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Freight from the USA

Destination charges | Unaccompanied baggage"Consigner = Consignee" Rule | Shipping food | CBP guide on Importing HHG to the USA


This page provides helpful topics on international shipping of household goods and personal belongings using cost-effective ocean freight services from international shipping companies (Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs and VOCCs) Vs. using international moving companies.    


Yes, you can ship household goods or personal belongings (means international shipping of not-commercial goods that are not for sale) using cost-effective international ocean freight services from a international shipping companies (Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs and VOCCs) Vs. using services offered by international moving companies.

However, it is very important do not confuse ocean freight service provided by an international shipping companies (Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs and VOCCs) with ocean freight services offered by international moving companies (1) or parcel services (2).

                     International moving company               international parcels shipping 


1. INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING COMPANIES (FREIGHT FORWARDERS, NVOCCs AND VOCCs) VS. INTERNATIONAL MOVING COMPANIES: Unlike with an international moving company, when using a direct sea freight service from an international shipping company, it is your responsibility on packing your goods:

  • When using LCL (Less than Container Load Ocean freight Service. Shipping consolidated freight. I.e. international shipping of boxed, crated or palletized freight) your shipped goods must be properly boxed, crated and/or palletized and labeled in order to be accepted by an international shipping company (direct or indirect ocean freght carrier). International moving companies may pack your shipped goods for the international shipment by sea for an adding cost. 

    Note: International shippers that use service from international moving companies should pay attention to wood packing restrictions when international moving companies pack shipping goods. An unprofessional international moving company may not be aware of ISPM 15 rules in international shipping. They may use not certified wooding packing materials, such wood pallets or wood crates etc when pack your shipping goodgs to the international ocean freight shipment. Always pay attention to quality of international moving company that you are going to use for your international shipment by sea.
  • With FCL (Full Container Load. International shipping of household goods using entires multimodal seafreight containers. Most commonly used sea freight containers for international shipping of household goods are 20', 40' and 40'HC.). Notice that this option may not be always available for international shipping of household goods when requesting the service from international shipping companies.

    If you request FCL ocean freight service forom an international shipping company (Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs and VOCCs); unlike with an international moving company it will be shipper's responsibility on loading and securing cargo and motor vehicles (if any) inside of sea freight container, unless you use in a warehouse quality loading service.

    An international moving company will load and secure your goods inside of multimodal sea freight containers for an adding cost. However, most of the time international moving companies finally will apply to an international shipping company in order to buy sea freight service for your international shipment and, if they are licensed on providing OTI services (ocean freight services), may add significant profit on top of the ocean freight that they bought from the international shipping company.

    IMPORTANT!: Always ask the international moving company, which you are going to use on your international ocean freight shipment, either they are licensed on not. Do not apply for an international ocean freight service to an unlicensed international moving company - rogue movers! Otherwise you may fall in troubles on any stage of your international shipment by sea.

We recommend always consider alternatives between using international shipping services offered by international moving companies and an international shipping companies (Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs and VOCCs). As an U.S. Freight Forwarder we reccomend you to try this link to our online instant freight rates calculators. Compare prices obtained on international shipments using our Economy LCL sea freight srvice (shipping boxed or crated cargo) or FCL service for Household Goods Vs. shipping costs obtained from international moving companies.

Obviously you will find that services offered by international moving companies are extremely expensive comparable to prices offered by international shipping companies. However, international moving companies may send you a surveyor. The surveyor may estimate total shipping cost on your international moving, including labor, materials and sea freight cost. For the shipping cost international moving companies may complete entire shipment on your behalf including packing, loading and securing your goods inside of sea freight containers.

2. INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING COMPANIES (FREIGHT FORWARDERS, NVOCCs AND VOCCs) VS. INTERNATIONAL PARCEL SERVICES: If you are shipping a considerable small volume of cargo, let's say less than 0.2-0.3 cubic meters of the total volume, then using a parcel service on your international sea freight shipment possible should be more convinient and cost-effective.

MINIMUM CHARGE: International ocean freight shipments are typically not limited by volume. But it always has a minimum charge. International shippers should always remember that international LCL shipments with international shipping companies always have a MINIMUM CHARGE. In international shipping of FCL a shipping cost of entire container is the 'minimum charge'. I.e. in international shipping using FCL ocean freight service you will pay for the entire container, no matter how many goods your put inside of the container.

In international LCL sea freight service offered by international shipping companies, a minimum charge is the amount that will not go below regardless of volume of your shipped cargo. For example: if you ship by sea a considerable small volume with a total freight charge that calculates an amount below the minimum charge, you will still be charged the minimum regardless.

In international LCL sea freight service, often, minimum charges are equal to shipping goods of total volume of one cubic meter. For example: $87 per Cubic Meter w/m / $87 minimum. However certain origins-destinations have minimum charges higher than shipping of one cubic meter.  

W/M in international shipping of LCL freight means Weight or Measurement, which ever is higher. Find more about W/M and Cubic Meter in respect of shipping freight by sea in this link


customs in international shipping seafreight

Either you use a service from an international moving company or an international shipping company (Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs and VOCCs) or simply carry your goods in the trunk of your car across the border, your freight will always be a subject to destination charges. You may read more about destination charges on interanional sea freight shipments in FAQ section of our website.  

When paying destination country's customs duty (as a part of destination charges), non-commercial international shipments containing household goods or personal effects that are not for sale may be allowed to enter most countries without or with not-significant duties or taxes. However, such international shipments must compy with destination countries regulations on importing household goods and personal effects. Those import regulations may be quite complicated. 

In order to avoid "surprises" with your international shipment at the destination, if you ship household goods or personal effects oversea, we suggest that before you make any arrangements on your international shipment, contact a local Consulate or Embassy of the country where your goods will be shipped to. Ask them about special regulations, restrictions or charges (duty and/or taxes) that may occur on your international shipment when your goods will reach its destination. It is a good idea to check also if you are unsure about any particular item you want to ship overseas. Certain commodity such as live plants or seeds, animal skins, medicine, alcoholic beverages or tobacco etc may be restricted or not allowed to import.

See if you can obtain from the consulate a letter of relocation, or a letter that duty exceptions are granted on your international shipment. These shipping documents can be issued by the consulate before you are involved in the international shipping of household goods or personal effects. Having such documents in advance may be extremely helpful at a time of recovery of your goods at the destination.

You may also request customs duty and tax estimation from a Customs Broker in your destination country before making any arrangements on your international shipment. Most likely you will be asked to pay a fee on this service. However, if you are uncertain then it should worth your money and time.

If you use service from an international moving company, then always try to obtain as more details related to your your shipment as possible in advance. I.e. before your goods are submitted to the international shipping. Notice: Transit time in ocean freight may take longer than you plan. If you use a sea freight service on your international shipment, then keep in mind a possibility of changes in destination country's import regulations on the day when your cargo will arrive to the destination.


Unaccompanied Baggage, in international shipping of household goods or personal effects, means shipping a portion of luggage that cannot be taken with a passenger and travels to its destination separately, but which is required to be used immediately upon or soon after you or your dependent's arrival at destination.

I.e. you travel and it comes after you as an international sea freight shipment. With American Multimodal International Deliveries - AMID Logistics, LLC  you can get instant price quote for your Unaccompanied Baggage using our Economy LCL seafreight service and book it online 24/7.

International ocean freight shipments or parts of international shipments that compily with the status of unaccompanied baggage are always easier on the recovery with destination countries customs.  

Unaccompanied baggage may include but is not limited by clothing, uniforms, kitchen supply and equipment, portable electronics: computers, TV radio etc, portable air-conditioners, golf and fishing equipment and more. Unaccompanied baggage may not include major items of furniture such as chairs, tables, cabinets, washers, dryers, freezers, large-size refrigerators, beds, mattresses, etc. Always remember about the unaccompanied baggage status when you pack and mark your shipping boxes for the international shipment. If you use service from an international moving company then always ask for a detailed valued packing list done by the international moving company on your behalf.

Customs. International shipping of ocean freight.

If you travel to your destination country by airplane, boat, train ahead of your shipment, it is always a good idea to declare your international shipment at a time of the destination country's border crossing. Fill out a customs declaration on board of the aircraft, boat or train. Mention in the declaration that your international shipment or part of the shipment is an unaccompanied baggage. Pprovide in the declaration, along with your commodity description, an information on your international shipment obtained in your booking confirmation: booking #, the origin, vessel, voyage etc. Keep copy of the declaration and use it when you clear your goods with destination customs. 


Rules in international shipping of ocean freight

If you are moving overseas, i.e. you ship personal goods to yourself, then at a time of booking and filling international shipping documents we suggest the following this "Cosigner = Consignee" rule:

CONSIGNER (SHIPPER) AND CONSIGNEE (RECIPIENT) SHOULD BE THE SAME NAME. THERE SHOULD BE NO VARIATION EVEN IN SPELLING. You may provide any different contact information to your ocean freight bill of lading as the notify party, but NOT consigner/consignee.

If you use an international moving company in your international shipping, then remind the international moving company about this regulation. Check shipping documents prepared on your behalf by the international moving company. Pay extreme attention to information stated in your sea freight bill of lading, which is the final document on your international shipment and the title on your shipped goods.

Following this "Cosigner = Consignee" regulation should help you avoid possible problems when you recover your international shipment with destination customs. I.e. you may save time and money with destination customs and/or your international ocen freight bill of lading amendments.


No food in international shipping of seafreight

*NO FOOD STUFF, WINE & DRUGS* Shipping of Food Stuffs including wine and drugs (any item that is edible), including food items, edible animal byproducts, supplements, etc, are subject to detailed regulations. Violations to these regulations can result in detention, confiscation, or destruction of cargo, as well as fines and criminal charges. Responsibility for proper documents, permits, and incurred charges are for the account of the shipper/consignee.

Food and vegetable, wine, drugs or animal products should NOT be shipped as a part of personal effects or household goods international ocean freight shipment. We are strongly suggesting to avoid shipping such kind of products at all. Even small quantity of food in your international sea freight shipment may result a big problem with the destination county's officials at a time of your cargo recovery. 

An international ocean freight shipment, which includs vegetable or animal products may require additional shipping documents like Phytosanitary certificate, Veterinary certificate etc.

If you wish to ship such kind of products anyway, then we strongly suggest you contacting a local Consulate or Embassy of the country where the goods will be shipped to before you are involved in the international shipping. Ask them about your country's special import regulations on this type of products. Ensure that you have obtained all necessary international shipping documents and certificats for your international shipment in advance, before arranging your international sea freight shipment.
Neither international freight forwarders nor direct ocean freight carriers will be held responsible for additional costs or delays caused by the failure to provide complete and compliant international shipping documents relating to any food and agricultural products contained in your sea freight shipment. Professional international moving company should be aware of this rule as well.


International shipping of live plants or animals is prohibited in household goods or personal effects shipments. Professional international moving company should be aware of this role as well.

If you still need shipping of live plants or animals overseas, then search for a special international shipping company that specializes in such services.


For international shipping of household goods or personal effects to the United States by using sea freight you may find helpful this Guide to Customs Regulations from CBP.GOV


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