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Moving to America from the UK is a huge leap. No doubt you will want to focus your energy on what you will do once you have made the move, which is why you’ll want the moving process to be simple and straightforward.

Compare My Move will match you with up to 6 international removal firms to help you do just this. Whether you’re headed to New York, San Francisco, LA or Dallas, wherever you need to be, we will find you the best price and unbeatable service.

By filling out our quick, 2-minute form, we can connect you with as many as 6 residential removals specialising in home moves from the UK to the US. We only work with trusted and verified removal companies. Customers have saved up to 70% off the cost of their international removals after finding the right company with us.


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Shipping to the USA – Your Transport Options

There’s no doubt that moving to the USA from the UK is a big move, but things can be a lot simpler when you have a professional international removals company to help you.

Shipping Your Items

Sending items by sea is the most common option for people relocating to the USA. If you choose this option, you will normally be given the option between a shared or dedicated container for your goods. The average 2-3 bedroom home will normally need a 20ft shipping container, with larger homes best served by a 40ft container.

Air Freight is An Option

If you are not planning a full house move, the most suitable option may be air freight, providing it is available. Costs for air freight to the USA is usually determined by weight, so sea freight may well be your cheaper option. However, if you have the money and can access air freight shipping services to the US, the convenience and swiftness may make this the most preferable option.

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Moving and Shipping Costs to the USA

There are a number of costs to consider when it comes to transporting your belongings to the US. Below we look at the methods, their costs and hows long it can take.

Shipping Costs

A 20ft container from the UK to the US can cost between £1,400-£2400, with a 40ft container being available for around £1,800 - £3,000, depending on your destination, with places like San Fransisco and Los Angeles costing more.

Costs of Sending Via Air

To give an example of air freights costs, you will normally need to pay around £2 per kilo to send your goods from London to New York. As a result of this, a typical 4-bedroom house can cost somewhere in the region of £4000 - £7000.

How Long Will it Take?

If you opt for sea freight shipping, you could be reunited with your goods in as little as 2 weeks. A dedicated container headed for the East Coast will take around a fortnight, and four weeks if destined for the West Coast. A shared container load to the East Coast takes around 11 weeks on average, whilst it can take around 14 weeks if it is bound for the West Coast.

Be aware that due to the current restrictions and regulations as a result of Covid-19, and the impact of Brexit, shipping may take longer and be subject to checks.


Prohibitions and Restrictions When Moving to the USA

Shipping goods to the USA comes with a few prohibitions and restrictions which are taken very seriously. Providing you abide by these restrictions and any regulations in place, your moving process should be relatively seamless.

Prepare for Customs

Everything you are transporting will need to go through United States customs. You will need to create a customs invoice for the shipment. The invoice will tell you how much you have to pay in tax and duties, so take time on drawing up this document. Descriptions need to be as accurate as possible. Any shipment over $2,500 will need to go through a formal clearance process.

What You Can't Take

Some items cannot be taken into the USA at all, whilst others will require an import licence. Items that you cannot ship with a courier include aerosols, dairy products, furs, fresh food, ivory, cash, animals, plants and tobacco. Please note this is not a comprehensive list.


You will also need to complete a Federal Communications Commission form if you wish to import electronics into the USA. Electronic items will need to comply with the FCC standards. Make sure this form is attached with the customs invoice.

Clothing and Food

You may be able to send non-perishable foods if they are in their original packaging. Any clothing you send must have been personally worn for a minimum of six months. Most garments worth below $200 should be exempt from duties.

Things to Remember

It’s always wise to read up on USA customs regulations well in advance of your move. Remember to complete the CF6059B Customs Form and a CF3299 Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles. All containers will be examined by customs officials.

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Packing for your Move to the USA - Things to Consider

In addition to making sure your items are protected during transit, it's important that you have followed US regulations when it comes to the items you're taking and the paperwork you supply. Homeland Security is taken extremely seriously and you must be prepared to provide the correct documents and follow procedures.

Furthermore, when packing your goods, you need to make sure everything is packed as securely and safely as you can and labelled correctly. Here are some points to consider:

The Basics

It is recommended that you start packing as early as possible, as the process often takes longer than expected. It’s helpful to use several small boxes rather than a small number of large ones to make the transportation process simpler.

Label Your Boxes

All boxes should be labelled with information about the contents inside them and which room they are destined for. Make sure you write the word ‘fragile’ on any boxes with easily-breakable and valuable items. Keeping an inventory of your items will also help when it comes to unpacking at your destination.

Keep Your Documents Together

Make sure you keep all your important paperwork together and with you during your journey. Anything and everything you need for customs and visas need to be kept close by as they will be required at various stages throughout your move, most noteably at the US border.

Call the Professionals

When you enlist the services of professional movers with years of experience to draw upon, you can avoid much of the stress that comes with relocating. It's worth doing right, and professional movers can help prevent damage and avoid unforeseen costs. Plus, remember that air freight must be professionally packed by law.

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Importing Motor Vehicles to the USA

There are many things you need to be aware of when it comes to importing your car to the USA, so let's look at the basics.

Is it Eligible?

You need to make sure your car is eligible for importation and whether you will need to modify it. There are strict regulations on importing cars that don’t comply with the country’s safety and emissions standards. Cars older than 25 years old are generally exempt from these restrictions.

Keep it Clean

You need to ensure your car is thoroughly cleaned before it enters the country. If it doesn’t meet cleanliness standards, you may be met with delays and costs. The main reason for this is that dirty cars can harbour unwanted pests.

Documents and Duty

US customs will require basic documentation including your Bill of Lading, your passport and visa, your V5 licence document and the NHTSA form HS-7. You will also need to pay import duty, which is based on the vehicle’s value as well as various other factors such as your status and the type of vehicle you are importing.

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Shipping your pets to the USA

Moving pets to the USA is generally a straightforward process, here we cover the basics.

No Qualms, No Quarantine

If you are importing a cat or dog into the USA and they have been resident in the UK for at least six months before departure, they will not normally need to be quarantined.

Requirements Do Vary

USA pet import entry requirements can vary depending on the state you are travelling to. Some dogs will need to be vaccinated against rabies 30 days before you leave. It’s a wise move to get in touch with the state veterinarian or the state’s Department of Agriculture for advice before you travel.

Certificates and Containers

Most airlines will need a pet health certificate issued by your vet within 7 days of your departure. Animals will need to be shipped in a container that meets IATA specifications. Dogs need to be at least 30 days old when you board your plane.

Want to Read More?

Read our ultimate guide to moving with pets if you have any further questions about moving dogs to the USA.


Residence Permits in the USA

Below we cover the basics of getting residency with "Green Cards" in the USA, including The Green Card Lottery:

Green cards are residence permits that enable you to live and work in the USA on a permanent basis. To obtain a green card, you can ask your employer to make a petition or be married to a US citizen. You can also get sponsorship from a close relative who is also a legal permanent resident or a US citizen.

The procedures and costs related to obtaining a green card or USA residence permit can vary substantially, depending on various factors such as your country of birth and the type of application being made. Applications can take anywhere between six months to several years to be processed.

If you are granted a 10-year green card you will normally need to renew it within 6 months of its expiry date. Conditional permanent residents receive 2-year green cards and need to successfully apply to remove the conditions to remain in the country before they run out.

The Green Card Lottery

The Diversity Visa Lottery, known as the Green Card Lottery, gives 55,000 non-US nationals permanent residence each year, though the competition is fierce, with around 10-12 million people worldwide applying each time it is opened to entries.


Types of USA Visas

Though making a successful USA visa application so you can work in the country isn’t always simple, your chances of getting one are higher when you have a job to go to or if an existing job is being relocated to the USA. There are many different types of USA visas available, here's a brief run-down of what to expect.

Common Visa Types

Types of USA visa UK commonly applied for include the H1-B non-immigrant visa, which is designed for skilled people working in engineering, medicine, law or maths for an employer that is sponsoring them.

Temporary Visas

The Temporary Non-Agricultural H-2B visa is designed for seasonal workers filling positions that cannot be taken up by local residents due to shortages of suitable people available.

Teaching and Studying

Those wishing to teach, work, study or research in the USA may wish to apply for the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program. Those wishing to retire to the US can still get their UK state pension.

For a full run-down of Visa options in the USA and elsewhere, read our ultimate guide to Visas and residency.

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Your Bank Accounts, Utilities, Mail Forwarding and Subscriptions

There's a range of extra administrative tasks involved in moving to the USA which may not be at the front of your mind when planning your move. These are tasks for setting up your new life and tying up loose ends in the UK. We've covered the basics here:


Anti-money laundering policies make opening a bank account in the USA challenging but not impossible. It can be much easier to open one in person rather than online so you can deal with any problems on a face-to-face basis.

It will vary depending on which state you are moving to but you will generally need ID including your passport, driving licence or identity card, social security number, proof of address and immigration documents. If you have moved from the EU, you should generally find the process much more straightforward. Deposits usually need to be made so your account can be activated.

Some banks with a large UK presence also operate in the US, so it could make sense to bank with one of these. They may even be able to set up your new account before you move. You may find that the bank you use in the UK has a close relationship with a US bank and can therefore help you get your account set up quickly. There are actually thousands of banks operating in the US, so it could be wise to invest time in researching your options before getting a USA bank account.

Forwarding Mail

The Royal Mail should be able to help you with mail forwarding to the USA and you can have your post redirected to your new address for up to a year.

Notifying HMRC Utility Providers

Make sure you inform HMRC that you are leaving the UK permanently. You should also let your utility providers (electric, gas, water etc) know that you are moving and will no longer require their services.


There are many different electricity providers to choose from. If your home already has electricity, setting up a new account should be easy, though you may need to wait longer during peak times. This is why you should get in touch with them well in advance of your move so you’re not left without power after relocating.


Setting up water should be relatively easy, though this can depend on where you are moving to. In some rural areas, water is obtained from wells. If this is not the case, you may have to pay a deposit to your provider, but you will usually get this back after a year of paying your bills on time.


You will need to pay income tax to both your local state and the Federal Government and will need to file your own tax return as a permanent resident.