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International Container Shipping to Madrid

Shipping Containers

You’ve made the decision to move to Madrid, the stunning capital of style and culture with a strong expat community. But what now? Before you pack up your life and start practising your Español, there are a few things to consider: shipping options, tracking your goods, insurance and how the costs break down.

Sea vs. air cargo

Noatum Container Terminal in Valencia is the closest port to Madrid, some 350 kilometres away. This makes shipping your goods by sea a very viable option – the remainder of the journey by road can be finished via a freight forwarding service. Shipping by sea container is normally cheaper as it’s a slower means of transport, but that’s not to say air freight doesn’t have its advantages. Ships tend to depart the UK weekly for Valencia, and take around a week to arrive.

Airlines normally bill for air freight based on chargeable weight, whereas shipping charges are based primarily on volume of goods shipped – you’ll usually pay per 20’ or 40’ container. A forty foot container will fit two cars and the contents of an average size family home, if that helps. If you’re filling less than a container, look into air freight - partially filled containers won’t ship until they’re filled so you won’t be able to plan for your container’s arrival.

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Shipping your car

Moving abroad is always going to be expensive, so it’s worth checking out the financial implications of shipping a car. If you plan to live in Spain for more than six months of the year, the Spanish authorities will ask you to register your vehicle with them. As well as this, here are a few things to get cleared up with your freight company before you instruct them:

  • Do they have liability insurance exceeding the value of your vehicle?
  • Can they advise on customs clearing and unloading?

Get a written quote before you agree to anything. Make sure your quote states addresses of origin and destination as well as a breakdown of all services included in the price.

Prohibited items

  • Meat and milk and any items thereof from non-EU countries, with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, Croatia, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland
  • Protected species and products as listed by the Washington Convention such as ivory, tortoiseshell, coral, reptile skin and wood from Amazonian forests.
  • Coats, fur and leather from protected species will need special authorisation.

Tracking and Insurance

Most good freight companies offer a container tracking service through their website. They’ll give you your container numbers or other login details to keep tabs on your goods, often signalled by a pin in a Google map.

Always itemise your shipment carefully and you’ll avoid unnecessary surcharges. If you’re sending high value items, double check whether additional insurance needs to be purchased. Freight companies build contents insurance into the price they charge you and take responsibility for your shipment until it passes over the ship’s rail in its destination country. This package service is referred to as CIF (cost, insurance and freight) and is the most common option taken for overseas shipping.

How is the Cost Calculated?

Put simply, cost is determined by the size of your shipment and the distance it’s travelling, but there are other variables that will affect price. Costs can also be affected by container loading options, with many providers offering a choice between loading at the dock, warehouse loading, or having a container shipped to the customer's home address. The latter is, of course, the priciest. Some contingency cash should also be kept back for any items you’re shipping that aren’t covered by your transporter’s insurance policy. Containers are also sometimes subject to customs inspection fees and import duties. These costs should be absorbed by your shipping supplier and the fee they charge you, so check with them before committing.