Jargon busting for overseas shipping

The latest Moray survey suggests that nearly 20% of the world’s population want to move abroad and start a new life. If you are one of those who have a longing to move to sunnier climes or need to move for work reasons, the chances are you will use an overseas shipping company to move your personal possessions.

There are other options available to you like air freight but they are very expensive. Most people who up sticks and head off to a new country move their belongings using shipping companies. If you plan on doing this then there is some essential terminology you will need to familiarise yourself with to make sure you get the best deals.

This guide to some of this terminology will help you tremendously; shipping agents move your goods using storage containers and charge you according to how much space you use of a shipping container. Some of the terms they use are listed below.

  • Freight Forwarding Company when you ship your personal possessions abroad you will usually use a freight forwarding company. Freight forwarding companies do not usually own the ships themselves (although some do). Freight forwarding companies act as the liaison between you the customer and the shipping companies. Freight forwarders will ‘shop around’ the various shipping companies and will make sure you get the best price to ship your possessions.
  • Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping companies use standard size shipping containers to carry your belongings as they are transported across the sea. If you can fill one container then you will be charged for a full container load. Filling a container is usually the most cost effective way of moving your possessions. You may think it is easy to fill a shipping container but in reality they are huge and sometimes this can be more difficult than you might first think.
  • Less-than Container Load (LCL) when you can only part fill a container load then you will be charged using the Less-than Container Load tariff. You may think that this is a less expensive option but this is not always the case and not all companies offer this as an option. Companies that do not offer this frequently suggest using air freight to transport goods that will only part fill a container but this is an expensive option. It would be more advisable to check before you appoint a shipping company that they offer (LCL) as an option.
  • Conventional Load Carrier If when you move abroad you want to take for example your car generally it is what shipping companies call oversized and will not fit into a shipping container. Shipping companies will offer conventional load carrier options to facilitate the shipping of your car.

Shipping your goods to another country can be a complex process made up of many parts. There are some companies that offer a one stop solution others only do a small section of the process. Depending on your budget this will determine the option you choose.

  • Palletised if you choose to pack your own possessions then they have to be packed in a certain way. As you can imagine they need to be securely packed either in approved crates or boxes or they have to be palletised. This is when your possessions, are packed onto a pallet and shrink wrapped. If you are not using a one stop company you will be expected to do this yourself or employ another company to do this for you.
  • Insurance Your possessions must be insured for transporting and this involves having an inventory of all your possessions.
  • Valued Packing List This is an inventory of all of your items that you want shipped with the value of each item next to it on the list.


It is easy to see that shipping your home and possessions to another country whilst incredibly exciting will take some major preparation on your part.