International Removals Guide for USA

Shipping yourself, and your belongings, to the USA is a big decision and one you won’t have taken lightly. In order for everything to run smoothly you’ll need to arrange transportation of your worldly goods and entrust them into the hands of a reliable international removals company. Companies cannot only help with the packing and transportation but they can also make sure you have the correct documentation and receive the correct advice. Whether you’re moving to New York or Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco, with the right company the stress of relocating should be kept to a minimum.

Step 1: Planning ahead

Even before you’ve finalised your working or visa details, take time to collect quotes from international removal companies. They will be able to advise on what type of removal would be best for you. Options include; door to door shipping, excess baggage, part or full container shipping and package shipping. Consider the time limitations of your move. Ideally you’d be looking at planning your relocation six months in advance, but if this just isn’t possible, companies can be flexible.

Companies should give you a free, no obligation survey. Gather quotes and see which suits your budget and needs. It will take between 2-4 weeks for your belongings to arrive on the East Coast of America, and 4-6 weeks on the West Coast. These timings are based on shipping full containers. If you are shipping a part load container; East Coast shipping will take between 5-9 weeks and West Coast will take between 6-10 weeks.

Step 2: Choosing a reputable company

Finding a reliable removals company should be easy if you look out for the following accreditations:

  • FAIM Accreditation, which is only independent Quality Assurance standard for the International Moving Industry;
  • Membership of the FIDI Global Alliance, which sets a quality benchmark for its members; and
  • Membership of the British Association of Removers Overseas Group. BAR OVERSEAS is covered by the I.M.M.I. Advance payment guarantee scheme for your financial protection.

Step 3: Packing everything up 

Having decided upon your moving company you will be asked to pay a deposit towards the move, with full payment usually being taken seven days before the final date. Someone from your preferred agent should be assigned to organise your move. They’ll give advice from beginning to end, inform you of the moving date and generally keep things ticking along smoothly. You may have the option to pack your own property or may wish to have the crew do this for you. You’ll need to give the moving company an agreed list of what you’re taking. This is not fixed, and can change, but it gives everyone something to work with.

On the big day, your boxes will be put into a container, and taken to a depot or onto the debarkation location. Once they arrive at their destination, the removal companies should hold all the relevant documentation, helping them pass through customs easily.

Step 4: Documentation required 

Your chosen removals company should inform you of the need for the following:

  • US Customs form 3299;
  • Customs Supplemental Declaration for unaccompanied household effects ;
  • Removal inventory
  • Power of Attorney form;
  • Copy of your passport and visa;
  • Valuation form for Shipment Protection cover; and
  • Purchase receipts (only applicable if you are importing any newly purchased goods).

Step 5: Export restrictions on goods into America

Certain products have export restrictions on them:

  • Medicines & therapeutic drugs (must have prescription and no more than 3-6 months supply);
  • Alcohol & wine will require a permit (importation is only allowed to certain states, please check);
  • Bamboo, wicker or cane items; and
  • Fishing knives and martial art weapons.