Moving From Vancouver to Belgrade



A friend of mine told me that alternatively properly you organize transport of your stuff overseas, you are continually on the dropping end. It’s an opaque association where you actually have to receive some surprising changes, fee increases, lack of data etc. I’ve heard it also from people who had been delivery matters overseas, however also within Canada or US.

My experience resembles this account, but of route there is plenty greater to it. I am at the moment glad that all of my stuff arrived well, nothing used to be misplaced or broken (although the “not broken” section is mostly due to my cautious packing).

Anyhow, right here is how it went in my case. I commenced learning transport organizations about 4-5 months before the transferring date. I contacted a few and talked to some human beings that have executed it before. Companies did not galvanize me. Big ones seemed high-priced – one of them asked 10K for the complete thing. By the way, I wanted door to door service, that means each and every single price included. 10K appeared expensive, however now in retrospect I see that was once now not such a huge figure. Basically, I was hoping to get via in the range of 4-5K. Some smaller ones appeared nearly newbie (we select your stuff, you pay us 5K, we deliver, there is now not lots more to it really).

I should say that one of the companies, in particular, its owner impressed me so plenty that I at once decided to go with them. It’s Astra International, located in North Burnaby, in Lake City industrial park. I located them on the Internet, and used to be making ready to contact them. But before that, one day on a lunch wreck I by the way handed by their headquarters and decided to pop in for a 5 min introduction. Lady, the owner, though of course very busy, spent with me likely an hour explaining each and every detail, producing forms, even took me to the warehouse and proven me how everything is done, what the packaging looks like, what some equipped shipments seem to be like. After that dialog I had an brilliant photo of what I have to do. Later I’ve heard from some other human beings who took their carrier that they were very happy.

I wanted to ship a 2 bdr. household stuff and perhaps a car, Honda Civic. It appeared that one 20 toes container would suffice. They make booths in the container for the stuff and the auto and can even construct a platform above the auto if necessary. They can pack it particularly tightly. However I found out that I cannot import the car, even though it is practically new, because of the one-of-a-kind emission standards in Serbia. So I thinking that I’ll want less space. Now that option is now not a good deal cheaper. When you are paying for the complete container, you pay a constant price, say $5,000. But when you’re the use of simply a phase of it, then you pay by way of cubic meter, and first cubic meter is double the price. Then, you need to purchase wooden crates, every costing about 300-400. Crates are wished to protect and retain your stuff. Especially if the transport corporation takes a route where they change transportation. For example, one of the routes is to Hamburg Germany with the aid of ship, and then they load the stuff onto a educate for further transportation. If they have a bunch of cardboard boxes they would possibly lose or break some of them in the reloading process, while if they have crates or the complete container, it’s a whole lot extra secure.

So, if you have less than a container of your stuff, and go by means of cubic meter, the rate will probably be simply a bit smaller than if you take the total container. In any case, you need to calculate that and see what’s better.

Also, estimating how a lot stuff you have is quite hard. The groups can come to your area and make an estimate, however they commonly don’t like doing that – they all appear to be to busy to make such a “journey” to your apartment. So what I did is I measured each and every container and packet and introduced all these values up and acquired the “net” volume. I couldn’t get my company to give an explanation for to me how they measure quantity (since the “net” is now not ultimate quantity – there has to be some slack when loading the container), and I even did not get that facts after they packed it (as I said, very opaque industry). I should solely guess it from the documentation, after the whole lot used to be completed, but by way of that time I didn’t care lots on the grounds that the invoice was already to me. I think that you can freely double the “net” extent to get the final one which will decide what container will you need and how a lot you may pay. But if you can, get them to make an estimate for you.

Anyhow, I figured, I’ll get the whole container. In the meantime I determined every other family shifting at the same time, so we acquired in contact and agreed to cut up the container. That way we get the whole container, no crates, no “pay through cubic meter”, hence, cheaper option.

Now, there had been two problems we had. We did not recognize whether we need a 20 ft or a 40 ft container, and we did not recognize what is genuine date of our departure. Companies did not assist us with the quantity estimation, so we ought to make an estimate (“net” volume) only at the time when most of our stuff was once packed, very shut to the shipping date, at which factor there was no changing companies. The second hassle is related to the requirement at Astra International to e book the ship one month in advance. Well, we did not understand the precise date one month in increase so we gave up on Astra. And I am very sorry about that because I suppose they are real professionals. So, my advice is, get one of those agencies to make an estimate for you early, and determine on your container option. Then you can evaluate the costs of distinctive organizations and pick out the great one. Second recommendation is set your shipping date early so that you can use offerings of a real, proper company, not some that will tell you that they can arrange the entirety in a few days. It’s no longer easy to set the date far in improve because if some thing goes wrong and you have to continue to be longer, they you have to locate and pay for accommodation, or if you do not prepare the whole thing in time, you have to work nights to meet the date. But it is worth it. Give yourself lots of time, don’t rush and do not make tight deadlines.

In the end our blended net quantity was some thing below 30 cu meters, and I was attempting to parent out whether or not 20 toes container would suffice. It wouldn’t. So we obtained a 40 toes one. A 20 toes container can maintain about 30 cubic meters, but they normally load it up to 28. You additionally have to take into the account that it’s not very wholesome for your stuff to be packed all the way from flooring to ceiling – loads of stress on the backside boxes. So, you cannot absolutely be conservative there – you have to pay the price.


I was told that the packing fabric will price me about $500. That regarded quite lot to me. I suggest when I moved before I did not pay anything, obtained some boxes from the liquor store and Safeway, and that was once it. OK, this is a bit longer journey, so there is a price. Generally liquor keep or Safeway packing containers are not encouraged or even allowed – and I can apprehend that. But I figured, I can buy the cloth myself right at the source, and it’s going to fee me less. So I found a exact source – “Great Little Box Company” (“Mover’s Box”) on Mitchell Island, and I used to be pleased to discover exact prices there. However, after the whole thing was once done, the fee for the fabric approached $500. So I didn’t clearly save much, however I am not sorry I paid that. I used to be told proper at the opening to pay interest to the fact that there is no cushioning in the container, that all the people dealing with the stuff, even if careful, nevertheless cannot be too careful – they don’t even recognize what’s in there. So, make sure your self that everything is protected. So, I offered double-wall packing containers for glasses and china (“dish barrel”), a lot of plastic foam (air foam) and bubble wrap (I located plastic foam to be higher than bubble wrap) for glasses and china and different fragile stuff, a lot of corrugated cardboard for furnishings (single-wall is enough, double it the place necessary), stretch wrap (the first-class invention ever), styrofoam peanuts for filling empty spaces, crimson stickers with “Fragile” or “This facet up” or “Glass” on them. And I’m glad now, all of the items, such as thin wine glasses survived well except a single ceramic bowl that I’ve put underneath a stack of plates – my mistake.

Make sure you can lift each container you pack. Not necessarily carry it easily, but you must be able to raise it and pass it. Otherwise, if it’s too heavy, the threat of someone dropping it along the ride is higher. If it’s garments inside, it would not matter, however for fragile stuff it’s important.

Don’t use newspaper to wrap fragile stuff like glasses – it’s now not a good protection.

Use dish barrel for certainly fragile stuff. It’s a association container that will no longer bend or break. It’s additionally tall so you cannot put a lot in there. I’ve put ordinarily glasses and cups in 5-6 layers. Make a mesh out of bulk corrugated cardboard so that every glass has it’s own compartment, and wrap every glass in foam (or you can use some soft piece of clothing). Then put a foam sheet on top, cardboard sheet and then you’re geared up for every other layer. The mesh can be purchased, however it is easily made as well, no need to pay for it.

Plates and other better and heavier dishes are satisfactory packaged in small containers (I’ve used 1.5 cu. ft) You can make a double wall box out of it by way of padding the field wall with a layer of corrugated cardboard that you cut from the bulk cardboard roll. It’s now not as proper as dish barrel, however it’s desirable enough. Put foam and maybe cardboard between plates of pans, and you must be good.

Use stretch wrap alternatively of packaging tape at any place you can. It doesn’t go away any glue or marks, and it’s durable. I’ve used it a lot.

Buy packing tape dispenser, be a seasoned and store your self a lot of nerves.

Also buy a picture field if you have pix / paintings. It’s now not so a lot for protection because you’ll have to protect and pack the artwork your self very carefully anyway. It’s extra because that box is special than others, it is skinny and virtually marked with large red letters, and makes it apparent what’s in it. That way you may make certain that who ever strikes your stuff doesn’t mistake it for a bag of peanuts. Think about it, if you are a mover and you have 100 boxes to move, you won’t check out each one of them to make certain you don’t break something, you may simply expect the owner has included the whole thing well. Packing snap shots is tricky, specifically if you have one-of-a-kind sizes; I’ve spent some time just figuring out how to fit them nicely.


The following are all the prices that we incurred. Note that groups typically tell you solely the Ocean Freight price at the beginning, like that is all there is. I wager they anticipate all the different charges to be simply “collateral”. But see for your self how it all pans out:

Pickup, moving (in Vancouver), packing and loading: CAD$ 3,500 Moving of your stuff from your apartment to where the container is and loading into the container. They normally carry the container to your place, however in our case, on the grounds that there had been two families, it used to be simpler to bring the stuff to a warehouse from the two locations and load the container there. If you packed your stuff then you have to retailer in packing costs, but don’t be amazed if they inform you that they had to repack some stuff as they instructed me (although when the shipment arrived I’ve seen that they definitely have not repacked whatever – everything was in the authentic packaging). They additionally might make dividers, compartments, they need to load stuff and so on.
Packing material: CAD$ 500
Moving of the container in Vancouver: CAD$ 350 This capacity transferring from the port to the place it’s loaded and back.
Preparation of the documentation: CAD$ 300 To prepare Bill of Lading, export papers etc. Some organizations cost this as a separate item and some don’t. I have not paid it explicitly, however I assume I have it as a phase of the whole costs.
Ocean freight: US$ 5,000 This is the genuine cost of the ship and different transportation (train etc). In my case container traveled by means of waterways all along, alongside the west coast of America, across the Atlantic into the Black Sea and then alongside Danube. They changed three vessels, one for overseas, one for Adriatic and Black Sea and but every other one for Danube.
Taxes in Constanca: EU one hundred + US$ 90 Port taxes, custom taxes and what not.
Moving of the container in Belgrade: EU 50 From the ship to the warehouse (it might be just 20 meters away, doesn’t matter)
Warehouse charges: EU 90 They’ll book the warehouse for a week for you, and then extend it if needed. This is the one week charge.
Receiving enterprise in Belgrade: EU one hundred twenty This business enterprise receives your stuff and does all the paperwork and the method with customs and port. They are fundamental help.
Belgrade custom and administration fees: EU 30 These are simply the fees, not the customs duty, in case there are any. In our case we didn’t pay any responsibility due to the fact that our items are private household items underneath the restrict of 5,000 (or 10,000 for a married couple) euros. In case you are a married couple make sure you declare 1/2 of the items beneath husband’s and different half of under wife’s name. In case you are a married couple make certain you declare 1/2 of the items beneath husband’s and different 1/2 below wife’s identify in order to utilize the double non-paying-duty limit.
Moving from port to your house. EU 150
Insurance: CAD$ 500 for the container Insurance is calculated primarily based on the declared value of your goods, and is usually 2.5% of that value, relying on the coverage.
So the complete comes to about 10K. Some of the prices had been frequent for our two families and some of them had been charged on each. After splitting the cost, I surely paid what I was once hoping for at the very commencing (about 5K), however given that I haven’t shipped the vehicle and that we cut up the container I used to be questioning the parent would be even lower. I nevertheless think that in a case such as ours the honest and manageable rate would be up to 4K.


As I mentioned, my trip with Astra International is that my first contact with them was very professional, and that I’ve heard some other human beings endorse them. I propose simply checking them out.

We went with Sea Trade Shipping from Yaletown Vancouver. As I mentioned, all of the stuff arrived in Belgrade well, nothing used to be lost or broken. The programs and boxes had been in very desirable shape, nothing broken, pressed, bent or deformed in any other way. However, I would not endorse this company. As I learned, they are more of a bulk or business shippers, I wager dealing with lumber, material, industrial items or what not. They don’t appear to be accustomed to dealing with persons and their private goods. Their customer service, although reachable and generally responsive, is extremely terrible in the feel that they did not clear up or get to the bottom of any of the problems we’ve got raised. A quantity of questions we’ve got requested remained unanswered. They’ve also had specific people provide different and even contradictory statistics about the identical issue. But generally, they simply kept repeating that we’re wrong. They even told me after I insisted in clearing up an problem that they don’t have the time for such discussions, due to the fact they are managing such and such number of ships and shipments. I bet that “measly” 10K is no longer well worth their time. And the issues have been no longer small – charge increase, massive trade in the documentation barring word or permission from our side, parts of the technique that have been now not blanketed at all (especially those in Belgrade).


To avoid the troubles, attempt to do one thing that I haven’t: signal a contract in which it says actually what is included in the service. Have it in paper, otherwise something can be denied or changed or misunderstood.

Here is a listing of troubles that you may additionally run into

Services at the destination. Many organizations do not consist of and prepare the whole lot that is wished at the destination. Yet they say it’s “door to door” service. In our case, our “door to door” invoice blanketed stuff achieved in Vancouver and ocean freight. We found out, to our huge surprise that none of the services in Belgrade had been geared up and that we have to pay them all ourselves on top of the “door to door” bill. The solely issue that was supposedly organized, but fell via due to an error was once transferring from port to a single region in Belgrade (they refunded us $300 for that). So make certain you clear this up. On the different hand, even with a signed contract, when you tour so far away and find out that something is not achieved right, it’s tough to do whatever about it. You are probably just anxious to have the entirety accomplished and over with. But at least attempt your satisfactory and with a bit of luck, you will be fine.
“Door to door” Don’t let them inform you that they did no longer prepare shipping to the 2d tackle due to the fact “door to door” is singular and no longer plural. (When I’ve bought this reply to my inquiry, I was once speechless for a while)
Travel time Be prepared to delays, it’s just phase of the deal. Our whole travel time from pickup in Vancouver to shipping to our rental used to be 3.5 months. It regarded like it is going to be speedy because the ship used to be advancing well (we tracked it on the shipper’s, Hapag-Lloyd’s website), but it took some greater time to clear up and reload the cargo in Italy and Constanca, and some 10 days to get hold of it and clear the customs.
Packing Make positive you pack and shield matters nicely. The insurance plan covers apparent cases, like if the ship sinks, or the whole box or bundle is damaged, but if stuff internal breaks, I doubt you can declare it. Note that if you let the employer pack your stuff then even the breakage inner need to be covered, but if something expensive is damaged, you can not truly get better the authentic value.
Price enlarge Ocean Freight is set by way of actual shipper organisation (such as Hapag-Lloyd), and they exchange it every month and on occasion extra than once a month. So probabilities are that the actual charge will be exceptional from the quote you get earlier. The difference should not be much, in the range of couple or few hundreds of dollars, but it’s still significant. What can you do – try to see with your agency how that changes and what distinction can you expect.

The agency will put together and handle most of the documentation for you. Here is the list that I recognize of:

Bill of Lading Prepared by using the transport organisation and you will be requested to signal it. I’ve been requested to signal it solely after the container was loaded onto the ship, at which time it used to be too late to trade anything. There is not plenty to alternate anyhow, but it was nevertheless a skunky pass with the aid of the company. In my case, I have asked them (several times) to put together two Bills so that every household would be an respectable shipper / receiver to keep away from one family take responsibility for all the stuff. Only after they’ve accomplished everything and loaded the container (and I think the ship has already departed at the time), they’ve sent me one Bill underneath solely one title and said there was nothing they ought to do. So, I signed it. There was no difficulty later with this, so in the quit it didn’t matter.
Insurance contract This is a simple file that you just sign. Insurance is normally accomplished with one of the large groups like Axa.
Inventory This one you have to make. You’ll want a box listing and a cost listing plus some modifications for distinctive purposes, such as customs, insurance, delivery company, yourself, etc. You higher use your laptop and spreadsheet instead of paper to make modifications easier.
Box listing This is the enumeration of boxes (and other stuff – packets, fixtures pieces, etc). Each piece should be actually marked with a number and it’s additionally a properly notion to mark them with some special sign such as your initials or such. In the list write down the description of the content material of each piece. It’s a desirable thought to make the description detailed for yourself – after a few months of voyage you will forget what is where. But for the company, a short description is ample plus the quantity. Use phrases like shoes, one hundred pcs (approx of course, don’t remember them), TV 1 pc, china – three sets, equipment – three toolboxes, clothes for 2 adults, garments for 3 kids, phase of the espresso table, shelf frame, etc… Also ask the delivery enterprise what’s the satisfactory way to describe this. This listing will be in all likelihood required by way of the receiver organization at the destination, and perhaps any intermediary in between. They are supposed to circulate this documents among themselves, and I bet they are, but still each of them also asked me to ship them the list anyway.
Value list Value list differs from the container list in that you do not enumerate boxes, however items: furniture, clothes, equipment, the whole lot you have, and you connect a cost to each of them. The price is the modern-day price if you had to buy it (as is) proper now. This is pretty low value, basically what you would get if you sold it on Craigslist. You need one cost list for the insurance and any other one for customs. Of course for the insurance, you would like to make bigger value, whilst for the customs you would like to reduce it. I’ve created one for the insurance at the commencing assuming it will be used for the customs as well, however when I arrived in Belgrade I was once informed that I need to prepare a new one for the customs. So I simply used the one I had, barely modifying it due to the fact the customs asked for clarification of some items. And the values are no longer that essential really. You are insuring used goods, so if the ship sinks you will no longer get ample money to substitute the entirety properly, specially the essential and pricey (priceless, master card) stuff. For the customs, they don’t truely care a lot until you are importing many new items. Also, the customs are typically interested in technical stuff, electronics, no longer so tons in clothing or furniture. I’ve declared my stuff simply a bit beneath 5,000 euros and that was fine. If there is a limit, such as in Serbia, related to charging of the duty, leave some room in case they figure out that the price of some item is large in their opinion. So with the limit of 5,000 strive to make an estimate somewhere around 4,000 euros.

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