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Ask your removals company about hidden shipping fees

Ask your removals company about hidden shipping fees
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Do you know about all the fees that might arise when you ship your domestic goods abroad?

When you begin to work out your budget for an international move, it is very frustrating to find that removals companies can’t give you a straight quote. Every move is so different, but you might imagine that once an experienced home mover knows how much stuff you want to move, and where you want your domestic goods sent, they should be able to give you a straight quote.

The reason they can’t is that there are some random and unexpected elements to international shipping. During an international move your domestic goods will probably be handled by a port, a shipping line, a warehouse that unpacks your container, customs and a haulier. All of these ‘moving parts’ may charge extra fees in the case of a delay or a problem that cannot be predicted by your removals company.

Be sure to check with your removal company whether these costs are included in your bill. An experienced company will be able to tell you how likely you are to be hit by these charges, and how much they might be. Some companies spread the expected cost of these fees across all their clients; but some will charge their clients as they arise. It’s important to know what you’ve agreed to, so do ask your shipping company to find out what the arrangement is.

Inspection fees

These don’t happen for every move, but they are more likely with moves to certain parts of the world. Your move co-ordinator or removals company will tell you what to expect.

Customs inspection fees

Customs officers open selected shipments to check them – which might include X-rays and lab tests – and will then charge the shipper (that’s ultimately you) for the inspection. Costs can vary, depending on how long the inspection took. This is where expert packing comes in. Well packed goods are easy for a customs official to inspect, so using expert packers can minimise your customs fees. We’ve also got some in-depth advice for navigating customs in another of our blogposts.

Quarantine inspection fees

Moving your goods to some regions will require you to pay quarantine inspection fees. Certain countries – Australia is one – need to pay close attention to biosecurity, and so they inspect every shipment of household goods. They may ask permission to treat items for potential pest infestations, and they may destroy prohibited items. The shipper – that’s you – is responsible for the cost of this.

Port and warehouse fees

Another unexpected set of costs can arise if your shipment is delayed. This can happen if you fail to complete your customs paperwork promptly and your goods need to be held in a warehouse until the customs officers are satisfied; or it can happen if there is a delay in unloading the ship. Some terms you might see are port document fees, port handling charges and warehouse handling charges.

How do I work out how much my international move will cost?

As you can see, budgeting for an international move can be difficult because it is not possible to predict whether some charges will apply to your shipment of domestic goods. A good removals company will be up front with you about this to help you budget. They will also advise you on any steps you can take to keep handling fees, inspection fees and quarantine fees to a minimum and ensure you fully understand your responsibilities with regards to customs documentations at your destination.