Navigating the world of international movers

Gabriela Peratello

If you’re about to relocate overseas, you’ll need to work out how to pick the best international movers - or the best American international movers and packers if you want a full end to end service. This guide will help.

Moving overseas isn’t cheap - but you can reduce the costs of living internationally with Wise, which gives you the mid-market exchange rates and low fees from 0.43%¹ if you need to hold, send, spend and exchange 40+ currencies all from your phone. More on that, later.

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What do international movers and packers do?

International movers and packers offer a very broad selection of service levels and packages, which you can choose from depending on your personal preferences and needs.

Learn more about the cost of moving abroad - plus, if you have pets, get our full guide to pet relocation.

What services do international movers usually offer?

The services typically provided by international movers include:

  • Packing of household goods
  • Moving your items to the departure port
  • Shipping by sea or transport by air freight
  • Customs clearance and paperwork
  • Delivery to your new home

Prices and service packages vary enormously, depending on the provider you prefer and where you’re moving to. Comparing a few options is essential, to make sure you get the best deal for your situation - we’ll cover what to look for, next.

What to look for in your American international movers

We’ll walk through how to get quotes and options for your international movers a little later - first, let’s consider the important factors when it comes to picking between different services available.

Experience and expertise

Naturally you want a company which has good experience in moving household goods all over the world, and a team of dedicated professionals to support you.

A good place to start is by looking at the directory provided by the International Association of Movers², which covers lots of different providers and services, more or less across the globe.

Comprehensive services

Different companies offer their own tailor made service packages, so what you’ll be able to choose may depend on the provider you select.

Picking a company which has a comprehensive range of services can certainly make the experience of relocation internationally less stressful, as you’ll be able to pick the exact support you need for your particular situation.

Licensing and insurance

Ask about the way your provider is licensed and insured, and double check all the details before you commit.

Any company that ships household goods or vehicles from the US by sea must be licensed or registered with the Federal Maritime Commission³, for example.

There are resources online which you can use to view the licenses which apply to your preferred provider.

Reputation and reviews

Aside from asking around to get feedback from others you know who have moved overseas, you can also look online to get reviews of your provider from services like Trustpilot®⁴ and Google®⁵.

If you’re struggling to find any online information about your preferred service, reputable companies will be able to connect you to previous customers, so you can ask questions and understand the experience they had.

How to choose an international moving company

Choose an international moving company following research into which companies offer the exact service you need, the costs that apply, and your due diligence checks into the company’s reputation.

The good news is that you can easily generate multiple quotes for your specific needs, from online sources, which gives you a great place to start your comparison - more on that in a moment.

Everywhere money. Meet Wise: the world's most international account

If you’re not living in the US — or if you simply want a more flexible account you can open from anywhere — check out Wise.

Wise isn’t a bank, but a Wise Account allows you to hold, send and receive money, as well as getting an attached debit card — plus you’ll get some extra perks which suit anyone living an international lifestyle.

You’ll be able to hold 40+ currencies, and get local bank details for up to 9 currencies including USD, to get paid easily by wire or ACH.

Wise offers linked debit cards for spending and withdrawals around the world, and all currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate.

That means that whenever you send a payment or spend in a foreign currency your dollars are converted with the mid-market rate with low conversion fees from 0.41%⁵. Easy.

This way to easy
international payments

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Hiring international movers and packers: step by step

Here’s an overview of how to pick and hire international movers - and packers if you need the additional support.

Getting quotes and evaluating costs

Firstly you’ll need to get some fee and service package information, to see which companies service your route, and how they measure up.

A good way to do this is with an online shipping quote comparison from a service like Movehub®⁶. Enter where you need to move your things from and to, and generate up to 6 different quotes from reputable international moving services, to compare at leisure.

Preparing for the move

Your moving company can help advise you on some important steps before you actually start your move.

Here are a few that are usually advised or required:
  • Sell or donate non-essential items you don’t intend to ship

  • Store items that you want to keep, but won’t ship, with friends and family

  • Pack your immediate essentials and valuables in your hand or hold luggage - don’t leave them for the movers

  • Complete your own packing if you’re doing this yourself

  • Mark up anything you don’t want to be shipped if the movers will complete your packing for you

Costs and fees of moving your stuff abroad

The costs of moving your goods overseas depends on how much you have and where you’re going to. Generally you can get quotes based on the average amount of household goods by home size, which is a fairly solid way to assess the fees for moving your things.

However, if you have an unusually large or small amount of stuff for your house size, be aware that these estimates may change once you actually have a mover come to your home to assess and confirm the details of your move quote.

To give an example, let’s look at the estimated costs for moving from the US to the UK, according to Movehub⁷:

  • Moving the contents of a one bedroom apartment may cost 5,000 USD+ by air, or in the region of 3,000 USD by boat

  • Moving the contents of a 3 bedroom house by ocean freight will cost 4,500 USD+

  • Moving the contents of a 5 bedroom house by ocean freight will cost around 7,000 USD

What are common pitfalls when hiring international movers?

An international move is bound to involve some stresses - but moving your household goods shouldn’t be one of them.

Here are some tips to avoid the pitfalls:
  • Use a reputable and properly licensed provider

  • Beware of lowball quotes - if it’s too good to be true it can’t be trusted

  • Understand your rights and responsibilities, and what you can expect your mover to handle for you

  • Double check the customs and import rules at your destination so you don’t accidentally try to import banned or restricted items - this can cause legal issues or incur extra fees

  • Get insurance to protect against loss or damage during the move

There you have it - a full 101 guide to choosing an American international mover and packer for your international relocation.

Every move is different, so use this guide as a starting point to refine your plans - and remember to look at Wise as a great way to manage your money once you move.


  1. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  2. International Association of Movers
  3. FMC - international moving dos and don'ts
  4. Trustpilot
  5. Google
  6. Movehub comparison and quote tool
  7. Movehub - US to UK

Sources checked on 08.21.2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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