Our Best Advice When Moving Overseas: Let a Professional Moving Company Pack Your Boxes.

In the moving industry, moving companies often serve customers who pack their own moving boxes. The industry term for this is PBO, literally meaning “Packed by Owner.” Reasons for self-packing vary from person-to-person and from situation-to-situation.

It is important to note that when moving to an overseas destination, it is critical that moving boxes be packed by a professional moving company. The contracted moving company must certify to both the exporting and importing governments and the steamship line and/or airline that it knows what items are packed in each box and that there are no prohibited or contraband items. The company also must inform the insurance company that is issuing coverage for the contents of the shipment that the items are in good condition and free from claim at the time of packing and loading.

As part of the packing and loading process, inventories are created as a record of the items in the shipment. Each item is marked as CP, “Carrier Packed”, or PBO, “Packed by Owner.” These inventories must be submitted as part of the customs clearance process for export and import. Any item marked PBO is a red flag and has caused some shipments to be pulled for full intensive inspections.  Moving companies responsible for global household goods are held to high standards and risk losing its license when it does not properly certify to the exporting and importing governments that it has had full chain of custody of the shipment from the time of packing through the time of delivery.

Many countries have enacted even more increasingly strict policies on household goods shipments since the tragedy of 9/11/2001. Subsequently, household goods are subject to higher instances of X-ray and intensive personal inspection by the government entities involved. Global customs agencies are charged with ensuring that they keep their citizens safe, and they take their charged responsibilities very seriously. Depending on whether it is a self-funded relocation, corporate, or military relocation, the cost of an exam is passed on to the customer, so while a customer may attempt to save money on the front end, it is often a futile effort as higher costs are tacked on to the back end in inspection and exam fees to ensure the items packed as PBO’s are actually what they are declared to be.

Our best recommendation: Do not ship self-packed moving boxes PBO’s for International moves.  


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