While international moving processes can be expensive, you can limit what you’ll pay for services by staying organized and comparing all of your options before you schedule your move abroad.
We’ve created an all-inclusive guide to help you learn more about what you’re likely to pay for your international moving services and how you can manage your moving budget. We’ll also introduce you to a few of our recommended moving service providers.
Best Full-Service Mover
International Van Lines
- Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
- Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker Nationwide
- Live Chat & 24/7 Customer Service
Best Moving Add-ons
American Van Lines
- Local, Long-Distance & International Moves
- Direct Carrier to All 48 Continental US States
- Storage Options Available
Best for Military Moves
Safeway Moving System
- FMCSA-Licensed Broker Nationwide
- Long-Distance Moving Only
- Packing & One Month Storage Included
Best Insurance Options
JK Moving Services
- Local, Interstate, Local, & International Moving
- 24/7 Customer Support & Great Mobile App
- Low-Interest Financing Available
Most Competitive Pricing
- Long-Distance Moving Container Service
- Storage at Secure U-Pack Facilities Nationwide
- Two Container Sizes (8' and 27')
Average International Moving Cost
International moving is a highly variable process, and the final price that you’ll pay will be customized to the specifics of your move. It’s impossible to estimate how much you’ll pay for an international move without knowing factors like:
- Where you’re going
- Where you need your shipment to be dropped off
- What types of items you are shipping
You might pay as low as $1,000 for a small move to a nearby, well-known destination (for example, from New York City to Montreal). On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might pay as much as $10,000 for a very large long-distance move (like moving from New York City to Auckland). The only way to determine exactly what you’ll pay will be to get a binding estimate from a trusted international moving service provider operating in your area.
Factors that Influence International Moving Cost
When you’re trying to set a budget for your move and decide how much you can afford to spend on extra add-on services, it can be helpful to know what moving companies consider when they price your move. The following are factors that moving service providers will take into consideration when they provide you with a quote for your international move.
The Total Size of Your Move
One of the first factors that moving companies will consider when pricing your international move is the total weight of your shipment. International moving processes require specialized transportation where space is at a premium. This means that the more items you’re shipping, the more you can expect to pay for your international moving process. Many homeowners decide to downsize their homes before a move abroad, which helps reduce the total weight of their shipment.
The Distance You’re Traveling
The total distance that you’re traveling will play a major role in the total price that you’ll pay for your move. International moves often require air or sea freight, which is significantly more expensive than what you’d pay if you were moving via truck to another state within the country. This means that the further away from the United States you’re moving, the more you can expect your move to cost you.
In addition to the distance that you’re traveling, your moving company will also price your move according to the route that you’re using to make it to your destination. Route and distance are not the same contributing factor—some ports are very popular destination routes, which lowers the cost of your move. A move from New York City to Montreal or New York City to London are both common moves that will cost comparatively less.
On the other hand, if you’re moving to an area with a less common transportation route you’ll find yourself paying more for your moving company, as your team will need to pay a premium to ensure delivery. For example, if you’re moving from New York City to Phnom Penh or from Seattle to Buenos Aires, you’ll need to save more money for your move.
The Transportation and Delivery Methods That You Select
There are two major types of international moving processes that you can choose from sea freight and air freight. As the names suggest, sea freight is shipped via marine transport while air freight travels on a cargo airplane. Sea freight is less expensive than air freight but will arrive at your home later. Air freight is quicker but significantly more expensive.
Moving companies also offer multiple types of delivery methods. The two major delivery methods offered by international moving companies include the following.
- Port-to-port: port-to-port shipments are shipped from a port of your choosing to an international port directly. While port-to-port shipments are less expensive than door-to-door service, but you’re responsible for transporting all of your things to the shipment port as well as any customs and taxes that you’ll need to pay when exporting your things. You’ll also need to arrange pickup at your location port abroad.
- Door-to-door: Door-to-door shipments are all-inclusive—your moving company will arrive at your home to pick up your things and deliver them to your address of choice. Your moving company will be responsible for transporting your household goods to your port, shipping them abroad, managing customs clearance, and dropping your shipment off at your new property. While door-to-door moving provides you with a considerably less stressful move (you’ll only need to worry about getting yourself and your family to your new country) the costs are considerably higher than port-to-port shipments.
Some moving companies also offer combination door-to-port or port-to-door services. Speak with your individual moving service provider before booking your move, as all moving companies don’t offer both delivery options.
Moving Insurance Costs
Most moving companies will provide you with a basic level of insurance protection for your move included with your quoted price. However, it’s highly recommended that you invest in additional moving insurance to protect your shipment, as replacing your belongings may be more difficult or more expensive away from home. Moving insurance costs can vary between $100 and $1,000 or more depending on the total value of your shipment and your route.
Any Additional Services That You Schedule Through Your Moving Company
Most international moving companies operate as full-service movers. This means that they often offer additional services beyond the basic transportation and loading assistance that you can expect from any moving company. Some of the most commonly requested moving services for international processes include the following.
- Crating: If you’re shipping a large, awkwardly shaped, or exceptionally fragile item, you may need to invest in crating services to ensure that it arrives in your destination country intact. Professional moving companies can provide these services on your behalf.
- Packing Services: If you need to streamline your moving processes, you may want to hire your moving company to provide you with packing services. Purchasing packing services from your moving company ensures that all of your items are packed to perfection and will give you access to professional-grade packing supplies.
- Automobile Relocation: International automobile transportation is significantly more complicated than shipping household goods like furniture and clothing overseas. You’ll likely need to hire an international moving service provider to guide you through the paperwork required to ship a car or truck to a new country.
Any additional items that you schedule with your move will increase the total price that you’ll pay for your moving services.
If you aren’t planning on making a permanent move abroad, you’ll need to rent a storage space to keep the things that you don’t bring with you abroad. Though you may be able to keep your things in the basement or attic of a friend or relative, some fragile or delicate items might require a climate-controlled storage unit. The longer you need to store your items, the more you’ll pay for this service.
Additionally, if you aren’t moving on the same day that your shipment arrives, you may need to rent an international storage unit to keep your things safe until you land at your destination. Your international moving service provider may be able to arrange a storage unit rental in your country of choice for you.
Visa and Lawyer Fees
One of the first steps in the international moving process is ensuring that you can legally enter and reside in the country you’re headed to. Though this might sound like a basic consideration, many ex-pats underestimate the cost of the visa process. For example, if you’re moving to the United Kingdom, you can expect to pay around $2,000 for your settlement visa.
There are multiple types of international visas, and the visa that you’ll need to pursue will vary depending on where you’re moving to. In some cases, it is necessary to retain an immigration lawyer to assist you in the visa filing process, which adds an extra expense to your visa budget.
Moving your furry or fluffy friends to a new country involves more than just packing them up in a moving crate and giving them a little food like you would when you take them to the veterinarian. In order to bring your pet abroad, you’ll need to secure an International Health Certificate, which confirms that your pet is in good health. You’ll need to schedule an appointment with a USDA accredited veterinarian to receive your health certificate, which means that you’ll need to pay a vet appointment fee.
Most countries require pets entering the country to be vaccinated against rabies and undergo a rabies blood test to ensure that they will not be a threat to domestic animals. Some countries also require pets entering the country to be microchipped, which may cost an additional $45 to $100 depending on your veterinarian and the type of pet you own. If you’re traveling within Europe, you’ll also likely need to get a pet passport before your companion can enter the country.
Our Recommended International Movers
Not every moving company provides international moving processes. After reviewing dozens of moving service providers across the country, we’ve narrowed down our list to the top three moving companies offering international moving services. When creating our list of the best affordable international moving companies, we took the following factors into account.
- Company Transparency: Working with an unlicensed moving company or a company that doesn’t make itself as transparent as possible can make moving more stressful—and more expensive. We searched for companies with transparent hiring, pricing, and regulation information and policies.
- Pricing and Cost: Moving from one state to another can be expensive—but moving to another country has the potential to drain your bank account if you don’t shop smart. We looked for companies providing affordable rates on international shipping services to help you arrive at your destination with more cash in your pocket.
- Services Offered: Some movers prefer to work with a full-service company that offers a wider range of service selections in order to lessen the stress on themselves during the moving process. When comparing companies, we chose service providers that offered additional services like packing, furniture disassembly, and storage services to customize your moving process.
- Overall Reputation: No one wants to work with a moving company that has a documented history of price gouging, damaging items, or treating its customers poorly. We only recommend companies that have solid reputations within the moving industry and an overall positive online presence.
Now that you understand what we thought about when choosing our recommended moving companies, let’s take a look at a few of the best international moving companies operating throughout the United States.
International Van Lines
International Van Lines (IVL) is one of the country’s most well-established international moving service providers. In addition to offering service in all 50 states, IVL has experience providing moving services to more than 150 countries located around the globe. No matter if you’re moving to a well-known destination or a less populated country, IVL can create a route to help you move effortlessly.
IVL is licensed by both the Federal Marine Commission as well as the Department of Transportation, which ensures that your move will be protected and handled by only licensed and insured professional movers. You can compare costs between marine and air freight options, and IVL allows you to choose whether you want your shipment delivered directly to your door or to a nearby port to lower costs. Unlike some international moving companies, IVL is also a direct source operator—which means that their team will be the ones to provide your moving services, not a partnered third-party company.
In addition to providing one of the world’s most widespread moving lines, IVL also maintains a responsive customer service team as well. You can schedule a time for IVL’s team to give you a call if you’re looking for assistance on the go, or you can choose to connect directly with one of the company’s many local moving offices. This award-winning customer service can be a major help during the exceptionally stressful moving process.
Interested in learning more about the services IVL can offer you? Click here to get your free quote and connect with a representative.
American Van Lines
American Van Lines (AVL) is another well-known full-service moving company that’s best known for its individualized moving add-ons. If you’re moving abroad for work or school (or if you’re renting your current space and need to move out by a certain date) you might want to schedule moving add-on services like packing and storage. AVL hires and trains all of its own employees, which ensures that the men and women who arrive at your home can provide the highest quality services possible.
When you schedule an international move through AVL, the company also includes a number of additional services that will make your move easier, including:
- Delivery to the port of your choosing or directly to your home
- Full packing and crating services for your fragile items
- An extra inventory list to cross-reference when you arrive at your international destination
- Completion of all necessary customs documents
- International storage services
Packing in accordance with customs best practices to ensure that your shipment has minimal chance of being seized or inspected when it arrives.
AVL can provide service to any country—meaning that they can create a custom route for your move if you require it. If you’re interested in learning more about AVL’s services and pricing, click here to claim your free quote and connect with a representative.
JK Moving Services
JK Moving Services boasts an impressive resume for international moves. The company is one of the top 3 U.S.-based OMNI (Overseas Moving Network International) members, which indicates that JK Moving Services has been internationally recognized for its moving efficiency and expertise. JK Moving Services is one of only 31 FIDI-certified global movers operating in the United States, and their customers have access to a network of more than 500 FIDI-certified movers partnered across the globe. This ensures that you’ll receive the same quality service throughout your moving process—no matter if you’re moving from one state to another or one country to another.
If you’re shipping a vehicle overseas, we highly recommend considering JK Moving Services as your international mover thanks to the company’s concierge automobile shipping services. International vehicle shipments can be complicated—when you ship with JK Moving Services, the company will provide you with all of the following services.
- Completion of insurance documents, bills of lading, pre-and post-shipment inspections of your vehicle, import and export documentation, and customs clearance documentation
- Provides you with education on international laws pertaining to your individual vehicle in the country that you’re shipping to
- Management of tariffs, taxes, and duties required when leaving U.S.-based ports
- Additional services to ensure that your vehicle is shipped safely without incident (draining the fuel tank, removing the fuel tank, determining if you can ship additional household goods in your vehicle, and more)
If you’re looking for a moving company well-versed in the international moving process, JK Moving Services might be the right choice for you. Click here to get your free custom quote and connect with a moving coordinator.
How to Lower Your International Moving Costs
As you can see, moving internationally can be an exceptionally expensive process. However, with a little bit of organization and prior planning, you can control your moving expenses and enjoy a move that doesn’t involve constant stress. Use the following tips to save money on your move.
Be Strategic with Your Transportation Methods
Though door-to-door air freight will arrive at your home quickly and with barely any effort on your part, shipping your entire home via air freight will not be financially feasible for most homeowners. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll need to suffer while waiting for your sea freight to arrive—you can strategically split your shipment to sustain yourself until your full shipment is received.
When packing your things, create a separate pile for absolute must-haves that you cannot bring along with you on your flight. This might include things like clothing that doesn’t fit in your suitcase, basic cooking appliances and utensils, and electronics that you are not allowed to bring on the plane with you. Ship these items via air freight and schedule them to arrive at your new home shortly after you do and ship the remainder of your things via sea freight.
Have a Packing Party
While you can easily hire a moving company to provide your packing services while you relax, it’s much more affordable to do your own packing. But that doesn’t mean that packing has to be boring. Consider holding a “packing party” by asking your friends and family to come over and help you pack up while also enjoying some delicious food and drinks. A packing party is a perfect way to reconnect with your loved one before you move—and to save money on your packing services.
When you were purchasing a home, you probably didn’t buy the first one that you saw on the internet. When you were looking for a job, it’s likely that you didn’t only interview with one company. So why would you only get an estimate from a single moving company?
Shopping around is one of the most effective ways to lower what you’ll pay for your move. Getting at least three quotes from competing moving companies in your area allows you to directly compare prices between providers—you may even be able to use competing quotes as leverage to secure a more affordable move from the moving company you really want to work with.
We recommend getting quotes for your international move as soon as you know when you need to move. Be sure to get all of your quotes in writing to ensure that your moving company will honor the quote that you received when you eventually decide to book your move.
Move During the Off-Season
One thing that can save you exponential amounts of moving costs is moving during the off-season. When is the off-season? The moving off-season usually begins in September and ends in March. The high season for moving companies is during the summer months and can also include late spring and early fall; this is when families with children have free time to move because their kids aren’t in school. Since it’s the high season, movers charge more to pack and ship. Try scheduling your move in the winter or even in early spring. That way you can avoid the high season prices and perhaps score a deal.
Hold a Garage Sale
Holding a garage sale is an ideal way to get rid of things that you don’t want and to earn a little cash for your upcoming move. As the size of your home plays a major role in the price that you’ll pay for your move, downsizing as much as possible will help you save before you move internationally.
Place a sign somewhere with lots of through traffic, like at the entrance to your neighborhood or a bulletin board at your local coffee shop, with the information about your garage sale. Set up your display early in the morning the day of, probably close to six or seven in the morning—this is when the bargain hunters usually begin their search. Then watch as people fill up your driveway to peruse your unwanted belongings.
Sometimes this is the fun part—you can engage with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise, and perhaps you get customers who were looking for something very specific that they could only find at your garage sale. That’s a win for everyone.
Donate What You Can’t Sell
After you’ve held a garage sale to attempt to get rid of as much extra stuff as possible, now is the time to take stock of the rest and see what you can give away. Ideally, the items you have left would all be suitable to be given new life since you were trying to sell them anyway. You can use a charity navigator to find nonprofits accepting physical donations.
As you donate, focus on getting rid of larger items that will increase the total weight of your move. Donating things like books and furniture will reduce the weight of your freight, saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You can even donate a piano or other large musical instrument.
If there is a homeless shelter in your neighborhood or a youth community center, they might also need the items you have left. Most places like this will also give you a receipt for tax purposes; you could write off the donation later when the dreaded tax season arrives.
Get a Free Quote Now
Moving abroad is significantly more complicated than making a move to a new state—and it can also be much more expensive. The key to enjoying a more affordable move is to stay organized and begin the planning process as early as possible. We recommend that you start your search for international moving services by getting a quote from our three recommended moving providers listed above. Collecting multiple quotes helps you get a better idea of what you can do to limit your moving expenses and to get the best price possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a good international moving company?
Finding a reputable international moving company begins by taking a look at what previous customers are saying about companies available in your area. We recommend looking at reviews on the websites of third parties like Consumer Advocate or the Better Business Bureau instead of reviews on the companies’ websites themselves, as moving companies cannot filter reviews on these websites. You can simplify your search by starting your hunt for the right moving company with our recommended international movers.
How much does it cost to ship household goods overseas?
The price that you’ll pay for your international moving processes will vary depending on a variety of factors. Some of the things your moving company will consider when pricing your move include the distance you’re traveling, how you’re shipping your goods, the total weight of your shipment, and the route you’re taking to the city that you’ll soon call home. You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $6,000 for most international moves.
What is the cheapest way to ship things internationally?
The cheapest way to ship your things overseas is via marine transport. If you elect to ship your household goods via air freight, you can expect your move to cost significantly more.
What is the cheapest European country to live in?
Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, and Poland are some of the most affordable countries to live in located in Europe.