When you are preparing to move internationally, the movers you hire need to know what they’re dealing with when it comes to your household shipment. This is the purpose of a pre-move survey. It is the first time a representative from the moving company gets to assess the size of your shipment and the services needed for your move in person. This is when the true cost of the move is determined.

When does a pre-move survey usually happen?

In order to get a pre-move survey, you need to contact a moving company and discuss your move (you can contact International Sea & Air Shipping to get started!)

A moving company will not send a surveyor to your home unless you have seriously discussed details of the move and seem committed to using the company for their services. That being said, under most circumstances, you don’t need to pay a moving company anything at the time of the pre-move survey.


The first step in getting a survey from a moving company is to fill out a quote form. Good moving companies will let you fill out free quote forms online. The form allows you to tell the moving company some general information about your move, including:

  • Desired date of the move
  • Destination country
  • Current address
  • Services required (if you need packing services)
  • Shipping required (to port or to door?)
  • Estimated size of the shipment
  • Your contact information

This gives the moving company a good idea of what to expect, but since you are not a professional, it is likely that you will not know the exact answers to all of these details at first. None of the information you provide in your initial estimation is considered completely accurate. Although it would be helpful for your answers to stay the same, you aren’t bound to them. That is why a pre-move survey is necessary to confirm these details.

The international moving company will then send you an e-mail or give you a call to confirm that you indeed want to use them for your international move. They will confirm some of the information that you provided, and discuss their policies, including what items they can’t move. By the end of the call, they should have set up an appointment with you for your pre-move survey. You may get an additional written confirmation of the details of your survey appointment.

How to prepare for the pre-move survey

In order to make the pre-move survey process more efficient, you should be prepared for the surveyor.

  • Review the list of prohibited items that the moving company sent you. Make sure you don’t have them in your shipment.
  • If you plan to pack your own items, you should wait to pack until after the survey.
  • Be prepared to meet the surveyor at the scheduled time.
  • Try to have all of your items in one easy to access space, but don’t have them tightly stacked. The surveyor will need to measure them individually.
  • Make sure you select everything that you are going to move before the surveyor arrives. Late additions that aren’t surveyed may cause problems for the moving company
The survey process

The surveyor is there to document the actual cost and necessary services required for the move. Here are the things he or she will document:

  • The weight and volume of the shipment
  • Any items that require special handling
  • Any problems the movers may have accessing your property, including parking issues
  • The complete inventory of the shipment
  • Any other logistics that are necessary to complete the move
  • If packing services are required
  • Final dates for packing, collection, and delivery

The surveyor will give you a copy of all the information that she takes down for the moving company.

What you should do during the pre-move survey

The pre-move survey is the time to ask any questions and convey any concerns you have about the moving process. The representative from the moving company is trained to talk to you about all of it and relay the information to the company. Here are some things you should do:

  • Express any concerns about the handling of certain items
  • Ask about what you will be required to do in regards to customs
  • Confirm the timeline of the move
  • Ask if there are any charges you can avoid by making your home more accessible
  • Finalize all of your choices for the services you want
  • Ask about insurance options
  • Answer any additional questions about your shipment and desires

Both you and the moving company should have an solid idea of what the move will take and how much it will cost after the pre-move survey is completed. You can rest assured that any estimate you get from the company after the survey is done is based on real information.