French Living Magazine Q&A

I am planning to move to the Loire Valley in a few months time and concerned about moving all our possessions currently occupying a four-bedroom house in Oxford to our new home, located a mile down a farm track. What am I allowed to take into France and what do I need to consider to make the move as smooth as possible?
Alison Wilson via e-mail.

Philip Pertoldi, Managing Director, Abels Moving Services, advises:

The secret behind a successful move is early detailed planning. Although France is just across the English Channel, there are several additional factors to consider compared to moving within the UK. In selecting a removals company it is best to select a specialist for the job. This means a member of FIDI (Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux – the International Federation of International Movers) that has its independently audited FAIM quality assurance standard. After all it would not be advisable to have a non GAS registered engineer installing your gas appliances, so why trust all your possessions while moving abroad to a company that fails to reach the high quality standards expected of the industry.

Concerning insurance cover for your possessions, another standard to look for in a company is that it is FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) authorised and regulated, as only FCA approved companies can legally provide insurance services. Beware simple legal liability only cover. A good indication of the professional competence of the company is the way they conduct a survey of your household contents. If they just do a cursory glance of what needs to be moved, ignoring issues such as delicate and fragile items, it is likely the job will not be done properly.

At this stage it is also important to remember to show the surveyor all of the items to be moved, including the often forgotten contents of the shed or garage. This ensures a more accurately costed quotation and allows the remover to better plan the move to meet your needs.

Moves to France and the rest of Europe are normally completed with large removal vehicles, typically around 18m in length, 4m in height and 2.5m wide. Most movers will also offer a part load service, where several customer consignments are consolidated together to fill the vehicle. Although more economical, if tight scheduling for the move is needed a part load may not offer the right solution because of the risk of delays, as any difficulties with any of the other consignments will hold up the overall delivery timetable.

If time is critical it will be worth requesting a dedicated vehicle for your move. Many beautiful French properties are located along narrow country roads. Given the size of the delivery vehicles, it is essential road access to the property is investigated in advance. The penalty for not doing this, if it is discovered that the property can not be reached by the remover’s pantechnicon, is the extra cost, delay and risk of breakage, of hiring at short notice shuttle vans from a local company to complete the job. This can be avoided, as most removers if they are aware in advance can arrange at optimal cost for shuttle vehicles to be hired through trusted international affiliates. In the case of some upper floor apartments, access may be so poor that an external hoist may need to be hired and the goods bought in through a window. If this is an issue make sure the remover is informed and can plan accordingly.

Concerning restrictions on moving household goods into France, there are very few because the move is within the European Union and you should be advised those items which can not be carried for health and safety reasons. It is advisable to have the goods being moved professionally packed. This will minimise the risk of damage and also helps to reduce insurance restrictions of cover. Additionally, in respect to insurance, it is important to be aware that there is generally a short notice period after delivery for any insurance claims to be made. With this in mind, make sure all items are unpacked and inspected for damage as soon as possible and not just placed in the garage to be unpacked and possible damage discovered months later.

Although a move within the UK, let alone an international move, may seem initially daunting, much of the stress can be eliminated by the careful selection of a specialist international moving company and by providing them as far in advance as is practical all of the information they require to make it a pleasant experience and one you’ll remember for all the right reasons.