The guide to moving abroad: Getting your stuff into (or out of) the Netherlands

The guide to moving abroad: Getting your stuff into (or out of) the Netherlands

Shipping your stuff abroad can be one of the most expensive parts of relocating. That’s why a lot of people sell or store their things and just pack a couple of duffle bags for their move. Whether this is the right decision for you depends on how long you’ll be living abroad, what sort of things you’ve accumulated, and the cost of replacing said items in your new country.

A lot goes into a move abroad: a mover in your home country has to come pack up your stuff and deliver it to a cargo ship, the ship will take your things across the ocean, then a mover in your destination country has to bring everything to your new home. Throughout this process, there’s dealing with customs and lots of other paperwork.

If your shipment doesn’t have to cross water and can be transported via truck, then it’s a simpler sequence of events.

Unrealistic expectations

It’s important to understand all of this because we frequently run into unrealistic expectations for what it costs to hire a reputable mover.

For example, someone will be moving the contents of a 1-bedroom apartment from London to Amsterdam and the estimates will range from €2.000-3.000. That person will say they only have €1.000 to spend. Often, they get upset that it costs so much or they go hire someone who agrees to their price, which is a red flag.

Remember: if the price is too good to be true, then stay away; reputable movers should provide quotes that are all in the same ballpark.

Below are some sample costs for GoodMigrations’ customers. The move size is a rough indicator of how much stuff is being relocated, but the amount of stuff in one home may be way more, or less, than a similarly sized home. All costs below are given in USD.

Move size Move locations Cost
Just boxes San Francisco to Berlin $1.811
Just boxes Bergen to Dublin $384
1-bedroom apartment The Hague to London $2.424
1-bedroom apartment NYC to Sydney $7.285
3-bedroom apartment Vancouver to Melbourne $8.350
3-bedroom apartment Toronto to Hamburg $6.490

What factors will impact the cost of your move?

So, what factors impact the cost of a move?

Where you’re moving from and to

Your origin and destination play a major factor in the cost of your move. Distance obviously matters, but so does the popularity of these locations. Moving from New York to London is common, and there are ships departing between these ports frequently.

Moving from New York to Greenland, however? That would likely be more expensive, even though it’s closer, Greenland doesn’t get as much traffic.

How much stuff you’re shipping

How much volume your stuff will take up in a shipping container, and how much it weighs, also impact the cost of shipping. The size of your shipment will determine the size of your shipping container. Your international moving company will choose the best fit for your shipment. The two most commonly used containers are 20ft and 40ft.

The services you need from the mover

Another factor that will impact the cost is the services being provided. Things like packing and unpacking, customs clearance, and reassembling furniture at the destination will all increase the price. You can talk to your mover about ways to reduce the price.

One thing we do not recommend doing is trying to clear customs yourself, unless it’s something you have experience with.

The shipping method used

We’ve mostly talked about shipping via the ocean in this article - what’s known as ocean freight. If you need your things faster, there’s also air freight: transporting everything by plane. Be warned, speed is expensive; air freight costs a lot more money than ocean freight.

And if there is no ocean between your origin and destination, then it’s likely your stuff will just be shipped via truck.

Be aware of these costs

There are other potential costs you should be aware of as well:

Customs inspection

If customs stops your shipment for an inspection, you’ll have to pay the inspection fee. There’s no way of knowing whether or not your stuff will be stopped, but you can help your chances by ensuring you’re not shipping anything not permitted.


If you’re shipping brand new items, or are returning to your country of origin within 12 months of leaving, you’ll potentially owe taxes.

Terminal Handling Charges

There may be port fees as well - this is the cost of using the facilities at the port. Some movers include them in their quotes and some don’t, so make sure to ask if Terminal Handling Charges (THC) are included if you don’t see it listed.

Do your research

A reputable international moving company will be upfront about any costs that aren’t part of the quote, so be sure to do your research and keep an eye out for fake mover reviews that could lead you astray.

Adam Vagley


Adam Vagley

Adam Vagley is co-founder of GoodMigrations (, which makes it easy to move anywhere in the world with free city guides and other resources for relocating abroad. He’s lived and...

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