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Shipping Costs: What is the price of moving abroad?

Moving Abroad > Shipping Costs

Moving abroad isn’t easy.

From organising a visa to finding somewhere to live, the organisational task list is never ending. 

At buzzmove, we understand the stress relocating abroad to cause.  That’s why we’ve put together several handy guides to make you move that more manageable.  From the ‘Ultimate Moving Abroad Checklist’ to ‘3 things you should ask your international movers’, we’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to international moves.

But there’s one thing we haven’t covered yet.


Although not required for every move abroad, shipping can often strike fear into the hearts of those looking for a more permanent relocation.  From costs, methods, times and processes, as well as packaging and storage, choosing the right shipping option for you move is not an easy task. Especially with so many companies out there, how do you who’s right for you?

Well, to help end the confusion, we’ve put together our ultimate guide to shipping costs, including transport methods and travel times.  Keep reading to find out more.

And if you have any of your own shipping tips, leave them in the comments below.

What can affect the cost of shipping?

While there are hundreds of things that can affect the cost of your move, from the company you use to the time of year, there are a few factors that are universal for all overseas relocations. We’ve listed them below so you can’t start considering your options early:

Scale of your move 

It’s no shock that moving more things will cost more money, with volume, weight and size all playing a part in exactly how much you’ll be charged.  


How far you’ll be moving plays a big role in how much it will cost.  As your final destination will often determine the transportation options available to you.  

For example, if you’re moving to Australia road transport probably isn’t the right method for you.  Therefore, you’ll be relying on sea or air freight, which can result in higher prices and longer shipping times. 


Are you moving to a popular metropolitan destination? Or maybe somewhere off the beaten path? 

If it’s the latter, you’ll probably have more luck when trying to keep shipping costs down.  This is due to certain routes being more commonly used than others, resulting in more competitive pricing and a greater choice of removal companies for more popular destinations. 

Transportation method

How you choose to move your stuff is probably the biggest decision you’ll have to make when it comes to relocation.  With factors like distance and transport routes often predetermined by the nature of your move. 

Air freight is generally regarded as the most expensive transportation method, with costs often two to three times greater than those of sea freight shipping. Road transport is often seen as the cheapest option for nearby moves, although is not available for further a field destinations. 

Which Shipping method is best?

European Moves

For those moving from the UK to other parts of Europe, as well as internal European moves, road transport is generally regarded as the best option. This is due to the ease of pick up, as well as cheaper petrol costs, which allow for a simple transportation process. In addition, the freedom of movement between many European countries keeps additional fees down and allows for speedier travel times across borders. 

Road transport can be broken down into two categories: Part Load and Full Load/Special Service. 

Part Load 

Generally regarded as the most efficient shipping method for smaller scale moves, part load road transport allows you to share a lorry with other movers heading to your destination country. This means you will only be paying for the volume or percentage of space taken up, which can reduce costs for those with fewer furniture pieces or removal boxes.  This shipping method can take between 1 and 3 weeks depending on the route taken and final destination, 

Full Load or Special Service

With this method you have exclusive use of the removal lorry, meaning you don’t have to share the space for anyone.  Whilst this does mean faster delivery times due to less detours and route complexities, it does mean you have to pay more, as more space results in higher costs.

Worldwide Moves

Whilst road transport sounds like a great shipping option, it is often not available for worldwide moves.  Especially for those moving from the UK to the USA or Asia, putting your things into the back of a lorry is not an option.  

Instead, those looking to move further afield will have to choose between two shipping methods: Sea Freight and Air Freight. 

Sea Freight

Full Container Service

As the prefered method of international shipping for full house removals, sea freight services utilise shipping containers to transport your items overseas.  Whilst these containers come in a variety of sizes, 20 feet and 40 feet are the most commonly available for house moves. This allows you to choose the right size container for your possessions, with increased protection its private use.  

Whilst transit times depend on the distance between locations, government channels can also affect how quickly you’re possession reach their destination.  This can include international customs, which can take several days to pass through depending on the country and type of objects being shipped. 

Groupage Service

This shipping method works in much the same way as a full container service, but allows users to cut costs when they have less items to transport.  Groupage service allows people travelling to the same destination to share containers, with costs based on the volume taken up by each person’s belongings. As share space with those using the same removal customers shipping fees are lower, although transport times may be increased due to the containing needing to be fully filled before shipping. 

Air freight 

Despite being the quickest shipping method, air freight is often seen as too expensive for most movers.  This is due to limited space, increased demand and high petrol costs, with companies charging greater fees in exchange for increased convenience. Air freight will often take multiple days, although timings will vary depending on distance between locations. 

Additional Costs

Whilst you’re probably preoccupied with decision of shipping methods, it’s important to take into account the other costs that can accompany a move abroad.  These can range from the obvious to the obscure, so it is vital to plan you’re relocation well in advance to ensure you don’t face any nasty surprises you weren’t expecting.

Visa Fees

Whilst most of us aware of the need for visas when moving or travelling abroad, few would know exactly how much these documents are to acquire. For example, did you a tourist visa in China will set you bad roughly £130? Whilst this is one of the heftier fees, as tourist visas for the USA or Australia will cost you roughly £23 and £16 respectively, these costs can add up.  

What’s more, for those looking to acquire a work or student visa, the costs can be much greater, with fees often rocketing into the hundreds. Especially for those looking to relocate with families, the need for multiple visas can really take a toll on the bank balances and send many carefully planned budgets out the window.

Therefore, be sure to do your research early to avoid any nasty surprises and always start your visa application in due time. 


Whilst many shipping companies will include insurance as standard, many basic policies will not fully cover the value of your items or the necessary liabilities.  Therefore, it is recommended that you take out specialist removal insurance for your move. When deciding on an insurer it’s important to understand exactly how they will protect you items, what kind of compensation is in place, claims limits and the transparency of their customer service processes. 

Lawyer Fees

Depending on your destination of choice, you may need legal assistance when it comes to customs, visas or legal rights.  Although you can navigate these things yourself, it is recommended that you seek professional help when navigating more complex international laws and regulations. 

Custom Duty Charges and Taxes

If you’ve ever ordered anything from another country you’ve probably already encountered the additional fees needed to get your item through customs. Whilst these costs vary from country to country, with different regulations, taxes and processes in place, they are something all international movers should be aware of.  

Most customs will charge you a percentage fee based on the value of your items, with additional VAT or taxes in place in some countries.

Storage Costs

Depending on the timeline of your move, you might need to place your items in storage until they can be moved into your new home.  While costs will vary depending on the country, they will also be affected by the size of storage locker needed and the duration for which it is needed. 

Published at Thu, 05 Sep 2019 10:00:37 +0000