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International Moving

The Cost of Small International Moves

By July 22, 2022December 12th, 2023No Comments
cost of small international moves

Several factors determine international moving costs. The main factors that drive shipping costs to increase or decrease are the size, destination country, and service. The international moving company you choose is essential in ensuring you save money wherever possible.  


This article will provide the cost of small international moves and tips to guide you through the various international moving services. It would be best if you spoke with a professional moving company regarding the details of your overseas move.


Also Read: The cost of moving from the US to Canada

Learn how to calculate the costs of small international moves


Calculate the cost of your small international move

International Moving Calculator

What is a small international move?

A small international move is 500 cubic feet or less worth of stuff. Your household goods will be consolidated into a shipping container or palletized to ship by air freight. If you send a few boxes, you can consider parcel shipping as an option. 


  • Consolidation: Your personal effects are loaded into a shared container with others moving to the same port of destination or surrounding city. It’s a cost-effective transportation method for small moves.
  • Air freight: If you’re in a hurry to get your stuff and cost isn’t a significant factor, then air freight is a good option. You should check with your international moving company if they offer air freight services. 
  • Parcel Shipping: If you’re leaving everything behind and want to ship baggage or a few boxes, you should consider parcel services. Shipping is done through FedEx or DHL, but some international moving companies can offer you a better deal. 


The international moving service you choose will fluctuate the cost significantly. It would help if you spoke with a professional relocation coordinator about the details of your move. 

Pro Tip: Use an online cubic feet calculator to figure out the volume before you call an international mover.

Where should I start? 

First, create an inventory list of what you’re moving. Then write down the dimensions of each item or box and put it into a cubic feet calculator to determine your volume. A small international move is if you have less than 500 cubic feet. You can use the references below for guidance. 


  • Small Box: 2 cubic feet (14lbs)
  • Med Box: 3 cubic feet (21lbs)
  • Large Box: 5 cubic feet (35lbs)
  • Extra Large Box: 7 cubic feet (49lbs)
  • Wardrobe Box: 15 cubic feet (105lbs)


You can use the box dimensions as a reference to estimate the volume of your international move. However, if you’re looking for the accurate cost of small international moves, it would be best to speak with an international moving company to walk you through the process. 

Average cost of a small international move

Shipping Averages

What’s the cost of small international moves?

The cost of small international moves is between $900 to $4000. The volume of your move and service are the most significant cost factors. Additionally, the destination country and choice of international mover can affect the cost. You can use the price list below for budgeting purposes:


*** Average costs for shipping (sea freight)***

Cubic feet Cost Averages
100 $1000-$2000
200 $2000-$3300
300 $2600-$3800


It’s best to speak with the international moving company of your choice regarding costs. Most international moving companies offer small move options. However, only select movers can provide parcel shipping services if you only ship a few boxes.

Is sea freight the best option for small international moves?

Sea freight is the most common mode of transportation for small international moves because it’s the least expensive option. However, if speed is more critical than cost, you may want to consider air freight shipping. Ocean transportation can take anywhere from 15-30 days.


Small moves ship in a shared container with others moving to the same destination. Typically there are three parties involved. You will have the origin agent, ocean carrier, and full destination agent engaged in a door-to-door move. However, the best international moving companies will assign a relocation coordinator to oversee the moving process. 

How much does air freight cost? 

The cost of shipping household goods via air freight is $2500 to $6000. Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, but it’s also the most costly. If you need your stuff in a hurry, then shipping by air is the way. You can use the price list below for budgeting purposes:


***Average shipping costs for door-to-door air freight*** 

Volume/Weight Average Costs
100cuft/700lbs $1400-$1600
200cuft/1400lbs $1800-$2200
300cuft/2100lbs $2500-$3500
400cuft/2800lbs $3200-$5000


Unlike ocean shipping, air shipping is based on the volume or weight, whichever is greater. Air freight is a specialty service that not all international movers handle. Before wasting your time, make sure your mover provides air services. 

Parcel shipping for international moving

Parcel Shipping Services

What’s the best international shipping service for boxes

If you have a small number of boxes, say ten or so, you should consider a parcel shipping service. A carrier like FedEx or DHL will most likely handle the transport, but an international mover can make the arrangements on your behalf. 


The reason why you would use an international moving company as opposed to going direct is because of discounts. The more volume you give a carrier, the better the rates. International Van Lines offers an 80% discount on parcel shipping which will save you money. 

Parcel shipping is not a standard service for an international moving company, so you should speak with them directly. However, if you’re only shipping a few boxes, then parcel or baggage shipping is the way. 


What are some additional international moving costs? 

International moving companies have accessorial costs which may not be included in your international moving quote. It can consist of fees for stairs, bulky or heavy items, and crating for high-value or fragile items. You can use the general price list below for budgeting: 


  • Stairs: If you have more than one flight of stairs, you may be charged $75 for each additional flight. 
  • Long-Carry: If an international mover has to park the truck 75 yards or more from your front door, you may be charged $150.
  • Crating: Custom crating for artwork ranges from $300 to $500. 
  • Bulky item: If you’re shipping a heavy safe or piano, there may be a $350 overweight item fee. 


Most moving companies will send you the details of their accessorial charges. Before confirming a move date and placing a deposit on your international moving quote, you should have all of it sorted out so there are no surprises. 

Pro Tip: Always ask your international moving company about any hidden charges.

International moving insurance costs

International moving insurance costs 3% to 4% of the goods declared value. You will have the option of total loss or all-risk insurance coverage, but it’s always best to speak with the company of your choice about their international moving services


  • Professional Packing Services: If you’re paying to have professional movers pack your household goods, you can purchase all risk insurance. It will cover the declared value of an item. 
  • Self-packing: If you are packing your own boxes, you can get total loss insurance. It will cover the entire shipment loss based on the value you declare. 


To get insurance, you will need to fill out insurance forms that will ask for the value of the items. You’ll also have the option to get your insurance through a third party.

How much does storage cost for smaller moves


How much does it cost for storage?

Storage costs average 50 cents per cubic foot but vary depending on the type of storage you will require. You’ll have the option of long-term and short-term storage. Three months or more is considered long-term storage. 


Additionally, you will have the option of storing your goods at their origin or destination. If you require long-term storage, you may want to ask about a temperature control unit. Warehouses get hot, especially in the summer, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. 


Will I pay customs duties or port charges? 

There is a possibility you will pay customs duties and port charges, especially on a port pickup in the destination country. It’s common for international movers to include all fees on a door-to-door service, but you should confirm with the company of your choice. 


The estimated cost for port charges is $250 to $500. The size of your move, country, and commodities will determine the total cost. However, if an international removals company provides door-to-door shipping services, it may be included in the price. 


How can I save money on international moving costs?

Regardless of the size of your move, international moving costs are high. If you want to save money, consider self-packing, reducing the load size, or looking into less expensive shipping options like port-to-port services. You can use the below information to help you decide: 


  • Self-packing: You will save about ten percent by packing boxes, but it can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. It would help if you weighed the pros and cons of self-packing and packing services for a move.
  • Reduce your load: Moving overseas is a great time to purge, so consider getting rid of unwanted items. You can donate items or sell them online for some extra cash. 
  • Services: If you want to save on international moving costs, you can enquire about a port-to-port service. 


Start by identifying your budget. Then speak with various international moving companies about their service options. The best international moving companies will walk you through money-saving tips. 

Pro Tip: Use an International moving checklist to stay on task
Packing services for international moving

Is self-packing worth it?

Is self-packing for an international move worth it? 

Self-packing can save you a few hundred dollars but can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Additionally, doing your own packing can result in damage. Moving abroad can be rough, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before deciding. 


If you’re in a hurry to move or have a bad back, self-packing may not be the best option. Also, if you’re moving breakables, you may want to leave it to a professional moving company. Contact a professional moving company to get packing tips if you self-pack. 


Who are the best international moving companies for small moves?

International moving services aren’t standard amongst the thousands of registered movers in the country. You must search for a global moving company registered with the Federal Maritime Commission. Below is a list of the top 5 international movers in the country: 


  1. International Van Lines
  2. Allied Van Lines 
  3. North American Van Lines 
  4. United Van Lines 
  5. JK Moving & Storage 


Each company listed is lisenced by the Federal Maritime Commission. They offer sea freight and air shipping services to over 150 countries. It’s always best to conduct your research when looking for a move, but any of these companies can help you with the cost of small international moves. 

Small international moves FAQs

How long will my move take? 

Ocean freight will take 15 to 30 days, whereas air freight will take 7 to 12 days on average. 

What are the payment methods?

The best international moving companies will accept all forms of payment. 

Is there a deposit to reserve my move? 

Yes, a refundable deposit is typical if you choose to cancel your move.

What if I don’t purchase insurance? 

You will default to basic coverage, 60 cents per lbs per article.

How long does it take to get an estimate? 

It should take no more than 24 hours, but it can take 10 minutes. 

How many estimates should I get? 

You should always get three estimates for comparison. 

Is it best to use a moving company or shipping company? 

It would be best to use an international moving company. 

Making small international moves with International Van Lines

Moving to a new country requires much attention, especially small details like shipping household goods. Finding an international moving company with knowledge and experience in your destination country is essential. 


International Van Liens is lisenced by the Federal Maritime Commission and is one of the industry’s most regarded overseas relocation companies. If you would like to find out the cost of small international moves, give us a call or fill out the online form. 


We will have a professional relocation coordinator get back to you within minutes. Thank you for reading our article about small moves, and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. 

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