Eastern Europe Shipping Blog

Expert tips on smarter shipping between the U.S. and Eastern Europe, including shipping of heavy goods.

Moving to Poland from the USA: Best Practices for Shipping Household Goods


Are you moving to Poland from the USA?

You’re not alone.  Poland has become an attractive destination country for U.S. expats and Poland natives moving “back home.”

One of the most daunting tasks you’ll face is shipping your personal and household goods from your current U.S. home to Poland. Do it right and your goods will be waiting for you upon your arrival. Do it wrong and you’ll pay a lot more than you should and your vital belongings might be held up due to improper paperwork and packing. This article includes helpful tips for timely, compliant shipment of your personal effects to your new home in Poland.


Selecting the Right Partner

Chances are you’re not an expert in the logistics of a trans-Atlantic move. So your first, and most important, step in the process is choosing an international moving specialist – preferably one who understands logistics and customs requirements in Poland. Here are some things to look for in a moving partner:


Experience Shipping Personal Effects

Many shipping companies can arrange to ship a container of goods. But you’ll want a partner with long experience shipping personal effects, as opposed to only shipping cargo for businesses. That company will take a more personal approach and can advise you throughout the process. If you have questions (and you’ll have lots of them), the right company will have the answers. In addition to a knowledgeable advisor, you’ll want a company that ships regularly to Eastern Europe and can secure a favorable rate from the steamship line. The vast majority of people will ship their personal effects via ocean freight due to the very high cost of air freight for large-volume shipments.


Expertise Shipping to Poland

Look for a partners with an expert knowledge of shipping goods into Poland, including the logistics of efficiently moving goods inland, and what to expect at Poland Customs. A knowledgeable partner will help you reduce shipping time and costs.


Bilingual Communication

This may not be requirement for you, but it can help to deal with a shipping partner with team members who are fluent in Polish to ensure effective communication. At I.C.E. Transport, for instance, many staff members in the U.S. office are fluent English/Polish speakers. Also, the company has an office in Poland where team members interact seamlessly with Customs officials, if necessary, and coordinate with local trucking companies to ensure a smooth move, from door to door.


Limiting the Hit from Import Duties

moving to Poland from the USA-87180398International moving does come with costs, but paying duties on goods transported into your new home country likely won’t be one of them. Most countries allow duty-free importation of household goods. Furniture, clothing, kitchenware, electronics, motor vehicles – most items you’ve used in daily life – are fine. As long as Customs agents in Poland agree that these are used personal effects, you won’t pay duties.

But here are a couple of things to know.

Polish customs law requires that all imported household items be owned for at least six months to avoid paying duties, including motor vehicles. In some cases, officials may ask you to produce a receipt – or a vehicle registration plus insurance certificate – to prove the items were used and not just purchased prior to the move. You also need to prove that you’ve lived in the U.S. for at least a year to avoid paying import duties. 

One sure way to incur duties when moving to Poland from the USA is to pre-purchase and load items in bulk into your container, such as cleaning products, paper goods or detergents. These will be seen by customs officials as outside the scope of personal use items and subject to import duties. For more information, read our article on shipping household goods overseas, duty free.


Preparing for an International Move

As with most major projects, proper planning is critical when organizing an international move. Creating a master checklist noting each step in the process can help. Use this international moving checklist to jumpstart your plan for moving to Poland from the USA.

Once you’ve selected a moving provider, that partner will assist with a number of preparatory details, including helping you determine what size container (or containers) you need for your move. Shipping containers come in two basic sizes: 20-foot (approximately 19.5 feet by 7.5 feet by 7.5 feet, 1,097 cubic feet of capacity) or 40-foot (approximately 39.5 feet by 7.5 feet by 7.5 feet, 2,222 cubic feet of capacity).

Your international moving partner will also help guide you through the process of export and import paperwork for your move, based on the personal goods being shipped. For more detail, check out this comprehensive guide to shipping personal effects overseas. The only item that’s likely to need export paperwork in the U.S. is a motor vehicle. In that case, the title must be presented to customs for clearance at least 72 hours prior to departure. Your provider will also guide you through the process of creating a packing list detailing all the goods to be shipped.

When purchasing insurance for moving to Poland from the USA, determine an amount based on a reasonable fair market value of all your goods. That’s what the insurance company will pay if there is a damage or loss claim.


From Your Home to the Port

Once you’ve determined the container size, your shipping provider will give you a quote for door-to-door service. This does not include packing or unpacking the container – you are responsible for that.

When a date has been determined, the container is delivered to your property by the trucking company for loading. Unlike a typical moving van, a shipping container doesn’t have a built-in ramp for loading, as it’s attached to a chassis, so it’s recommended to build or rent one so you can easily walk into and out of the container. 

A typical window for loading time is three hours; after that, there will be an hourly fee assessed for the driver’s wait time. Another option is to have the container dropped off in your driveway or in front of the house for two business days or over the weekend. For homeowners with a lot of belongings who prefer to work at their own pace, this is the preferable (though not the cheapest) arrangement.

For securing items such as furniture or other bulky goods, containers come with floor and ceiling hooks to attach moving straps, which can be purchased at any home improvement store. You can also use blocks to secure large items by screwing them into the wooden floor.

On the appointed day, the transportation provider arranges for container pickup and delivery to the port of departure. It’s recommended to work with a licensed NVOCC who signs a direct contract with the steamship line to move your goods. You really want a single-source partner who can handle all the details on your behalf. This includes ocean shipping, trucking, assisting with paperwork, customs brokerage, and everything in between.


From Arrival Port to Your Final Destination

The average time in transit from a U.S. east coast port to Poland is about 25 days. There are no direct routes to the Polish ports of Gdansk or Gdynia. Shipments first go to larger ports in Europe like Hamburg or Bremerhaven, Germany or Rotterdam in the Netherlands. From there, they are transloaded onto smaller vessels for the Baltic Sea crossing to Poland ports.

A more expensive option to get your goods shipped faster is having your container loaded onto a truck at the initial European port and driven to your destination in Poland.

Once in port, your container is brought to Polish Customs for clearance. Again, your international moving services provider can advise you in this area.


Work With a Specialist in Household Goods Moving to Poland from the USA

I.C.E. Transport, a licensed NVOCC headquartered in New Jersey, has decades of experience helping individuals and families ship household goods overseas – with specialized expertise in relocations to and from Poland. We manage every nuance and detail, from door to door.

You’ll be assigned your personal moving specialist, who will prepare necessary shipping documentation and manage all details of the move until your belongings safely arrive.

Most importantly, we understand the stress an international move can put on families and will work patiently to answer any and all of your questions to ensure a smooth, worry-free transition to your new home. For more information or to get a quote, contact I.C.E. Transport today.


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