How Long Does An International Move Take?

The experience of relocating to a foreign country is both life-changing and exciting, but it also presents a number of challenges. One of the most common questions that individuals have when planning an international move is how long it will take. This question is not a simple one to answer. 

The length of time it takes to move overseas will vary depending on the countries you are moving to and from, how you choose to ship your possessions, and how difficult it will be to gain visas, locate employment, clear your possessions through customs, and settle into your new home. In this post, we will discuss some of the important aspects that you should consider when attempting to move internationally and gauge the amount of time you can expect for the move to be concluded successfully. 

How Long Does It Typically Take To Move Internationally?

The length of an international move will vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of time it takes for you to find a new residence.
  • The total distance between your current country and the one you are relocating to.
  • The number of possessions you plan to pack and have moved with you.
  • The method which you are planning to use for transporting yourself and your possessions to your new home. 
  • Any customs regulations for the country you are moving to.
  • Acquiring all of the necessary documents and visas.

Bearing all of these factors in mind, an international move might take as little as one month or as long as six months. 

Helpful Steps For A Quick And Successful International Move

An international move often entails a significant amount of work, including packing up your possessions, planning transportation, negotiating customs and immigration processes, and establishing your new place of residence. Let’s discuss some beneficial steps you can take to help ensure your move is a successful and less stressful experience.

Preparation And Research

Preparation and research are key to successfully planning for an international move. This is most beneficial when done 3-6 months in advance. To obtain appropriate visas and permissions for the country you are moving to, research the requirements for your new destination. 

Look for temporary or long-term housing. This may be a long-term rental property or a short-term Airbnb. This ensures that you have a secure place to reside in and have your belongings delivered to. Also, don’t forget to get in touch with your landlord or utility provider to make sure the lights, heat, and water are switched on for your arrival!

Customs And Immigration

Upon your arrival, you can expect customs to perform a physical inspection of all goods that are arriving in the country. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel undertake this inspection to make sure the items adhere to all relevant laws and regulations for the country you are entering.

The kind and quantity of products being examined, as well as the number of CBP agents available to complete the evaluation, ultimately determine how long a customs inspection takes. But the majority of inspections may be finished in a few hours. Paying any appropriate tariffs or fees ahead of your arrival and having all necessary documentation ready on hand will help ensure that you clear immigration and customs more quickly. 

Packing And Transportation

Arranging transportation for yourself and your belongings should be done at least 2-3 months before the anticipated move date. Decide what you want to keep, sell, or store as you go through your stuff. Many items may be best left behind or sold as you can possibly attain new items in your new home country for cheaper. 

Employ reputable international movers. This ensures that your belongings are securely and economically packed, arriving at their new destination in one piece and on time. Schedule your relocation at least six weeks beforehand to allow more availability and price flexibility. Make sure all required paperwork is in order, as well. 

Settling In

Allow yourself to settle in a week or two after arriving at your new location. Be sure to explore your new surroundings and learn about your new community. It is also a good idea to register with the local government as soon as you can find the time. Find the closest coffee shop to aid with the long days of jet lag and unpacking that lie ahead.

Acclimating To Your New Home And Environment

Acclimating to your new home will take some time and will surely be an ongoing process. So be patient with yourself and your surroundings. Allow yourself enough time to adjust to the new culture, language, and way of life. Create new habits and routines, meet new people, and explore and experience your new and exciting environment.

Shipping Time Frames

Door-to-door, ocean freight takes 4–8 weeks, whereas air freight takes 2–3 weeks. The most important factors affecting shipment times will be the destination country, move size, and mode of transportation. Based on door-to-door service, below are some general examples of expected shipping time frames for ocean and air frieght.


  • North America/Canada: 1-2 weeks
  • South America: 4-6 weeks
  • Europe: 4-6 weeks
  • Australia: 5-7 weeks
  • Africa: 6-9 weeks
  • Asia: 6-9 weeks


  • North America/Canada: 1 week
  • South America: 1-2 weeks
  • Asia: 1-2 weeks
  • Europe: 1-2 weeks
  • Australia: 1-3 weeks
  • Africa: 2-3 weeks

These numbers may be useful for estimating how long the shipment will take. However, to discuss the specifics of your relocation, it would be both wise and extremely beneficial if you consulted an international moving company for a more definitive timeframe and assistance with the move overall. 

What Delays Might Be Expected?

Weather, port congestion, and customs delays are the most frequent unanticipated events that might prolong the overall duration of your move. However, issues with paperwork and your preferred international mover might also occur. 

A customs check should take at least three to four days but can take longer in some cases. Port congestion is another significant issue that you might come up against. Large US ports, like the Port of Los Angeles, have been known to face delays for weeks. So be thorough in your research and in your preparations leading up to the move. Be sure you allow yourself plenty of time for any mishaps or delays along the way.

Contact Us For Your International Move

Hiring the services of a professional international moving company can be a huge contributor to help lessen the stress and time it takes for your move to be completed. At Sea & Air, we will be with you every step of the way to ensure that your move goes down without a hitch! For more information about our services or how to make a successful international move, contact us today. 

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