Have you considered using freight forwarding services for your move overseas instead of a moving service?

FREIGHT FORWARDING… I thought that was just for commercial purposes, not moving abroad!

To be honest, not many international freight forwarders handle household goods & car shipping overseas, and most moving abroad end up using actual moving services. Seems like an intuitive decision, doesn’t it?

Well, it wouldn’t be the most illogical assumption I’ve heard, but unfortunately for those wanting to ship their household goods overseas, a move like that could be a rather costly one.

Why would moving services be more expensive?

First, most movers are not really wired for international moves. This means that they don’t have a lot of experience with customs or many of the other issues that only come with transferring belongings over borders and oceans. It also means that they don’t have the overseas freight network to provide the best rates, deal with port fees, foreign clearance, and delivery & unpacking with inside delivery to meet high standards of services.

– Which means they need somebody else to do the heavy lifting for them. And really what that translates to is having an extra cook in the kitchen (the moving company), which still wants to get paid.

Why freight forwarders are the better way to go

Many have already found a far less expensive method to ship their household goods & vehicles overseas! Not every forwarder offers it, but some will give you exactly what you envisioned when you set out on this quest, providing things like packing, warehousing, loading, shipping overseas clearance & delivery.

Moving things like personal effects and household goods are different from repeat commercial accounts. It must be overwhelming to even consider something that is normally known for commercial and industrial applications, but it must also give you heart palpitations to deal with anybody for such an important move. It’s not like you can drive your car from California to Australia, like you might do if you were only moving to a different state.

But because this is such a big move, you’re dealing with quantities that may actually compare to something you’d see in a commercial shipment, and the reality is that your moving service is going to be using the exact services I’m describing to you, but with a mark-up and lack of understanding of how the process should go.

Because of this, I imagine you’re pretty stressed. It’s not like you’re going to be doing this a lot, so to go out and learn the ins and outs of this industry is likely a long shot.


This is why you require a friendly hand from inception to explicitly provide clear answers to your many questions & always making sure that each shipping step, customs, packing, loading, booking with the carrier all fall within a time line that the you must follow. It often starts with a detailed quotation that will show all of the services priced and itemized.

What happened with our client who moved to France

We recently had a client who moved everything from their home here in the US to France, and it went something like this –

I involved our packer from the beginning to get accurate pricing, as your household goods are eclectic, which means that unlike commercial shipping, we’re not moving big quantities of the same or similar items. Everything is different – dimensions, weights, densities… everything!

Based on your packing list, you likely have ample cargo to ship your exclusive 1×20’ container. It would not make any sense to consolidate with other shipments for the following reasons:


(MORE LIKE THIS: Shipping Rates May be Cheaper if You Buy the Container)


  1. Packing cost to consolidate your shipment among others would require crating to allow mixing with other shipments & when you ship 1×20’ container exclusive, we simplify the packing and secure it inside the exclusive container for less expense than crating to meet the ocean consolidation criterion for packing.
  2. The port fee in Le Havre is higher for a consolidation shipment of your volume versus the 20’ container (big difference).
  3. The exclusive container is sealed from the warehouse or your door for on-site packing & loading to the door in France with no handling & more secure than a consolidation with parties handling your freight here & in France at the terminal, then the delivery.

Pricing the right service (this scenario, the shipper dropped his car & household goods off at our warehouse):

  • Local Services
  • Manifesting / Unloading of your truck at our warehouse (household goods)
  • Container loading securely (1×20’)
  • Packing material (basic paper-wrapping on furniture)


Export services

  • Container positioning (local warehouse) in Long Beach
  • Chassis daily rental fee:
  • U.S. Export documentation / Handling / Bill of lading preparation:
  • Ocean Freight to Le Havre port only
  • Marine Insurance
  • Port security fee
  • Los Angeles port has a clean truck fee of $ 70.00
  • Los Angeles port has a day-surcharge (Pier Pass) of $ 80 per 20’ container


Import French Charges

  • Le Havre port fee
  • Port (taxes)
  • Bill of lading transfer
  • French Customs clearance including the car (except any tax or duty if applicable)
  • Local Le Havre delivery (need exact delivery address for container poisoning pricing)


  1. Any fees assessed due to random customs exam/inspection (i.e. exam fees, storage, tax , duty fees) are not included, and would have been paid directly to the parties assessing these charges.
  2. If they had changed their mind & requested our crew to pack & load at their domicile, we would have scheduled & priced the added services at that time. The point being that it does happen, and it is possible.


Estimate totaled before insurance: Price was given to the customer (Warehouse to storage curb side in Le Havre)

  • Frequency: 1 Sailing per week
  • Estimated transit time: 27 days (subject to change)



  1. They had to obtain their free certificate of moving from the French Consulate
  2. They provided us with a detailed packing list (free download from ETC International Freight System) with origin / destination names & addresses / telephone numbers & copies of their French passport

NOTE: A thorough review must take place with the shipper to ensure that each line item meets the service the shipper needs. Before a quote is provided all charges are verified using the packer, warehouse, shipping line, overseas agent and the customs.


In this above scenario, the shipper wanted to keep the expenses as low as possible and was prepared to be involved in some aspects of the packing and the retrieval of his car & household goods once in France. So, we, the international freight forwarder offered a solution to eliminate pricy overseas services, such as a local container delivery to a warehouse where our agent would unload the vehicle & forward the household goods to the final destination (including the car).

We positioned the container all the way to the final consignee’s destination after the overseas customs clearance. Ocean containers are trucked on a chassis 4’ off the ground and the unloading of a vehicle and heavy pieces of furniture must be thought through. Since the shipper / consignee’ s desire was to save on the destination charges, we helped them locate at the destination a tow truck company with a hydraulic flat-bed that would rise to the back of the container and ease any unloading concerns for a very cheap price.

The bottom line was that they were able to ship at a much lower rate than if they had gone through a moving service (they already had a quote from the other guys, and it was quite a difference), and they had a better understanding of the process because they were working directly with the agency responsible for assembling the travel route and vendors. So, not only did they save money, but they saved a lot of sleep as well.

Interested in exploring our household moving services? Get a free quote by ETC International today!

You should also take a look at this checklist for your big move. It just might be what you needed to take the edge off:

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