How to Check if Your International Relocation Company is Legit
The first thing to check is if their international associations and certifications.
An international shipping company that is well established will be a member of one of the associations listed below if not, at the very least, the first three. I have a post where I go through one of our shipping quotes when we moved to Australia. In that shipping quote, you’ll notice that they have their certifications and association memberships at the very top.
Below you’ll see a link to the association’s member directory if available.
Before you set up an in-house moving quote, ask the movers what associations they are a member of and what international certifications they have. Then simply do a member search and see if their memberships are current.
Making sure they are current is important because these associations do have review cycles in place so a shipping company could have been a member back in 2012 but is now no longer a member which is something that they need to explain to your satisfaction.
It is not necessary for the shipping company to be a member of all associations but, at the very least, one, usually the first one listed below.
All the links below will take you straight to the membership directories.
The FIDI-FAIM Quality Management Programme
FIDI FAIM is a “quality certification programme dedicated exclusively to the international moving industry”. To become certified, the moving company needs to comply with over 200 requirements.
It is an international certification which is what you want when selecting movers based in your home country because FIDI FAIM international movers are part of an extensive global network.
You want the movers on both ends of your shipment, in your home country and the movers accepting your shipment in Australia, to be FIDI FAIM certified.
When you contact movers, ask them who the Destination Agent is that they work with in Australia?
FIDI FAIM is the primary certification most international shipping companies have.
Overseas Moving Network International (OMNI)
Until recently, international relocation companies could not be a member of OMNI without meeting FAIM quality standards, but that has been relaxed recently though the majority of the members in OMNI have FAIM standards.
To be a member of OMNI, the international moving company must meet “strict quality standards in terms of facilities, training, administration and operational competence”.
International Association of Movers (IAM)
IAM is the largest association with over 2,000 members.
Similar to FIDI FAIM, members must meet strict criteria to join the IAM.
In my opinion, IAM is more of a benefit for international relocation companies than for the consumer. Its focus seems to be on the companies involved with shipping goods from one international port to another, working well together when they start discussing things like cost of services.
In fact, the IAM FAQ page clearly states that membership does not guarantee a good moving experience for consumers and that, if you have a bad experience with an IAM member, they do not handle complaints.
Pan American International Movers Association (PAIMA)
Members of PAIMA have their main corporate offices in North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
I’m including it here with the other international associations because several SMG readers are moving from Brazil or Mexico or Argentina or other countries in the Americas.
PAIMA has a pledge of ethics to maintain that members are committed to high-quality door-to-door relocations.
Latin American and Caribbean International Movers Association (LACMA)
I don’t get too many inquiries from people moving to Australia from Latin American or the Caribbean but thought I should include LACMA here just in case.
Even though LACMA is the Latin American association represented in FIDI, it does not require its members to be affiliated with FIDI as it maintains its own independent affiliation criteria.
After checking the international associations, do a quick check based on more local associations such as the Better Business Bureau or other country/region based movers associations.
Please note that to be a member of these movers associations does not mean they are qualified international relocation companies.
If you are moving to Australia from the United States:
Better Business Bureau
The BBB website should be your first stop to see if there are any past complaints from customers and to see if the company is listed as a BBB member.
If the relocation company that contacts you is not listed on the BBB site in your state, then ask them why. Just a quick, casual question and not an interrogation.
“I checked to see if you are listed on the BBB site and you are not. Is your listing under a different name (parent company) or a different state?”
This is a good way to approach this question as many companies are listed in different states even though they service the whole country which is the case with the company we used, Rainier Overseas.
Rainier Overseas is located in Washington and listed in the BBB as such, but they service the United States and can organise a move to Australia no matter what state.
U.S. Federal Maritime Commission
On the US Federal Maritime Commission site you are verifying that the international movers are a Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC).
What the heck does that mean? Basically that they can transport your shipment internationally.
Some movers will say that they are but, in fact, they contract it all out. They are the middle man.
You want a company that is listed with the federal maritime commission and does not contract out to another company. Why pay for a middle man?
Using Rainier Overseas as an example again, you can see that they are registered with the Maritime Commission and, therefore, a qualified international mover.
RIM (Registered International Mover) Certification
RIM Certification is part of American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) based in Washington, D.C. It’s a nice certification for an international mover in the US to have as they do have strict requirements but it seems to apply more to US based long distance movers.
A few of the requirements that I noted are: being an established international movers for at least a year and having a BBB score of ‘C.’
To be honest, I would be more comfortable with a company that had more than just one year experience with international shipping and a higher BBB score than ‘C’.
Also, for companies to get an RIM certification they need to be a member of AMSA for a minimum of 18 months and adhere to International ProMover Code of Ethics though ProMover is not an international association or certification and appears to be only associated with AMSA and RIM, no other international certifications.
In short, for moves that are long distance US based, RIM certification is fine but for international moves, I would look for companies with IAM or FIDI FAIM memberships.
Moving Scam Forum
Moving Scam is a site with an extensive forum with several reviews many from members that have moved internationally.
When looking at this site, do a search for Australia in the forums. Be sure to look at the most recent reviews.
If you are moving to Australia from the United Kingdom:
British Association of Removers (BAR)
You want to make sure the overseas removalists are listed in the BAR directory.
Back in 2014, there was an international moving company called Global Moving Systems Ltd that went into liquidation leave their customers without access to their personal belongings and unable to get back their money after liquidation.
Being part of the BAR means “the company is covered by an approved advance payment guarantee scheme”.
Besides the BAR, I don’t know of another review site of international removalists or a site similar to the BBB site we have in the States. Do you?
Please think of SMG if you do come across any helpful resources for finding legit movers in the UK. Cheers.
If you are moving to Australia from the Europe:
Federation of European Movers Associations (FEDEMAC)
FEDEMAC is more for moving companies that for consumers but it’s a good place to see if your movers are listed. FEDEMAC also focuses more on inter-European movers and not overseas moves.
That being said it’s a good place to verify that your movers are listed and in good standing within the industry.
When searching through the directory, remember that it lists all movers and not just international movers. If they have no experience with shipping overseas or to Australia, then you will want to go with a company that does.
If you are moving to Australia from the Canada:
Canadian Association of Movers (CAM)
To become a member of CAM, members must abide by the Certified Movers code of ethics and adhere to the good practice policy established by CAM.
CAM website has an excellent list of resources including a list of recommended international relocation companies.
This should be your number one, go-to source if you are moving from Canada to Sydney.
Hope this helps out for when you start your search for movers.
If you are in the beginning stages of getting your shipping quote, I have several posts about what to look for and a three part series where I breakdown one of our shipping quotes, covering what is covered in the rate and what charges and fees you will be responsible for when your shipment arrives in Australia. You can find all of those posts here.