A moving story


It may take more effort to transport your beloved belongings across the Channel, but with planning, it can be straightforward, says Gary Burke

Moving your belongings to France is a very important step in establishing your new life in France. In many ways, while this new life will be exciting and longed-for, the familiar, comforting possessions and photographs can often provide a reassuring link between the old life and the new. So it is well worth taking the time to plan it.

Indeed, ‘time’ and ‘plan’ are two of the key words here. Whether moving your possessions directly to France, or via storage to France, planning early will help you to make the best decisions for you, regarding, for example, selecting the international moving company that you will use, and, critically, making sure both you and the movers are organised when moving time comes around. Try and arrange for quotations and information two to three months before you intend moving if possible.

How do you select a moving company? Recommendation is a good starting point but other than that make sure movers are members of at least BAR (British Association of Removers) BAR is the only trade association in the industry that helps members and protects customers. It sets high professional standards and the BAR code of practice and is approved by the Trading Standards Institute. It offers clear professional advice also provides a scheme of pre payment protection. Don’t think you need to use a local company, as experience and knowledge on overseas moving is more important. Also, as payments are made prior to moving, it may be more reassuring to use a financially bonded mover who belongs to the BAR Overseas Moving Group or FIDI. FIDI is the Global alliance of International quality international removal companies, and offers customers a portal to an alliance of recognised quality movers. The FAIM standard covers a company’s operations and service to customers through quality management and a certification programme. The BAR Overseas Moving Group, meanwhile, comprises movers that offer an international guarantee that customers advanced payments are protected should the company cease to trade.

All of this This means that if you have paid prior for your move and that company ceased to trade before your move, your payment is protected similar to ABTA when booking flights and holidays.

Normally you should arrange for an estimator from the removals company to call into your home to calculate the volumes , assessing the move, what is required, packing services and access. If you have a very small load then it is possible that a mover can react to an itemised list. This needs to be very accurate as many home movers underestimate what they have to come out of cupboards and so on, which can lead to problems with collection and the pricing that the volume was quoted for.

Many clients do not need the use of a full-sized furniture van, so specialist French movers can price for part loads although delivery dates need to be flexible as the truck as several deliveries to make. A part-load is when the customer only pays for the space pre-booked in the truck. This means that you can send a small consignment of belongings over to France which goes on a shared vehicle with other customers. The customer waits a little longer but gets the consignment there at a reasonable price without booking a sole use vehicle. Normally part loads can be collected and delivered within two to three weeks depending on traffic. French specialist movers will service on a regular part load basis to most of France.

When it comes to packing, professional movers will have trained packing crews to make sure items are packed safely ready for the move. Packing can takes longer than many may think, so bear in mind that the movers will need to factor packing materials and the time needed to prepare for the move into the quote. Fragile items are packed using packing paper, tissue, bubble wrap or polychips. Export-strength cartons in various sizes are used to accommodate books for example. Special linen cartons are also used as well as hanging garment carriers. Furniture is wrapped with padded and transit blankets. On some occasions, export wrapping material is used to protect polished or antique items of furniture. Items can also be crated but remember the more you need packing and crated the higher the cost. The estimator will discuss packing with you and if you choose to pack yourself give yourself plenty of weeks as it takes longer than you think. The moving company can supply packing cartons and materials for clients to pack belongings themselves, but remember owner-packed goods are not fully insured, whereas those packed by the mover are.

If your home has to come into store for weeks or months then make sure the removal company has containerised storage or modern storage rooms. Containers will arrive at your UK home on the furniture multi-purpose vehicles and an inventory will be made as each item is carefully loaded into containers and transported to the storage facility. The furniture stays in your own containers until ready for coming out of storage. Containers rarely travel to France as they take up much space so normally the furniture is transferred directly into a furniture van the day before departure. Try and give the remover two to four weeks’ notice in order to arrange for your belongings to be delivered from store.

Of course, unlike a move within the UK, the Channel is going to have to be negotiated. Ferry crossings depend on where you are moving to, although many delivery vehicles will catch an evening ferry so that the drivers can get their rest periods to comply with Tachograph and driving hours and regulations. Some trucks will have two drivers depending on the routes, deliveries and return loads, although many will have one driver and one porter.

It is always important to have keys to the new property prior to the delivery day as time is important in order for vehicles to make deadlines with deliveries and ferries. Always discuss the access at the French property as sometimes movers have to arrange a shuttle service from the vehicle to the new home, which will cost more due to time but many home owners are prepared and can arrange a small vehicle to be used prior to the furniture van arriving.

The time taken between collection and delivery if a sole use vehicle [PLEASE CAN YOU CLARIFY SOLE-USE VEHICLE] will depend on the mileage between collection and delivery. (A sole use vehicle means you have paid for the use of the van and it is dedicated to you only for your move).

Many movers will load on a Friday and will travel Sunday evening and arrival would be sometime Monday through to Wednesday depending on the distances, although you would know in advance of the move.

Insurance should always be taken out as with all the best packing and care, accidents can still arise. Most BAR movers will arrange insurance to your home contents value although some movers will arrange liability cover which is not quite the same in the event of a major claim. Discuss this with your mover.

Some movers can also arrange collection and delivery of motor vehicles and motorbikes which can be transferred in road trains (a vehicle with a boxed trailer). Plants can also be moved but do need extra space, although if many plants are to be moved then shelving/platforms can be used to protect plants and shrubs.

But, by planning ahead and discussing everything thoroughly with your mover, any problems can be ironed out prior to the move, so you can focus on enjoying what should be an exciting adventure.

Gary Burke

Managing Director

Burke Bros Moving Group


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