Glossary of international moving


All Risk Insurance
A type of insurance for your shipment. All Risk Insurance covers both individual items (i.e. a mirror gets broken) and the total shipment for all types of damage and loss. A moving company may specifically exclude some items in its Terms and Conditions, however, so make sure you read the fine print.

Akin to a local franchise, and sometimes referred to as a local partner, this refers to the local business of a larger, national moving company. For example, United Van Lines is made up of member agents.

Bill of Lading
The contract between you (the customer) and the mover/removalist you hire.

A broker is not a mover but rather a company that will find movers for you. Just as you would do research to determine whether a moving company is reputable, you should do the same before hiring a broker.

The company that actually takes your things from one place to another; this may be the moving company your hired, or they may bring on someone else to do this if they don't service your destination.

This is the person receiving the shipment at the destination; for an international household move, this will likely be you.

This is the person who gives the consignment (aka the shipment) over to the moving company. In other words: you.

A container is a large rectangular storage unit that gets put on a ship and will hold your shipment for the journey to the destination port. There are two standard container sizes: 20 foot (~6.1 meters), which has 1,165 cubic feet of space inside, and 40 foot.

This is a financial penalty applied to the ship owner if the ship is not completely loaded or unloaded on schedule.

Destination Agent
See Release Agent

Door to Door
As it suggests, this is a shipping option in which the mover picks up your stuff at your home and delivers it to the home in your new destination. The mover will also take care of customs clearance. Unless you are very confident in your ability to manage getting your stuff to the departure port, or getting your stuff from the destination port, this is the way to go.

Door to Port
The moving company will come to your home to pick up your goods and deliver them to the port nearest your destination.

See Full Container Load

Freight Forwarder
A freight forwarder actually takes possession of the goods and consolidates the shipment. They'll also prepare and process the documentation for you.This role will typically be filled by the moving company you hire.

Full Container Load
A shipping container that is completely filled with your home's contents.

When the contents of your shipment do not fill an entire shipping container, the moving company will consolidate other shipments into the same container — think of it as putting a group of different shipments in a single container.

Household Goods
The contents of your home that you are shipping, i.e. furniture, clothing, books, etc.

See Less than Container Load

Less than Container Load
Refers to a container that is only partially filled with your home's contents.

Lift Van
A wood box used to hold household contents for international relocations, like a wooden pallet with walls and a top.

Local Partner
See Agent

Mini Move
Most moving companies consider a mini move to be any move between 500-1000 pounds. Not all international moving companies provide mini move services.

Packed by Owner
When you pack up the contents of your home yourself, it's called “Packed by Owner”. When packed by owner, you can only get Total Loss Insurance for your stuff.

See Packed by Owner

Quarantine Inspection
Some countries will inspect your shipment for potential contaminants — this could be soil that may contain pathogens foreign to your destination, bugs stowed away in furniture, or food products that could transmit diseases.

Quarantine Inspection Fee
The fee paid to government inspectors for the quarantine inspection.

Release Agent
This is your contact at the destination and may be an office of the moving company you hired or a local moving company. The release agent will contact you prior to the vessel's arrival at the destination port in order to arrange customs clearance and schedule pick-up or delivery services with you.

See Consignor

Terminal Handling Charge
This is the fee the port will charge to load the container onto the ship at the origin port and then unload the container from the ship at the destination port.

See Terminal Handling Charge

Total Loss Insurance
A type of insurance for your shipment. Total Loss Insurance only compensates you if your shipment is 100% damaged or lost

Van Line
Generically, a moving company with a number of trucks, but more likely refers to one of the large van line companies such as United Van Lines or North American Van Lines. T he major van lines are made up of agents, akin to local or regional franchises. United Van Lines, North American Van Lines, and others are all owned by their agent companies. When you hire a van line you are actually hiring one of their agents; these agents have the availability of the parent company's resources. 


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