Frequently Asked Questions

Find your answers to some of our most frequently asked questions in this section.

Get a Quote

    What is groupage or consolidation?

    Also known as LCL (less than container load). This is a smaller load that does not require a dedicated container. It will be “grouped” in a container with other loads going to the same destination. Click here for more info.

    Goods can be PALLETIZED, where they will be stacked on wooden pallets, and wrapped in plastic and cardboard, and moved by forklift into the steel container

    Or…goods can be shipped in a LIFT VAN, which is a standard size wooden crate. In some cases, this can be built to spec. for your shipment

    What is a dedicated container?

    Also known as FCL (Full container load). This option would be a standard size steel shipping container, with the most common sizes of 20ft and 40ft. You will not share the container with any other shipper. Learn more about sea freight

    What methods of vehicle transportation do you offer?

    We ship vehicles by FCL dedicated container, or by groupage. If you are shipping a car by FCL Dedicated container, you can ship household goods with the vehicle, depending upon available space.

    Can I ship my car with some of my belongings inside it?

    As of 1998 the U.S. Dept. of Transportation ruled that you may NOT load any items in a vehicle on auto carriers. All trucks are subject to occasional inspection which includes unloading the vehicles and the items in the vehicle. This could risk leaving the items behind. Auto carriers are NOT licensed to carry household goods or personal items, and are not covered by carrier’s insurance. Any damage to your vehicle due to household goods shifting or breaking is also not covered. Personal belongings left in the vehicle are shipped strictly at the owner’s risk. Carriers will not inventory any belongings left in the vehicle and will assume no responsibility. Also, items packed in the vehicle add weight and may cause damage to the exhaust system and or suspension of the vehicle.

    How much notice do I need to give to book a move?

    Our busy season in the northern hemisphere is May-Sept, during this time we recommend at least 4 weeks notice to secure date, particularly in the cities of LA, NYC and SF. At other times of the year, 2 weeks should suffice unless you are moving at the very end of the month. If you have a short notice need, and are flexible, we will do everything we can to accommodate youd

    How is the cost of my move determined?

    Sea freight is based on the volume of goods to be shipped. If you have a larger shipment and an FCL container is required, you can generally add more items to capacity without a cost increase, depending on destination. LCL is charged based on actual volume shipped after palletization, or by lift van.

    The cost is divided in the origin costs (pick-up, trucking to the port, document prep, export declaration), ocean (the sea freight for the container), and destination (the delivery agent handling customs clearance and delivery to your new residence).

    As you can see, the pricing can be a complex. Sometimes it takes a few days to get a rate from our agent overseas for the destination portion. While we can price some popular locations by groupage very quickly, most moves will take a little time. Each international move needs individual attention.

    Is there anything I can do to save money?

    The best way is to reduce the volume of your shipment. On some moves, you could opt to have the goods shipped to port only, if you are confident on finding a good customs broker and mover at your destination.

    Should I be using a specific type of boxes?

    New boxes are a must. Goods will be stacked for a long time and used boxes easily collapse so they are susceptible to causing damage to your shipment. We do recommend “heavy duty” or “double wall” boxes for breakables. You can order boxes on right on our Boxes & Moving Supplies page. The most important thing is to make sure the boxes are totally full when packing.

    How should I pack fragile items?

    It’s best to leave it to the professionals at Sunset International shipping. If you do decide to pack it yourself, please point it out to the crew at pick-up, so they can inspect it and decide if it should be repacked in a sturdier box. Heavy items should always go into small boxes, so they are easier for everyone to handle and stack.

    What types of insurance do you offer?

    It’s unlikely that you’ll need additional coverage. The trained professional at Sunset International Shipping will take very good care of your stuff. Accident do happen though. Sometimes for reasons beyond our control. For this reason, we do recommend that you purchase the all-risk marine insurance that we offer from Wells Fargo. Your goods should be insured for their replacement cost at destination, rather than what your paid to purchase them.

    What is involved in customs clearance?

    The requirements for each country are different. You might need to provide some or all of the following; Your passport, Immigration certificate, a copy of a lease of property title, receipts for certain new items in your shipment, a detailed packing list of inventory and contents (we will create this at pick up), a value inventory, proof of residence in the US from the consulate of your destination country. Some countries have a much simpler process that others. Often, these items are not required to start the move, and must be provided to the destination agent upon arrival to port of your shipment.

    Must I be present for delivery?

    In most cases, you must be in the destination country for clearance and delivery. When your goods are ready to be delivered to your new home, you will need to sign to acknowledge their receipt. You can often authorize a representative for this.

    What items are prohibited to ship?

    Customs regulations differ on this matter, but it’s safe to assume the following cannot be shipped:

    Live plants
    Open bottles
    Anything flammable or pressurized
    Alcohol and tobacco. Allowance in generally only offered in hand luggage
    Controlled substances or prescription medications
    Animal products from protected species such as ivory, fur skins, coral etc
    We also recommend not shipping the following, which are not covered by insurance:

    Important papers and documents. For example, birth certificates, marriage certificates, financial documents and other important family records
    Important Data
    Stamp or coin collections

    Moving Services

    Whether you choose to move by air or sea, we can help you budget and plan. We can even do all your packing for you. Schedule a call today!

    Free Storage

    Moving can be tough. That’s why we provide 30 days of free storage to make it easier.

    Learn more about storage »
    Download Moving Abroad Checklist
    Get a Free Estimate 855-443-4200