International Moving Quotes: Top 10 Criteria to Compare

As someone who has spent close to 40 years in the international removals industry, I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous growth and evolution of the industry. International moving can be a daunting task, with a multitude of factors to consider – from finding the right removal company to navigating the complexities of overseas customs regulations and documentation. However, with the right guidance and expertise, the process can be made smoother and more manageable.

One highly crucial aspect of international moving is obtaining accurate and reliable international moving quotes. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of obtaining quotes from reputable international removal companies, and what factors to consider when comparing them. Whether you’re a first-time mover or a seasoned veteran, understanding the nuances of international moving quotes can make all the difference in ensuring a successful international relocation.

Comparing International Moving Quotes

You will want to obtain several quotes from different moving companies. We would recommend requesting at least three quotes. Whilst you may be tempted to choose the cheapest quote you received there is often a very good reason why it’s the cheapest. Here are our top tips for comparing those quotes to ensure you’re comparing “apples to apples” so to speak:

  1. Check the reputation of the company: Before you even start comparing quotes, research the reputation of the moving companies you’re considering. Look for companies that have been in business for several years and have positive reviews from past customers.
  2. Verify the company’s credentials: Check if the moving company is registered with the relevant authorities and has the necessary licenses and insurance. This is especially important when moving to a different country, as regulations can vary widely.
  3. Consider the experience of the movers: It’s important to know that the people handling your belongings are experienced and skilled. Look for companies that employ experienced and professional movers who have received specialized training for international moves.
  4. Check for customs regulations: Different countries have different customs regulations, and it’s important to make sure that the moving company you choose is aware of these regulations and can help you navigate them. This can save you time, money, and potential headaches down the line.
  5. Check exactly what’s included: Make sure each quote includes the same services and items. For example, some companies may charge extra for packing and unpacking, or for transporting large and/or fragile items and custom crating too.
  6. Compare the rates: Compare the rates for each company’s quote. You will want to review the cubic metre volume and/or weight which they have quoted for as any variance may result in additional charges.
  7. Consider the insurance: Check what type of insurance is included in each quote. Some companies may offer basic coverage, while others may offer additional options for more comprehensive marine transit insurance coverage. Ideally, you will want an all risks marine transit insurance policy which covers you from the time packing commences right trough to delivery at your new overseas residence.
  8. Check for hidden fees: Be sure to read the fine print and look for any hidden fees or charges that may not be included in the initial quote.When comparing quotes, it’s important to look beyond the initial price and consider the total cost of the move. This includes any additional fees or charges that may be incurred during the move, such as customs duties or storage fees.
  9. Read online reviews: Look up online reviews for each moving company you are considering. Check for both positive and negative feedback to get a sense of their reputation and customer service.
  10. If in Doubt Seek clarification: If you have any questions or concerns about a particular quote, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company and ask for clarification. A reputable moving company should be happy to explain how their pricing is calculated and exactly what services are included and not included.

What should be Included in an International Moving Quote?

A full-service door-to-door international moving quote from a reputable international moving company should include the following services:

  1. Pre-Move Survey: The moving company should schedule an appointment to assess the size and weight of your belongings, determine any special handling requirements, and identify any potential issues or challenges that could impact your move.
  2. Packing and Crating: The moving company should provide professional packing and crating services to ensure your belongings are protected during transport. This includes the use of high-quality packing materials and specialized crating for fragile or valuable items.
  3. Transportation: The moving company should handle all aspects of transportation, including arranging for the appropriate mode of transport (air, sea, or land) and coordinating all logistics.
  4. Customs Clearance: The moving company should assist with customs clearance procedures, including preparing all necessary documentation and advising of any applicable duties or taxes.
  5. Delivery and Unpacking: The moving company should deliver your belongings to your new home and provide unpacking services, including removing all packing materials and debris.
  6. Insurance: The moving company should offer comprehensive marine transit insurance coverage for your belongings during transport, including all risks coverage and third-party liability insurance.
  7. Storage: The moving company should offer storage options if needed, including both short-term and long-term storage solutions.
  8. Destination Services: The moving company should include all relevant services upon arrival at destination including customs and quarantine (if applicable) clearances, unpacking, unwrapping and removal of packing debris. They should also be able to quote for additional destination services such as assistance with setting up utilities, arranging for school enrolment, and finding local housing.

Overall, a reputable international moving company should provide comprehensive door-to-door moving services that take care of all aspects of your move, from start to finish.

Common Costs Not Included In Overseas Removal Quotes

While international moving companies typically provide detailed quotes that outline the costs of various services and fees, there are some common costs that may not be included in the initial quote. These can include:

  1. Customs Duties and Taxes: Depending on the country you are moving to, you may be required to pay customs duties and taxes on your household goods. These fees can vary widely, and it’s important to research the customs regulations in your destination country.
  2. Storage Fees: If you need to store your belongings for any period of time during your move, there may be additional storage fees that are not included in your initial quote. Make sure to clarify the storage terms and fees with your moving company.
  3. Destination Services: While many international moving companies offer destination services such as setting up utilities or finding local housing, these services may not be included in the initial quote. Be sure to clarify which services are included and which ones will incur additional fees.
  4. Accessorial Charges: Accessorial charges are additional fees that can be added to your moving quote for unexpected services or circumstances. For example, if your moving truck is unable to park near your new home and the movers need to carry your belongings a longer distance, you may be charged an accessorial fee.
  5. Insurance Deductibles: While many moving companies offer insurance coverage for your belongings during transport, there may be deductibles or exclusions that are not immediately apparent. Make sure to read the fine print of your insurance policy and clarify any questions with your moving company.

It’s important to carefully review your moving quote and clarify any potential additional costs with your moving company to avoid surprises and unexpected expenses during your move.

Weight Based vs. Volume Based International Moving Quotes

The difference between a net weight-based international moving quote and a volume-based moving quote is how the moving company calculates the cost of your move.

A net weight-based moving quote is based on the net weight of your shipment. The moving company will weigh your belongings once they are packed and loaded onto the truck or container. The final cost of the move is then calculated based on the net weight of your shipment.

A volume-based quote, on the other hand, is calculated based on the amount of space your belongings take up in the moving truck or container. The moving company will estimate the volume of your shipment based on the amount of space it takes up when packed and provide a quote based on this volume. This type of quote is often used for moves where the shipment will be transported by road.

The main difference between the two types of quotes is the way the cost is calculated. A net weight based quote is more accurate if you have heavy or dense items, such as furniture or appliances, while a volume-based quote is more accurate if you have lightweight, bulky items such as bedding, pillows or toys.

It’s important to note that there can be some variation in how moving companies calculate their quotes, and some companies may offer a hybrid of the two methods, taking into account both the weight and volume of your shipment. It’s always a good idea to clarify how a moving company is calculating their quote and to compare quotes from multiple companies to ensure you are getting the best value for your move.

What is the Difference Between an Estimate and a Quotation

An estimate and a quotation are two different ways of providing a cost estimate for an international move.

An estimate is an approximate cost calculation that is based on limited information. It may not include all of the services or items you require for your move, and the final cost may vary based on the actual services and items you use. An estimate is generally provided as a range of costs, rather than a fixed amount.

A quotation, on the other hand, is a firm offer of a fixed price for specific services. It includes all of the services and items you require for your move, and the final cost is not expected to vary significantly from the quoted price. A quotation is generally more detailed and specific than an estimate.

When comparing international moving quotes, it’s important to clarify whether the quote is an estimate or a quotation. A quotation may be more desirable, as it provides a more accurate cost estimate and reduces the risk of unexpected expenses or hidden costs. However, it’s important to note that a quotation may be higher than an estimate, as it includes all of the services and items required for your move.

What Accreditations & Affiliations Should I Look For?

When you are in the process of obtaining International moving quotes, there are several accreditations and affiliations you should look for:

  1. FIDI-FAIM: The Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux (FIDI) is a global alliance of international moving and relocation companies. A company with FIDI accreditation meets strict quality standards and has been evaluated based on its financial stability, professionalism, and service quality. he FIDI Accredited International Mover (FAIM) certification is a rigorous quality assurance program designed specifically for the international moving industry. Companies with FAIM certification have undergone a comprehensive audit of their processes, staff training, and facilities.
  2. IAM: The International Association of Movers (IAM) is an international trade association representing over 2,000 moving and forwarding companies in more than 170 countries. IAM members are subject to a strict Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, ensuring high-quality service standards.
  3. BAR: The British Association of Removers (BAR) is a trade association that represents UK-based moving companies. BAR members must meet strict standards and are regularly audited to ensure they provide high-quality service.
  4. ISO: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international organization that develops and publishes standards for various industries. A company with ISO certification has undergone a rigorous evaluation of its processes, procedures, and quality management systems.
  5. IATA: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association representing airlines worldwide. A company that is an IATA agent is authorized to issue air waybills for the transportation of goods by air and has met strict industry standards.
  6. World Cargo Alliance: The World Cargo Alliance (WCA) is the world’s largest and most powerful network of independent freight forwarders, with over 6,800 member offices in 191 countries. A company that is a member of the WCA has access to a global network of agents and resources.

When considering an international moving company, it is important to check whether they have the necessary accreditations and affiliations, as this can give you peace of mind that you have recourse in the event you encounter any issues during your move.

The Importance of the Pre-move Survey

When you are in the process of requesting quotes it’s crucial that you insist on a pre-move survey (either in-home or virtual) as this ensures for the following:

  1. Accurate cost estimate: A pre-move survey enables the shipping company to provide you with an accurate cost estimate for your move. By assessing the volume and nature of your belongings, the shipping company can determine the appropriate size of the shipping container, the amount of packing materials required, and the number of movers needed. This helps ensure that you receive an accurate cost estimate, which can help you plan your budget accordingly.
  2. Proper packing and handling: A pre-move survey also helps the shipping company determine the appropriate packing materials and techniques needed to protect your belongings during the move. This is especially important for fragile items, such as artwork, antiques, or electronics, which require special care and handling. By identifying these items in advance, the shipping company can ensure that they are packed and handled properly to minimize the risk of damage.
  3. Customized service: Every move is unique, and a pre-move survey allows the shipping company to provide customized service based on your specific needs. For example, if you have a piano that needs to be moved, the shipping company can make special arrangements to ensure that it is transported safely. By taking the time to assess your belongings and understand your requirements, the shipping company can provide tailored services to your move.


When comparing international moving quotes, it’s important to understand what is included in the quote and how it is calculated. A comprehensive quote should include services such as packing, transportation, customs clearance, insurance, and destination services. Some common costs that may not be included in the initial quote include customs duties and taxes, storage fees, destination services, accessorial charges, and insurance deductibles. It’s also important to understand the difference between net weight and volume-based quotes and to clarify how the moving company is calculating their quote. By carefully reviewing and comparing quotes from multiple moving companies, you can ensure that you are getting the best value for your international move.

by Maiane Cassanego
Maiane is the Founder of Expat Frontier. She is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Maiane has an extensive background in international moving, freight forwarding and logistics.