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Comparing International Moving Quotes

Published on Aug 03, 2021 by Kfir Cohen

Moving overseas is expensive. Some people who move overseas at the request of their employer are lucky to have their move paid for, in whole or in part. However, most people pay the cost of relocating to another country out of their own pocket.

Understandably, people consider the price first. You have to be very careful with quotes you might receive; they are liable to fall into two misleading categories: quotes for a smaller than reasonable size and quotes that don’t include all services.

Comparing international moving quotes needs to be careful because lowball quotes will try to trick you into something that, in the end, will be far more expensive.


What’s on this page?

01 | How to Compare International Moving Quotes
02 | What is Included in a standard international moving quote?
03 | How We’re Doing our Moving Quotes


How to Compare International Moving Quotes

Volume of Shipment

The number one factor affecting the final cost of your shipment will be its size.

When you send less than a full container load, known as an LCL shipment, the total size of your shipment will be measured using cubic feet. On rare occasions, your shipment might be measured using cubic meters, but not often. 1 cubic meter = 35 cubic feet.

To give you some idea, a typical large-sized packing box is 1.5 x 1.5 x 2 feet will be 4.5 cubic feet of volume, and a medium one will be 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.25 will be 2.75 cubic feet.

A typical pallet will have both sized boxes on it and can accommodate about 100 cubic feet. You need to know that you are not charged for only the boxed size but also the net size of wasted space between items on your pallet. This is one of the critical reasons to hire professional movers like SDC International shipping, who know how to minimize wasted space in your shipment. Please note that you pay for wasted space on your shipment. Beware of quotes that only calculate your gross volume.

If you are sending a full container load, known as an FCL, you will be charged a set price for the container. Additional charges might be added if you require special handlings like a piano or a car, but in general, it doesn’t really matter if you are sending 700 or 800 cubic feet of cargo in your shipment, the charge will be the same. 

Whether you are sending an FCL or LCL shipment, we request that you fill in an inventory form. When we create a quote for you, we want it to be as close to the accurate cost as possible. Our quote will try to consider the actual size of your shipment and not just try to give you an artificially low estimate to lure you in to contract into For the record, the quote you get is an estimate. If you are sending an LCL shipment, we can only know the exact cost once your cargo has been palletized in our warehouse.

Cargo Weight

In general, weight is not a factor when you are sending a shipment consisting mainly of household goods and personal effects. Even if you send an automobile in your shipment, it will take up about 40% of a 20’ container, and you should be well within the total weight allotment for your container.

When you send an LCL shipment, the total weight of the shipment should not exceed 7 lbs. per cubic foot. If, for instance, you are sending 300 cubic feet, your total allotment would be 2100 lbs. 

Compare Moving Quotes from Reliable Sources

One of the critical subjects in comparing international moving quotes is ensuring that the quote you’re getting is from a reliable source. SDC International shipping is an international relocation services company licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for the maritime export of household and commercial goods from the United States. Make sure that you are only comparing quotes from FMC licensed exporters. 

While the FMC does provide some degree of reliability, there is still plenty of ambiguity in quotes for moving services. You need to check that the quote suppliers are also members of the International Association of Movers who ensure that members conform to the highest standards for international removals and deliveries. Also, participation in the Better Business Bureau will ensure that you are dealing with a company that has set a formal dispute resolution process.

Read more: Moving from Los Angeles to Europe.


What is Included in a standard moving quote?

Your international moving services company should know about almost all of the costs that you will incur during your relocation. Certain things can’t be accounted for because we don’t know about them, like container inspections.

Most containers aren’t inspected, only about 5% are subject to full random manual inspections, and X-ray and brief “open the door” inspections are also common. Each of these has different costs in various ports and could have accompanying demurrage and administrative fees.

Outside of this, however, your international moving services quote should be inclusive. Our relocation specialists will try to take into account any additional costs. We already should know if your shipment requires special handling, storage, extra equipment, etc.

As the client, you should try to apprise us of anything we need to know. Your relocation specialist will know how to ask the questions, but some of the things we will need to know about in addition to shipment size are: 

  • Difficult access – we need to be able to park a truck near to the entrance of both the pickup and delivery locations. Smaller vans will need to be sent in addition to trucks for some locations. 
  • Stairs – beyond the one flight of stairs, apartments requiring extra stairs or elevators.
  • Extra heavy items – if you have especially heavy items, we need to know about ahead of time in order to send out the appropriate moving crew.
  • Crating – especially valuable or fragile items should be crated. 

Always included in your quote from SDC International Shipping will be the destination terminal handling charges (DTHC), packing and packing materials (when you order the packing service), loading, destination charges, delivery, unloading, removal of moving the debris on the day of the move and more. Insurance is not included as it is not mandatory and is based on your choices regarding what to insure.

Read more: The Ultimate International Relocation Checklist

Your SDC international moving quote will include the following costs:

  • Picking up your belongings 
  • Sea, or air, transport of your cargo
  • Preparing your furniture, including disassembling where necessary, wrapping and padding
  • Packing service, if you choose it, will include boxes and other moving materials
  • Loading your belongings onto moving vans or shipping containers
  • Palletization when necessary
  • Trucking, including the port costs for the container, mileage, line haul charges, and tolls.
  • Terminal Handling Charge, or THC, at the point of origin. 
  • Any known taxes and surcharges.
  • For clients using our groupage consolidations sent to Europe and Asia, the cost of deconsolidation is also included. 
  • Anything on the above list if we know about before the pickup
  • When you send a vehicle, the estimate will include the cost of title clearance and administrative fees

We highly recommended using our delivery service for all residential relocation clients. There are too many things that will go wrong if you are not using professional importers. Commercial clients often have partners in their destination countries or a permanent presence there, accustomed to the complicated customs clearance process. This is not the case with residential relocations.

When you order door delivery, the quote will also include in addition:

  • Customs clearance
  • Reassembling any furniture that was disassembled when picked up.
  • Placing all furniture and boxes in rooms
  • Removing debris from the moving process like wrapping and boxes that have been emptied while our movers are still there
  • Terminal Handling Charge at the point of entry

How We’re Doing our Moving Quotes

SDC International Shipping makes an effort to create an international moving quote for you that will include all known charges. The more we know about your move, the more accurate your quote will be.  There is a good chance that you will receive many international moving quotes that might appear to be cheaper than your SDC quote, that’s because they leave out crucial information and line items that SDC includes, sometimes intentionally.

We welcome you to send us any international moving quote that you receive. We will be happy to explain what we have included, and they haven’t. Give us a try. If you have received a quote for international relocation from the United States, send it to us!

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