Top International Moving Terms You Must Need To Know

Moving to a new country is a significant life event that requires careful planning and preparation. One of the most crucial aspects of international moving is understanding the terminology used in the industry. Familiarizing yourself with these terms will not only help you communicate effectively with your moving company but also ensure that you make informed decisions throughout the relocation process. This will be one of the best Relocation Benefits.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top international moving terms you need to know. From essential documents like the Bill of Lading to shipping options such as Full Container Load and Less than Container Load, we’ll cover the key concepts that will help you navigate the world of international moving with confidence.

Whether you’re relocating for work, family, or adventure, understanding these terms will empower you to take control of your move and avoid common pitfalls. So, let’s dive in and demystify the language of international moving to make your moving day seamless!

Most Important Moving Terms You Need To Know

Moving internationally can be an exciting yet daunting experience. With so many terms and phrases specific to the moving industry, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To help you navigate the world of international moving, we’ve compiled a list of essential terms you need to know.

1. Bill of Lading (BOL)

This legal document serves as a contract between the shipper and the carrier. It details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being transported.

2. Customs Clearance

The process of obtaining permission from customs authorities to import your belongings into a country. This involves providing necessary documentation and paying any applicable duties and taxes.

3. Cubic Feet (CFT)

A unit of measurement is used to determine the volume of your belongings. Movers use this to estimate the space required in the shipping container and calculate costs.

4. Full Container Load (FCL)

When your belongings occupy an entire shipping container, it’s called a Full Container Load. This is ideal for larger moves or when you want your items to be transported separately from others.

5. Less than Container Load (LCL)

If your belongings don’t fill an entire container, they can be shipped as a Less than Container Load. Your items will be consolidated with others in a shared container, which can be more cost-effective for smaller moves.

6. Demurrage

Fees are charged by the shipping line when a container is not picked up from the port within the allotted free time. These fees can accumulate quickly, so it’s essential to have your customs clearance and delivery arranged promptly.

7. Destination Agent

The moving company or their representative is responsible for handling your belongings in the destination country. They take care of customs clearance, delivery, and unpacking services.

8. Freight Forwarder

A company that arranges the transportation of goods from one point to another. They handle the logistics of international relocation, including booking cargo space, preparing documentation, and coordinating with customs.

9. Groupage

The process of consolidating multiple shipments from different customers into a single container to reduce costs. This is similar to Less than Container Load shipping.

10. Incoterms

International Commercial Terms are predefined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). They clearly define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international transactions, such as who arranges shipping and insurance.

11. Lift Van

A wooden crate is used to transport household goods and personal effects. Lift vans are smaller than shipping containers and are often used for air shipments or smaller moves.

12. Nonallowables

Items that cannot be shipped due to legal restrictions, safety concerns, or company policies. These may include hazardous materials, perishable goods, and certain electronic devices.

13. Origin Agent

The moving company or their representative is responsible for handling your belongings at the origin country. They take care of packing, loading, and transportation to the port.

14. Quarantine

The process of isolating and inspecting imported goods to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases. Certain items, such as plants and animal products, may be subject to quarantine regulations.

15. Storage-in-Transit (SIT)

Temporary storage of your belongings at a secure facility, either at the origin or destination country. This is useful if you need to delay your move or are still looking for a permanent residence.

16. Third-Party Services

Additional services are provided by companies other than the moving company, such as pet relocation, vehicle shipping, or home cleaning services.

17. Transit Time

The estimated time it takes for your belongings to travel from the origin to the destination country. This can vary depending on the mode of transportation and any stops along the way.

18. Warehouse Receipt

A document issued by a storage facility acknowledging receipt of your belongings. It serves as proof of ownership and is required when retrieving your items.


Understanding these international moving terms will help you communicate effectively with your movers and make informed decisions throughout the relocation process. Remember, a reliable and experienced moving company can guide you through the complexities of international moving.

Ready to take the next step in your international moving journey? Contact Universal Relocations today for expert advice and comprehensive moving and relocation services tailored to your needs. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to ensure a smooth and stress-free transition to your new home abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between Full Container Load (FCL) and Less than Container Load (LCL) shipping?

FCL shipping is when your belongings occupy an entire shipping container, while LCL shipping involves sharing a container with other customers’ goods. FCL is ideal for larger moves, while LCL is more cost-effective for smaller shipments.

2. How can I prepare for customs clearance when moving internationally?

To prepare for customs clearance, gather all necessary documents, such as your passport, visa, inventory list, and any applicable permits. Your moving company will guide you through the process and help you understand any specific requirements for your destination country.

3. What items are considered nonallowables when moving internationally?

Nonallowables vary by country but typically include hazardous materials, perishable goods, and items restricted for safety or legal reasons. Your moving company will provide you with a list of nonallowables specific to your destination country.

4. How long does international moving usually take?

Transit time depends on factors such as the mode of transportation, distance, and any stops along the way. Air shipments are generally faster, while sea shipments can take several weeks or months. Your moving company will provide you with an estimated transit time based on your specific circumstances.

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