Freight News

Feature article: Choosing a personal effects forwarder

[ October 20, 2016   //   ]

Insider tips for choosing a personal effects forwarder


Whether you are buying or selling a home, moving for school or work or just want to get away from the busy city, hiring a personal effects shipping company may be the solution to getting your property, household goods or even a motor vehicle, efficiently moved with ease and affordability. Some people even need to make arrangements to have their household pets or other animals shipped safely.

The biggest concern for many however, is how can you know the shipping company you choose is trustworthy and will have your goods delivered safely? Whether you are concerned with tracking your shipment, the overall cost or the company experience in the industry, here are the top five tips to consider when you need to choose a forwarder or personal effects company that will really handle the shipment and ensure that your property is handled with care every step of the way.


Licensed, bonded and registered

It is very important to verify that the forwarder you work with is licensed, bonded and registered to provide the services that you need. No matter if your belongings are travelling a few hundred miles or thousands of miles overseas, these factors are very important. It is always a good idea to check customer reviews online as well as check for possible complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau. But validating that the company licensing is up to date and that it is registered with the proper authorities as well as being bonded are the best ways to know whether services will be safe.


Modes of delivery

Personal property comes in all shapes and sizes and when it is time to schedule the mode of delivery for your property, it is going to be important to have the proper container size or trailer size to have it shipped with.

For motor vehicles or household goods and furniture, most companies will offer containers that are either 20 or 40 feet. This usually allows plenty of room inside for everything to fit well. For valuable artwork or other items that may not be able to withstand heat, you need to find a climate controlled container but for almost everything else, a regular container will work.

For motor vehicles, many opt to use open air transport rather than containers as the cost is usually lower for delivery.

While transport by road is common, as is shipping by cargo ship overseas, some may need the faster delivery offered by air freight services.

Airlines including Lufthansa have even started  services for one way shipments for customers that need to ship heavy items including furniture. Air service is going to cost more than other delivery options but when you need fast delivery service, it is the quickest way to go.


Tracking services

Tracking is a great way to have a little peace of mind when you hire a shipping company to move your household goods or automobile. Thanks to technology, customers are now able to track their household goods, automobiles and other property via online tracking tools that allow them to see where the shipment is while it is in transit. Many companies offer this service included in the total shipping cost while others may charge a small additional fee to access tracking. Either way, it is a great service to have when you are shipping your property.



There are times that a shipment may arrive before you do at the new location and it is very important to work out details for storage options ahead of time in case they are necessary. Whether you will need long term storage for property left behind or short term until you arrive or to allow you time to find a place to stay and move your things in, having the right place to store everything is very important.

If you yourself have not yet arrived when the truck brings your property, it is going to be necessary for the forwarder to have a safe area where the truck, or your property alone, will be stored until you arrive. Most companies will charge a storage fee and this needs to be discussed upfront so that there are no surprises when the bill arrives. Also, for fragile artwork or items that need climate controlled conditions, you need to arrange with the shipper to have items placed in the proper storage facility to keep them at the right temperature until you can retrieve them safely.


Insurance and safety records

These are two of the most important aspects of shipping your property. If you will be shipping overseas, try and find out from the forwarder or moving company which shipping line will be physically shipping your property and check its safety records before anything is loaded. Most overseas transporters have been in the industry for many years and offer safe services. For transport such as having a motor vehicle moved by a professional auto transporter, you can check safety records with the FMCSA to verify driving records, length of time in business and also to verify insurance. Insurance is required to be offered by all shipping companies but as the owner of the property, it is always suggested that you place your own insurance on your property as well when possible to help ensure the maximum insurance coverage possible for all property that needs to be shipped.


Many companies offer discounts for various reasons to customers. These may include military discounts for active or retired military members and their families, student discounts, senior citizens’ discounts or even discounts for frequent customers. Companies like A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. even offer services for auto transport that are environmentally friendly due to partnerships with the EPA to help reduce pollution from transport. Many factors go into hiring a reliable shipping company, and depending on your personal needs for shipping your property, remaining a little flexible with shipping dates and taking the time to carefully research the companies that interest you will help to ensure that you are offered a reasonable rate and that you are able to secure the safest services possible for your home goods, automobile or other property that needs to be shipped.