Moving Abroad

Choosing An International Removal Company For Your Move Abroad

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by Cyrus Kioko


Hey there! So, you’re in the thick of it, trying to find info on how to choose the perfect international removal company for your big move abroad? I get it mate. Sorting through all those half-baked guides online can be more frustrating than tracking down a missing sock in a missing sock in a laundry pile. But here’s the silver lining: your search has landed you on the one beacon of clarity amidst the jungle of half-arsed information.

Here’s a glimpse into how to choose the right international removal company for your move abroad:

  1. Research your options to create a list of contenders.
  2. Weed out companies that don’t meet bare minimum standards.
  3. Identify your needs and preferences.
  4. Perform a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to make the final call.

Let’s zoom in on these steps to help you understand their importance, how to go about each, what to consider, and much more. By the time we’re done, you’ll be ready to find that perfect company to whisk your stuff across borders hassle-free. Sound good? Let’s dive right in!

Research Your Options to Create a List of Contenders

This step is all about finding a preliminary pool of about ten international removal companies to choose from. You don’t need to be too picky here; you’ll be doing plenty of that later on. You just need to ensure the companies operate between your current location and destination.

Finding international removal companies that meet this criterion shouldn’t be too hard. The easiest way to go about this would be to perform a quick lookup on your favorite search engine. Any search query along the lines of “international removal companies from [your current location] to [your destination]” should yield a long list of options.

You can also check relocation directories or ask for a recommendation on expat communities, social media, and forum platforms such as Quora and Reddit. 

The key to getting this step right is starting well ahead of time. This way, you give yourself plenty of time to research, gather information, and compile a preliminary list of removal companies before other international relocation stressors —like packing and saying goodbye to your favorite local haunts— catch up with you.

Weed Out Companies That Don’t Meet Minimum Standards

This is where the “getting picky” starts. In this step, you’re going to take a closer look at your preliminary list and narrow down your options to international removal companies that meet what I’ll refer to as “ the bare minimum” standards for lack of a better phrase. 

What are “ the bare minimum” standards, you ask?

They’re the boxes an international mover must tick to get you to look in their direction; let alone choose them. Those “boxes” include:


You want a mover who’s been around the block, literally. These are the folks who know their way around the intricacies of international shipping regulations, coordinating logistics across borders, and the nitty gritty details of different destination countries. 

From handling paperwork to orchestrating seamless transitions between modes of transportation, seasoned movers have got it down to a science. That’s the kind of company you want to help you with your overseas move. 

A Satisfactory Range of Services

The keyword here is “satisfactory”. Different international removal companies offer varying service packages to accommodate varying client needs. Some provide the bare minimum services needed to get you from point A to point B, whereas others throw in extras for comfort and convenience.  

At this point in your decision stage, you only need to be worried about making sure the companies you’re considering provide the bare minimum services.  To do that, you need to weed out any company that doesn’t offer the following services:

  • Packing and shipping. If a company can’t offer these two services, can we really call it a removal company? I bet not.
  • Customs clearance. Any international removal company worth its salt should help you with customs clearance procedures, including preparing and submitting necessary documentation, paying customs duty and other taxes, and complying with regulations at the origin and destination countries.
  • Delivery services. You want to work with a company that offers door-to-door relocation services. This includes transporting your items to your new address, unloading, unpacking, and placing items in the designated rooms of your new home. Door-to-port services will have you dealing with unknowns like finding a way to move your stuff from the port to your new address and figuring out where to store everything while you find a way to do that.  
  • Tracking and communication. A reputable removal company will provide tracking services so you can monitor the status of your shipment throughout the journey. They’ll also maintain open communication channels to keep you informed and address any questions or concerns you may have during the relocation process.


In the wild world of transit, your stuff can face all sorts of adventures, from unexpected detours to accidental bumps along the road. That’s why you shouldn’t even consider international movers who don’t offer rock-solid insurance coverage. Trust me, you don’t want to be left hanging out to dry if things go south while your stuff’s en route.

For maximum peace of mind, spring for all-risk coverage. This coverage provides the most comprehensive protection for belongings during transit. It insures against all physical loss or damage risks, except those specifically excluded in the policy. So if you’ve got the budget and the items you’re moving are worth the extra protection, this is the kind of coverage you should be eyeing. 

If you can’t afford all-risk coverage, the next best option would be declared value protection. This type of insurance allows you to declare the total value of your shipment based on the weight of your items.

While it might not cover every little thing like all-risk coverage does, it still offers significant protection against loss or damage during transit.  It’s also more budget-friendly, making it a solid choice for those watching their wallets. Just make sure you’re clear on what’s covered and what’s not so there are no surprises down the road.

Named perils coverage is another decent choice. This type of insurance protects against specific risks listed in the policy, like fire, theft, vandalism, and natural disasters. If you can accurately identify the most probable risks and have them covered in your plan, it can give your items solid protection.

Pricing Transparency

Nobody likes getting hit with surprise bills. That’s why you need to choose a mover who’s upfront about their pricing right from the start. Clear pricing and no hidden fees – that’s the name of the game.

How would you know if a removal company is playing it straight with their pricing?

It’s not easy, especially if they’re intentionally trying to keep certain costs under wraps. However, that’s not an excuse for not doing your due diligence because there are a few signs you can watch out for.

First off, take a look at how they present their pricing info. Are the quotes itemized? A breakdown of costs shows they’re transparent about what you’re paying for. That’s a good sign.

Next, probe their communication style. Are they open to answering questions and addressing any concerns you might have about the pricing? A company willing to have an honest conversation about its pricing structure is likely to be more trustworthy.

Lastly, look up customer reviews and testimonials. Do people mention transparency and clarity when it comes to pricing? If so, that’s a sign you’re dealing with a removal company that lays all its cards on the table when it comes to pricing.

Customer Support

If things go south during your move (and they probably will), you want a mover who’s there to offer help when you need it most. So make sure the companies on your shortlist have your back with responsive customer support.

Bonus points if they provide customer support through various communication channels because you won’t have access to your preferred mode of communication in emergencies. 


Licensing may not be the first thing on your mind when choosing an international mover, but trust me, it’s a crucial consideration. 

Here’s why:

When a removal company is licensed, it’s a sign that they play by the rules. Why should you care whether a moving company plays by the rules? Well, some of those rules look out for you, the customer, by compelling international moving companies to maintain certain standards of safety, reliability, and professionalism throughout the moving process.

There’s also the quality factor. Licensed companies usually must meet and maintain certain operational standards when it comes to things like staff training, equipment upkeep, and overall service quality. So when you go with a licensed mover, you’re more likely to get top-notch service.

Plus, with licensing comes accountability. If something goes wrong during your move, such as damage to your belongings or a dispute over services rendered, a licensed mover will be held accountable by regulatory authorities. This means you have recourse and support in resolving any issues, providing added protection and peace of mind throughout the moving process.

Overall, working with a licensed removal company allows you to kick back and relax knowing you’re in safe hands. No shady operators or sketchy dealings – just smooth sailing to your new home.

Wondering how you can find out if the movers you’re considering are licensed?

It’s pretty easy. Just ask them directly! Any reputable international moving company should be more than happy to provide proof of their licensing and any other credentials you might need to put your mind at ease. I’d go as far as to say they wear it as a badge of honor! So if a company seems dodgy with this info, that’s a red flag!

You can also verify a mover’s licensing status by checking with relevant regulatory bodies or industry associations. It might take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind knowing you’re dealing with a legit and trustworthy mover.

What exactly should you be looking for?

Here are the absolute must-haves:

  • International transportation license. This license allows the company to operate across borders and ensures compliance with international shipping regulations.
  • Customs brokerage license. This is essential for handling customs clearance procedures at both origin and destination countries. It allows a mover to move your stuff through customs without hiccups.
  • Liability insurance. A valid liability insurance policy protects you and the moving company in case of accidents, damages, or loss during the moving process.
  • Membership in international moving associations. While not a license per se, membership in reputable international moving associations demonstrates a commitment to industry standards and ethical practices.

Identify Your Needs and Preferences

You’ve done the heavy lifting and trimmed your list of potential international movers down to a select few that check off the basics. Now begins the fun: finding the perfect match for your unique moving needs.

Think about what matters most to you beyond the “bare minimum” standards and services we identified earlier. Is it affordability, scheduling flexibility, specialized handling for fragile items, or something entirely different? Whatever it is, now is the time to identify and list it. 

Everyone’s moving needs and preferences are different, so I can’t accurately identify those for you. What I can do, however, is dish out some important considerations that could help steer you in the right direction. 

Here they go:

Your Budget

There’s no point in having an international removal company on your shortlist when you can’t afford its services. So before you take any other step in your selection process, get in touch with each candidate on your shortlist, ask for a quote, and axe any movers whose rates don’t match your budget.

Temporary Storage 

Will you need storage facilities for your belongings during the relocation process? Chances are you will! Moving abroad is never a simple endeavor, and the timing isn’t always perfect.

Finding housing abroad might take longer than planned, forcing you to stay with friends or family or find temporary housing until you secure the perfect permanent residence. Even if you make housing arrangements in advance (which I recommend), chances are your new home won’t be move-in ready when you arrive. You might encounter some logistical delays too!

See why having access to temporary storage facilities can be a lifesaver during international relocation? Mind you, these are just a few scenarios where such services might come in handy. Many more things could go wrong.

So think about your situation and decide if this is something you’ll need to factor into your choice of international removal company. My two cents? It’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around.

Specialized Services

These are services above and beyond the standard moving package, designed to cater to unique circumstances or belongings that need special attention during relocation.

Examples include:

  • Special handling for delicate items.
  • Pet relocation.
  • Vehicle shipping.
  • Customized packing (e.g., custom crating for valuable or oddly sized/shaped items).

If your circumstances call for these services or anything similar, inquire about them when evaluating potential removal companies to ensure the mover you end up with can adequately meet your needs. Make sure you get info on their experience handling those services, any additional costs, and whether they offer insurance coverage tailored to those items or situations.

Destination Expertise

Remember when we talked about the importance of considering experience when choosing an international removal company? Well, this is like the location-specific version of that.

Hiring a mover who knows the ins and outs of your destination is a smart move for two key reasons:

  • When a removal company has experience in your destination, they’re familiar with the local regulations, customs procedures, and logistical challenges. This means they can anticipate and work around potential issues seamlessly, which translates to a smooth and hassle-free move.
  • They know the best routes, the most secure methods for packing and transporting your items, and how to tackle any unexpected hurdles. Translation? Your items will be in safe hands.

It’s pretty easy to know whether a company has experience moving people to your destination: simply ask them directly or look for reviews from people they’ve moved in the past. 

Speaking of reviews…

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are probably the easiest way to gauge any company’s reputation and reliability. So before you commit to an international removal company, do yourself a favor and check out what their previous customers have to say. It’s a simple step that can make a big difference.

You can find customer reviews on the company’s website, social media pages, or third-party review platforms like Google, Yelp, or Trustpilot. 

Take some time to read through both positive and negative reviews to get a well-rounded picture of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Pay attention to things like punctuality, communication, handling of belongings, and overall customer satisfaction.

Notice a pattern of consistent positive feedback? That’s a good sign that the company is trustworthy and reliable. But if you come across a lot of negative reviews or complaints about issues like damaged items, poor communication, or delays, that’s a company you might want to steer clear of.

Perform a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to Make the Final Call

So far, you’ve eliminated companies that don’t meet your personal needs and minimum standards. Now, with a handful of movers that align with your requirements, it’s time to choose the best fit for your needs.

To get that choice right, I recommend using a method known as Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). MCDA is one of the best ways to approach decisions that involve considering multiple factors. This systematic method allows you to evaluate alternatives based on a set of criteria or factors, each with its weight of importance. 

By assigning weights to the criteria and scoring each alternative against them, MCDA provides a structured framework for decision-making that helps prioritize preferences and make informed choices.

Here’s how you can apply this tried-and-tested approach to choose the best international removal company for your move abroad:

List Your Key Decision Drivers (AKA, your Selection Criteria)

You’ve already identified these in step 3 three above, so this step should be straightforward. For the sake of illustration, let’s say your list of key decision drivers includes:

  • Cost (e.g., price of services, additional fees)
  • Reliability (e.g., track record of on-time delivery, handling of belongings)
  • Customer Service (e.g., responsiveness, communication)
  • Reputation (e.g., reviews, recommendations)
  • Experience (e.g., years in business, destination expertise)
  • Additional Services (e.g., packing, storage, insurance options)

Assign Weights

Once you’ve identified your selection criteria, assign weights to each criterion based on its importance to you. You can use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest importance. 

Let’s assume you assigned weights as follows:

  • Cost: 8
  • Reliability: 9
  • Customer Service: 7
  • Reputation: 9
  • Experience: 8
  • Additional Services: 6

Evaluate Alternatives

Next, evaluate each removal company against each criterion and assign scores based on how well they meet your preferences. You can use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best performance.

For example:

Company A:

  • Cost: 7
  • Reliability: 8
  • Customer Service: 7
  • Reputation: 9
  • Experience: 8
  • Additional Services: 6

Company B:

  • Cost: 8
  • Reliability: 9
  • Customer Service: 8
  • Reputation: 8
  • Experience: 7
  • Additional Services: 7

Company C:

  • Cost: 6
  • Reliability: 7
  • Customer Service: 8
  • Reputation: 7
  • Experience: 9
  • Additional Services: 8

Calculate Weighted Scores for Each Company

Multiply each criterion score by its respective weight and sum the results to calculate the weighted score for each company. For example:

  • Company A: (78) + (89) + (77) + (98) + (88) + (66) = 56 + 72 + 49 + 72 + 64 + 36 = 349
  • Company B: (88) + (99) + (87) + (89) + (77) + (76) = 64 + 81 + 56 + 72 + 49 + 42 = 364
  • Company C: (68) + (79) + (87) + (79) + (98) + (86) = 48 + 63 + 56 + 63 + 72 + 48 = 350

Make the Final Call

Compare the weighted scores of each company. The company with the highest weighted score is the preferred choice based on your preferences. In our example, Company B has the highest weighted score and would be the recommended choice.

And voila! You’ve successfully leveraged a data-driven method to select an international removal company for your move abroad.

Cyrus Kioko
Cyrus is a seasoned blog post writer with over five years of experience in crafting and editing articles spanning technology, lifestyle, and finance niches. Fueled by an authentic passion to contribute valuable insights, he has invested thousands of Netflix-less hours in research for this site. Each piece he writes is aimed at empowering readers to make well-informed, real-life decisions. Holding a degree in commerce and armed with ample copywriting courses, he brings both expertise and a touch of nerdy flair to the table.
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