Shipping UK -> US (a ton of gear)

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by narad, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    So this sort of thing has been covered many times here, but 2017, I'm curious if anyone knows the best shipping company for moving guitars from the UK to the US.

    I have like legitimately 9 instruments and 3 amps (and 1 cab, and 1 flight case axe-fx) that I need to relocate, with probably the average guitar value around $4k. So far DHL seems to be about the best -- usually around 170 GBP per instrument, insured. So I think I'll use them for most of the packages.

    The catch with DHL is that (at least the online form) doesn't allow packages > 25 kg. My Engl SE is ...26kg on the official spec sheet, and the box and packing will add a couple more. Fedex rings that up around 280 GBP and I haven't even touched the insurance on it yet. I'm also debating buying another amp here before leaving, but if the shipping is that high...well. So anyone ship an amp stateside anytime recently? Anyone been in a similar experience with a bulk move and have any suggestions?

    I looked into some big pallet movers like 1st Move, but it would up at about 2k GBP door to door, + 1700 GBP for insurance, and probably some extra charges as well (judging from the online reviews).
     
  2. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I used a freight pallet company. But I also moved like 45 boxes. Might not be worth it if it’s only guitars.

    Also takes forever.
     
  3. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Can I ask what your pallet company bill came out to, all said and done? Did you get hit with a lot of hidden fees?

    For the next move I'll probably have double this gear on the move, so probably no choice in that case.
     
  4. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    There was customs on the Chinese side. It came out to be about 3500. THe shipping side was about 1500. I used air7seas.

    They really don’t care about weight for sea freight. Packed area matters a bunch.
     
  5. Sermo Lupi

    Sermo Lupi SS.org Regular

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    Hey Narad, it looks like you've already scoured most of the available options, but maybe I can suggest an alternative you may have overlooked.

    I moved from Canada to the UK in 2014 for graduate school, and, knowing I was going to be here a few years, I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to bring with me. This included a guitar, a pair of desktop computers (with monitors), plus a few other large, bulky things that were either delicate or valuable. A similar circumstance, in short.

    One option that a lot of people don't seem to be aware of is that certain airlines offer a cargo service that's only available from a commercial service depot at the airport. I know you said you looked into pallet movers, and this would be similar, but in my experience these services aren't advertised very well because they're almost exclusively for commercial use.

    In my case, I used Air Canada Cargo. I took a quick look over the website because I couldn't remember if I used the service for my UK move or not, and as you can see the general rates are very reasonable (e.g. 2.15 GBP per kg, with a minimum charge of 80 GBP per shipment). That's 1/5th of the price of the FedEx quote you provided (280 GBP for a ~28kg amp, i.e. 10 GBP per kg), so you might want to do some more looking into this. All the bells and whistles are offered as well (with an upcharge, I'm sure), so if you want your stuff to be babied, this is the way to go. I used Air Canada Cargo twice before for domestic moves and it was like my boxes hadn't even been touched.

    The caveats:

    • Air Canada Cargo services the US (and most other places they fly), but I'm really just suggesting this service because it's the only one I have personal experience with. Obviously look into similar services from other airlines as well, as they might be cheaper and/or better for your specific needs.
    • IIRC, this is a port-to-port shipment, meaning you're responsible for any additional transport on either end of the journey. This was not a problem in my case because I was moving, too, and could therefore pick up my stuff as soon as it arrived, but if you (or your recipient) can't pick the gear up from the airline's cargo bay at the airport with a car/truck/magic carpet, you might be better off going with a different service.
    • The fine print says your items can't be over 32kg in weight (per item; the max shipment weight can be 300kg or more). I don't know whether there's a separate service for heavy items, but there might be if you do some more digging around the website.

    Anyway, just thought I'd suggest it. Best of luck with the move!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
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  6. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Thanks! That sounds quite promising -- I'll look into it! At first I thought a taxi from Cambridge to Heathrow would be too expensive to do it (gut reaction), but factoring it in to these kinds of previous quotes, it's but a drop in the ocean! ;-)
     
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