"After death and divorce, moving house is the third most stressful life event,” so goes the cliché. It turns out that old chestnut is baseless, but there’s no denying that for even the most hardened expat, shipping your household halfway around the world can be a taxing experience.
Employment benefits in Beijing have been downsized significantly in recent years, but some employers still offer relocation packages and may pre-select a company or provide a shortlist. Regardless of how long your list of potentials, we show you how to relieve some of the pressure by choosing the moving, shipping, or relocation company that’s right for your family.
With a little help, your move doesn’t have to be a source of stress and worry. Just remember to get several quotes, make sure communication is clear (even if you have an interpreter), and plan ahead whenever possible. Very little is negotiable in the relocation business, so knowing exactly what you want up front makes the process move more smoothly.
What Services Do You Need?
Services Offered Moving Company Shipping Company Relocation Company
Packing, transporting, and unpacking X X X
Packing, transporting, freight forwarding, X X
and unpacking (international)
Pre-moving services (visa and immigration assistance, X
neighborhood scouting trip, etc.)
Housing assistance (temporary X
accommodations, finding a home, etc.)
Destination services (pet relocation, repatriation, X
finding a school, police registration, setting up utilities, language classes, etc.)
Choosing a Moving, Shipping, or Relocation Company
• Work out whether you need relocation services or if the shipment of your household items is straightforward enough to pay for moving only.
• Check whether the company is a FIDI/FAIM member.
• Find out if the company has an office in your destination country.
• Make sure the company is familiar with all of the legal requirements for the country you are in and the country you are going to, such as what can and cannot be shipped, and what documents must be provided for each step.
• Get an in-home survey for an accurate quote. Online quotes are generally only useful for small, simple shipments.
• Consider the reputation, experience, worldwide reach, and track record of the company.
• Get referrals from people you trust. If you have the opportunity, observe other moves in your neighborhood early on and drop by to see their packing standards and crew. If you know a family that has moved recently, ask for positive and negative feedback.
• Make sure you understand the quotes. Determine whether they are based on volume or weight. The moving industry works in volume for sea shipments and typically in weight for air freight, but it’s rarer to have household goods shipped this way. Also establish what type of container your quote covers.
• Ask about what type of packing the company uses. Some bad practices include crating (sometimes there are bugs in the wood, which can ruin your furniture), or packing certain items in dirt. Insist on cardboard and bubble wrap if that’s what you want.
• FIDI: Federation of International Furniture Removers (FIDI) is the largest global alliance of professional international moving and relocation companies, with over 600 affiliates in more than 100 countries worldwide.
• FAIM: FIDI accredits international removal companies that meet the demands of its FIDI Accredited International Movers (FAIM) quality assurance standard. To receive FIDI-FAIM accreditation, companies must prove they are in good financial health and adequately insured, and must receive an 80 percent pass mark across 16 parameters, which represent the crucial parts of providing a quality international moving service. These include the performance, stability and experience of staff, and insurance coverage offered by the company.
• FCL: Full container load (FCL) refers to the exclusive use of a 20-foot or 40-foot steel shipping container, which can hold 30 cubic meters and 60 cubic meters respectively.
• LCL: Less than container load (LCL) is an exclusive shipment, but the personal effects are encased in wood. The volume is typically a maximum of 10 cubic meters, and this type of shipment is rare outside of Beijing.
• GPG: Groupage or consolidated load (GPG) is a cost-effective way to ship, typically involving less than 15 cubic meters headed for popular destinations (Europe, the US, Australia). Shipments are consolidated into a 20- or 40-foot container before being shipped. Because of consolidation, transit time is increased, but it’s a great option if you have a smaller amount to ship, if you have time to receive it, and if you only want to pay for your portion of freight.
With more than 800 locations worldwide in over 40 countries, Allied Pickfords has eight China offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dalian, Chengdu, Suzhou and Shenyang. Offers international, domestic, local and office moving services, with a Move Coordinator to assist throughout the process from door-to-door. Contact: 5870 1133, www.alliedpickfords.com.cn
Asian Express International Movers
Founded in 1979 with four locations in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. FIDI/FAIM0accredited. Employs over 250 people. Offers downloadable information from the website, including customs hints, duty calculator and insurance forms. Contact: 8580 1471, www.aemovers.com.hk
FIDI/FAIM members with 1,500 full-time dedicated staff members. Offers the largest fleet of trucks and the most warehouse space of any mover in East Asia. Provides post move follow-up. With every shipment, Asian Tigers makes a donation to a support program. Contact: 6415 4155, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.asiantigers-china.com
Crown Relocations, Beijing
Crown Relocations’ services include domestic and international transportation of household goods, home and school search, storage, expense management, policy consulting and program administration, online tracking tools, transit protection and intercultural services. Provides services for corporations, diplomats and private customers. Contact: 5801 8088, email@example.com, www.crownrelo.com
K2 Corporate Moving Systems
Has offices in the UK (headquarters), the US, Sweden, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, and Australia. Contact: www.k2moving.com
Links Moving Beijing
Established in Hong Kong in 1997, Links has a full range of moving services and storage options. Handles over 3,000 international moves worldwide each year. Website offers info like freight container sizes and details; online quotes available for smaller shipments. Keep an eye out for specials, such as free air freight with certain container sizes or percentage discounts for early booking during peak seasons. Contact: 8447 7496, www.linksmoving.asia
Santa Fe Relocation Services, Beijing
Santa Fe offers moving, relocation, real estate and visa and immigration services for individuals and companies moving to China and around the world. First established in Hong Kong in 1980, it has since then expanded to become a leading global mobility services company with operations in all six continents. Contact: 6947 0688, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.santaferelo.com
This article originally appeared in the 2015 beijingkids Home and Relocation Guide. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com.
Photo: Courtesy of Santa Fe