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What to Bring vs. What to Store During an International Move

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Moving overseas is a complex process. If the move is temporary. you can't just leave an unoccupied home behind while you are gone--you may need to sell or rent it. That means anything you don't ship overseas needs to be put in storage. How do you decide what to ship and what to store?

Do you really need storage?

Storage is often unnecessary if you manage your items correctly. Before you move overseas, assess all of the belongings that take up space in your home. Before you ship or store the things you need, get rid of everything else.
  • Clean out all storage places in your home and assess what you will ever use again. If an item hasn't been used within a few years, consider getting rid of it.
  • Family heirlooms can be given to other members of the family before the move.
  • Anything that doesn't work or is broken can be thrown out or recycled.
  • Old clothes should be donated.
  • Valuable items you no longer use can be sold in garage sales or online.
  • All food should be consumed before moving day since is difficult to ship or store food.
If you still have a substantial amount of items left over after your item purge, then you need to use self storage.

Consider the restrictions of both international shipping and storage units

Both storage units and international shipping regulations have some specific, and sometimes peculiar, lists of restricted and prohibited items. These items vary greatly depending on the country or the type of storage unit.

Both typically prohibit:
  • Perishable food
  • Explosives
  • Controlled substances
  • Illegally obtained items
Storage units usually prohibit:
  • Heavy machinery
  • Tires
  • Dead animals
Customs regulations usually prohibit:
  • Propaganda
  • Pornography
  • Almost all food
  • Anything for commercial sale
  • Large amounts of money/valuable items
For example, if you have a bunch of war memorabilia, it can be put in storage but probably not shipped overseas. Yet most countries will allow you to ship certain cars with some restrictions, but only specific storage units will allow you to store a car.

Consider what you'll logically need during your time overseas versus what you can safely store for an extended period of time.

Things to keep in storage

  • Home furniture that will be replaced in your foreign housing
  • Appliances--most won't even work in foreign countries and are usually not allowed to be imported
  • Clothes that don't match the climate of your destination
  • Photographs can be kept in climate-controlled storage units
  • Antiques that you don't wish to sell
  • Region-locked electronics

Things to bring with you overseas

  • Personal and moving documentation
  • Medications
  • Grooming items like toothbrushes and razors (if allowed)
  • Climate and season appropriate clothing
  • Small pieces of furniture that may not be provided in your overseas home
  • Books or any form of light portable entertainment
  • A laptop in your carry-on luggage
Everyone's international move is different, but a little knowledge will make the process easier. You may hire both international movers and a self storage company, or you can hire an international mover that provides storage services as well. Make sure to do research and check out the companies before you commit. Get multiple quotes and keep your options open. You want to choose the safest place for your belongings, whether they're travelling overseas or being stored domestically.

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on November 19, 2014 - Moving Expert
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