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Old Jun 14th 2006, 11:43 am   #1
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Default Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Thought I'd put down some thoughts for folks who are in the process of arranging shipments to save 'em searching through the forum for all the different threads.

Size of shipment
Generally speaking, the vast majority of people will only ever need a 20foot container. I refer you to this thread by Olibeneli - in which he explains very well how he packed the entire contents of a 4 bedroom house into a 20footer. That includes furniture and all household stuff - toys, CDs etc. If you're shipping more than the contents of your house, like say your business inventory, then 40ft may be the way to go - but that is a *lot* of space. Some people also use 40ft containers because they intend to ship the car with everything else - this works out far more cheaply than shipping your household goods and car separately.

If you are shipping an intermediate number of items, such as simply your personal effects, computers, DVDs etc - then you would be far better off forgetting about an entire 20ft or 40ft container and just doing a part container shipment. All the big shipping companies will do this for you. When you ship this way, your boxes of stuff are put onto the shipping company's lorry and shipped in a part container, rather than you have exclusive use of a container of your own. This way you just pay for what you're sending and not a load of British air.

In all cases an estimator will come to your house before you ship to give you an idea of the volume you'll be sending and the rough cost. They use a nifty handheld computer that works out sizes for them and they're surprisingly accurate. Be fastidious at this stage - it's easy to overlook items because they're such a familiar part of your life. It is very important that at this stage you make clear to the estimator any peculiarities of your shipment and/or the access to your house. You know the lay of the land far better than them and whilst they might think a 7.5 tonne lorry will be able to get access, you may know better. If you are shipping antiques they will probably need special treatment - make this clear. Get everything clearly written into the notes because this is what the office bods will use to arrange your pick-up.

Shipping Companies
Some shipping companies come highly recommended on these forums, some don't. The fact is that if you look through the threads you'll find people who've had excellent and poor service from *all* the shipping companies. Don't take it as a given that because you've signed up with a particular company that everything will go perfectly. There are some steps you can take to reduce risk, which I'll list later.

Firstly - the following companies have been used by many expats and (on the whole) they've been very good.

John Mason - 0151 449 3938
Excess International - 0800 783 1085
Crown - 020 8839 8000
Doree Bonner - 020 8303 6261
PSS - 020 8686 7733

There are plenty of other removal companies - Allied Pickfords, Anglo Pacific, etc - but a fairly high percentage of people have had grief with them, particularly the lattter. You may well get excellent service with them, but the above five are the names that come up time and again on this forum and as such are known quantities.

One thing is certain - lowest quote is not always the best. Crown seem to always come in at the high end of the quotes but have a very good reputation, though they can get snotty if you question costings. Remember that any quotes you get from these companies will probably include professional packing and insurance. Often the insurance requires that your goods are professionally packed, so the two go hand in hand. Do make sure that your chosen company is a member of the Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux which is the officially recognised accreditation for international shipping companies.

Costings
The most popular method of shipping would seem to be sole use 20ft container. Prices for this vary considerably, but nearly always falls between £3500 and £5500. The price fluctuation is accounted for by the relative costs of the packers and their insurance - clearly someone like Crown is charging more for its packing services than anyone else - if you have expensive furniture this might be worth bearing in mind. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

If you're sending a part shipment then your costs will of course vary a lot. To give you an idea though - Excess International who do a *lot* of part shipments will charge you about £100 for 20cu feet of space - that's two 9cu feet 'tea chest' size boxes and one 2 cu feet 'book box'. To give you an idea, we managed to fit my wife's entire wardrobe of clothes in one 9 cu feet tea chest and one portable TV, hi-fi, small speakers and leads in another tea chest.

Insurance
Whoever you ship with will be able to provide you with insurance for your goods. Generally speaking this will be 3% of the cost of the shipping. We've also found that most of these insurance policies have a relatively high excess which is 1% of the value or £100, whichever is greater - so if you're shipping £20k worth of stuff then your excess will be £200 - this is, however, usually on each invidiaul claim, not on each item.

Many people (ourselves included) arranged insurance ourselves. We used Letton Percival - 0151 236 4568 - which is the same insurance company used by many of the shipping companies themselves. They charge 1.53% of the total cost of the insured goods. It's a simple process to get insured - they send you a sheet on which you list the value of your items, individually listing anything worth more than £500. Phone the broker once you've totalled up the values and he'll tell you what the cost will be. Then you just send a cheque for that amount and you get a policy back a couple of days later. Remember that this doesn't cover the stuff you take with you on your flight - so always have good travel insurance as well.

Some people forego insurance completely for various reasons. This is of course entirely up to you, but given the fact that your entire worldly goods travel by sea to Australia there's plenty of opportunity for things to get damaged.

Self Shipping
Another option is the DIY route, otherwise known as self-shipping. This way you arrange to get a container delivered to your home, you pack your stuff, you load into the container, the shipping company pick it up, take it to the port and ship it Oz. Services vary but you will be liable for all the dock-side costs in Australia (budget for about an extra £600) and you will have to arrange your own insurance. Firms offering containers like this include UPakWeShip, Freightworld and RH Freight. Lots of useful info on this in this thread.

Time Frame
Generally speaking it takes 35 days for a container ship to travel from the UK to Sydney. However most shipping companies quote anywhere between eight and 10 weeks to cover themselves in case the ship takes a longer route, gets held up or if there are delays port-side. There have been many posts about containers getting held up for extended periods once they've arrived in Australia, so factor in the high end of the time frame quoted and you should be okay.

General Tips
Some tips culled from the shipping companies web-sites and from other people's experiences:
  • Don’t store or transport jewelry, money, legal documents, taxation papers, insurance policies or other high value/irreplaceable articles (keep these items with you).
  • Don’t polish your furniture prior to your move. Polishing surfaces can cause furniture to condensate when wrapped.
  • Don't be afraid to over-see the packing personally. It's your stuff and you have every right to see that it's all being boxed up securely.
  • If you dont want something shipped - consider having a 'safe area' in the house in which you deposit all such items (a spare bedroom for instance) and make it clear to the shippers that that room is to remain untouched.
  • Don't ship your passports (don't laugh - it *has* happened).
  • Removalists like tea or coffee with lots of sugar at regular intervals. A happy shipper is a good shipper.
  • Clean all you outdoorsy stuff (bikes, wellies etc) with some stinky old Jeyes fluid. Make sure they're clean of mud.
  • Consider dismantling beds, desks etc yourself and bagging the screws in freezer bags taped with parcel tape to the desk itself.
  • Take your batteries out of everything - if they leak en route your item could be ruined.
  • Consider taking some of your particularly cherished items (only photo of someone, child's first drawing etc) with you on the plane. Insurance is irrelevant for such items.
  • If you've got stuff that's under 12 months old - don't make it obvious that it is! You'll be charged import duties on such items if the customs blokes discover it.

Good luck.
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 12:16 pm   #2
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

thanks - excellent thread, we are just going through this.

I'm still not convinced about the 20ft container though. I've seen these things and they are tiny! We have 4 bed house loads of furniture including 2 x 3 pieice suites and a large kids climbing frame not to mention 3 double beds and book cases etc...companies we have had round are all saying 30ft ish...we are now having a major declutter but I dont think it will make a difference.....

So I need to decide on either having a go with a 20ft one for sole use and then sending the rest groupage, or taking a 40ft one groupage and paying for what I use, I can't imaging it costing much difference. I like the first idea as I understand sole use containers get there much quicker and I've heard so many stories of groupage stuff going missing in warehouses etc...

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Old Jun 14th 2006, 12:30 pm   #3
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Smile Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Great post hutch, thank you, it will come in really useful..
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 12:36 pm   #4
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Great post Hutch. I will be interested to read your future post about this end though!
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 12:38 pm   #5
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Thank you Hutch,

That was a very concise and informative post. We are only shipping a small amount, mostly toys, books and personal effects, can I ship clothes too or do they all have to fit in our suitcases we are taking on the plane with us? I was planning to hit the sales at the end of the summer and get lots of things for myself, hubby and the kids suitable for the aussie weather but not sure how I would carry it all!

Thanks in advance for any replies,

Karen
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 1:05 pm   #6
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Quote:
Originally Posted by parentsof2
Thank you Hutch,

That was a very concise and informative post. We are only shipping a small amount, mostly toys, books and personal effects, can I ship clothes too or do they all have to fit in our suitcases we are taking on the plane with us? I was planning to hit the sales at the end of the summer and get lots of things for myself, hubby and the kids suitable for the aussie weather but not sure how I would carry it all!

Thanks in advance for any replies,

Karen
Very helpful post, printing it off for future use - thanks!

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Old Jun 14th 2006, 1:27 pm   #7
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Thats a really useful post. Thank you, I will have to remember that when the time comes for us to start thinking about this.
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 1:30 pm   #8
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Quote:
Originally Posted by parentsof2
Can I ship clothes too or do they all have to fit in our suitcases we are taking on the plane with us? I was planning to hit the sales at the end of the summer and get lots of things for myself, hubby and the kids suitable for the aussie weather but not sure how I would carry it all
You can put anything you want in the boxes. We have shipped the majority of our clothes and are now living out of a couple of suitcase's worth of stuff.
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 1:35 pm   #9
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Thumbs up Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

round of applause!!

great thread, thanks for helping those of us who are about to go through all of this.
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 1:43 pm   #10
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Thanks - very useful info for when time comes

One for you, ok 2
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 1:48 pm   #11
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Thanks Hutch, great thread
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 2:05 pm   #12
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Great post Sir...!

As someone who's spent his whole working life in the shipping business I'd just add a couple of things...

Shippers love groupage... Customers shouldn't... Shippers make much much more money with groupage consignments than a whole box. I once had a trailer go from Wuppertal to Birmingham freighted at over £6k when the full load rate would have been ~ £950.

The opportunities for things to go wrong with LCL consignments are far greater than for FCL.

Pilferage is a constant problem in busy warehouses.

If you've got a decent sized amount of stuff, in percentage volume terms, of a FCL then you really should be able to haggle pretty hard with the shipper; every shipper tries to get a base load for each of his LCL boxes and someone booking anything over 35% of the box space is highly desirable - don't let anyone tell you different.

Insurance - you're mad not to...
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 2:11 pm   #13
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Some very well deserved karma has been sent your way, one of the best posts for info I've seen on here (and I've been around a while ).

Cheers

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Old Jun 14th 2006, 2:29 pm   #14
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Very useful.

Also buy loads of those little sillica sachets and use them in everything - lots of water / sea spray + fluctuating temperatures = a good recipe for mould!

Last edited by ridds; Jun 14th 2006 at 2:31 pm.
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Old Jun 14th 2006, 2:32 pm   #15
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Default Re: Shipping - a small guide to the UK end

Fab post. Really useful info. We are hoping to ship things out in the next 4 weeks or so, so great timing. Good luck with your move.
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