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How to make an inventory for an international move

How to make an inventory for an international move
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What is an inventory for an overseas move? Read on for answers and advice

One of the best things you can do to ensure your move abroad runs smoothly is to start making an inventory early on in the process.

What’s an inventory?

An inventory is, very simply, a list of things. When you pack up your home to move overseas an inventory lists the large number of domestic items you are moving – everything from saucepans to stereos to sofas. It can be a paper list, or a full-on spreadsheet complete with photographs.

Why do I need an inventory when moving overseas?

An international relocation has many, many moving parts and not all of them are under your control – problems with customs; shipping delays caused by bad weather, industrial action or… I don’t know, maybe an enormous container ship wedged across the Suez Canal! One way to keep your sanity is to take control where you can – and starting an inventory is one way of doing that.

If you are using a moving company they will require an inventory – as a responsible organisation they will want to know what they are transporting. Customs and border control at your destination will also want to know what they are letting into their country. A well-made inventory can prevent delays by reducing the need for searches, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

An inventory will also be needed for insurance purposes, as the amount you pay for cover depends on the value of the goods you are moving.

An inventory will save you money because the handy list will remind you of what you already own and help you decide what to buy at your destination.

And a good inventory will help you when you come to unpack because it will tell you which box a particular item is in.

Your inventory will also be helpful should the worst happen and your domestic goods are lost or damaged in transit. You can quickly see what you should have and work out what needs replacing.

How do I make an inventory for my international move?

Your removals company may give you specific instructions for making an inventory; but if you are going it alone then you can make an inventory that best suits your needs.

Declutter before you make an inventory

Before you start making an inventory, decide what you are going to take with you. The less you take, the cheaper your move, and there is no sense in listing things you don’t want to transport! We’ve posted before about what not to take when you move abroad, and this will give you some ideas for paring down your possessions.

Make an inventory early on for a smoother move

Start your inventory before you begin packing: that way you can list which box or bag each item has gone into.

What is the best format for an inventory?

The best format for an inventory is whatever will be useful to you and the people who are helping you to move home. It could be a simple paper list; or it could be an app or a spreadsheet. You will have to share your list in some form or another; so it might make sense to do it electronically.

Some removals or shipping companies will have a specific format they need you to use; and you may have to provide your inventory in a particular way for customs purposes. So if you are using an app, make sure it is easy to export your data in a format you can share. Some examples of home inventory apps are Nest Egg Home and HouseBook.

Whatever format you use, make sure you keep your data safe, whether it’s by photocopying your paper inventory or keeping your digital inventory in secure cloud storage: it would be very annoying to lose a document that you’ve worked so hard to produce.

What details should I put on my inventory?

A good inventory will tell you what you have, where it is – that is, which box it’s in – and how much the item is worth. When you insure with Insure Your Move it’s on a ‘new for old’ basis. So the value is how much it will cost to replace the item at your destination . You can include any serial numbers, and you might want to photograph any unique items, or items with sentimental value.

It’s helpful if your inventory is organised in a way that lets you share required data without sharing information that you’d prefer to keep to yourself. For example, you might want to share a list of items, but not the prices.

For some moves – for example if you are relocating to Australia – you may need to provide details about the material each item is made from. So ‘plastic tray’, ‘metal picture frame’ and ‘wooden chair’.

If you have any questions about what details you should put in the inventory you supply to us when we quote for your insurance, do ask: we’re pleased to help.

As you can see, an inventory is a useful document, and best created early on in your moving process.