Shipping own container from Colorado to Ireland
I have just started the process of finding an international shipper/mover to move our household stuff from Boulder (near Denver) Colorado to either Cork or Kilkenny in early spring 2021. My estimate is that it will fit into a 20′ container and from what I can tell FCL is best to minimize the handling risk of LCL.
My preference would be to purchase a container so that we can load it ourselves and have the loaded container dropped at our location in Ireland which is out in the country. I can buy a container and have it delivered to my home in Boulder no problem but can’t find any “movers” who will deal with a loaded container. All of the offers so far have been based on using their container and loading it myself. The loading time is limited to 2h before a $85/h surcharge kicks in AND requires loading into the container sitting on the trailer – not the best for loading a piano! Alternatively, and most expensive, is to have the moving company load the container.
The issue seems to be the loading of the full container onto the trailer that will transport it to the shipping port or at least to a container yard for transfer to a haulage trailer to take it cross country to the docks. Same issue at the other end where the container will need to be transferred from the trailer to the ground.
The reason for using my own container is lack of storage capacity at the drop off in Ireland which is solved by keeping the contents in the container until we are able to get that sorted. This prevents us from using a typical moving company who expect to unload the contents at the destination. One solution, if we went with the moving company container option, would be to get the container unloaded into a storage unit. That adds another layer of complication but should be possible to organise if the moving company were willing.
I would welcome any suggestions on how to ship my own container and any companies that can handle this type of move.
Hi, John, Betsy Pierson here. We bought a one-time-used shipping container about a year ago, spent this summer filling it, and arranged to have it moved from rural Ohio to our daughter's farm in County Tipperary after we arrived here in August. Due to the coronavirus, we were challenged to find an international freight company that would accommodate our personally-owned, self-loaded container.
We found Aaltonen international Moving and Storage here in Cork to shepherd our container off the ship, through customs, and to the farm. Working with Kim McEvoy of Aaltonen has been a joy.
In the US, we worked with Sky2C to arrange container pick-up, delivery to port, and transport via container ship. I submitted multiple requests for quotes to international shipping companies in May - lousy time - and they were the only company who responded. I checked their Better Business Bureau rating and they appeared okay. Just dreadful to work with in that you almost needed to call daily to dog them to stay on task. Instead of communicating preemptively about what they would need from me during the process, they waited until the last minute each step of the way, and needed XYZ from my ASAP. The price went up, the container was delayed, essential info required by the shipping line was botched and I never got an itemizied bill.
I would advise shopping around for freight shipper on that end if possible. My sense is that the international freight shipping business is itself in uncharted waters right now; one- time, self-owned container movement (as opposed to regular, multi-container shippers) are more trouble than they are worth to many companies; and if you can get a positive referral to a company from someone who's completed what you are contemplating, go with them.
Just a couple more points. We needed to arrange for a local company to come with a crane to lift the container onto the truck that delivered it to the port. This meant we needed to have good estimates of both loaded weight of the container and what time the truck would arrive at our home for pick-up. if you pack the container yourself, the only insurance you can get is for total loss of the container and contents. I believe the going rate for insurance is $250 for each $10,000 of valuation. Also, you will need a detailed inventory of the following: each item (or, if items, number of each) and how much each would cost - in Euros - to replace in Ireland.
I got a senior citizen discount on the price of the container! and the total cost for container and having it moved by the two companies was about $8,000.
I reached out to a past contributor on the site. He is a Managing Director of a moving company based in Ireland. I think you will find his answer to your question quite useful. I'll post it below here. Let me know if you want me to put you in touch. ~Liam
Buying a container and shipping it as user owner is certainly possible. If he wants that option there should be no reason why he can’t find a mover or a freight company to co-ordinate that for him. After clearance on this side, we (potentially we) would arrange haulage from the port with a carrier who has a crane on the chassis, and the driver basically lifts the container to the ground. These hauliers are pretty expensive, and there needs to be good access to the site and enough space to drop the container down alongside the chassis.
Also he mentioned storage with a mover in Ireland until he is ready for delivery – that was the first thing I thought of. He wrote that this is a layer of complication, whereas it is actually quite simple. The downside of course is the cost, but even that depends on the volume and the length of time in storage so it might not be that bad – and buying a container isn’t that cheap.
So the options as I see it:
- Buy the container, load it personally (he should wrap all of the furniture as well as pack boxes), and get a mover or freight company to ship it to Dublin. Access permitting, delivery and drop of to the ground for him to offload at his leisure. He then has an empty container there which could be good for storage, but if he wants to get rid of it later then he has to pay to get it collected. Technically, he should be paying VAT an duty on the container itself – as this is not part of his personal effects import. However there is no way for customs to know he owns it, and the chances of them realising that are almost non-existent. But it’s no harm to have that in mind.
- Don’t buy the container and get a mover to supply it for him to pack, wrap and load. And just have enough bodies there to not go over the 2 hour limit. There is a 2 hour limit here too for offloading. If storage is needed he could get an Irish mover to store it, or he could pick a self-storage unit and offload the container there. If the former he can then get the mover to deliver, or he can collect from the mover. If the latter he has to move everything to his house himself.
- Get a full door to door price from a mover to do everything. Again the mover can store it. But, for example, if we gave a door to door price, then store it, the eventual delivery is covered so he doesn’t have to worry about moving it himself.
When it comes to transport insurance – which he may or may not want – if he does everything himself, there will basically be none. If he packs, wrap and loads himself, he can possibly buy-in a policy which would cover the loss of his container. If he gets a mover to do everything he can get an all risks policy (loss / damage / breakage). It’s worth noting that the insurance stops when the delivery is done. So, with the full service, if he wanted delivery to a self-store, the insurance stops there. Whereas if he gets the mover to store it, it is still insured until it is delivered to residence.
By packing and loading himself he is saving money. But he should look at the cost of having to buy the container and the cost of the haulier to drop it on the ground, and compare it to the cost of getting a mover to do it all for him. He might find that it is the same or maybe only a bit more to have it all done for him, saving him and lot of work and hassle.
Option 3) is really the only option that we would be competitive with. We could arrange options 1) & 2) but basically we would be putting a mark-up onto the same thing that he can arrange himself.
Betsy - Thanks very much for relating your experience in moving your own container. Sounds very doable while noting to avoid using Sky2C! Interesting that you needed a crane to load the container on the US side but it seems Aaltonen were able to handle delivery to the ground in Ireland - presumably using a crane mounted on the truck chassis. Regarding lack of interest from shipping companies in shipping personal containers response to date from those I have contacted is that they don't compete with their mover partners to whom they refer all enquiries.
Liam - Thanks a lot for contacting the MD of the moving company in Ireland. His response matches well with what I have learned thus far and is encouraging re the Ireland leg of the move compared to the US. I appreciate his laying out the options and would like to get in touch with him to get a quote for options 1 and 3.
I have been considering addressing each leg of the journey separately
1. Pick-up from home in Colorado and transport to the Port of X (New York?)
- needs a truck with a crane on the chassis able to lift the container on to the trailer
2. Shipping from Port of X to Port of Dublin
- needs a shipping company willing to ship a personal container
3. Transport from Port of Dublin and drop-off to location in Ireland.
- service already identified
This would be a more hands on solution that requires knowledge of the paperwork required. Do you know of any source that lays out the document trail for exporting/importing a personal container?
REally helpful thread. WE are moving over soon, and because I don't need to have the container on the far end, I am thinking to use youpackweship.com, who will send me a crate or small container, I will pack it myself and then unpack it on the far end. I'm thinking to do it this way largely to save money. I think I can get about 240 cubic feet done for about $5000, going from Washington DC to Galway.
Curious as to whether others think that getting your own container might be even cheaper than that. It would nice to have a small container for storage in Galway.
Paul - I think the smallest standard shipping container is 20ft long. Approx 1200 cubic feet. I can't imagine this being cheaper. Unless you're thinking of smaller size containers?
I am still trying to find an agent that will handle a self-owned container. I am finding that moving companies only offer the option of using their container - loaded/unloaded by them or self-loaded/unloaded. In the latter case they typically allow 2h for the container to be loaded after which it is $85-100 per hour. No ramp or lift is provided so that option would require having this in place when the trailer arrives.
The other option is to find a shipping agent that will handle pick-up, transport and drop-off of the container but that is proving difficult so I don't have any quotes yet to compare the cost of this option vs using movers with their own container. The total cost will include the price of the container and a crane to load the container on to the trailer at the time of pick-up. I can purchase a 20' container for $2750 including delivery and the seaworthy certificate. The crane will cost about $500-$750 depending on the total time required (they charge for the time from departure to return of the crane to their yard - which in my case will be between 2h-3h).
I would welcome any suggestions for shipping agents that would be willing to handle a non-commercial container shipping job.
The category of business you want to deal with, John, is a "freight forwarder." They make arrangements with other businesses to do the various steps involved in getting your container from your site to the port of Cork.
Best of luck to you,