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Worldly Possessions

With the UK rented home being completely kitted out, we decided to ship some of our existing chattels to furnish our North American base.

Here’s a strange fact. Your family will go through all their possessions and sort them out in two piles, those to be packed, and those to be disposed of. The former will be those precious little items that sentiment will not let you part with, and the remainder, all good stuff that you haven’t managed to flog and can’t justifiably drag to the other side of the great pond.

And so the last day at your place will be like “Come on down, the price is right!” All those dissenters will turn up with roof racks and cart off your worldly assets, shaking their heads, and rubbing their hands, as they go.

The oddity is that when the retained goods finally catch up with you, two months later, and you anxiously open the crates, it appears to be full of utter junk. What you freely gave away, you could really do with. Never let your heart rule your head. My advice: start disposing of all your assets as early on as you can, enabling you to attain the best possible price. Every penny counts, so liquidate EVERYTHING.

Package up the photos, teddies and other treasures you want to keep and stick them in your apartment’s or a relative’s attic. When returning for a visit, you will have the rationale to downsize these considerably, saving all the hassle and expense of shipment.

If you do intend to bring goods into Canada make sure that you have a full manifest. This is a list of what you are bringing in, and what box or container it’s housed in. If it’s a teapot, then give a full description, its current value and location (box number). Your shipper will probably offer to arrange insurance and will need to know exactly what you want covered. The best way to do this would be on a spreadsheet using a PC, so that you can run two columns for the values, one for insured items, the other for the remainder which you are willing to take a risk on. The lower the cover required, obviously the lower the premium payable. If, say, the teapot was given to you by great-granny, then it has sentimental value, but to replace it wouldn’t justify the insurance cost.

You will also need this for Canadian Customs who will not only require to know the items, but the total value of the shipment. The goods will be for your vacation home, your Canadian base and so if you intend to bring over further items for the same purpose, declare them then and it will be added to your statement, thus avoiding import taxes.

Coming from the UK, our goods (all 220 parcels, on 3 pallets at a transportation cost of £1,400) went to Montreal, then down to Toronto and finally up to Dartmouth. We had to rush up to the shippers, collect the release paperwork, shoot over the bridge to Halifax to Canadian Customs to get a clearance stamp, and then over to the Ministry of Agriculture for another stamp and then back across to the freighters. Goods arriving without a manifest can work out very costly, as Customs will insist they be taken to a secure place for inspection, for which they charge. Don’t pack anything organic (that rots), bulbs, plants, food or perishables or anything dangerous or explosive. No firearms or weapons, so leave the bazookas at home. Ensure any wooden crate or pallet are UK manufactured, and not a packing case from some third world country that harbours beetles, worms or other nasties. I suggest you contact Canadian Customs for a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts.

Your packages will have a rough ride – even the shrink wrapping on to a pallet can crush them, let alone the odd stab with a forklift truck arm. Finally make sure your shipper has arranged to deliver your goods to your door, otherwise you might just end up having to pay either a surcharge or the cost of hiring a U-Haul to cart it home.

© 2002 Klondike Pete

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