Blog. Moving Internationally

December 11, 2018

So… You Are Moving Internationally


Where do you start? I would say the first thing is you need to make sure that you have the proper VISA paperwork in order with your destination Country and that VISA will allow you to import your personal belongings.  A Visitor’s Visa, for example will not allow you to be an importer. Once you have your paperwork in order it is time to inventory what you want to take with you overseas. What can you easily replace at destination. In some instances, you will want to take everything you own and if price is no object; before you start packing your boxes let us define Household Goods and Personal Effects as it related to international shipping and Customs.


Household goods are items of personal property, found in or near the home, the householder uses on a regular basis. The householder needs household goods for maintenance, use, and occupancy of the premises as a home. According to US Customs 20 CFR 416.1216  “Household Goods” is defined as, “Such items include but are not limited to: Furniture, appliances, electronic equipment such as personal computers and television sets, carpets, cooking and eating utensils, and dishes” and Personal Effects “Items of personal property ordinarily worn or carried by the individual; or Articles otherwise having an intimate relation to the individual. Such items include but are not limited to: Personal jewelry including wedding and engagement rings, personal care items, prosthetic devices, and educational or recreational items such as books or musical instruments.” Each country has their own import rules that are enforced by their Customs Service. It is important to review these rules as it pertains to Household Goods.  For instance in the US a person must own the goods for 6 months to claim as personal effects while other countries may say 1 year.. What this means for you is that you can’t go on a shopping spree right before you ship your things overseas and import your goods as Used Household Goods.


The easiest place to find the information on what your destination country considers Household Goods and Personal Effects is that destination country’s Customs website or the destination Country’s Consulate in the USA (speak to the trade desk) and they will give you more information or guide you where you to find the information. The best place is ask a customs broker at destination.


Why is the designation of Household Goods and Personal Effects (HHG & PE) so important? It is because these goods can be imported duty free if requirements are met. Most governments do not access duty on your used HHG & PE so it is your burden to prove the validity of your designation if questioned. If you want to go shopping prior to moving it is well within your right, however, you will have to separately declare the items that you purchase with Customs and pay the duty and taxes on those items. Most Countries also publish a “Banned” or “Restricted” list of items that are not allowed to be imported; it is important to stay in compliance with these regulations so that your import experience will be a smooth one.


Experience Talks

I had a client that was moving from Omaha NE to Basel Switzerland to marry her fiance and she loved her bed; a king size Tempurpedic plush 18-inch, sleep like a baby, purple mattress. She visited her new home country several times and they went mattress shopping and her $1100 mattress she bought in the USA was $7500 in Europe.  We packed it up along with her other boxes and she is sleeping soundly in Switzerland.  The point is that some things we buy in America are much cheaper than if they are purchased overseas and as long as it is used and over the age requirement, no duties should be accessed. Another couple was moving to Bolivia South America and they shipped everything they owned because they wouldn’t be able to replace anything due to the lack of retailers in their remote destination city.  One gentleman was moving to a populated city in Africa. We discussed what he wanted to take and the cost for shipping; he decided to put everything in storage and make the decision after he arrived in his new country. He was able to furnish his apartment without having to spend any money on shipping.


Thank you for reading.  Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic or if you have another topic that you would like to read about. We will continue our International Shipping of Household Goods shipping journey by discussing restricted items and paperwork.


Sue Fitzgerald General Manager

Dove Shipping International Inc.


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