Planning & Organising Removals To Spain
Removals to Spain - various options, their costs, pros and cons. Where to get quotes and how to choose your removals company, essential paperwork, shipping pets and many more
One of the easiest ways to deal with moving your belongings to Spain is to hire an international relocation company.
International moving companies usually provide a full package of services to make the process easier. These include packing, dismantling/assembling furniture, storage, insurance, and dealing with customs. Many also offer pet transport as an additional service.
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When choosing a removals company, check that they have at least one of the following accreditations:
Most removal companies offer online quote calculators. These are very useful for your initial research, or you can just phone around to collect a few rough quotes. Remember that you will only receive the final quote after a company representative speaks to you and visually inspects the items you want to move.
Also, online estimates don’t usually include extra costs such as insurance, handling fees, or minimum shipment charges. Don’t forget to discuss these with the companies when you are considering your options, as they are hidden costs that can quickly add up.
Companies will usually offer packing services, or you can choose to pack your goods yourself. Whatever your choice, you will be given appropriate packing materials beforehand.
When a company does packing for you, they are responsible for the inventory. Most of them use electronic and photographic inventories, which is much easier than if you have to do it all by yourself with a pen and paper. Professional removers will also make sure that your inventory is translated into Spanish for customs and declarations.
International moving companies are generally experienced in filling out all the necessary paperwork and duty calculations on your behalf, which is very useful because the system of duties can be quite complicated.
If you are under pressure time wise, then air freight might be the best option for you. There are quite a few airports in Spain that are served by international removals companies, including many popular expat destinations such as Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, La Palma, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, Tenerife South, etc.
What you get with Air Freight:
Air freight is definitely the priciest option, and it can sometimes cost several times that of sea freight. However, if you’re in a hurry, it’s a good way to move at least some of your most urgent possessions as fast as possible.
Moving your belongings by road is one of the most popular options, and there are plenty of removals companies operating between the UK and Spain.
You can book both a groupage load and a full removal.
A groupage load is perfect if you need to move just a few items and there’s no urgency. Road freight companies delivering partial loads from the UK to Spain usually operate on a weekly basis.
A fully loaded van or lorry starts from the UK and travels across Spain, delivering small loads on the way.
When it comes to a full household removal via road freight, you will have a dedicated vehicle come to your home, take your goods away, and deliver them to your chosen destination.
In some cases, it can work faster than air freight if the driver goes straight to the destination point after loading. In general, these kinds of journeys can take about 48 hours, so you can usually hop on a plane to Spain after your lorry departs and get your possessions the next day.
There is a very handy resource that can help you start collecting quotes online: www.shiply.com. All you need to do is to enter your details and you will start collecting quotes within minutes.
The more specific you are, the closer your quick quote will be to the final one. There’s even an opportunity to upload photos of the items you want to take to Spain to help removers give you a more precise estimate.
You can also chat online to every remover who gives you a quote and see each remover’s customer rating.
When negotiating your removals by road, be sure to clear up all possible issues in good time. Questions to ask:
Our research shows that for an average 3-bedroom house, the initial online quote for road freight starts at just below £1,900 and can go up to, or just above, £4,000.
Check carefully what services each quote includes before accepting an offer. Some of the cheap ones may include the most basic package and just one porter. You need to talk to different companies and get them evaluate the contents of your house personally to obtain useful final quotes.
This is the most popular option with most international moving companies.
If you choose to move this way, your goods will be loaded directly into containers, with a customs seal placed on each. These will then be loaded onto the vessel and delivered to your new home. However, transporting containers to Spain via sea freight is in general a slow process, so you do need to plan well in advance.
You can opt for a whole container (dedicated container load), or a partial load (shared container load).
Most companies offer 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, 20ft, and 40ft containers. On average, door-to-door container shipping from the UK to Spain takes between 1 and 2 weeks.
In general, shipping your furniture to Spain can be on the pricey side. Depending on the size of your cargo and the options you choose, you will be looking at a bill between £3,000 and £7,000.
Shared container load is can be a perfect option if you only want to move the contents of a one-bedroom flat, a studio apartment, or just a few household items.
However, even if you have a bigger load, you could still use a shared container. This is an example of what can be shipped if you book ¾ of a 40ft container: 1 car, 3 sofas, 2 double beds, 2 TVs, 3 bikes, 2 armchairs, 2 single beds, 2 motorbikes, 50 boxes.
If you are transporting your car to Spain, you can pack household and car related items inside it. Typical examples of such items are first aid kit, fire extinguisher, warning triangle, spare tires or any other replacement parts, and any furniture you can fit in.
An estimated door-to-door delivery with a shared container is around 7-9 weeks.
A dedicated container is ideal if you want to ship over the contents of an entire home. You can choose between a 20ft or 40ft shipping container. As an example, a 20ft container will comfortably fit the contents of a three-bedroom home.
If you hire a 40ft container, you can also add your car and pack it full of household items.
You can easily fit the contents of 4-5 bedroom house into a 40ft container without worrying that you have to leave something behind. Estimated door-to-door delivery takes around 4 -6 weeks.
There are three options available when you choose a shipping container:
This is the cheapest and most basic option. You will have to organise the delivery of your goods to your container in the port of origin, and you will also be responsible for picking them up from the destination port and transporting them to your new home.
As an example, London – Barcelona port to port shipping will cost you £800-£885 for a 20ft container and £1070-£1200 for 40ft container.
With this option, a container of your choice is dropped off at your house, allowing you to pack your possessions and fill the container yourself. At the other end, the shipping company drops the container at your new house, and you will unload it. You can recruit local help with both packing/unpacking and loading/unloading if you want to.
Door to door is the most common choice and comes at a price. Your mover will deliver your container to the house, pack it, move it to the port, ship it, deliver to your new house, and then unpack it. This is the easiest option and is definitely worth paying a bit extra if you can.
Finally, there is always an option of hiring or purchasing a van, filling it with what you need to take over to Spain and driving it yourself.
This might not be the cheapest option, as you need to factor in fuel, tolls, overnight stays, ferry charges, etc. It’s also outright tiring. However, if organised well, it might turn out to be a great journey.
There are a few things to consider before you start loading up your van.
An important thing to consider when doing DIY removals is the available payload of your van (i.e. how much you are allowed to transport in it).
Most vans popular with DIY removers weigh around 2300 to 2400 kg without any load. Add to this a tank of fuel at 90 kg, a spare wheel, a couple of passengers, personal luggage, and your available payload will be around 1000kg. It will be even less with Luton type vans.
It’s all about weight, not the physical space. Even if your van is just ¾ loaded, but the weight exceeds the legal limit, you risk being stopped and fined.
UK traffic police has intensified van checks recently. If caught, you will have to offload excess weight and hire somebody to come and pick it up. You’ll also be fined.
Many ports in Spain and France are installing weigh bridges, so it’s quite probable your van will be weighed before you board the ferry or train. They fine quite heavily for overloading.
So, don’t chance it, check and make sure you’re within legal limits.
Here’s how you can do it:
You will need two measurements that can be found on your van’s VIN plate:
To work out how much you can load into a van (payload) and be within the legal GVW limit, you need to subtract the van’s unladen weight from the van’s gross vehicle weight (GVW).
Suppose the GVW is 3500kg. The unladen weight of the vehicle is 2210kg. Your payload is 1290kg.
The 1290kg is the total weight of what you can safely load into the van. Remember, this includes you, all your passengers, and their luggage. For example, if your vehicle is carrying three passengers weighing in at 12 stone each (76kg), this will use up 228kg before you even start adding any cargo.
Here are a few useful tips:
Alternatively, there’s a possibility to hire a van in Spain when you are sorting out your rent or house purchase, drive over to the UK, fill it with your belongings, and drive back to Spain.
If you do this, make sure you deal with a reputable van hire company. Ask around for recommendations, and be sure to read all the papers before you sign so you know which accidents and damages are covered.
Be prepared to pay a deposit, and make sure you understand the conditions on which your deposit will be returned to you.
There are a few small self-hire companies in the UK that do UK – Spain one-way hire.
Check out Vanomos and Way2gohire, they offer Luton vans for around £120 a day including insurance and breakdown cover. Make sure you read and understand the contract before signing anything, as some accidents or damages may not be covered.
They will also require a deposit.
Enquire in advance about the pick up and drop off points, as they might be a fair distance away and you will need to arrange transportation.
Under EU laws, European citizens don’t pay any customs duty on any personal belongings or household items they bring into Spain.
When you are shipping household items and other personal possessions into Spain, there is a certain amount of paperwork required. If you deal with an international removals company, they will take care of most of the documents.
If you do it yourself, you might need:
While few people ever get stopped and checked, it’s good to be prepared.
It’s possible to drive your pet in the car/van over the border or to transport it through your removals company. Most international removers provide this kind of service. So, if you would like your remover to transport your pet, make sure you let them know from the beginning.
Whether you are transporting your pet yourself or planning to do it through your removals company, there are certain requirements for pets to be able to cross the Spanish border.
Your pet needs to be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15-digit pet microchip, after which it must be vaccinated for rabies.
If this is the first rabies vaccination after being chipped, your pet will need to wait 21 days before travelling. Meanwhile, ask your vet to update the EU Pet Passport.
You’ll need to sign a Declaration of Non-Commercial Transport to indicate that your pet is indeed your pet and you’re not going to sell it or give it away the moment you cross the border. You can travel with a maximum of five pets for non-commercial regulations to apply.
It’s not a problem to insure your pet in Spain, and taking into account possible vet’s fees, it’s definitely worth doing.
You can start looking for a pet insurance online. Sites like Mapfre, Santalucía or Ocaso can offer good deals. There is also a specialist pet insurer SegurVet.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions – yes, this means reading the small print carefully to know what can make your insurance invalid. In some cases, forgetting or being late with vaccinating your pet could invalidate your policy.