How To Calculate International Moving Costs?

In 2018, the U.S. State Department issued over nine million visas. Some of these visas were visitor visas. But most of them were international students, employer-sponsored immigrants, and family/relative visas. These people uprooted themselves from their home countries and either permanently or semi-permanently relocated to America. In the post-9/11 world, international relocations are costlier and more complex than ever. However, with a little thoughtful planning, it’s possible to minimize these financial and emotional costs. A solid international moving costs partner helps greatly.

Be sure you select a company that has the resources and experience to handle international move. Otherwise, you might have some very unpleasant moving day surprises.

Properly Calculate International Moving Costs

Pre-Move Planning

All relocations have many moving parts. International relocations are especially complicated. It’s very easy to overlook an important detail, especially since moving is so stressful.

Although it increases the cost of an international move, a pre-move consultation with a professional international mover is usually a good idea. Experienced movers know what it takes to move your belongings from Point A to Point B.

Alternatively, at least make a detailed list of what needs to be done. Leave nothing to chance and do not simply try to remember everything.

Transportation Expenses

Not surprisingly, transportation expenses make up the bulk of international relocation costs. These costs vary greatly, not only due to distance but also due to different modes of transportation.

The most significant portion of an international move is transportation. There are many moving companies that offer air and sea transportation and transport container services for international moves. If not, they can help you locate expert services to get you where you’re going.

Some people avoid transportation costs altogether and buy new things in the United States. If there is simply a question of cost, this method is often the best method. But most people have an emotional attachment to their personal items. They remind them of home. Starting a new life in the United States is already a harsh transition, at least in most cases. Doing so without your personal items makes the transition even more difficult.


Generally, shipping goods by air is much more expensive than shipping them via sea, rail, or truck. Many people use combination shipping. They take a few necessary items with them on the plane and ship the rest via another less costly method.

Timing matters as well. Transportation and shipping costs are usually higher during peak demand periods, usually spring and fall in the United States. Plan your move accordingly, and you could significantly trim transportation costs.

Planning is an important part of any move, but especially an international move. Not all your items will make it past customs. The list of prohibited items changes frequently, and most families have several items on this list.

Vehicles are a good example. The U.S. has rather strict emission standards, and many states have even stricter standards. Generally, all foreign vehicles will probably fail either state or federal emissions tests, except for some late-model Canadian vehicles. Some exemptions and exclusions apply to the no-vehicle policy.

At Green Van Lines, part of our vehicle relocation process includes safe and secure shipping. That gives our international move customers some additional peace of mind.

International Relocation Packing

In terms of packing, there is a big difference between a local move and an international relocation. Simply stuffing items into boxes is probably not a good idea. Your shipped goods must survive for several days, or even longer. And, many baggage and cargo handlers do not pay much attention to “Handle With Care” warnings.

Additionally, many international shipping companies have very strict weight and dimension rules. If the items do not fit within these specifications, they get left behind. Frequently, the owners do not find out about the omissions until they reach their destinations. At that point, it is too late to do anything about it.

Having an international moving company pack your things significantly increases the price of these long distance relocations. But given the risks discussed above, this additional investment is often worthwhile.

One of the reasons we use stackable moving crates in international moves is that these crates are durable and fall within most international shipping rules and specifications. Another reason we use them is that these crates are much more environmentally-friendly than disposable cardboard boxes. It is easy to give them back to us where they can be reused or to retain them and use them for storage at your new place.

Offsite Storage Facilities

Speaking of storage, international moves almost always include offsite storage facilities. That’s true for both residential and commercial international relocations.

Some items simply cannot travel with you. Let’s return to the motor vehicle example. If you ship your vehicle to the United States, it is usually best to move it directly into a storage facility. Then, after an inspection, you know what modifications you must make, if any, in order to make it compliant with state and federal standards.

With an international move, you have to consider customs and foreign country policy. Some items simply cannot travel with you. In that case, you’ll need storage services for the time being.

Most moving companies also offer storage at an additional charge. Here, your items will be safe in a secure facility with around-the-clock security in place.

Additionally, many states have a residency requirement for driver’s licenses and license plates. Driving with foreign plates and a foreign license is often not a good idea in many parts of the country.

Other international moves are downsizing relocations, at least temporarily. Most mortgage companies also have residency requirements. So, many families must move into smaller rentals until they can buy larger homes. With Green Van Lines’ convenient and secure storage options, when you are ready to move into a larger home, your stuff will be ready as well.

To start the wheels turning on your international move, Contact Green Van Lines for international moving costs and services year-round. You can reach us at 888-770-4733 today!

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