So you’ve decided to take the leap and move to another country—how exciting! Before the excitement fades into a panic about how you’ll budget for this next chapter, we’ll break down all the international moving costs and how they are calculated, and provide you with sample pricing. That way you can worry less about money and focus more on getting settled in your new home country.
How Much Does an International Move Cost?
How much it costs to move your stuff
Professional moving costs
We’ve got some sample move pricing listed below, but in general, you’ll see pricing for international van lines to be anywhere from $1,500 to well over $12K. For most moving companies, the price you pay will cover:
- Professional packing
- Loading into a container for sea freight
- International transportation (also known as international removals)
- International customs clearance
- Delivery of your belongings to your home in a new country
Moving insurance (or transit protection) can be added to the overall price of your move for an additional charge, and is calculated by determining the overall value and weight of your shipment. You’ll usually pay about 1% of the value of your shipment for insurance, so you may be looking at a few hundred dollars to over a couple thousand.
Still confused? No worries, we’ll break it down: if you want to cover your belongings at the average rate of $10 per pound, and your shipment is 10,000 pounds, you need $100,000 of coverage. So on average, this would cost an additional $1,000 on top of your transportation fees.
And while some companies will provide basic coverage at no additional cost, we do not recommend that option for an international relocation because of the likelihood of damages. Professional movers are only required to cover 60 cents per pound if you don’t pay for additional coverage!
Customs and import taxes
Customs and import (duty) taxes vary depending on the country you’re moving to. You’ll likely see fees around 2% of the overall cost of transportation, but your professional moving company may not itemize that on your estimate, even if it’s included in your overall price.
You may also be able to calculate the charges yourself by adding the value of your shipment to transportation and insurance costs and multiplying the total by your destination country’s duty rate.
On average, shipping a car to another country will cost you up to $5,000 or more, which may be worth it if you’ve already invested in a luxury or vintage vehicle. Of course, the cost truly depends on the type of vehicle you’re sending, where you’re going, and how you ship it. There are several reputable automobile transport companies that we recommend, but we also suggest selling your vehicle stateside and purchasing a new one at your destination. That way, you can avoid costly emissions and transportation fees altogether.
National or international storage
If you decide you want to keep your belongings and store them instead of shipping them, you have a couple of options that start around $100 per month (depending on the size of your shipment):
- Public storage
- Professional warehouse storage
- International warehouse storage
International warehouse storage will probably be the most expensive option because you’ll be paying to ship your items to a warehouse in your destination country, where the destination agency will be able to determine the rate for monthly storage. While not the most popular option, it’s a great solution for those who are making a permanent move but haven’t yet found their “forever” home (and can’t take possession of all their belongings).
Professional warehouse storage stateside is also generally more expensive than public storage, and like international warehouse storage, you can’t access it until delivery without additional charges. This is because of the labor associated with warehouse storage–including forklifting your belongings from their storage location(s) and having a crew member uncrate and process your things before returning them to storage.
Public storage will be the most cost-effective option, but you won’t know how your things are holding up until you return. And you may need a friend or family member to check on your things while you’re gone.
It can be tempting to keep your belongings in public storage for your return, but storage fees can seriously add to the overall cost of your international move. We recommend selling or donating as much as you can so you can take only the necessities with you. Pro tip? Ask friends or family if they wouldn’t mind storing anything you just can’t bear to part with.
How much it costs to move your family
Visas and immigration fees
In order to be allowed into another country for permanent or semi-permanent residence, you’ll have to apply for a visa and pay any associated immigration fees. While these costs may vary from country to country, you can expect to pay around $50 or less for a short-term visa or sometimes over $1,000 for permanent residence.
Also, you’ll probably encounter a lot of difficulty finding a job in a new country without a visa, so this is one of the first things you’ll want to secure before you move.
Personal and pet transportation
It can be hard to remember to factor in the cost of your own transportation amid all the costs of a professional move. International flights can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, even for a one-way flight.
It’s also going to cost extra to ship your dog to another country. Most countries will require your pet to enter the country as “cargo,” and freight costs can fall anywhere between $300 to $1,200, depending on which airline you choose. You may also encounter additional charges for customs clearance and veterinarian fees.
Other factors to consider
There are a few other aspects worth mentioning that you’ll probably want to look into, as they can also increase the costs associated with an international move:
- International IDs and drivers’ licenses
- International childcare and schools
- International cell phone and internet plans
- International health care
- Temporary and permanent accommodation
- New wardrobe to suit a new climate
- Return trips to visit family and friends
How does your international moving company calculate international moving costs?
You can expect your international moving company to combine packing, transportation, customs, and delivery fees to determine the overall moving cost. It’ll also include stateside warehouse storage for an additional cost. Once you’ve taken inventory of your home and had a home survey completed, your international mover will be able to calculate exact costs—using the weight and size (density) of your belongings.
Here are the typical services you’ll see itemized on your international moving estimate (whether it’s binding or non-binding):
- Packing (and pickup). The weight of the shipment is used to determine how many crew members will be needed to pack your shipment, how much packing material will be needed, and the amount of time your move will take.
- Both the weight and cubic footage of your shipment will be used to determine the size of the container your goods will be shipped in, as well as the rate per pound.
- As mentioned above, customs fees can vary from country to country but are usually around 2% of the overall cost of transportation.
- Your delivery agency will use the weight and container size to determine costs for delivery to your new home, which will be included in your international estimate.
- If you choose to leave things behind, your mover can store your belongings in its warehouse. The weight and size of your shipment will determine how much storage space you’ll need and your associated monthly storage charges.
Sample moving prices
We’ve compiled a small list of moving costs from real international moves that have been completed over the last year to give you an idea of the pricing you might encounter:
Sample moving prices for professional international moves
Estimated load size (cubic feet)
|Issaquah, WA||London, UK||100 (LCL)||$4,235|
|Brooklyn, NY||Toronto, Canada||429 (LCL)||$4,950|
|Silver Springs, MD||Paris, France||200 (LCL)||$4,980|
|Southampton, NY||Madrid, Spain||1,000 (FCL)||$8,134|
|Nixa, MO||Singapore||2,000 (FCL)||$13,500|
|Henderson, NV||Naic, Philippines||3,650 (FCL)||$26,872|
Data as of 2/23/2022. Table is a sample of real pricing from international moving customers over a seven-month period
Remember: pricing fluctuates annually and by time of year, so these figures should only be considered a rough estimate.
International moving is expensive, no matter which way you shake it. But there are plenty of ways you can save without cutting corners, especially by understanding everything you’ll probably need to pay for in advance. That way, you can budget accordingly, and it won’t feel like you’re shelling out your last dollar to get to your new home. Happy trails!
Frequently asked questions
How do I get an international moving quote?
You can get a quote for an international move by contacting a professional moving company (like Allied International) and asking for a free estimate. Sometimes your mover will be able to provide a ballpark estimate, but usually you’ll need a survey performed (also called a home inventory) before you can get accurate pricing.
How will my things be packed for an international move?
Professional moving crews are trained to pack your belongings with extra care for an international moving service. This is because your moving crew will have to list (and individually pack) each item that you’re shipping on a formal inventory for customs clearance.
Another thing to remember—packing crews are trained to pack for density, so your shipment can fit into as small a space as possible. In general, this practice helps to keep costs and damages to a minimum.
How do I get an overseas phone number?
These days, there are apps (think: WhatsApp, Skype, and TextNow, to name a few) you can download straight to your phone to receive an international phone number for free before you ever leave the states.
However, you can always go the traditional route and purchase an international phone and phone plan from a major carrier—which is a great idea for permanent or semi-permanent international relocations.
Common terms used in international moving
Professional movers use a lot of industry terms that can confuse even the most experienced moving customers. Here’s a list of moving terms you may encounter in your paperwork and communications with your moving company:
- FCL/Full container load: Your shipment is going in a 20- or 40-foot container.
- LCL/Less than container load: Your shipment is going in a container smaller than a 20- or 40-foot container, sometimes in a specialized wooden crate called a lift van.
- FMC/Federal Maritime Commission: The agency that oversees and regulates the country’s international ocean transportation network.
- D2D or DtD/Door-to-door service: When your household goods and automobiles are shipped directly from your old home to your new one, whether you’re moving domestically or abroad.
- Sea freight: When your items are transported by ship across the sea, which is usually the case with international moves.
- Customs duty: A tax imposed on imported and exported goods.
- Duty-free: When items are exempt from customs duty.
Still looking for more international move prep help? We’ve got you covered.