Shipping to the USA – what can I take with me?
Moving to any new country has potential pitfalls, and like every other country, moving to the USA from the UK has its own particular requirements when it comes to immigration, especially post 9/11, since when there has been a marked shift of emphasis for US Customs.
For example, following the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, you would be well advised to wave farewell to your wine cellar or prized malt whisky collection. And did you know that far from saving you money, packing some goods yourself rather than leaving it to the experts could actually cost you, as well as causing additional delays at US Customs? For a start, if it’s not on the remover’s inventory then it will not be covered by the insurance. And it will almost certainly arouse Customs’ suspicions – why have you decided to pack these items yourself? That will incur a full Customs investigation, which takes time and you will be charged a fee.
With lots of other issues to consider, as well as what may at first seem a daunting amount of documentation – including copies of visa and passport, US Customs Importers Declaration, Ocean Bill of Loading and Power of Attorney Form – selecting a reputable, good quality international removals company is vital. It can take away much of the stress of moving and make it much easier for you.
With America being so vast, the length of transit can vary greatly. Robinsons International quote port-to-port transit times for shipping to USA (not door-to-door, that takes a little longer) of between 7-12 days to New York, 14-15 days to Miami and 25-29 days for Los Angeles. Quite a difference.
You will be advised on the method of shipment, which has a major bearing on the removals costs and be helped to complete your paperwork including the all-important Inventory of Goods.
We strongly discourage people from shipping any alcoholic beverages or foodstuffs. Any shipment arriving at any US port containing foodstuffs requires pre-clearance before shipment can commence. Even then you need a very full descriptive inventory for wine and alcohol, including country of origin and alcoholic strength, and there are varying rates of duty applicable accordingly. Remember also that some counties in some states are still ‘dry’, and prohibit entry. So our advice is to leave it behind and find a safe home for it – don’t forget, we also offer first-class secure storage facilities!
Importing plants into the United States is prohibited, as in most non-EU countries, and with only a few minor exceptions, importing a motor vehicle into the USA is off the agenda. Even a European specification Harley Davidson motorbike, the embodiment of all things American, cannot be imported because it would fail emission controls!
What about insurance?
Insurance is another key issue. Check that all your Inventory items are covered for everything from minor breakages to the ship sinking! And you have to consider replacement values for your items in the country you are moving to, not the one you’re leaving.
Container shipping is different from conventional shipping because it uses ‘containers’ of various standard sizes – the two most important, and most commonly used sizes today, are the 20-foot (twenty foot equivalent units – TEU) and 40-foot lengths (2-TEU) – to load, transport, and unload goods. As a result, containers can be moved seamlessly between ships, trucks and trains.
Every container has its own unique unit number, often called a box number that can be used by ship captains, crews, coastguards, dock supervisors, customs officers and warehouse managers to identify who owns the container, who is using the container to ship goods and even track the container’s whereabouts anywhere in the world.
As of 2001, more than 90% of world trade in non-bulk goods is transported in containers. In 2009, almost one quarter of the world’s dry cargo was shipped by container, an estimated 125 million TEU or 1.19 billion metric tons worth of cargo!
The Robinsons Advantage
Whatever the particular demands of your move, it’s likely that we have come across them many times before! We’ve been asked most questions over the years, although there’s always something new. Our advice is, first make sure you get 2 or 3 quotes for removals, and make notes about each company you speak to, so you can be sure who promised what, and that you are comparing like with like. Check the volume and service quoted on, and be careful of the transit times quoted.