Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shipping Your Belongings Overseas - "If I pack myself, will I get a discount?"

I'll start from the end, a discount (if any) will be given only on the cost of packaging materials. 
For the most part labor cost components do not change at all.

Clients who come to me with this question are usually trying to cut costs. 
Of course, transportation costs can be thousands of dollars or more and we'd all love to save costs.

It is important to state up front, an International move is completely different than a local move.   
Naturally, an international move includes many parameters in the equation of added risk. 
For example; loading and unloading contents more than once, transferring the container from one vehicle to another or to a train or onto a vessel, use of the crane at the port and other operational aspects that may cause your household goods to be damaged.

Therefore, professional packaging, done by highly skilled teams is preferable in most cases to maintain and protect your possessions, especially when compared to self-packaging. 
No one would want to get his shipping carton crushed, torn or cut
As part of that effort, a trained packer will adapt packaging material to pack and protect (carton certain size, thickness, Dupont corners of furniture, etc.). 
Even the location of each object in a carton has a meaning and consequently also the location of cartons inside the container.
Of course, a professional packing team from shipping company arrives with new export quality packaging materials.

Another aspect worth considering is cargo insurance depending on the packing (independent versus professional).

There are two main types of insurance; "Total loss " or "all risks".
“Total Loss” insurance is the cheapest of the two.  

This insurance will cover only the full loss of the entire shipment (fell into the sea, lost etc.). 
"All risk" Insurance cover almost any type of damage - including even a single item in the shipment – this is the most common coverage in household moves.

Insurance companies that issue marine policies for household goods, will generally not insure client packed boxes with  "all risk” insurance. 
“All risk” insurance is issued only for goods that have been professionally packed, by shipping companies.

To sum up, sending the contents of your home across the ocean? It is recommended to require professional packaging by a recognized and well established company in the field. 
Such packaging will ensure the arrival of your belongings intact and as close to their original condition as possible and allow comprehensive insurance coverage…just in case ..

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Shipping From Israel to the United States

Few adventures match the stress of moving around the world. 
The excitement of starting a new life in the United States can compensate for the myriad details that go in to moving from Israel to the United States.

While Israel offers many opportunities for advancement and success, the United States by virtue of its vast size and openness oftentimes presents opportunities that will allow one to make an even better contribution to Israel upon one’s return.

Of course, when moving, it is important to find a shipping company that will provide you with a complete door to door move.
This means the moving company will send a packing crew to pack all your goods. 
After packing your things, they will make a numbered packing list and give you a copy for your records.

When your shipment arrives in the United States, you will use this same packing list to check off all your boxes to make sure all has been safely delivered. 
If you see any damage during delivery, you should make a note next to the number of the box or item that was damaged. 

This will help when filing a claim with your insurance company at a later date if necessary.

After you finish unpacking, you will hopefully be able to look back on an experience that could have been stressful, but because you picked a moving company that cared about you and for you, was not stressful at all.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

International Shipping – Why is the cost of international shipping for Household Goods higher than for international shipping of commercial goods?

When it comes time to get pricing for international shipping, one of the first questions most international shipping companies will ask is “What is the commodity” or “Are you shipping Household goods and Moving, or is this commercial”.
There are many reasons for this, and all of them have an effect on the cost.

First and foremost, not all companies know how to deal with Household Goods.
Not only are there usually special requirements for packing and loading the container (something which is almost NEVER done for international shipments of commercial goods); The procedures for customs release are different; the rules for what can be shipped as Household Goods are different; and the services required in the destination country (such as sending a crew to unload the goods into a home and unwrap furniture) are different.
As such, these extra services require the use of companies that are capable of packing and wrapping; loading into a container or wooden crates; and unloading the container into a home.
Most international shipping jobs of commercial goods require NONE of these services.

Of course, most homes don’t have a loading dock capable of parking a truck the size which is often required for international shipping.
Next, the cost of Ocean Freight for international shipping is based on the commodity being shipped.
It is pretty obvious why a shipment of dangerous goods would be more expensive than a shipment of non-dangerous goods; however it may not be so clear that a shipment of new washing machines for resale would cost less than a shipment of used household goods for personal use.
The reasons why this is aren't important – the fact is that Household Goods are always the highest price for ocean freight.
(Household goods are also the lowest priority for ship lines as far as loading order).

Another reason that international shipping of Household Goods is more expensive is simply that most people who ship Household Goods require more time and attention from the shipping company involved.
The typical commercial shipper knows how to fill out the forms, and in many countries the process for release of commercial goods is simplified.

As you can see, even in the event that you plan on packing and loading the container yourself and unloading and unpacking the container yourself at destination, the costs will still be more than your neighborhood factory who is shipping the same size container of new clothing for resale to the same destination.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Picking an Israeli Moving Company

When moving from Israel to a foreign country, many tasks await you.
From closing utilities accounts to handling insurance transition from Israel to your new home and handling schools for your children, picking a mover is but one of many.

This article will help you pick a mover who will do a good job for and hopefully give you no surprises. 
Choosing a mover in Israel is very similar to choosing a mover anywhere in the world.

First, get recommendations from friends who have recently moved. 
If these friends moved to the same place you are moving – all the better. 
Each destination country has its own idiosyncrasies and a removal company who specializes in your country is a clear advantage. 
A company with experience to your destination will be able to advise and direct you what to avoid and to declare in order to minimize or eliminate taxes.
An experienced moving company will also know the required paperwork at destination so you can prepare these documents in advance.

After assembling a list of 2 – 4 recommended moving companies, invite them to your house to perform a pre-move survey. 
During this survey, the company’s representative will get a tour of your home while you tell him what is going and what is staying. 
At the same time, you should take advantage of this time to determine the surveyor’s professionalism and knowledge. 
While the surveyor will not be packing or loading your container, as the company’s representative you have a chance to learn what you can expect from his or her company.

After the survey, you can expect to receive a quote. 
When studying the quotes you receive, make sure you are comparing oranges to oranges.
Are all companies offering the same service?  Are all companies including the same costs?  Study the “not included” section very closely. 
Is there anything there that you will definitely have to pay?  Ask your sales person. 
If the answer is yes, this should be a red flag. 
Any cost you definitely have to pay, should be stated and listed up front and not hidden in the “Not Included.” Section.

Once you know the price, add in the reputation of the company, your friends’ recommendations, and your impression of the company / surveyor. 
With this information, you should be able to make a well informed and thought out decision.

Safe travels.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Down That Way

Traveling to an international conference from Israel always involves many hours of flights, something I have become used to.

However, my first trip to India on two weeks’ notice was unusually special. 
Sonigo Shipping was newly accepted to FIDI and when David Sonigo said “Go to the conference”, I didn’t ask questions, I just started looking for flight and hotel reservations.

When I could not find a hotel reservation, I should have understood, this was not meant to be.  However, I did find a great business class fare that was cheaper than flying coach on El Al, so I was off.

Or so I thought…I flew charter to Istanbul where I was to catch my business class flight to New Delhi.  After disembarking in Istanbul, I started asking where is the Air India desk.  When little English is spoken, hand gestures sufficed to point me “down that way.”  When I got to “down that way” I asked again and was pointed even father “down that way.”

When I go to the exit of the terminal and still had not found the Air India desk, I assumed I had simply missed it.  At this point I met my first English speaker who explained, “down that way” was 75 kilometers away at Istanbul’s other airport!!

After an excruciatingly long taxi ride, I surprisingly (to me anyway) made it to the Air India desk where my flight was waiting for me.

Even with cab fare, it was still cheaper than El Al!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Barbra Streisand Tel Aviv 2013

Barbara Streisand ended her World Tour in Tel Aviv, Israel on 23 June with the 100th live performance of her career.

Sonigo International Shipping handled the 
household moves to Israel of some 40 tons of air cargo. 
Besides clearing the shipment under ATA Carnet, Sonigo unloaded the plane and loaded the trucks which brought the equipment to the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv.  Sonigo’s crews then unloaded the equipment used for the staging, lighting and sound equipment.

After her performance, Sonigo’s crews packed her equipment, sending some 10 tons by air cargo and loading the rest in two 40 foot containers.

According to General Manager David Sonigo, “Timing is everything in show business.  We cannot permit any delays and the planning of an operation like this requires us to plan for and accommodate contingencies…because if something can happen – it usually does!  At the same time, the performance must start on time and we guarantee it.”

“Of course, household moves to Israel are our core business, but our crews love the extra hours working in show business.”

Established in 1986, Sonigo Shipping with some 60 team members, provides shipping and moving services to thousands of families a year.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Starting a new business based on importing items from overseas seems so easy – after all everything seems so cheap in America, or China or almost any place else – besides Israel!

This might be right, but then again, it might not be.  Your in-depth analysis of whether a business is worth it or not is critical when deciding about any business and importing is no different.

First, only a business entity can import a commercial quantity of goods.  Up to two items can be considered personal import.  More than two is a commercial quantity and you must be a business, with VAT id to import these goods.

Second, you must determine if permits are required for the product you want to import.  Most food and heath items require permits.  All electric items that plug into an outlet require a permit from the Standards Institute.  

A licensed customs broker can help you determine what permits you need, although in most cases you should investigate on your own.  Unless the customs broker has extensive experience with your line of products, he or she may not know the best way to categorize your products and your own investigation will contribute to your saving money on taxes and time with permits.

Every product has an HS code (Harmonized System). The HS code is an internationally accepted coding system used by Customs.  Asking your supplier for the HS code will save you time and effort in determining the item’s tax rate and if permits are required.

Most finished goods are taxed at 12%, while most raw materials are taxed at 8%.  If goods are made and imported from a country with a “free trade” with Israel, you will need to supply the appropriate Certificate of Origin and then you will be exempt of the 8% - 12% Customs Duties mentioned above.  There is no exemption from VAT (currently 18%), although as a business, this does not really cost you as it is a pass through tax.

So far, we have discussed taxes and permits…the next step in determining the viability of an import business will revolve around the cost of shipping.  You can buy goods from your supplier, including shipping to your door, although this is very rare.  In most cases you will buy with FOB or EXW terms.

FOB means Free on Board and means the supplier is responsible for delivering the goods to the port or your shipper’s warehouse and taking care of export customs formalities. You will be responsible for shipping from the port to the final destination.

EXW means Ex Works and means you are responsible for picking up the goods at your supplier’s warehouse and all shipping costs to the final destination.

If you are in a hurry to get your product, you will consider air cargo.  While very expensive, it is also very quick.  With light weight and compact products, this may be the most economical way to ship.   When considering small air shipments, courier (such as DHL, UPS or Fedex) is often the best way to ship as they will provide door to door service.  

You might also consider the Postal Service’s Express Mail service, although this will take 2 – 4 days longer than the private courier service.  The best advantage with Express Mail is they usually do not take into account volume which considerably increases the cost with the private courier service.  This policy can change so you will want to verify this when you are ready to ship.

If the shipment is larger, then you will probably ship via air cargo.  When considering air cargo, you must verify the maximum  pallet size that will fit in the plane.  Different planes have different loading capacities.  You don’t want your shipment delayed until the plane with the right size cargo hold flies on your lane.  

Air shipment charges are based on weight with a minimum charge of 10 lbs to the cubic foot (or 167 kgs to the cubic meter.) This means a bulky light weight item will be very expensive to ship via air.  

Ocean shipments take longer and are significantly cheaper than air shipments.  An ocean shipment can be via an exclusive container, called an FCL (Full Container Load).  FCLs come in three sizes – 20 foot, 40 foot and 40 foot “High Cube” which is one foot higher.

If you have less than a full container, you will probably ship your goods as an LCL (Less than Container Load).  In this case you will pay by volume – either per cubic foot or per cubic meter.  In rare cases where you ship heavy items such as printed goods or stone, your charge will be based on the rate of 1 ton being charged at the rate of 1 cubic meter.

Your forwarder will handle all shipping arrangements.

In either case, air or sea shipment, you will need a licensed Customs Broker to clear your goods through Customs.  Most brokers have representatives at the airport (Ben Gurion) and the sea ports (Ashdod, Eilat and Haifa).  Once cleared, you or your forwarder will arrange delivery of the goods from the port to your warehouse.  You will want to do this as quickly as possible to avoid or at least limit expensive port storage fees.

This brief outline gives you a few pointers to help make your business a success, but obviously there is much more to learn and check before making the decision to start an import business.  You must prepare profit and loss and cash flow projections (don’t forget the VAT payment required to clear your goods through Customs – an outlay long before you have any income.)

These projections will include all your operating expenses.  Remember, your salary is one of those important expenses as well.

With a lot of hard work, long hours, much Siyatta Dishmaya, BE”H, you can make a business succeed in Israel.