How to move abroad (to Mexico) – and stay sane!

articles Living, Working, Retiring

Linzi Eisemann

Moving is always a rather upsetting experience and meticulous planning and organization are essential if all concerned want to retain their sanity! Moving to a foreign country only adds to the difficulties. Allow plenty of time to organize your move so that it is not a traumatic experience for you and your family.

Initially, plan your move as much in advance as possible and remember that the period between June and September is always extremely busy for all moving companies. Make sure you know the dates of transportation well in advance and that you are aware of all the documents you will need for the exportation and subsequent importation of your goods. Thus you will avoid any unpleasant surprises such as hold-ups with customs clearance and delivery to your new home, which always involve additional charges for items such as hotels, restaurants, detaining the container at the port, etc. These can add up alarmingly.

Try to estimate the approximate volume of the goods to be shipped. This will give you — and your employer if yours is a corporate relocation — a rough idea of the costs involved. Before contacting a mover, you should have decided what you want to take with you and have made a list. This will be based either on your expatriate’s contract drawn by your employer or by the budget you as an individual have allowed for this move. Generally, if the move is a corporate relocation, the amount is restricted to a specific volume of goods, which when exceeded, is paid by the expatriate. In this case, you might want to consider putting some goods in storage.

Bear in mind the dimensions of your new place. Having large pieces of furniture in small rooms can be a hindrance. Priority should obviously be given to all goods you cannot find in Mexico. Make sure you know if the voltage used in Mexico is the same as used at home for all your electrical appliances.

Import and export customs restrictions should play a role in your selection of goods to take with you. Some countries have import restrictions on certain items or special procedures before allowing their importation so make sure you know if Mexico is one of them and what the procedures or requirements are.

Send a few basic goods by air, especially if you are travelling with young children, as there are sometimes long delays. Having some familiar items around will help children settle into a new environment more quickly. Decide which toys or other items can go with them as carry-on items. Restrict them to one soft toy apiece!!

About 90 days before you move you need to select the right moving company. Moving goods from one country to another requires considerable expertise — not all moving companies have it! The packing, the logistics on an international level, customs regulations and choosing the handling agent at destination are just a few aspects which require specific skills.

Obtain some quotes, which don’t cost you anything but which will help you choose the right company — and not just based on price alone. Avoid any companies that will not come to your home, but send you a quote after a telephone call.

You need a moving company that offers a comprehensive service from door to door, one that will not only send your personal belongings to the other end of the world, but also find you a local company at the other end to deliver them.

It is always wise to opt for a moving company that is a member of an international group with its own agencies from departure to arrival. The company should also belong to an international association, which has its network of partners across the world. You should always ask a moving company for references: Corporate Accounts, diplomatic missions, etc. Find out if it has implemented a quality control system and whether it has been awarded quality certifications.

Before you can get a quote, you need a pre-move survey, which will identify all the various aspects of your move. This includes the volume/weight estimate; a list of all items which will require special attention (made-to-measure packing, refrigerated boxes, lamp boxes, etc.); anticipation of additional services (external elevator, difficult access, disassembling and reassembling of furniture, packing of heavy or large items, etc.) and finally a description of all the human and technical issues concerning these aspects.

There are a number of questions that you should ask any moving company. These include:

  • What are the import and export restrictions?
  • Is the reassembling of the furniture included in the quote?
  • Is an additional insurance coverage necessary?
  • Who is responsible for disconnecting the electrical appliances?
  • What mean of transportation should be used?
  • What is the time scheduled for delivery?
  • Who is the handling agent at destination?
  • What documents have to be submitted to the customs?
  • What importation duties or customs fees will there be, if any?
  • Do I have to be there upon arrival of my belongings at the destination?

When the quote arrives take the time to check that the logos of any quality schemes or programs mentioned by the salesman are displayed on the document. Also make sure that you read carefully the general terms and conditions, in particular the clauses dedicated to claims in case of any damage.

Obviously, the cheapest quote is not necessarily the quote you should go for. Pay attention to what is included and what is not and take note of any charges excluded such as Terminal Handling Charges, difficult access, etc.

The quote should include all the following information:

  • the volume to be shipped
  • the customized packing materials
  • the additional services
  • the means of transportation
  • the price and its detailed costing
  • the insurance cost
  • the payment terms
  • the place of pick-up and delivery.

Once you have assessed all the information, you can make your choice of moving company and begin the countdown to the move itself and life in another country.

Safe journey!

Please refer to the companion article to this one: Moving to Mexico Checklist and Countdown.

Published or Updated on: February 4, 2007 by Linzi Eisemann © 2008
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