34 Comments

This was an informative post, thank you! We are moving to Portugal in May from the West Coast US, getting quotes from shipping companies, and seriously considering UPakWeShip.

One clarification: you say you didn't need a "Certificado de Bagagem" because the shipment first arrived in The Netherlands, cleared customs there and then was trucked to Portugal. But, surely Portuguese customs still required the Certificado de Bagagem to avoid paying customs tax to get the shipment released in Portugal? Did I read that wrong?

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Feb 1Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Thank you for all the detail, this is so helpful.

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author

Elizabeth - Thanks for your comment. In our experience, we used UPakWeShip and shipped one pallet with our personal belongings - no furniture or electronics. We carefully followed the shipping guidelines that UPakWeShip provided and Paul made sure each box or bin was properly documented with the contents of each, and labeled clearly on all 4 sides to make it easy for a customs inspection if necessary. The shipment left the United States and traveled to Rotterdam where it entered and cleared customs. We had no issues and were not charged any customs fees and none of the boxes/bins were opened for customs inspection. The pallet was then transported by truck to Portugal. You can always contact the shipping company that you choose to work with and ask what their protocol is. I hope this helps! - CW

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Dec 29, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Great article. I’m getting ready to do this. My only concern is everyone keeps telling me not to, due to customs fees. Does Rotterdam Netherlands customs not bother you with that like Portugal?

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Sep 25, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Many thanks Carol! I also used UPak and they've been mostly great except we were told that our shipment would take 6-8 weeks to arrive at our door in Portugal from the time it left Philly. That is clearly not the case as our stuff is currently in North Carolina and has been there for at least 6 weeks. I put Apple tags in the containers and can track where they are. UPak now claims that those times are only "estimates" and that the original transport fell through and they are waiting for another ship. I wish they had been more up front about realistic expectations for delivery. You mention that you expected 3 months for deliver...mind if I ask where you got that info? Any idea how long it took to get your things from arrival in Rotterdam?

Many, many thanks for you terrific advice!

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Jul 3, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

wow.

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Jun 20, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Thanks, Carol, this was very generous of you to provide this very thorough recounting. It’s exactly what I needed to feel comfortable going with UPak. Now we just have to figure out the sizing and be as detailed as you and Paul were. Muito obrigado, Jeff

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Jun 6, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Hi Carol,

Thanks for this detailed post. It was most timely for me since I was just at the point of packing my UPakWeShip U-Crate 100. To nail this on the calendar, I paid my deposit in mid-April, 2022. Some things at UPak have changed between the time of Carol's experience and mine.

I had very similar experiences on their website creating the order and paying the deposit. I was assigned a shipping coordinator who was responsive in email but didn't take the necessary steps for me to continue. After a few rounds in email he went silent. After a few more queries I got responses from a different shipping coordinator. The first one had quit suddenly and they were passing his clients around. My new shipping coordinator has always been immediately responsive. She got me through the second phase of paperwork to get the crate kit shipped to my address.

When the kit arrived (a standard palette with some cardboard stuff strapped on top)I found that it was strapped with a single metal shipping band. This was appropriate, but I hadn't been expecting a metal strap. I hadn't saved my tin snips when I sold the majority of my tools in our estate sale. Fortunately, my neighbor had some that I was able to borrow and the band came right off.

I like the crate kit. Carol's post describes the bands for wrapping the crate once it's packed as being metal. I received fabric cam straps to cinch down the crate. 20 feet long and brand new.

UPakWeShip, at the time of my writing, seems to be in the midst of transitioning to some new systems resulting in some potholes. The main one seems to be the manifest generator. It no longer exists. Instead, along with a pdf of 4-up shipping labels with my name, order number, destination address, etc, already in place, my shipping coordinator sent a pdf of an empty manifest form with the UPakWeShip headings and 40 numbered lines for describing the contents of the box matching that line number. The instructions are very firm that the manifest should not be handwritten, but the pdf is not a form that can be typed into. My coordinator wanted me to use their original form if possible so I handwrote the manifest as I did the piece labeling while packing the crate then typed the list into a text editor as a numbered list, scaled it appropriately, printed to pdf, then pasted that pdf into the manifest pdf with an editor that can do that (alternatively I could have printed the list, cut it out, taped it to the original manifest and scanned it to pdf), printed it to paper, signed and dated, then scanned it to send to the coordinator. The resulting manifest had their header and footer with my not handwritten list in between.

I hadn't thought of using self-stick labels before reading Carol’s post. After some fretting over whether or not they'd pass through my printer properly or gum it up totally, I went for it. My printer is an HP OfficeJet 8600 which does not have a media-bypass input. I spent a while looking at lots of different label offerings on Amazon and finally went with the ones I list here. They didn't stink like some that people had reviewed; they stayed attached to the backing paper through the printer; they aligned up closely enough with the 4-up image on the pdf; they peel off the backing paper reasonably easily:

Blank White Permanent Adhesive Labels for Laser/Ink Jet Printer (4 x 5" - 4 Per Page | 100 Labels)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079PXPPJD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm packing a bunch of non-box items, some of which either don't have a surface to stick a 4" x 5" label on, or that might be damaged by the adhesive, so I also bought the following:

Blank White 4x6 Cardstock for Index or Flash Cards - Heavy, Thick 100lb Cover 14pt Paper (50 Pack)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FXY6JPD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

For those items I stuck the peel-off label on this card stock, punched a hole in the corner, and either twist tied or zip tied the card to the item.

All in all self stick labels was a was a huge win over manually taping labels to items.

I also bought a (ridiculously long) roll of stretch wrap from Home Depot. I used to wrap some items and to wrap some items together into a single item. Most importantly, I used it to wrap my partially packed crate at an intermediate stage. The instructions are to place on wall piece (2 sides plus some ‘tabs’ on what will be the third side), pack as much as possible then place the other wall piece (the other two sides) then finish packing from the top. I very much didn’t like that idea. Not only would it be difficult to fill holes only from the top, it would also be very hard on my old back. Instead, I packed to about four feet up then used a table (legs detached) as a sort of front wall that didn’t fill the entire front. I stretch wrapped around that table and the first wall piece enough to really lock it in place. That allowed me to keep on packing my crate higher and denser without having to put the second wall piece in place. From time to time I ran more stretch wrap around to lock some items in place before placing the second wall piece. When I did place the second piece, the tabs on the second piece could not be slipped inside the first wall piece because of the stretch wrap. No biggie. I just left those tabs outside and ran so much stretch wrap and shipping tape around the whole thing that I was thoroughly dizzy. Then I did the very last packing of the top via a ladder before putting on the lid. After draping the provided heavy plastic bag over the entire crate I used even more stretch wrap and tape over the plastic and cam straps.

FWIW, since we were selling our house at the same time I was getting going on this packing I had the palette delivered to my home, then I moved it to a 10' x 15' storage locker accessible by trucks up to 24' long. When I submitted the request for pickup, according to the instructions from my coordinator, I specified a "short box" truck. The house sold before I finished packing the palette in that locker and I didn’t have the schedule crunch of having to beat the house closing. When a 26’ truck showed up to load the crate he was able to navigate the storage facility just fine.

One additional thing we're doing is including both an Apple Air Tag and a Tile tracker tag inside the crate. We're primarily not an Apple family but (if I understand correctly) the Tile trackers can be read only by my Android device--the one that registered the tag--meaning that if the crate goes astray somewhere I will need to be within Bluetooth range (~450) feet of it in order to locate it. Apple Air Tags, OTOH, will be read by any Apple device with FindMy turned on that happens to encounter them, and that encounter gets uploaded to Apple's tracking database. I think if the crate heads off to Hawaii instead of Amsterdam that I'll have a better chance of discovering it and recovering it via the Apple tag. As it stands, today Apple FindMy says the crate is in Georgia (USA), awaiting my instructions to send it to Portugal.

HTH someone, --e

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May 14, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Thank you for the detailed information Carol. As usual, you’re very thorough and everything you wrote about are questions we were asking ourselves. When we come to Portugal, we would like to take you and Paul out to your favorite restaurant. We’re planning on settling north of Porto, but will happily travel.

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May 13, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Hi Carol,

Thanks for another informative and extremely well-written article. You continue to raise the bar for other bloggers and writers. With your permission, I'm going to share a link to your post this weekend on thecookandthewriter.com. Members of our audience who are thinking of moving will certainly find this interesting.

Obrigado!

Mike

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May 12, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Another interesting article Carol, thanks 😊

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May 12, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

What a great story, Carol! I love how you've blended the personal with the professional. We had an interview scheduled with with Mark Nash ... but yours covers all of the bases (and more!)--quite well, in fact. Should I tell Mark to ignore the questions we sent him and publish your story, instead, in our next issue of Portugal Living Magazine? Seriously!

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May 12, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Carol and Paul, Obrigado! for the information.

It is personal stories like these that I trust the most. Valuable information like this is priceless. Keep it coming.

My wife and I are Army vets, so we are very experienced in HHG movements. But that was on the Army's dime, and they did it all.

I have a 2 car garage full of emotional adjustments. :-)

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May 12, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Clearly it takes serious planning! I think your point about making the emotional adjustment is very important! And the pet ashes would be a definite “go.” The dogs could never be left behind!❤️

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May 12, 2022Liked by Carol A. Wilcox

Wow! The detail you provide is amazing! Thank you! I think this would be incredibly helpful to anyone who makes the choice to ship items. I have read very positive things about this company from others as well. Very nicely done!

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Carol, as you know we didn’t ship anything…but I am often asked about shipping services. I will be sharing your post. Thanks!

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