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Packing for an International Move

Hiring professional movers to pack your goods may help in protecting your goods against loss or damage in transit. In addition, since some insurance companies require professional packing services as a condition for issuing their insurance plans, using a professional packing service may give you an opportunity to purchase a more tailored or broader insurance plan.

Regardless of whether you use professional packing services or pack yourself, the following tips may help you to protect and secure your possessions in transit and recover value for them if they are lost or damaged:

  1. Have expensive and valuable items (e.g., artwork, collectibles, heirlooms) appraised. Attempt to locate original purchase receipts for your more expensive items and keep them separate from the rest of your shipment. Consider using a video camera or taking close-up pictures to record the condition of your furniture, working condition of your stereo, television, and the actual appearance of your expensive and/or valuable items prior to the HHG pack/pickup dates. This could help in the event you must file a Loss/Damage Claim.
  2. Whether you pay to have your goods packed by movers or pack them yourself, make sure that a complete and thorough inventory is created of the items being shipped.
  3. Do not ship small, extremely valuable items such as cash, stocks, bonds, jewelry, coins/coin collections, and items of great sentimental value such as photo albums. Pack them in your suitcases and hand-carry them, as well as your purchase receipts, pictures, and appraisals.
  4. Empty, defrost, and thoroughly wash the inside of your refrigerator and/or freezer to keep mildew at a minimum during transit and storage; these appliances need at least two days to dry out. Leave doors open after cleaning.
  5. Ensure personal property items are free of soil/pest infestation (i.e., gypsy moths, brown tree snakes).
  6. Remove all old shipment markings and stickers from furniture and boxes.
  7. When possible, dispose of all items to be discarded prior to the mover’s arrival.
  8. Make sure heavy items are not packed on top of light items.
  9. If the inventory is prepared by the movers, carefully read the inventory before you sign. Look at it from time to time while the items are packed. Regardless of who prepares the inventory, ensure all boxes and loose items are listed correctly on the inventory. If a box contains crystal, or ceramic figurines, make sure the inventory says ?crystal or ?Hummel’s or ?Lladros, instead of a generic description such as ?kitchen item or ?glass.
  10. Make sure major items (e.g., pieces of stereo equipment) are individually noted on the inventory with complete and accurate descriptions regarding televisions, stereo and video components, ensure the size, make, model, and serial number (when readily accessible) are listed.
  11. Closely check the mover’s documentation showing pre-existing damage. A good inventory shows what you shipped and what condition the item was in at the time of pickup. If the mover’s inventory is inaccurate, tell the mover’s representative, and write down why you disagree at the bottom of the inventory if there is a space marked for exceptions. If there isn’t an area for you to comment, maintain a written record of your exceptions and provide the mover a copy.
  12. Do not sign anything until you read, understand, and agree with it. Ask for a legible copy of everything you sign. Never sign a blank, incomplete, or illegible form, or a form you cannot clearly understand.
  13. Make sure the moving company always has a telephone number and/or address where you can be reached on short notice.
  14. Know in advance where you want each piece of furniture placed in your new residence. Label each box with its ultimate destination such as Master Bedroom to help make your unpacking process as efficient as possible.
  15. At delivery check each carton or item off the inventory. Make sure everything that was picked up is delivered.
  16. If you discover any loss and/or damage at the time of delivery, keep a written list of all missing and/or damaged items by appropriate inventory number. Do not sign for services if the movers did not perform them.
  17. Confirm that your mover will shrink-wrap multiple items together onto wooden pallets or "skids" to protect goods against weather conditions and shifting in transit.
  18. Depending on the value of your HHGs, you may want to purchase insurance through a commercial company. Additionally, some homeowner policies may cover some items in shipment; check your policy or contact your insurance company for details.
  19. Check with your international moving company regarding potentially hazardous materials as part of your move. For example, if you are moving a vehicle or a gas-powered appliance, such as a grill or a lawnmower, avoid unnecessary delays or fines by ensuring that all fuels are completely removed prior to packing a container.