Imports to the UK Frequently Asked Questions
- Which countries do you ship to?
- How do I obtain a quotation?
- What method of shipment do you recommend?
- Should I select door to door or door to port/airport?
- How do I obtain packing materials?
- Do you arrange collection from my home?
- How should I pack my goods?
- What if I can't fill a carton?
- What documentation will I need to provide?
- What are the sizes of the boxes?
- Can I send my own luggage or use my own cartons?
- What is the maximum weight per carton or item?
- How do I calculate my final cost?
- Why are air freight charges sometimes based on volume and not on actual weight?
- What items are prohibited from shipment and importation?
- Is marine transit insurance included in the rate?
- What happens on arrival at destination?
- Do I have to be at home to receive my goods?
- How can I pay?
If you have a question that does not appear here please feel free to complete our Ask a Question form
With shipping to 300 countries/territories and over 25,000 cities worldwide, we can deliver your goods anywhere in the world you care to imagine.
If you would like a specific quotation, complete the simple form. We guarantee to be back to you with a rate by the next working day.
There are several points that you must consider when selecting the service most appropriate for you. First of all, transit time. Will you need these items as soon as you arrive at your new home? Are you travelling directly to your new home? If the answer to either of these questions is NO, then probably the most obvious choice would be sea freight, if the answer is YES, then you should consider air freight. Second, cost. Do you have spare cash and wish to be reunited with your personal effects as soon as possible, or would you prefer to save the money and wait for your shipment? If money is a consideration, then sea freight is generally cheaper although slower; air freight is faster but more expensive. Finally, destination! If you are travelling within Europe, the road freight option is often only slightly slower than air freight although there can on occasion be delays at border crossings or at customs points if travelling outside of the European Union. Or you may be travelling to a remote destination where sea freight or road freight simply is not an option. You may even find a combination of different services most convenient, combining the speed of air freight for your urgent items with financial benefits on the bulkier sea freight or road freight items. Consider your situation and what your requirements are carefully, and if unsure ask one of our consultants - our advice costs nothing!
For certain destinations, door to door is not an option. This is often because the service is simply not available or the additional cost of delivery to a residence is restrictive. Where this is the case, we only offer a door to port or airport service. However, for many destinations around the world, door to door is an option. Generally, where we offer a door to door service, we would recommend that you opt for that service, particularly for sea freight or road freight. We have negotiated special rates for our clients with our partners overseas based on high volumes; these discounts are passed on to our clients as part of our door to door service. As a one-off customer, you are unlikely to be able to achieve those same discounts, and even if you do make your own arrangements at destinations, you will undoubtedly incur additional costs from one or more of the parties that you select to handle customs clearance, collection and delivery of your shipment. With a door to door service, you also have the peace of mind that when your shipment leaves your address in the UK and you have settled your account with us, it will arrive at its destination with no additional expenses incurred (with the exception of local inspection fees, duty or taxes where applicable).
Having decided on what cartons you need, simply place your order online and we will arrange to deliver your packing materials to your address anywhere in the UK or Republic of Ireland. For clients using our service, all box deliveries come with bubble wrap, wrapping paper and packing tape. Please remember to take more materials than you need: you only pay for the cartons you pack, and return the materials that you do not need.
When they are packed, we will arrange to collect your items from your home anywhere in the UK or Republic of Ireland, for worldwide destinations. Various factors will affect collection, so we will advise at time of quotation.
We supply a complete range of export-strength cartons specifically designed to withstand the rigours of sea, air and road transit. We will also supply, free of charge, packing materials including cartons, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and packing tape. Remember when ordering cartons and materials that you can take as much as you wish: you only pay for the cartons you pack, and return those that you do not use. Many people prefer to take their packing materials well in advance to allow them time to consider carefully what they wish to take with them. You must ensure that breakables are placed in the centre of the box, away from edges, corners and sides. Use bubble wrap, wrapping paper or even soft materials such as clothing and linen to pack around any fragile items and to fill any spaces. It is most important that you do not leave space in a carton; all cartons must be packed as tight as possible to prevent movement within the box, which may cause damage to your belongings. Heavy or dense items such as books, CDs, tools, etc. should be spread evenly throughout your consignment to ensure that no individual carton is too heavy and to limit risk of damage. Avoid packing clothing in plastic bags as condensation can occur. You MUST ensure that any sharp objects are packed away from all edges or sides. Should they puncture the side of a carton, handling staff may risk injury and your effects may be damaged. You may also be subject to a repacking charge or even refusal to move, should the offending item be viewed as dangerous to staff. We do not recommend the packing of fluids such as wines, spirits, perfumes, etc. In most cases alcohol will be subject to import duty or taxes at destination and may be subject to a formal customs clearance, which will cost you extra. More importantly, in the unlikely event that your box is dropped, the item could leak and ruin the rest of your belongings and, potentially, other people's also. Any insurance policy that is in place will NOT cover such an incident. If you have any doubts about packing, please contact our office for advice.
It is essential that you pack all cartons as tightly as possible. This will reduce movement of your belongings within the carton, which may result in damage. DO NOT LEAVE SPACE in the top of a carton. When your cartons are loaded into the container or vehicle or while they are at our storage, a void left in the top of a carton will cause the top to collapse, leading to damage to both your belongings and those of other people. We offer a complete range of cartons: if you cannot fill a large carton, use a smaller one. This will ultimately save you money, but more importantly it will ensure the safe transit of your goods.
We supply you with all relevant documentation to ensure the efficient transit of your shipment. This will include a shipping instruction form, packing inventory and insurance proposal. For Australia and USA we will also supply you with relevant customs forms in order to clear your shipment at destination; customs forms for other destinations will be supplied to you at destination by our overseas partner. All forms can be downloaded from our site. In addition, we will require from you a photocopy of your passport, which should include your picture/detail page plus the relevant visa page if you are travelling to your destination on a visa.
For full details of our complete range of our packing materials, please view our guide to packing.
You may use your own luggage or cartons. These will be charged at the rate most appropriate to the size of the item. If you do use your own cartons, they MUST be to export strength and you CAN NOT use cartons that may have contained food products of any type.
All items must be manageable by one man. Overweight items may prove hazardous, and our driver may refuse to remove over packed items unless specifically pre-booked with our one of our consultants. The maximum weight of a large carton is 35 kilos; if you feel that a carton may be heavier you should split the consignment over smaller more manageable cartons. If you have specific items or cartons which are going to be heavier, we can make alternative arrangements for special packing materials or crating and a full crew with specialist handling equipment, at an additional cost.
Sea freight and road freight shipments are calculated on the volume of your items. We have simplified our rate schedules so that charges are calculated based on the number and type of package you ship. To calculate your final cost, simply take the largest box or item as your first item and then each box thereafter is priced at the additional carton rate. Air freight is calculated on weight or volume, whichever is greater. You should first of all calculate the volumetric weight by multiplying the length x breadth x height in centimetres and divide by 6,000; this will give you the volumetric weight in kilos. The volumetric weight should be compared with the actual weight, and whichever is greater will be used by the airline for calculation of your final account. All items are check-weighed and measured by our warehouse on arrival of your items to our store, and you will be notified of the final calculation.
It is an international air cargo convention to charge for weight or volume, whichever is greater. This ensures that the airlines receive a reasonable return for light-weight items. For example, a box of feathers has very little weight, and therefore the airline would earn very little revenue from the carriage. On most routes, the weight to volume conversion is 6,000 cubic centimetres per kilo, with the exception of some African routes (excluding South Africa) where the conversion is 5,000 cc per kilo. This can be a rather complex calculation, and our trained staffed will be happy to explain the calculation to you in more detail. All items are check-weighed and measured by our warehouse staff on arrival to our store and again when received by the airline.
Certain items or products cannot be accepted for transportation or are restricted under general conditions of carriage. There are also other items that it is inadvisable to pack and ship and that may affect the terms of your insurance cover: for example, foodstuffs of any description or liquids that may leak in transit causing damage to other items; cash; bonds; jewellery; alcohol; fireworks or other explosives; flammable gases, liquids or solids; poisons; corrosives; ammunition or firearms; swords, sabres, daggers, spears and switch blades; scuba diving tanks, gas cylinders, aerosol cans, butane lighters and other pressurised articles. Additionally, you must not pack perfumes in an air freight consignment, and we recommend that you check ALL cosmetics as to their contents and potential hazardous nature before packing. You should also not pack wood, bricks, cement, sand, rocks and soil of any type, plants of any kind including dried flowers, bulbs, seeds, pine cones and pot pourri, untreated animal pelts, furs and hunting trophies, and pornography of any description, including articles of simple nudity if you are relocating to a Muslim country. You should also take special care when packing household cleaning products or items from your garage or shed: check their contents, and if they are flammable or hazardous in anyway, DO NOT PACK THEM. Speak with your local Council as to where and how you can dispose of them safely. This is not a complete listing by any means, and each country will have its own regulations. Above all, common sense will dictate what you should or should not pack, and if you are in doubt please contact one of our consultants, who will be able to offer you advice.
Marine transit insurance is a matter of choice and is calculated based on a declared value, as such, it cannot be included in the cost of shipping. We offer a comprehensive transit insurance policy; please see the Insurance section of our website for full details. As with all marine transit insurance policies, terms and conditions will apply, please be sure that you understand how our insurance works and that your have adequate cover for your belongings. If you have any doubts, please discuss with one of our trained consultants.
For sea freight shipments where time allows, our local representative will send out an arrival notification to your destination or contact address a short while before the arrival of the vessel at the destination port. This will detail the anticipated arrival date of the vessel. If the shipment is on a door to door basis, the notification will include relevant documentation for you to complete or will request specific information and documentation to enable our representative to complete the customs clearance process for you. If your shipment is on a door to port basis, our representative will either request details of your appointed customs agent or will offer to undertake this service on your behalf, should you wish. For air freight and road freight shipments where transit times are reduced, our local representative will contact you by either telephone or email to notify you of the arrival of your shipment and will request the same or similar information as for a sea freight shipment. Please remember that if you are travelling within the European Union NO customs clearance is required.
In most cases, customs clearance at destination and delivery of your belongings can only take place if you have actually arrived back at destination. This is to stop people sending items home under the auspices of personal and household effects when they have no intention of resuming residence. For example, South Africa and Canada will require you to produce your passport to a customs or authorised authority to prove that you have arrived at destination. However, some countries, such as New Zealand, will allow your items to be cleared and removed from customs to the care of a family member or friend, on payment of a deposit of duty and taxes which is refundable on the owner's return at destination. Other countries, namely Australia and the USA, will allow shipments to clear customs assuming that you do intend to take up residence, and so long as you produce a fully detailed inventory/packing list and photocopy of your passport (picture page and visa page if necessary) and complete the relevant customs forms (available on our site: please click on downloadable documents) your belongings can be cleared and delivered home before you arrive yourself. As each Country has its own requirements, please discuss your particular situation with one of our trained consultants who will be able to give you advice on your particular circumstances.
We accept personal cheques (subject to clearance prior to shipment), traveller's cheques, postal orders, debit cards, e.g. Switch, Delta (no surcharge applicable), all major credit cards, e.g. Visa, MasterCard, JCB (subject to a 1.5% handling fee), Amex (subject to a 3% handling fee), and direct transfer to our account (please contact our office for full details: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DEPOSIT FUNDS BEFORE SPEAKING WITH OUR STAFF as this may result in delay of your shipment). We can also accept cash if delivered either by hand to our office or by registered mail. DO NOT HAND CASH TO OUR DRIVER: it is unreasonable to expect our drivers to perform their task fully when carrying large amounts of cash. Sadly, it is a sign of the times that a driver with cash may be subject to robbery and mugging. All payments and relevant documents must be made to our offices and not handed to our collecting drivers.