International Transportation of Household Goods

International Transportation of Household Goods

Published: Jan 3, 2017

Industry Hot Topics at the Global Partner Alliance Summit revealed several trends related to the transportation of Household Goods.  SOLAS, ZIKA fumigation requirements, compliance requirements and new surveying technology carried the most weight.

SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement

SOLAS, “Safety of Life at Sea” (SOLAS), one of the latest regulations placed on steamship vessels effective July 1, 2016, has seen very little impact on overseas shipments of household goods and personal effects. The latest requirement of the SOLAS Convention requires all containers to be weight-certified to determine gross mass and placement on the vessel to maintain proper balance.

Per Rudy Planavsky, Vice President and founding partner of Champion International Moving, Ltd., and one of the expert panelist for the Hot Topics session, the U.S. market has always used certified weight to verify gross mass, so the issue lies more with overseas markets where volume of each container is commonly used because scales are either not available or accessible.

The challenge now is to find a way to obtain a certified weight before arriving at the port. In some countries, that means driving to facilities where they can weigh the shipments, or weighing the shipments at ports where scales are available. While keeping a watchful eye on the future impact of the regulation, there has not been an immediate issue to the extent anticipated with some ports offering their scales to weigh the shipment for a minimal fee and delay.

Zika Fumigation Requirement

Another hot topic for the international shipping industry is Zika and whether containers coming from countries affected by the virus will require mosquito eradication certificates before entering the ports of some countries.

China is the first to establish protocol for shipments entering their ports from 40 countries and regions, including the U.S. that was added to the list in August 2016 amid reports of Zika infections in Florida.  Without a certificate, containers may be subject to quarantine or undergo fumigation at port.  While little is known about fumigation, much attention is being given to:

  • Location of fumigation sites
  • Cost of fumigation
  • Impact on goods and personal effects from chemicals
  • Delays
  • Health issues

With new information posted daily, our household goods service partners are keeping NEI aware of the latest requirements regarding prevention of the spread of Zika through means of international shipping.

Hanjin Shipping and Rickmers Maritime Financial Hardships

Since Rudy informed the Global Partner Alliance of the efforts Hanjin Shipping was making to pull out of its financial debt, an update was issued October 27, 2016 stating that nine of the South Korean-based company’s best vessels will be taken back by HSH Nordbank and leased to Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping, signaling the end of Hanjin as the world’s seventh-largest container-shipping operator. If restructuring proceeds without incident, Hanjin plans to emerge as a small operator involved in intra-Asia trades only.

As of October 24, 2016, 81 of Hanjin’s 97 vessels have unloaded their cargo, seven are headed to South Korea to unload without threat of seizure from creditors, and nine ships, still full of cargo, remain at sea.

We are also keeping an eye on the debt restructuring efforts of Singapore’s Rikmers Maritime that announced it will be unable to meet sizable financial obligations due in March and May of 2017. The company is asking investors to exchange their debt for perpetual bonds to avoid liquidation.

Compliant with Compliance

The international shipping industry is seeing more corporations and relocation management companies (RMCs) around the world requiring signed addendums and service level agreements (SLAs) that they are and will remain compliant on privacy, anti-bribery, and data protection requirements. This came as no surprise to NEI as we, too, ensure that our service partners are held to the same requirements and standards required by our clients.

Household Goods Inventory Surveys Via Video Chat

Fast becoming the household goods industry’s hottest hot topic is SurveyBot, a secure software program that uses video chat via mobile devices as an efficient method to conduct physical inventory surveys, offering convenience for the relocating employee and cost savings to clients.

NEI will continue watching this trend and provide our clients with the information they need to consider implementing this latest technology into their household goods move management program.