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Relocation 101;Packing & Shipping a Less Than Container Load to Costa Rica

Costa Rica Living & Relocation – So you have determined where you are going to live in Costa Rica, be it at the beach, the mountains or the rain forest.  You have chosen Costa Rica as your new place to call home and the move represents a new beginning for you and your family. Although in many cases you are looking to start fresh; shipping some comforts from home can ease you into your new life in a foreign country.

costa rica shipping 1Many people shipping their items from their country of origin to Costa Rica do not have enough to fill an entire 20 foot container.  Their belongings can fit into a 10 foot storage unit or even less.  Inside their head the questions begin.  Do I have to use a full container for shipping? What is the best way to ship a less than container load? How do I pack my items if I am shipping less than a container?

We spoke to some experts in the industry as well as some expats that had relocated to Costa Rica to get some answers to these questions.

Do I have to use a full container for shipping?

The simple answer to this is “No”.  But more goes into the answer. If your shipment fills more than about 60% of a 20 foot container and you are shipping furniture, remember for a less than container load you will have to crate furniture to ensure safe delivery.  Take this into effect when you are deciding to go with a less than container load or full container load.

Click to Get Your Free Costa Rica Shipping Guide

What is the best way to ship a less than container load?

When speaking to most shipping companies we of course got the answer that no matter how much you are shipping you should use a service like they provide.  Good sales technique but not true.  The best information we uncovered which surprisingly came from Dan at Shipping Costa Rica was the following advice:

  1. If you are shipping approximately 1 to 15 normal size boxes (12” x 12” by 18”) either ship them as extra baggage on the plane or with a company like Jetbox.  This is the quickest and normally the most cost efficient way to get a shipment of this size to Costa Rica.
  2. For the above type of shipment you can use a consolidator which packs your items with a bunch of other shipments but this can take a long time as well as things can wind up missing.
  3. For a pallet size shipment or larger (48“ x 40” x 60”) or if you are shipping large pieces of furniture it is good to use a professional company to ensure you items arrive without damage.
  4. To help you make the decision on what to bring try to estimate what the value of your shipment would cost to replace in Costa Rica.  Look at likes like craigslist as that will give you decent idea of what costs are for items.  Also take into effect how far you are from San Jose.  If you live in a beach town or in a small town in the rain forest most likely there will be a limited selection of household goods like furniture and electronics at tourist prices.  Factor in transport from San Jose to your new home and the frustrations of shopping in the San Jose area.

How do I pack my items if I am shipping less than a container?

Ok you have decided to ship your belongings to Costa Rica and are using a door to door service.  Most companies will provide a packing service in your area for a fee, but you might want to save that money and pack the things yourself.

Self Packing Advice for Less than Container Loads

  1. Pack your things like you would be shipping with a company like UPS or Fed-Ex.  Box everything that is possible to be boxed. It is not recommended that you stick things in drawers of the furniture you are shipping (it can confuse customs in Costa Rica).
  2. Recommended Packing Materials
    1. Roll of Shrink-Wrap: can be used for a wide variety of purposes
    2. Roll of Bubble-Wrap: can be used for a wide variety of purposes but provides added protection for fragile items.
    3. Cardboard Boxes: various sizes
    4. Large Plastic Bins: (like those sold at Walmart) – provides extra protection and great for storage in Costa Rica

Palletization – Putting your Shipment onto Palletscosta rica shipping  2

  1. Normal pallet size is 40” by 48” and stacked about 5 feet high
  2. Some companies charge for palletizing your boxes some include this service
  3. Suggestions for palletizing your shipment
    1. Load the larger boxes first followed by medium and small. Try and keep everything symmetrical & stackable.
    2. Once the boxes have been loaded onto the pallet please use shrink-wrap to tack the freight to the pallet.
    3. After shrink-wrapping, use bands that are sold at all packaging stores, to go over the shrink-wrapped freight on pallet.
    4. Load in area where you are able to load the pallet into the truck.
    5. Make sure your truck coming to pick up your pallet has a lift-gate.

Packing Furniture for Less Than Container Load Shipping

  1. As mentioned before furniture for a less than container load shipment will need to be crated for protection. If you have close to a full container load take this into account as it does increase costs to have to crate furniture.  In full container loads you do not need to crate your furniture.
  2. The reason for this type of mandatory packaging is that freight is loaded into containers and out of containers by high low lift-forks and if your freight is raw these machines will damage or even destroy your furniture.
  3. Build and load the crate in an easily accessible location or truck loading.
  4. For instructions on how to build an inexpensive crate for shipping this link will help.

When it comes to shipping your household goods or vehicle to Costa Rica we recommend talking to an expert in the industry.  Although some are a bit more honest than others.

If you want more information about shipping to Costa Rica get your free Costa Rica Shipping Guide which gives you the steps on getting your belongings from your country of origin to your new home in Costa Rica.

Click to Get Your Free Costa Rica Shipping Guide

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