Written by Christopher Nye,
25th March 2019

You’ve got your visa, you’ve put down your house deposit, your papers are all in order, but there’s just one more thing left to organise: getting your possessions over. When you’re heading off to the other side of the Atlantic, you’ll need a bit more than a man with a van – so what’s the best way to organise a long-haul removal?

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Organising furniture

Once you have completed on your dream property, you will have to organise how often you are going to use it, and how to furnish it appropriately. If you are buying a US home to be used as a rental or for holidays, the best way to do this could be to purchase a ‘furniture pack’.

If you are buying a US home to be used as a rental or for holidays, the best way to do this could be to purchase a ‘furniture pack’.

There are a number of companies that will provide you with all of the furniture that you need, in bulk, so that you haven’t got to shop for each individual item. Alternatively, if you have the time and funds, you can always head over to the USA and shop for the furniture yourself. Your realtor will be able to tell you where to find the best furniture locally, or can point you in the direction of their tried and tested furniture pack provider.


There are a number of removals companies who can help you ship your belongings bulk to the US.

There are a number of removals companies who can help you ship your belongings in bulk to the US.

If you are moving permanently, or wish to send some of your furniture from the UK to furnish your second home, you will need to think about how you are going to move your possessions.

Choosing the right removals company is important. We recommend choosing a member of The British Association of Removers Overseas or The International Association of Removers. Ask around for recommendations and check out expat blogs to see which companies people have used, and the feedback they’ve given.

Get in touch with an Independent Financial Advisor to get expert advice on budgeting for your move abroad and new life.

One of the first things to check is your prospective removals company’s insurance status.

  • Does their policy cover possessions while in storage, awaiting removal?
  • Does it cover possessions while in transit by sea (marine insurance)?
  • Are your possessions still insured once they arrive in the USA and are delivered to you?

The best time to contact a removals company is three to six months before your moving date. They will need to plan time to survey your belongings and issue a quote, and then fit in the pick up into their schedule – of course, the better the company, the busier it will be! Check that the company will pack your goods – it is better to pay a few extra pounds and get your things professionally packed, especially as some removals companies will not guarantee goods unless they pack them.

Packing your possessions

Try to be ruthless with your possessions from the outset – there is no point moving things you haven’t used for months. Before you begin, locate all essential items and keep them to hand. Remember – you will not be able to access anything while goods are in transit.

Read your free Emigration Guide to get all the information you need about moving overseas.

This can take up to three months (depending on the type of transit that you choose), so you will need to pack carefully to make sure you have everything you need, as once it’s loaded you can’t access it. Sort out keys for your present accommodation, car, office and/or anywhere else, make sure they are kept separate from the items to be shipped, labelled correctly and ready to hand over to the right people before you leave.


Making sure everything's labelled will make unpacking much quicker.

Making sure everything’s labelled will make unpacking much quicker.

Your removals company should write clearly on each box which room the contents were from, and what is in the box. Make sure you have a complete inventory of all possessions packed.

Complying with regulations

You need to make sure that all packed possessions meet USA entry regulations. Your removals company will be able to give you a specific list of what can and cannot enter the USA.

Call your USA property specialists on 020 7898 0549 or send us an email at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Additionally, you will need to:

  • Drain all petrol and oil out of lawnmowers and similar equipment, so that they comply with fire regulations.
  • Remove all batteries (e.g. from torches and radios), as they can leak in transit and damage your equipment.
  • Clean and paint any garden tools and furniture – items with soil on them may be denied entry at customs.

A good removals company will be able to advise as to whether your electrical goods will work in the USA.

If you are moving with children, remember to pack their comforting essentials where you can easily reach them. Things like soft toys, photos and books can help to make them feel more at home straightaway.

If you are not moving into your new home straight away, you will need to discuss storage with your removals company; it may be cheaper to store your containers in the UK rather than in the US.

To find out more about removals, and for recommendations of local removals companies who would suit your requirements, have a talk to our US specialists in the Resource Centre by ringing +44(0)20 7898 0549 or requesting a call back below.

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