How to Pack Furniture When Moving Overseas

Packing And Shipping Furniture for Overseas Transport

Written by Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
14th September 2017 (Last updated on Monday 16th April 2018)

Here at Compare My Move, we’ve put together this guide about moving your furniture abroad to help lighten the stress as you plan your big international move.

Moving abroad is one of the biggest things you can do. With a serious amount of planning, researching and arranging to do, it’s likely the last thing on your mind will be your furniture. But before your move abroad, every piece of furniture you own will have to be accounted for and dealt with, so it’s likely to be a bigger undertaking than it first seems.

Moving abroad is a real chance to start again and shed excess furniture, only keeping the most valuable and sentimental items. After all, whether your items are travelling by sea, by air, or by road, the cost of freight in call cases is calculated by volume. It’s a fine balance between bringing home comforts and incurring unneeded costs.

All of our international removal partners offer extensive and full packaging services, and will give you expert advice when needed. But the decision on what you’re bringing with you to your new life abroad is all your own, so this guide will help you whether you’re using a full packing service or packing yourself.

Planning Moving Furniture Abroad

All moves take planning and perseverance, but none more-so than an international move. When you’re moving your whole life across the world, it’s no surprise that there’s a lot to organise. When moving abroad, it’s likely all of your belongings will have to be accounted for, as you’ll either be selling, storing or moving every piece of furniture you own.

So don’t avoid the issue of your furniture until the last minute, but get researching and start planning ahead of time. If you start planning with plenty of time, you’ll save yourself on a whole load of stress. Just keep in mind the following points and your international move will go smoothly as possible.

Shipping Furniture Abroad Takes Imagination

Planning what to do with your current furniture is a great way of beginning to visualise your new home abroad. Start by walking through your current house and loosely decide what furniture would fit in your new house and life. Nothing too strenuous, just get the ball rolling and your mind thinking way ahead of time.

See it as a chance to reassess your furniture, as when it comes to it every square inch of furniture will be accounted for when it’s time to move across the world. So, relax and think about your new life abroad.

You’ll need to gather some vital information about your new home abroad, such as what the access is like and how big the rooms and doors are, which can be found on a floor plan. This will help you visualise your furniture in your new location, and will also save you from any mishaps down the line: don’t end your favourite sofa’s 5-week odyssey by jamming it in your new doorway.

Points to Consider When Moving Furniture Abroad

Next, think about the location you’re moving to, including the climate and the seasons. Will your current furniture fit this climate, or is it best to start afresh? And what about the area, what furniture is available there, what’s expensive and what’s cheap?

Finally, think about the length of time you may be abroad for. Basically, whether you’re emigrating forever or for a short time affects what happens to your furniture. If you’re leaving for a new shore never to return, you’ll be looking to get rid of excess furniture. In contrast, if you’re away for a few years then long-term storage might be best.

Take notes, take photographs, ask friends and family for advice, research on the internet, whatever works for you, all that matters is you’ve started the ball rolling.

Sorting Your Furniture

You’ve given some thought to the task and started the ball rolling. It’s time to start the big sort through your furniture, assessing what you can’t live without and what you could happily leave behind. Whether you’re using a professional packing service or plan to pack yourself, this needs to be done!

A move is an exciting chance to start again, and this is particularly true for an international move. If you wanted to, you could completely start again, and maybe that’s your plan. Now’s the time to go through the house and make clear decisions on what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. It’s a chance to stare that manky old futon right in the seams and tell it “I’ve never liked you, I’m leaving you behind.”

Decide on the furniture, heirlooms and ornaments that you couldn’t live without, which pieces of home comfort you want to bring to your new world. Anything you want to keep but not move, flag for storage. Once you have a shortlist of furniture that makes the cut, you can reassess as moving day gets closer.

Allow a decent amount of time for sifting through your belongings, as you’ll have accumulated more than you think over the years. You’ll be moving your goods by sea, air or over roads, so you shouldn’t be moving anything without reason.

Moving Furniture Abroad: What to Sell, Store, Donate

So, you’ve decided which excess pieces of furniture you’re happy to leave behind. Now comes the task of deciding whether you want to store, sell, or donate. This is the main reason why you should allow yourself plenty of time to decide, as it can take longer than you think to sell or donate furniture.

Even with all the money Compare My Move has saved you on your international move, it’s still an expensive time, so any furniture you can sell on will help when it matters most. Anything you won’t need, can’t take, or can buy again for a reasonable price on the other side should be sold on. Sites like eBay and Gumtree are best for getting rid of excess furniture, and you’ll be surprised what people will take off your hands.

Failing that, you can donate unwanted furniture to charities, up-cycling centres, neighbours or friends. And for anything you want to keep but can’t take, look at long term storage solutions. Long-term storage is a service your international removal company will likely offer, so discuss this with the experts.  Or you can see if family or close friends will ‘take care’ of a piece of furniture as a tasteful long-term loan.

Take Note of your Furniture

By now you’re well on your way to rehoming, recycling, donating and selling your unwanted furniture. But most importantly, you’ve highlighted your prized furniture to move with you abroad. These are items you’ve decided to move hundreds or thousands of miles to be by your side in your new home.

Whether it’s a Welsh-Oak dresser passed down through your family, a wingback chair they just don’t make anymore, a rug you’ve had since university, or the most ambient lamp you’ve ever owned; you’ve made your decision. Now it’s time to look towards packing.

All International moving companies partnered with Compare My Move will expertly and professionally pack your furniture for you, and so it might be best to trust the professionals with your most prized furniture. But what needs to be done regardless, is to take detailed records of the condition of the furniture, with photographs and notes. See it as a photoshoot for the winner of your ‘Best Furniture’ award.

You won’t be seeing your furniture for days, weeks, or even months during transit, so it’s good to keep an idea of the condition they were in when they left for foreign shores. 

Dismantling Your Furniture when Shipping Abroad

If you decide to pack your own items remember that every square inch is at a premium when shipping abroad. So, dismantle every piece of furniture you can, which will save much-needed space.

Take this chance to give your items a good cleaning too, as dirt in transit can scratch and tarnish furniture.

Take apart that bed, undo those shelves, but make sure you put all the resulting loose screws, knobs, feet and handles in separate plastic bags, packed with the respective furniture. Keep your furniture separate, because it’ll most likely be weeks before you can put them back together again. You don’t want to be hundreds of miles away from the vital screw!

Packing Your Furniture for the Voyage Abroad

When it comes to packaging materials, especially for international moves, you should use the best quality materials you can. When the very best of your furniture will be in transit for weeks or even months, proper packaging is vital. Once again, it’s best to rely on the packing professionals when moving internationally, who have the expertise and skill to move all your belongings safely.

But if you want to pack yourself, talk to your international removal company, and they’ll likely provide you with packaging materials. You need materials like clothes hanging boxes, cardboard sheets and boxes, bubble wrap, tape, packing paper and plastic wrapping. Nominate a clean, empty room in your house as a packaging room, to make things as efficient as possible.

How Your Furniture Will Survive a Move Abroad

The golden rule for packing is having it so your items won’t move at all during transit. Remember to use packing paper to wedge individually wrapped items in boxes. For bigger pieces of furniture, use multiple layers of bubble wrap followed by a cardboard layer, surrounded with plastic wrap. Remember to perforate plastic wrap so your furniture can breathe on its long voyage, and won’t grow mouldy.

For valuable or delicate pieces of furniture, family heirlooms for example, a professional removal company is likely to make a bespoke crate for it to be safe from all possible risks. For specialist advice and services, talk to Our Compare My Move international partners.

Professionals Can Help Ship Your Furniture Abroad

All Compare My Move partners for international moves offer comprehensive packing services. The decision to move pieces of furniture hundreds or thousands of miles across the world isn’t made lightly, and so it makes complete sense to let the professionals pack it in the best way possible. Simply put, your furniture might be in transit for days, weeks or even months, so it’s vital the packaging is correct. And when it comes to Air Freight, items need to be professionally packed by default.

Whether your furniture is being moves by land, sea or air, your international removal specialists can provide you with expert advice and services. And even if you plan to part-pack items yourself, Compare My Move partners can provide you with industry-leading packaging materials. Maintain complete peace of mind by bringing the professionals in.

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