Moving Luggage and Personal Belongings Internationally

Our luggage is one reason we chose to move on the Queen Mary 2. They do not have a bag limit on what you can take on board as long as it fits in your cabin. This allowed us to take everything we thought we might need for our first 6 months to a year of being in Croatia. Note that while there isn't a limit to the number of bags, each bag should weigh less than 24kg. We found this part out disappointingly late and had to repack. We hired a company to store and ship our other belongings after we have a more permanent home here. I hope our art & vinyl are safe and happy in storage. 

We packed 14 large suitcases and two collapsible dog kennels with us. If you’re wondering how we fit it all in our stateroom, I like Tetris a lot which helped. We had 3 large suitcases in the closets, with two smaller sized suitcases, and all of our small soft bags in the top shelf of the closet. We had our tech box (which is another large suitcase made for computers & tech to travel safely) under the in-room desk. We scooted both bedside tables forward to put a large suitcase behind each. And we fit four cases under the bed ( the beds lift and have storage underneath). We have heard that people also tarp and store luggage on the balcony, but I didn’t feel our weather in January was good for that. It would have gotten wet for certain. 

Before we left we hired a company called Eurosender to ship our luggage from Southampton to Split. But while we were on the ship without the internet they emailed and asked about customs. We missed this email, but thank goodness they followed up the day we disembarked. We found out we needed a T1 form and a customs broker. I, of course, had no idea what these things were. Eurosender gave us three different companies that provided this service but at this point, we only had a few days to get this done. None of the companies they recommended could help us. So we turned to trusty Google and contacted a total of 6 companies. 

We finally found one that said they could help us. We had to have an inventory of all of the suitcases we would be shipping. The inventory didn’t have to be itemized, but well generalized. They also told us that we didn’t need a T1, because we were moving our own items and had nothing to sell. We could do a Full Residency Clearance. 

We spent one evening opening and itemizing every suitcase and sent it back to the company that was able to help us, Brunel Shipping. We wanted them to have it as soon as they arrived on Friday morning because they had promised us they could complete the paperwork that day. Then we didn’t hear anything. I emailed our contact around 10 am and still heard nothing. Trying not to panic, I waited until around 1pm and emailed again, this time also copying the general email we had originally emailed. This time I got a response. Our first contact that promised it could be done on Friday was leaving early and didn’t have time to do it, could it wait until Monday? It could not, we had a scheduled pickup on Saturday, we would be on the road by Monday. Luckily he handed us off to Paige and she was amazing. We had to explain to her what was going on but in a few hours, we had paperwork in our hands around 6:30pm Friday. We forwarded that to Eurosended and they confirmed it was all they needed. Saturday, Andrei from Eurosender came and picked up the luggage. He didn't speak English, nor did we speak Romanian but we communicated well enough through Google translate. They drove it straight to our apartment in Split and our wonderful host unloaded the luggage into the apartment a few days before we arrived ourselves. 

It ended up working out, but I would have a few recommendations to make it less anxiety inducing for others. 

  1. Get your customs broker before you leave the US or a few weeks before you plan on moving. 
  2. Have your itemized list ready to go. You might also need valuations, in which case do not use new value, but resale value. This will keep your VAT tax more reasonable. You do not need the values if you qualify for the residency clearance, but you would for a T1. They can most likely get all your paperwork well in advance of when you need it.
    Here is our itemized list as an example.
  1. Find a company that can do both your paperwork and the transportation of your luggage. This will make less back and forth with you being the middleman between companies. Even if you are renting a vehicle and moving your luggage yourself, I think you would need this paperwork. It will hopefully keep you from being stuck at customs crossing between the UK and the EU. 

If I had to do it again, I think I would hire a company to ship most of our luggage directly from the US to where we are moving. It would have saved our backs, transporting it in the US, and a lot of headache. After paying for a larger rental vehicle, and multiple cabs each time we moved it in NYC, for Eurosender to move it all, and for the paperwork, it might have even saved us money. I’m not going to look into that because it would probably hurt my feelings. If you’re looking to do the same, I would definitely research that option harder than we did. It will take longer to get your stuff, but it might be worth it to only pack a few suitcases for comfort. 

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