shipping from UK to Canada
November 21, 2006 5:36 AM   Subscribe

What's the cheapest (but safe) way to ship several heavy boxes from the UK to Canada?

I'm planning a transatlantic move, and will have two or three large boxes full of things like CDs, books and art, above and beyond my plane ticket baggage allotment. Is the most sensible thing to send these large parcels by post? I imagine it will cost £100-£200.

Really I'm just curious about murmurs I've heard about small-scale freight/storage container shipping... I've enough clothes and things that if the price was right I wouldn't mind sending more stuff home.

If anyone has other tips for secure/easy/safe/inexpensive transatlantic mailing, please share!
posted by Marquis to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've moved stuff across the pond (Montreal-Paris / Berlin-Montreal) using surface shipping. Definitely cheaper than any other way, and safe (everything made it OK). Cost is usually according to volume (not weight). A good way to reduce cost is to have it shipped "terminal-to-terminal", i.e. you bring it to the shipper's place and you go pick it up when it comes in. Remember that you have to make a complete list of all items you are shipping to show custom as you fly in. Once your shipment is in, it has to cleared through custom. Again, it is much cheaper if you do it yourself. I've googled this place:

but I'm sure there are plenty others in the UK.
posted by bluefrog at 6:48 AM on November 21, 2006

Some of the small scale shipping companies in London will sell you a recycled juice container,often a blue plastic chest high barrel, that you take home,fill with your stuff then drop back to them.Although most of the traffic from the UK is to the originating countries of immigrant communities I would think that Canada is do-able.
posted by Dr.Pill at 7:02 AM on November 21, 2006

I have used Paysend before. One of many similar but they seem to be particularly liked by Ebay vendors in the UK - they take Paypal. If you have about 45Kg then you are looking at about £200.

A shipping company is probably a better bet however. Last year I shipped a baby brand piano and about 40 boxes from California to the UK for about £1,200. Because of the weak dollar you may find it cheaper to deal with an agent in the USA who can arrange for the stuff to be picked up. If you have a large consignment get several quotes and haggle.
posted by rongorongo at 7:40 AM on November 21, 2006

Ooooh, thank god somebody asked this question. I'm going to be in a similar position (well, Ireland to Canada) in 4 or 5 months. When asking friends about this, they also mentioned the volume over weight thing, and also the fact that it takes a LOOOOOONG time.
posted by antifuse at 7:41 AM on November 21, 2006

If you are going somewhere near the East coast of Canada or near a major port, you should get a quote from a moving company. Overground transportation is expensive but over-sea is cheap.
Call up any major company (allied, pickfords, etc) and ask them to come over. Remember that they are salespeople- you can negotiate, you can get more than one quote and they won't charge anything to come and take a look at your stuff.
Tell them you want a "groupage" rate which means they put your stuff in with a larger shipment. And let them know if you aren't in a rush to get your stuff, that can save you a good amount of money.
posted by cushie at 8:38 AM on November 21, 2006

Call a shipping company (preferably one that does sea and air freight) and ask them to give you a quote on all the options. When I moved London - Los Angeles I was assuming sea freight was cheaper, but in the end air freight worked out the same cost, as the company combined my stuff with other orders and split the cost.
posted by Joh at 10:55 AM on November 21, 2006

Best answer: Before you ship anything, check the rates for excess baggage with your airline. Because flights to and from North America operate on a piece system (ie-you're allowed 2 pieces, each weighing a maximum of X kg), you may be able to bring along an extra piece of luggage for a flat charge.

Air Canada currently charges Can$175 per excess piece of baggage to and from international destinations. The allowed weight of the excess bag is not specified on the website, but you can assume it'll be either 23 or 32 kg. An overweight bag (between 23 and 32 kg) will cost you Can$35. As I see it, then, you can bring an extra 50 kg (2x9 in your baggage allowance and 32 kg for an extra piece) with you on the plane for Can$245. This is likely to be cheaper than trying to ship 50 kg of stuff any other way. Ring your airline to check, though.

Full information on Air Canada's excess baggage charges can be found here.

I looked in to shipping stuff from the UK to the middle of Canada last year at this time. The cheapest rates I found for a small-ish volume of stuff (~40 kg, IIRC) were with Royal Mail. I think they were somewhere in the neighbourhood of 170 quid and there was no appreciable difference in rate between surface and air mail. I brought a hell of a lot of luggage with me on the plane!
posted by lumiere at 4:57 PM on November 21, 2006

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