Movers for an Overseas Move

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Our family is preparing for the fun adventure of a year in London.  Before we go, I'd like to talk to a tax professional to understand the ramifications of that: Partner being transferred to UK office, I'm working remotely for bay area company, we will rent our house here.  Does anyone have a tax professional with international move experience? 

    Many thanks, 

    We spent last year in Germany so we got one person to do our American taxes and one person to do our German taxes. My husband is an academic so he didn't need to pay German taxes but I did (I worked remotely for the year). I think we wrote off what we paid in German taxes on our American taxes. I can't recommend someone here for taxes because we found someone there to do them.

    We needed to keep receipts for everything we did to our house both before we left and after we came back because we could write it off against the rental income.

    From while back: we used Ron Yee, who was excellent.  We normally do our own taxes but spent a year abroad; Ron did a great job guiding us through our taxes for that year.  Highly recommended.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Moving to Germany - how to do a move

July 2010

Our family is moving to Germany in September and we need advice on how to ship a small amount of goods (1500 lbs/1 bedroom apt). Has anyone had experience with international moves and can give some tips on doing one? Any recommendations of international movers in the area? Also, we'll be shipping our car to Germany. What do I need to know about shipping a car overseas? Lastly, any thoughts on things we should or shouldn't take with us? Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Maria

I read your message last week so can't quite remember the details but wanted to answer. Will you pay for the move or your company? How long will you stay in germany?

1. movers - we used mayflower. I had 3 moving companies come to the house and give an estimate. Mayflower was the most expensive but were able to meet the lower estimate of another company which allowed me to use them. I picked them because I felt most comfortable when speaking to the coordinator at the office and with the estimater. Basically the most important thing is the professionalism and trustworthiness of the packers and then loaders (2 different groups), and then in germany of the company they outsource the unloading to. So focus questions on how long their crew has been with them, how do they handle problems, will there be a supervisor at your house at all times, how reputable is the company on the german side etc. We had no problems, the guys on the calif were super and helpful(make coffee and have bagles etc there for them). On the german side they were less friendly more rough but professional. Think just a cultural difference. BTW we had a 2 bedroom apt, we thought we could get by with a 20ft container but needed a 40. 2 estimated 40 ft, one company 20ft.

2. guess your bringing car because it's new? if older I wouldn't as they are strict as to car conditions also u can buy 1 year old used bmw, vw or mercedes from employees at good prices and financed, google buying 1 year old cars

3. if you plan to stay long in germany and don't love your furniture and if you like the restoration hardware or pottery barn style, buy new furniture in the states as you can't find these styles here! In germany it's all very modern, nice designer modern if you can afford it and weird cheap modern for the majority. In most homes we go into, the furniture is made out of pressed synthetic stuff like cubicle office stuff is made out of, in weird colors and the strange couches are not so comfortable. Luckily a friend warned me and we bought some new stuff before we moved. When germans come to our home they always say how beautiful it is and ask were we bought our furniture although it's just typical stuff, but they have nothing like it in germany. That goes especially for lamps - they put the switch about 2 feet down the cord requiring you to squeeze your hand behind a table or lean over your desk everytime you want to turn your light on or off. Small I know but becomes a daily annoyance. Last year I even carried a new lamp over from the states in my suitcase I was so tired of knocking things off my nightstand everytime I squeezed my hand behind the table full of books to turn it off. You can buy a little electrical converter thing for the lamp at Obi or other homedepot type store. anon

Moving to France, need moving company

March 2009

We'll be moving this summer to France and need to find a reliable moving company. The move will be paid by ourselves, therefore the cost is somewhat an issue, but more important is a good, reliable service. Europe-bound

Hello, We moved from NYC to London- and then from London to SF using Baron Worldwide. My husbands company did pay for our move, but I did the research on movers. I believe they were mid-range in the 5 or 6 movers we received quotes from. They were great, and very careful with our belongings- each way one item was broken (not bad when you are moving your entire house!) and they were great about sending out a reimbursement check promptly. We worked with Misha- you can contact her at misha [at] Good Luck! anon

We shipped from Oakland to Sweden in 2008 and were very happy with our moving company Pacific Crating & Shipping, 415-822-1449( The owner, Arturo Pena, and his staff were great, friendly, prompt with calls, and the price was reasonable. We packed the boxes ourselves, they wrapped the furniture very carefully, and picked up form our house. Nothing was damaged and all space was well utilized. They often ship fine art but also do full houses. We would definitely use them again. will move back eventually

Moving company for moving to Paris

April 2005

We are looking to relocate in Paris starting July 2005, searching for a moving company with excellent reputation that is experienced in international moves (to France, in particular). If you have had good experiences with such a company please do let us know! Thanks, Beatrice Beatrice

We moved to Oakland from Madrid, Spain almost 3 years ago and are now in the middle of a move to Argentina. The move from Spain went smoothly. Our agent there (Gil Staufer)contracted Alexander's Movers on this end. My experience with Alexander's was positive and they specialize in Intl. moves. Our move to Argentina, however, is not going so smoothly. Our agent in Buenos Aires contracted National Van Lines who in turn subcontracted CA Movers. CA movers estimated a 20-foot container and on the day they actually loaded the boxes on the container, not everything fit. At this point we were told our option was to have overflow crates and send the items separately. We're not talking about 3 boxes. We had over 25 boxes left off the container. The new amount was 5,000 USD over the original amount. The fault lies with CA movers who underestimated the amount of container space needed. They claimed we went shopping during the 2-day process and added items as they were packing. !

The issue has been resolved (I hope) but only after threatening them with a lawsuit. There were two very important things I learned while trying to resolve this problem. 1. both the moving company and client must sign an addendum BEFORE loading any overflow onto the truck. 2. the moving company CANNOT go over 10% over original contract unless both parties have signed the addendum PRIOR to loading goods on truck. (It's known as the 110% rule) 3. these rules and regulations DO apply to international moves.

The Department of Transportation has an agency (FMCSA) that monitors movers, their website is They can tell you if past complaints have been filed against the moving company in question. There are also links to interesting articles about moving scams. (it is apparently very common practice to underestimate and then hold the goods hostage until you pay the difference)Good Luck with your move. I hope this makes the process a little easier for you. shannon

Shipping boxes & furniture to Sydney, Australia

Oct 2004

We will relocate to Sydney, Australia, and are planning to ship some boxes and furniture items to our new destination. Does anyone have first-hand experience with a moving company that specializes in international relocation? Any company to absolutely stay away from? Also, some movers provide options to partially pack up your stuff yourself, rather than have their personnel do all the packing. Is that recommendable from an insurance point of view? Any experience out there in partially packing yourself?

A really excellent website to check out BEFORE you hire a moving company is There are a lot of dishonest companies out there and this area has very little regulation. One rule of thumb: DON'T ask for price quotes over the Internet! Go in person to check out the moving company yourself. Good luck!

Inexpensive way to move our stuff to Brazil

Dec 1999

Our family is moving to Brazil next January and we are trying to find a not so expensive solution to send our stuff there. From our search, we found out that the best deal is to rent a ship container and try to share the cost with other people. Our problem is, how do we find other people that are in the same situation that we are and would like to share a container? Anyone have had a similar experience? Any advice is welcome. Thanks

Many shipping companies will sell space on their containers on back-haul trips, or routes that are returning to destinations with what would be otherwise empty cargo space. I would check with some of the major shipping companies to see if they have a minimum weight requirement. Unfortunately, I cannot offer you any specific suggestions for California companies, but do know that this is a common practice in the industry. Gail

Shipping a small load to Europe

Aug 1999

We are looking for recommendations/advice regarding shipping services to Europe. It's a small load, mostly books, but we are also thinking about taking a few pieces of furniture unless it costs significantly more. Has anyone recently gone through all those different prizes/sizes and schedules of shipping agents/movers/air cargo ? I also heard that the US mail has a competitive rate to send books - what (max.) size are the parcels that can be sent through them ? Thanks for replying - it's greatly appreciated.

I checked into shipping vs. mailing vs. excess baggage as methods of moving household goods to Russia last year. A primary consideration as you plan your move is how reliable you feel the general systems of your destination country are: are customs agents probably honest or crooked? Does international mail usually arrive in the country? Do things always seem to go wrong there? Or do things usually seem pretty efficient and convenient? Is bribery a way of life there? Moving to Russian, we felt that the most secure way to transport our stuff was as excess baggage on the airplane we took to get there.

Mailing books at the book rate is by far the least expensive way to transport books. It costs less than $1 a pound. Last year, the method was to go over to the main Berkeley post office on Allston, and go to the shipping dock on the side. Wander around until you find someone to help you get some book-mailing bags and address tags. You'll then need to find book-worthy boxes that fit into the mailing bags. There's no economic savings in cramming one bag totally full compared to having two bags half full, so don't worry too much about maximizing the capacity of the bag. But there is a maximum weight per bag--I think it's 40 pounds. Then fill out and attach the tags. You can mail the books from any post office, but only the main office has the bags and tags. You can mail not only books this way, but also documents (but of course not correspondence), if I understood correctly. Of course it is always wise to call first, in case policies have changed, etc. Also, don't expect to see your books again anytime soon--I think it is supposed to take as long as two months for the books to arrive.

The next most cost-effective way to transport a significant amount of goods (to Eastern Europe, anyway) is via a shipping company. Call around to find a place that has experience with shipping to your destination, and also to find a sales rep you feel comfortable working with. Of course these companies have an incentive to charge you the maximum they can (while assuring you they are giving you the best price possible), but I found that some of the prices are a bit negotiable. I found it very frustrating talking to shipping companies because they wouldn't tell me a ballpark price--like $X per cubic yard or per pound--without knowing just how much stuff I was bringing, and many didn't even want to talk to me without making an appointment for their rep to come to my house first. But for me, the amount of stuff I would bring was totally dependent on how much it would cost to ship it. So I had to lie a lot, and make up fake amounts of stuff just to get a rep to give me even a vague impression--$1,000 or $100,000??? In the end, it seems that pricing is based on an intricate system of comparing volumes and weights of your particular items--they calculate the general density of your stuff and give you a per-pound price, or else give you a volume--say, $XX for a closet-sized crate, as long as it doesn't end up weighing more than XX pounds. The shipping process is sold as taking 6-8 weeks, but I have heard of people actually waiting much longer--months--before their stuff actually arrives. With shipping you depend on the shipping company to clear your stuff through customs--which means there are lots of opportunities for unexpected costs (taxes, customs fees, storage fees, local transit fees) to be applied to your stuff. In these cases, the shipping company has little incentive to keep your costs low, or fight hard on your behalf, plus they have you over a barrel: they have your stuff, so if you ever want to see it again, you're gonna have to pay whatever extra amount they see fit to ding you for. But, I found that in talking with people, this is the way it's done.

For a number of reasons, we ended up moving our stuff as excess baggage instead of shipping it. It costs *about* $150 per box, but each airline has its own pricing structure--the first few pieces of luggage cost one rate, then the next few cost more, then more than that costs even more. I found that a nearly cubical box of the maximum dimensions (72 linear inches, if I recall correctly) was a darn big box. I bought double-strength dish barrel boxes from U-Haul and cut them to the correct size. We brought 15 such boxes--our friends drove us to the airport in a U-Haul truck. Kinda crazy, but had the advantage that we ourselves handled customs, so didn't worry that there was any collusion going on against us, and we had access to our stuff right away. We used several cabs to get us from the airport to our apartment. I reckon we could have gotten about twice the amount of stuff transported for the same cost if we had shipped it instead (assuming that the shipping estimates I eventually got were accurate, which is actually pretty questionable).

Sending stuff as air cargo (meaning separately from your luggage as a pasenger) is very expensive--hundreds of dollars per box--better to have it fly on the same airplane you do.

I found that compared to transporting as excess baggage, mailing was also a relatively cost-effective way to transport biggish items that don't weigh much, compared to their size. The airlines charge by volume, with a per-piece maximum weight and volume. But the post office charges by weight, and the maximum volume per piece is very big. So, a stroller, for example, is going to take up an entire piece of excess baggage allotment, but will only cost about half the price of a piece of baggage to just mail it instead.

I hope this helps--I spent many hours mulling over all this--um--information. I felt pretty good about our decision to just bring it all with us on the plane, even though it isn't done. Bon Voyage! Meg