One of the big costs of moving to Portugal – both financially but also emotionally and mentally – is the cost of moving all your stuff here.
The cost will depend on how much you want to ship, and where you’re located. Naturally, someone located in Spain, for example, would pay a lot less than someone located in the US. As the US is a big place, there are often differences in prices depending on where you’re located.
So, prices vary considerably based on those two factors, but it’s not unusual for people to spend anywhere from €2,000-€10,000 shipping their furniture, clothes, and other personal possessions.
EU or Non-EU
Because of the EU’s open borders, both for people and goods, it’ll make a big difference whether you’re shipping your stuff from another EU country or from a non-EU country.
Shipping from an EU Country
Being in the EU makes things a little less complicated as you have the freedom to move your stuff without having to deal with Portuguese customs. And, because most EU countries are geographically quite near to Portugal, there are usually a lot more options including vans, part loads or full loads of trucks, boxes, shipping containers, etc.
Shipping from a Non-EU Country
Shipping from a non-EU country like the US, Canada, or Australia is a little more complicated. Firstly, the costs are normally higher because of the distance, but then there’s also the challenge of customs to deal with.
Once you move to Portugal, you have 365 days to move your belongings to Portugal tax free, and the Portuguese Consulate will provide you with a baggage certificate and other documents to send with your goods so it doesn’t get held up in customs.
Unfortunately, you can’t ship (tax-free at least) until you have your Atestado do Residençia, a document issued by your local Câmara which states you are entitled to live in Portugal, and a Portuguese address.
Levels of Service
Regardless of whether you live in another EU country or you live further afield, most of the shipping companies will offer several levels of service.
- Top level: The removals company come to your house, pack everything for you, and then unpack it at the other end.
- Bottom level: You pack and unpack everything at each end and they simply provide a means of transporting it between places.
While many people who’ve moved house will tell you to pay someone else to do it for you, if you’re on a tight budget, doing the packing yourself will definitely reduce your costs.
How much stuff are you shipping?
One of the biggest challenges of moving is working out how much stuff you’re shipping. Firstly, because you probably need to decide what to keep and what to ship. Secondly, because many shipping companies measure in cubic metres squared and that can be hard to get your head around.
Just Some Boxes
If you don’t have a lot of stuff, or you’ve sold a lot of your stuff before shipping, you may be able to fit everything into a few boxes.
EU: Shipping boxes, within Europe at least, isn’t all that expensive. It’s normally cheaper to send boxes rather than take your stuff on a plane with you.
Non-EU: It probably makes more sense to pay for extra baggage and to take your stuff with you on the plane rather than potentially deal with customs in Portugal.
It may also be worth booking an airport transfer or at least have Uber handy as you’ll have your hands full on the other end. Other people use services like First Luggage and get someone else to bring the bags for them.
Tip: It’s worth investing in good-quality boxes and good quality packing tape as well as your boxes will get bashed around when they’re being handled. Re-using boxes also isn’t recommended.
An Entire House
If you have a lot of stuff, you’re probably looking at either shipping your stuff in a lorry (either full or part load) or full or part load in a shipping container.
Those based in Europe will have several different options to choose from, and you’ll probably need to get quotes for each.
Van (full or half load)
The majority of people who move to Portugal from another European country normally do so by using a van or truck-based removal company. There are lots of options to choose from, and your stuff normally arrives within a week or so.
You don’t necessarily need to book an entire van: there are lots of companies that send vans and trucks back and forth to Portugal weekly, and you can easily book a section of a van with them.
Examples of shipping companies include:
- Eurosender – Offers a van and truck delivery service anywhere in Europe.
- Algarve Removals (UK to Spain and Portugal)
- Direct Transport (UK to Spain and Portugal)
- Algarve Express (UK to Algarve)
- B&P Sped (Germany to Portugal)
Outside of Europe:
For those outside of Continental Europe, particularly in North America, a shipping container is really the only option for shipping large, bulky items or lots of stuff.
- UpackWeShip – (Worldwide shipping, but particularly from the US and Canada)
- Portugalia (Worldwide, but especially US to Portugal)
- Global International Relocation (Worldwide shipping, but with an emphasis on shipping to Portugal)
Moving VS Storing
Another option that many people consider, particularly if they’re not 100% sure how long they’ll stay in Portugal, is putting their belongings into storage in their home country and shipping it later.
This obviously works out more expensive in the long run, unless you’re lucky enough to have friends or family with lots of attic or garage space. It also may not make sense if you’re moving from outside the EU as you only have 365 days to ship your personal belongings and household items tax free.
Still, it’s an option to consider.
What to Bring
At some point, you’ll have to ask yourself just how much of my stuff should I bring? None of it? Some of it? All of it?
Everyone has a different answer on this one, and it’s often more personal than practical.
Bringing All Your Stuff
There are benefits to bringing your stuff. First of all, some items have sentimental value that can’t be replaced and having them when you’re in a new country can be very comforting. Secondly, shopping for new furniture and household objects is time-consuming and a little mentally-draining. Thirdly, Portugal may have less choice than what you’re used to.
Selling Your Stuff
But, there are also benefits to selling your stuff and buying new things once you get to Portugal. You avoid the hassle of shipping, firstly, although you will still have the hassle of selling everything. You also get to buy new stuff, which can be fun, and may be more likely to match your new home.
Regardless of whether you decide to bring all of your worldly treasures, none of them, or some of them, it’s definitely worth doing a big clearout. You’ve probably accumulated a lot of things that you no longer need, and that you should eBay or give to your local charity shop anyway.