Personal Effects Guide

Helpful tips and advice if you are thinking about shipping your personal goods.

Personal Effects Guide

Helpful tips and advice if you are thinking about shipping your personal goods.

Are you moving abroad? Do you have family who need their belongings?  If you are looking at shipping personal effects out of or into the UK this guide can help you through the process.

There are a number of factors to consider before shipping your personal effects but the most important step is to find a friendly and helpful Freight Forwarder as they will take the time to talk you through the process and explain what you need to do.

Isca Forwarding have prided ourselves on helping individuals ship their personal effects for many years, we understand that most individuals do not have experience of shipping in high quantities and that the logistics and terminology can be confusing and daunting.

If you would like any help or support alongside this guide then feel free to get in touch with our team.

Phone: 01392 369923



Packing Your Personal Items

It is important when shipping personal effects to pack all your items securely and well as the way they are packed helps ensure their safe arrival at the destination.

Here are some key tips and advice for packing your goods:

  • Use strong well-taped cartons to pack your items.
  • If you are shipping any delicate items these should be wrapped in bubble wrap and packed in the centre of the cartons.
  • All cartons must be clearly labelled with the destination address.
  • Do NOT pack any hazardous items within your cartons.  These will make the shipment very costly.  If you would like to send hazardous items contact your Freight Forwarder and they will advise you on the best options.
  • Most countries have strict rules about any timber used for shipping.  All wood should be heat treated and stamped with supporting documentation.

If you wish to have your items packed for you then get in touch with our team and we can arrange the packing of your items.  We will need to know an idea of the quantity and sizes of the items to be packed.

It is also helpful to make a list of the items you are packing.  If there are goods that are particularly valuable make a separate list of these.  This list is required by your Forwarding Agent but will also be useful for you when arranging Customs clearance at the other end.

Getting a Quote

The more information you can give your Freight Forwarder the more accurate the quote will be.

  • All Shipping and Airfreight quotes are based on the size and weight of the shipment.  You can use a tape measure and your bathroom scales to find out these details about the items you are sending and your Freight Forwarder can base the quote on these details.
  • For Larger items, you can take measurements and your Freight Forwarder will estimate a weight based on the sizes and what the item is.
  • We will also require a collection address with any information about access restrictions as this will determine the type of vehicle used to collect your goods.
  • They will also require the delivery address and where possible contact name, number and email addresses for both locations.

It is also a good idea to have a look at the below INCO chart used for commercial shipments to get a sense of how the process works.

Please feel free to ask us for any clarification if anything is unclear.  We will talk you through the process and are here to help you.

Shipping Your Belongings

When your Freight Forwarder has received your goods and packed them if requested the next stage is for them to book the vessel or flight for your shipment. 

They will advise you of the date of departure and date of arrival as well as any flight or vessel details.

Your Freight Forwarder will require payment for the shipment before they can issue you with the paperwork.  Once payment has been received they will supply you with all the paperwork you will require together with the name and address of the company to contact when your goods arrive at the destination port/airport.

The dates of arrival that you will be advised can vary due to weather and the shipping line or flight delays but usually by no more than 1-2 days.

When your shipment arrives as part of a container load you will need to allow 5 – 10 days for the vessel to be offloaded and your goods to be unpacked before you can arrange to have your cargo.

For Airfreight to unload you should usually only have to wait 1- 2 days but you will need to ensure you have all the paperwork ready for customs in advance to avoid delays and any rent charges.


There are different documents required depending on the method of transport and the destination country.  Your Freight Forwarder can advise you on what is needed and for what purpose.

As a Freight Forwarder we are always at the other end of the phone to help and often have templates for documents that you may need to provide.

  • For Sea Freight you will require a Bill of Lading.
  • For Air Freight you will require an Air Way Bill.
  • You will need your Shipping Inventory.
  • Please check with your Freight Forwarder if you will require any further documentation – i.e Timber packing declaration.

Customs Clearance Advice

Your Freight Forwarder will give you the name and contact details of the company to contact and the document number to give them to arrange customs clearance.  It is key to give your details to the handling agent so that you can have contact and the opportunity to ask them for any advice or information about local practices.

If you would like to use a different agent to arrange your customs clearance you can arrange for a handover of the papers to your chosen agent.  (Be aware this often will incur a handover fee)

Get as much done prior to the goods arriving to avoid delays and the possibility of rent charges. 

You will need to arrange delivery, if you are doing this yourself you will need to find out if you have a reference to quote on collection.

If at any stage you are unsure of the next steps or feel confused about the process you can get in touch with our team and we will find out the required information and guide you through the process.

Delivery to your Address

When arranging delivery and requesting a quote for delivery, keep in mind the following:

  • Are your items easy to offload or will you require a tail-lift.
  • Most delivery companies will only deliver curbside so you may need friends and family to help get the goods into your home.
  • Notify your Freight Forwarder if there are any access restrictions.
  • Check the goods on arrival and make note of any damage on the receipt as well as taking photos.  Although damage is infrequent and unlikely having evidence allows the insurance claims procedure to flow more smoothly.
  • If you did not take out insurance you will still need to sign for the goods as damaged but will only be entitled to the limited liability cover offered by the airline or shipping line or Haulage Company, this may not cover the value of the goods.

This guide has been created to help you through the shipping process.  Sending personal effects abroad can appear complicated and confusing but we are here to help.

Our team of professionals have been working in the industry for years and are able to advise you on any questions, concerns or problems you may have.  Please feel free to get in touch and talk to our friendly team:

Phone: 01392 369923



Isca Forwarding

Isca Forwarding are a UK based independent Freight Forwarder who have unrivalled logistics experience.  We provide international sea freight, air freight and road freight services for commercial businesses and the personal effects markets.


Unit 6 Newbery Commercial Centre,
Exeter Airport Business Park,


01392 369923          Email

© ISCA Forwarding Ltd. 2018

© 2018 ISCA Forwarding Ltd. All rights reserved.