Moving Abroad: Your Guide to Sea Freight

Sea Freight

More people than ever before are choosing the expat lifestyle and are moving abroad Sea Freightwhether it be for a better quality of life or job opportunities. If you are thinking of relocating there are lots of things to think about and one of the first things to look into is getting your personal possessions from A to B. The main transit options include road, sea and air or a combination of them. The destination itself will usually narrow down these options depending on where in the world you are going and the local infrastructure.

Sea freight is by far the most cost effective way to ship your possessions when moving abroad, though it does take a lot longer than air freight and can take up to 12 weeks to get your possessions around the world.


At Clockwork Removals and Storage we offer export packing and full door-to-door services (including customs clearance) and can cater for any storage needs throughout the IMG_0787_LRremovals process.

If you prefer to collect your shipment at the port of arrival, rather than having it delivered straight to your door, this can be arranged. However, keep in mind that it will still need to be cleared through customs on arrival. This can be arranged by your removals company or handled separately with a customs broker.

It is always advisable to check with your relocation company what is included in the different services they offer in order to manage your expectations.

Customs documents and forms required

The forms required for importing and exporting your possessions will vary from country to Tri-wall Cartoncountry and can be updated and changed at any time. With this in mind make sure you fully research the forms and documentation required and if you are using a removals company they should have all of the up to date information and can help you fill them out. Documentation required can include; customs declaration, sea waybill or bills of lading, insurance details and packing lists.

It is also worth noting that each country has separate restrictions on goods including organic items such as fur and coral etc. These restrictions can also be changed or updated at any time so make sure you check the up to date customs restrictions of your destination country or check with your International Move Manager.

Containerising the shipment

If you are using a reputable international mover your goods will be securely packed into Tri-wall Cartoncardboard cases on a pallet called Tri-Wall Cartons or LDN cases. This will make sure they are as safe as possible during transit. Most international removers will offer full export packing services too where your goods are wrapped using the correct materials for international shipment.

How do shipping companies calculate charges?

In shipping you are charged based on the size of container/s and not on weight, although all containers are weighed at the port (but this does not affect the freight cost). Standard shipping containers are 20 foot, 40 foot or 40 foot high cube and you will be charged the same rate whether you half fill a 20 foot container or if it is filled up. It is worth noting that companies who are members of the Movers Trading Club (MTC) will get preferential rates on shipping, so check whether your international mover is a member.


Security checks in shipping are slightly different than in airfreight as not every shipment is examined. Your containers may be examined at the destination by X-ray machine or physical examination but this depends on where the goods are being shipped to and examinations can be selected at random. That said some destinations, like Australia, examine every import.


Insurance is not required for sea freight but it is always advised. Reputable international movers will offer full marine transit insurance which covers both air and sea freight. Although the utmost is done in the packing process to ensure your goods are well protected it is always highly recommended to take out full insurance when moving your possessions overseas.


Wherever you are thinking of moving to our International Removals Team are on hand to guide you through the process. Call our International team today on 0800 328 4166




Get a free quote 0800 8595 380