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International Container Shipping to Los Angeles

Whether you’re moving for a new job or to be closer to friends and family, relocating to the bright lights of Los Angeles a thrilling decision to make. Here are a few logistical items to consider before you start coordinating your move.

International Container Shipping to Los Angeles

Moving Belongings by Sea or Air?

People relocating to LA are often moving for work, so for some the move will be short term and others indefinite. Those making longer term and permanent moves might want to bring creature comforts like mattresses, furniture, white goods and large volumes of other personal belongings with them when they move to Los Angeles. Others might be moving into accommodation that’s ready furnished.

While air freight is almost always the more expensive option if you’re moving lots of heavy things, if you’re not bringing furniture and white goods, it can be worth it. People relocating by sea freight tend to fill a shipping container and pay a fixed price for this service – regardless of weight.

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Most containers bound for LA come into the Los Angeles Harbour Department – the busiest container port in the United States. As a rough guide, a twenty foot container will fit the contents of a three bedroom family home. A forty footer will hold all this plus two cars.

Ask your shipping merchant about grouping load with other customers if you don’t have enough to fill a container; it’ll reduce costs but will undoubtedly add time to an already slow process.

Vehicle Shipping

There are rigorous rules about importing cars into America, and all imported vehicles need to be emissions tested and must be at least eight years old but no older than 30 years.

If you do opt to ship your car to LA, there are two main options available to you. RO-RO (roll-on roll-off) is the cheaper route and involves shipping your car under the deck of a vessel solely used for vehicle freight.

Option two is storing and shipping your car in a container with the rest of your shipment. This tends to be more costly as it’s generally safer for the car as it will be stored more securely.

Prohibited Items

  • Marijuana in any form
  • Stamps or printed transfers displayed for their sale in envelopes or packages
  • Drawings, figures or illustrations that represent childhood in a degrading or ridiculous way, or incite violence, to self-destruction or any other form of antisocial behaviour
  • Poppy seeds or other opium derivatives
  • Insecticides
  • Turtle eggs
  • Fresh or frozen fish

Insurance and Tracking

Most movers will go for a straightforward CIF (cost, insurance and freight) package when shipping their container or containers to Los Angeles. With this service, your agent takes responsibility for (and therefore insures) all your container contents from port to port, or door to door if you request this service.

Beware though, that if you’ve decided to transport a vehicle or any high value items like antiques or artwork, you should check whether the CIF policy covers them adequately. There may be an excess charge to pay, which is sometimes up to 5% of the item’s value.

How’s it Calculated?

That final shipping invoice is based largely on two factors: the size of your shipment and how far it’s going in the world. If you think you could do with the help and the added peace of mind of a door-to-door service (with help packing up and unloading at each end), be prepared to pay for it.

Cargo containers can be subject to extra costs like warehousing charges, customs inspection fees and import duties too, but these should be absorbed by your freighter. Ask your agent to confirm that your final invoice is exactly that: final. Itemising everything carefully as per your shipping merchant’s instructions is highly recommended so as to avoid unexpected bills showing up.