There are hundreds of companies that ship to India. The easiest way to go about creating a shortlist is to ask friends who have moved in the past. What did they do? Did they take everything via sea? Or preferred to take just a few items via air as excess baggage?
Find out who they went with (if shipped). What was their experience? Was it a door-to-door service or door-to-port? This is important because if it is not door-to-door, you’re going to have to do the leg work at the Indian end, which I don’t recommend.
We have friends who have recently moved back to Calcutta. They recommended a company which they were satisfied with. On contacting them, it turned out that they would deliver only to Mumbai and give us the details of agents who would clear customs for us and take it on to Goa. We’d have to do all the contacting and follow-up. Not worth it, we thought.
And so the hunt began.
Lesson One : Find someone who delivers to your destination. Most UK based companies deliver to port cities. Some will help you find an agent, clear customs and arrange for onward delivery of your goods. Others will just deliver to the port.
Forums for expats are another good avenue for advise. I recommend IndiaMike. Lots of helpful people there willing to share their experiences and tips.
Lesson Two: Getting a quote depends on YOUR estimation of your goods. In most cases, you have to tell the shipping company what you have and how many boxes you think it will fit in. This is a rubbish system because most ordinary mortals (if you are like us) have no clue what a box of x cubic feet looks like or how much it can take. Ideally, you need an experienced professional to come to your house, go through what you want to take and make an estimate himself. These companies are in the minority and they tend to be the more expensive providers. We had estimates from 60 cuft to 250 cuft (for the same description). The quotes varied accordingly: from £500 to £2000.
Most companies will tell you that these are pro-rata prices. The final volume will be estimated once the goods reach their warehouse and they measure it. Then, and only then, will they be able to confirm the final price. That leaves you with a big dilemma – do you go with the cheapest and hope they got their initial estimate right? Or do you go with the person who physically surveyed your possessions and quoted accordingly, hoping that no changes would be made to his estimate?
It’s a tough call. Decide on a budget for shipping and how much you’re not going to go over. Trust your instincts while dealing with agents. For us, prompt and pleasant service always tilts the balance. After weeks of searching, we’ve eliminated over eight quotes and settled on Eagle Relocations. The company will deliver to Goa and clear customs etc for us.
Once that decision is made, the rest becomes easy. Then, it is just a matter of exchanging contracts, making a deposit, waiting for the movers to come and making the final payment once the volume is finalised.