Relocating overseas is a life-changing experience. It is highly important to work out your move to another country down to the last detail for it to be as seamless as possible.

If you are seeking to move overseas, whether for employment, retirement or for family reasons, one of the biggest questions is calculating your international shipping costs.

Our guide will explain how these costs are worked out and provide some estimates of international removal quotes to different countries from the UK.

How are international removals prices calculated?

There are two main factors that dictate baseline international removal costs:

  1. The distance to your destination
  2. The volume of possessions you wish to move

Once you have taken these into consideration, several other factors, such as insuring your possessions appropriately and whether or not you require a ‘door-to-door’ removal and delivery service, will add up to the overall price.

The calculation for finding the volume of an object in cubic feet is: (L” x W” x H”) ÷ 1728 (there are 1728 inches in a cubic foot).

A standard freight container normally has a capacity of either 1,172 cubic feet (for a 20-foot container) or 2,390 cubic feet (for a 40-foot container).

The table below gives indicative costs for shipping each size of the container to the most popular destinations around the world. Please make sure to confirm prices with your chosen removal company before committing to the move.

20ft Container Cost vs 40ft Container Cost

CountrySea Port20ft Container Cost40ft Container Cost

3,700 ()

4,200 ()

6,700 ()

6,900 ()

New ZealandAuckland

3,700 ()

3,500 ()

5,000 ()

5,600 ()


4,200 ()

4,000 ()

6,700 ()

5,500 ()

USALos Angeles
New York

4,800 ()

4,800 ()

6,400 ()

6,500 ()

South AfricaCape Town

3,400 ()

7,000 ()


4,000 ()

7,000 ()

Hong KongPort of Hong Kong

3,600 ()

5,000 ()


2,500 ()

5,000 ()


400 ()

700 ()


4,200 ()

5,800 ()


3,300 ()

4,300 ()

Our international removal costs are generated from an industry benchmark. See here for more.

Removals from the UK to the rest of the world

If you’re moving to a country outside of Europe, your possessions will travel by sea in metal freight containers, with the cost of transportation based upon the volume (i.e. how much container space they require) of the goods, measured in cubic feet.

The calculation for finding the volume of an object in cubic feet is: (L” x W” x H”) ÷ 1728 (there are 1728 inches in a cubic foot).

Select the size of your move to get free quotes

Removals from the UK to Europe

Established international removal companies often have a regular schedule – typically weekly or fortnightly – for removals into Europe, transporting possessions by lorry to their destination. A removal lorry can normally accommodate the contents of an average three-bedroom home.

Costs vary from firm to firm, but if think you will fill up a whole lorry (40-foot shipping container) when you move, you can expect to spend between £5,000 GBP and £7,000 GBP.

Smaller loads that do not fill an entire lorry may incur significantly lower international removal costs, but may also take longer to arrive at their destination, depending upon the route and delivery schedule employed by the removals firm.

Other factors to consider

Besides the distance and volume of possessions to be relocated internationally, there are a number of other considerations, which may increase overall international removal prices. These include:


Although international removal companies will make every effort to protect and secure your belongings, transport by sea can take anything up to three months depending on the destination, during which items are susceptible to damage or loss. Taking out insurance for your possessions is definitely an option you should consider.

The cost of insurance is dependent on a number of different factors, such as the nature of the items you are shipping, the mode of transport, and the destination they will be shipped to. For further information, see our guide to international removals insurance.

Packing, loading, unloading and unpacking

This seems like a simple enough job to do, but leaving it to people who are experts at packing and unpacking will free up a lot of time that you can use for other aspects of your move. The extra cost will be worth it as it also ensures that your items are appropriately protected prior to and after transportation.

Temporary storage

If for any reason, a delay arises which prevents you from transporting or taking delivery of your belongings on the date you had intended, you may need to arrange temporary storage at your removal firm’s premises.

Before you arrange storage, you must decide what you’ll immediately need at your destination and what can be stored for a while. For example, if you’re moving to a hot country in the summer, it may be a good idea to store your winter clothes. Discover more about using international storage here.

Door-to-door collection and delivery

Depending upon the size of the consignment you are transporting overseas, you may be able to save money by arranging to collect your possessions from the destination port yourself rather than contracting the removals company to deliver them from the port to your door.

Other costs

These can include cargo inspection fees, local import duties and other local taxes.

Whatever additional options you go for when you move your belongings to another country, make sure that they are covered by your budget. It’s very important to discuss your needs thoroughly with your removal company so that you’ll know how much you will spend, what to expect once your possessions have arrived and what paperwork you’ll need to complete to ensure that you collect all your items without any hassle. All this preparation is essential so that your move to another country can go as smoothly as possible.