FAQ’s

Q. When do I need to book my move?

A. Most people arrange for an estimate or quotation if they are moving within the next six months or so. This enables you to budget. The actual move is normally booked up to three months in advance. It is of course possible to book moves with a much shorter lead-in time, but then it helps if you can be a bit flexible with your packing dates.

Q. Do I need a visa for overseas residence?

A. If you are a returning resident with a valid overseas passport, from an overseas point of view you will be permitted to import household effects and, in certain cases, cars duty free. If you are South African you will need a visa or a work permit of at least 24 months’ validity or permanent residence status to live, work there or import your effects and car.

Q. Are my goods shipped door-to-door?

A. Yes, our quotations are normally house-to-house, including unpacking and setting up of the furniture and some smalls. You might not want all of your smalls unpacked immediately due to space restraints. You can normally deal with this yourself in the week following delivery and our agents will collect the empty packaging when in your area. This does not invalidate your transit insurance, although obviously if your house was broken into and goods stolen this would not be covered. In Australia and New Zealand there is an additional quarantine inspection fee. The US can also have an intensive random security check, which can be very expensive.

Q. When do I pay?

A. Normally on the day the goods are removed from your home. Payment directly into our bank account is definitely the best option. For shared container shipments we measure the consignment when it arrives at our depot and then advise you of the costs. Payment must be made before containerization

Q. How long does it take for my effects to get there?

A. This will depend largely on the final destination and the method of shipment utilized i.e. whether shipped in an exclusive use (FCL) shipping container or a shared use (GROUPAGE) shipping container. The average transit time for an FCL container is eight to ten weeks door-to-door. A GROUPAGE container on the other hand can only be shipped once there is sufficient volume to fill the container, thereby giving each shipper the benefit of a pro-rata price advantage. Expediency of a GROUPAGE shipment is almost always dependent on traffic frequency at that moment in time. You do not pay for storage when your goods are awaiting shipping.

Q. How much will it cost?

A. This is one of the most common questions, yet one of the most difficult to offer a simple answer to as there are so many variables. These variables would include: what destination you are moving to, how much you are taking, what method of shipment will be best e.g. FCL or GROUPAGE, what you need to insure your effects for, the Rates Of Exchange applicable at the time, etc. An accurate answer can only be obtained by having a survey done at your residence. This is a free, no-obligation service.

Q. What if I only have a few cartons or a small amount to move overseas?

A. Magna-Thomson International Movers will be more than happy to quote and arrange an overseas shipment by air or sea of anything, from a few cartons to a castle full of household effects. Our removal planning and quotation surveys are free and hold you to no obligation. It is not economical to ship less than two cubic metres by sea.

Q. Who will pack my effects?

A. Export packing of household effects, as opposed to packing for local or long distance removal, is highly-specialised and it is recommended that it be left to the experts. Depending on the volume of your shipment, a crew of experienced packers and a supervisor, who is on constant duty, will be dispatched to do all the packing and wrapping at your residence. The supervisor is fully briefed about your removal and its specific requirements and will ensure that a high standard is maintained and all operational documentation is completed.

Q. Can I pack goods myself?

A. We do not recommend packing goods yourself as overseas security is very sensitive about packed-by-owner goods. In a local household move however, you can pack some items yourself and we are happy to provide cartons for this at a small cost. Many clients like to pack their own clothing, for example. If you want to pack your books please only pack them into the small book cartons as standard cartons full of books are generally too heavy to handle. You should not pack anything breakable as owner-packed goods cannot be insured against breakage, and in any event the cover is very limited.

Q. Should I pack up and move on the same day?

A. It is possible for containers to be late due to labour disputes and delays at the container yard, etc. We have never let anyone down by failing to collect goods on the allocated day, but it is possible that we finish much later than anticipated. Sometimes clients themselves have not planned well and “discover” cupboards and storerooms full of goods at the last minute. Rather spend that night in a hotel or with friends and lower your stress levels, than pack and leave South Africa on the same day.

Q. Am I able to take my car, motorcycle, boat or trailer with me?

A. Again this will depend on the country you are moving to. Some countries are more lenient on the import of these items than others and it is important to make sure before embarking on this type of shipment. In some countries Duties and Taxes will have to be paid. No matter where you intend sending the vehicle or boat, by virtue of these items having been road registered in South Africa you will require a Police Clearance and Export Permit before exporting them. A call to our office will answer any of the questions you may have.

Q. I have heard of fillers. What are they?

A. In an international move the packing teams use soft and malleable items packed into “cavity space” in cupboards, sideboards, wardrobes and the like. These are called fillers. Bedding, duvets, pillows, soft toys and inexpensive clothing such at T-shirts are ideal fillers. It is a good idea to look for these before the packing teams arrive as it really helps to speed up the pack-out if these items are readily available.

Q. How will you store my effects?

A. Your effects will be stored in specially constructed timber storage pallet boxes that are housed in our immaculate and purpose built warehouses. These sturdy boxes are dust proof and treated with Naphthalene to ward off fish moths etc. Pest control professionals routinely treat our warehouses.

Q. Is insurance recommended?

A. Although you are entrusting your household and personal effects to a professional mover, where the greatest care will be taken to ensure the safe delivery of your effects, the possibility of loss or damage while your shipment is exposed to the rigors of international transport, does exist. Insurance is therefore strongly recommended and will be arranged by us according to your instruction.

Q. What value should I declare for insurance?

A.  You should always insure for the full replacement value at destination, or as close to that as you can get. In certain instances it can be extremely difficult to find an accurate replacement value.

Q. Do I need an overseas address before shipping my goods?

A. It is not necessary for you to have an actual delivery address before shipping your goods. Clearly, you should know which town or city you are moving to. If, for example, you advise us you are moving to Auckland and we ship your goods there and you then obtain employment in Christchurch, the goods would have to be redirected. The cost of the redirection could be about 50% (or more) of your total moving costs, whereas if you had delayed shipment we could have shipped your goods to Christchurch for approximately the same cost as to Auckland.

Q. Can I store my goods, and how much does it cost?

A. You can store your goods in a container in South Africa for up to two weeks if you are shipping in an exclusive container. If you want to store your goods for longer than this, they can be stored in palletised warehouses in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town. Storage costs are based on the value of your shipment as well as the required storage period. Alternatively you can store your goods overseas. If you arrange this you will also have to pay a handling charge and storage rates are more expensive. Contact us for storage charges in South Africa and overseas.

Q. Is it best to store my effects in South Africa or at my destination?

A. This question will depend on two main factors:

  • An expense factor: As storage overseas is usually substantially more expensive than storage in South Africa and
  • A convenience factor: This will depend on whether you will require delivery of your effects in a hurry after the storage period or, if you are able to plan the delivery to your new residence with reasonable time to spare.

If you are not one hundred percent sure of your commitment to move or of your accommodation or housing arrangements abroad, it would be best to store in South Africa until ready.

Q. Can I ship my guns?

A. No, you cannot do this any longer: shipping lines now ban firearms in the container. You must obtain an Import Permit from your country of destination – handguns are normally not permitted to be imported into any country. Certain countries ban the importation of any weapons, so ask us for details. Once the import permit is obtained take it to SAPS in Pretoria with: Certified copy of Work/Permanent Residence Permit, SAPS 300 (cancellation of License to Possess Firearm), SAP 311 (application for Export Permit Firearm License), and a certified copy of Identity Book or Passport. Note: Some countries do not issue import permits in advance. If an Import Permit is not obtained, SAPS at their discretion may still issue an Export Permit. You can normally obtain permission by pre-arrangement to have firearms locked into the cockpit of the airplane in which you travel.

Q. How do I value my effects at destination?

A. Your effects must be insured for their full replacement value at destination. Arriving at a true value is not always easy, as there are many household and personal effects that are indigenous to South Africa and therefore not readily replaceable overseas. Likewise, sentimental items may often be priceless and simply cannot be replaced.  It is our recommendation that you draw up an inventory of all the items to be shipped with known replacement values against all the items on your list. On the remaining items that you are unsure of, these values could be obtained through online shopping services or the major retail store websites in that country. If you have booked your move with Magna-Thomson International, our offices will be happy to assist you with these website addresses wherever possible.