Expats interested in shipping household goods to India will find an abundance of service providers offering both piecemeal delivery and complete relocation company packages from anywhere in the world. Expats will generally have the choice of using sea freight, airfreight or both. The cost of shipping is determined by volume and method of delivery of the goods, as well as how far they will need to be transported.
Sea freight will, in most cases, prove to be more cost effective, especially if moving a large volume of goods. Airfreight is delivered much quicker but costs more. As a general rule, it’s best to divide shipments; send the essentials ahead of time via airfreight, and goods that are not immediate necessities via sea freight.
Expats should also keep in mind that furniture can be bought relatively cheaply in India, and many accommodation options come either fully or partially furnished, so it may not even be necessary to ship furniture at all.
Hiring an international removal company
The process of cross-continental relocation is best handled by international removal companies familiar with Indian transport and customs rules. These companies will survey everything that needs to be shipped and issue a quote based on the size of the shipment. It's worthwhile to get several quotes for comparison before deciding which company to go with.
On the day of the move, the company will pack everything, take inventory, do basic disassembling of furniture and deal with all customs formalities. Expect quotes to include delivery and unpacking services, as well as the removal of debris, and basic reassembling of furniture at the destination.
Expats should take out shipping insurance with a company not involved in the removal in order to ensure adequate protection and coverage of their goods.
Duty-free shipping to India
Expats planning on becoming formal residents of India may be able to import their used personal and household goods duty free. There are some exceptions to this rule, though, so expats should consult the Indian government’s baggage rules before finalising their shipment.
Most expat relocation packages offer an allowance for sea and airfreight, and it's best to take full advantage of any airfreight allowance for essentials needed right away.
E-commerce has also grown as a strong industry in India, and shipping and delivery costs may be charged for buying goods from outside the country. Be sure to check all related fees, whether bringing in old items or buying new ones online from outside of India.
Shipping pets to India
The rules for shipping pets to India vary according to an expat's home country, but a vet's certificate and proof of certain vaccinations, such as against rabies, are standard requirements. Pets will also need to have a microchip implanted.
In some cases, expats may need a particular permit along with their visa to import their pets. Expats wishing to bring their furry family members into the country will also have to prioritise their search for pet-friendly accommodation. As animal import regulations can be complex, it's best to consult with a pet-relocation company.
►For more on deliveries and the postal service, see Keeping in Touch in India
►For specific cities, see our shipping and removals pages for Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai
Are you an expat living in India?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to India. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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