goods by sea your removal firm will expertly pack them into a shipping container and this will be loaded onto a cargo ship. Packing a container is a job for the experts. An experienced removals firm will make best use of the space and place your goods so that they arrive safely and can be unpacked easily.

The cargo ship will travel to a port near your destination and then your goods will be transported to your new address. If you have a large amount of domestic goods to move then hiring a full container – full container load (FCL) – makes sense. There are two sizes of shipping container – 20ft containers (will fit the contents of a two to four-bedroomed house) and 40ft containers (five to six-bedroomed house).

But if you have a smaller amount of goods, then a shared container, or groupage, is the right service for you. This is known as less than container load (LCL). Your goods will be packed into a container with goods belonging to other people who also need an LCL. This means you don’t have to pay for a full-sized container. It does, however take quite a bit longer than FCL as you may have to wait on the other mover’s schedule, and extra time is needed to sort the goods for delivery to your door.

Whatever size of container you need, your removal firm or relocation service will take care of the logistics at either end.


Airfreight is the most expensive and least eco-friendly option, but it’s the quickest (days, rather than weeks). It’s also the most predictable, too, as delays tend to be shorter. Airfreight may be a good option if you only have a few items to move and you want your goods available immediately on arrival. It’s a good idea to pare back your belongs to the bare minimum if you are opting for air freight as it may be cheaper to buy domestic goods at your destination than it is to move them. We've got some tips if you need to reduce your moving costs in order to enjoy the benefits of airfreight.

More information about shipping methods for an international relocation

MoveHub has more detailed information about different ways of shipping your goods abroad including a handy container costs table.

It’s easy to insure your international domestic move

Whatever removal service is best for your household, when you are moving overseas you’ll need insurance. For maximum peace of mind we cover your goods on a new for old basis and there is no minimum premium charge. A move overseas is complicated enough, so get a quick quote from Insure Your Move and tick that task off your list.