The initial success of your move to a new country can be compromised by problems arising with your possessions and the firm hired to move them. In order to give yourself the best start, choose your moving company carefully and carry out all the necessary bureaucracy in advance.
Taking items across borders and through customs complicates matters no end, so do not underestimate the process. A bit of extra time and research could pay dividends in the future.
Seek out recommendations
If this is the first time you have moved abroad, you may not know many expatriates, but it is worth seeking some out for a recommendation. This could mean talking to people in the community you are moving to or someone else within your organisation who has also relocated abroad.
Expat forums can be useful, but bear in mind that these sites have sometimes been infiltrated by people trying to push products. A friendly chat over a cup of coffee is much better if this can be arranged through anyone you know.
Listen to both the good and bad experiences they have had with companies, so you're aware of who to avoid as well as the best firms to use.
Get quotes from a number of companies
Ask several moving companies to give you a quote for the overall cost so that you can compare and see which offers the best value for money. Instead of doing this online it is best if you can get an appointment for them to assess your belongings. This will mean that the quote is more likely to reflect reality.
Get all quotes in writing to ensure that you have the evidence to battle with if they try to charge you a lot more after the moving has been done. While this initial figure is not set in stone it is reasonable to believe the final amount will be in this area.
Things to ask the company
Meeting in person will help you to get a feel for a firm, which is important when they are going to be responsible for your most precious possessions. Check that it is in fact them who will be doing the moving and not an outsourced company.
Brokers are often not covered under consumer protection law and a chain of companies can mean that everyone points at each other should a problem arise.
Ask about the company's safety record and how long they have been in business. It is also OK to ask them for references from prior customers. If they cannot supply these (with a little bit of notice) then it should ring alarm bells.
Enquire about the firm's international moving license and their insurance. Be sure to check what is covered by this and whether or not they take care of getting items through customs. Provide specific examples of your belongings to ensure there is no problem in the future.
Also make sure that you are clear on their cancellation and refund terms in case your situation changes and you do not require their services.
Do not be shy to let them know that you have been seeking quotes from other firms as this will only help you to secure the best service at the most competitive price. Ask to see if there are any deals available, but if they are more expensive find out why.
As cost is not the only factor in this process, a good firm may well tell you that they charge more because they include something that others do not. Weigh this up in your head and decide if it is worth the extra cost, or ask a fellow expat whether they needed it. The chances are it may be a service you hadn't even considered before.
Despite doing all your research thoroughly and picking a good moving company there is always the capacity for something to go wrong. This is why it is important to be insured, so that you are protected. Just remember that the company has a responsibility too and make sure that they are held to account for any issues that they should have dealt with.