If you’ve never shipped goods internationally (I hadn’t), the differences may come as a surprise.  First, they generally want to pack your stuff themselves to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged, so you just sit back and watch.  They’ll generally also sort out the items that you cannot import.

I only needed a 20′ container because I decided to replace some of my furniture in France.  For reference, the cost for the container and insurance was ~$10,500.

Your items then disappear into transportation limbo until somebody contacts you about 2 months later to tell you that your shipment has arrived at the port.  In my case, I received this communication, then was told over a week later that it was at the port again.  Apparently, the first time they were a little too hasty and it wasn’t actually AT the port yet.  There were some shipping issues and the boat was delayed; however, once it arrived on December 2, they were able to schedule the delivery for December 8.  It will not always be this fast because your shipment can get held up if customs decides they want to look at everything in it.


International Move – Pleasant Surprises:

  • The moving company will pack all of your belongings
  • When unpacking the container, they will also put all of your boxes in the specific rooms that you want them in (I recommend learning the names of the rooms in French – once I made the connection for them between the English on the box and the correct room in French, they didn’t have to ask me for EVERY box)
  • They will unwrap all of your furniture and take the heaps of paper with them!
  • Not only did they put my furniture where I wanted it, but when I realized that my bedroom furniture wouldn’t fit that way, they rearranged the furniture for me
  • Some of my furniture had been taken apart for the move – the movers put it all back together, so I had fully functional furniture!😀

International Move – Unpleasant Surprises:

  • Three movers came to my house in the US.  One of them was apparently new because he didn’t know what he was supposed to leave behind.  I had a cupboard labeled “do not pack” because it contained cleaning supplies that are banned for import – he packed them.  Fortunately, I noticed and they unpacked the box because I needed the cleaners at my old place!  Had I not noticed though, I could have imported a whole box of banned items!!!😣
  • One of my boxes was completely missing.  It contained a nice monitor for editing my DSLR photography (replaceable) and an old computer with files that I wanted to go through before disposing of it – hopefully there was nothing I actually needed!  The worst part are the framed photos that are also missing from the same box.  One of the photos was the first DSLR picture that I printed of my own work, so it had a lot of sentimental value. I’m still waiting to hear from the US on whether they could locate the box in the warehouse there.
  • One of my other boxes, labeled “electronic equipment” had a side that was damaged.
  • Houses here are not made for American-sized furniture.  A lot of the furniture here is designed to come apart, for good reason.  My couch barely fit through the door and my queen-size box spring was too tall and too wide to make it up the stairs no matter how they turned it.  The movers suggested that I should instead have two small box springs and left my current one in the living room . . . I will be sleeping on a mattress on the floor until I remedy this problem.
TIP: After looking for a new box spring online (not exactly a box spring, but rather a “sommier”), I’d recommend just leaving your bed and buying a new one in Europe.  I can purchase an entire set with mattress, sommier and headboard for only slightly more than the cost for JUST a sommier.  Not to mention, a “queen size” bed here is slightly wider and slightly shorter than the US version, so nothing is going to be quite the right fit!