We don’t just help move your mobile employees. We make it our business to ensure that they have a seamless and speedy move. In handling moves everywhere from Massachusetts to Mexico to the Middle East, we’ve seen it all, experienced it all, and, most importantly, succeeded through it all.
And through our free webinar series, we share tips and best practices to propel your mobility program. Our next webinar, on Thursday, October 19 at 1:00pm ET, will focus on household goods (HHG) shipping, truly a topic that can confound even the most seasoned mobility professional.
In anticipation of the big event, we chatted with Kyriako Bouris, VP of Global Transportation here at Weichert Workforce Mobility. Our savvy HHG expert gave us a sneak peek of what he’ll be exploring in the upcoming webinar–from the biggest trends shaping the HHG industry to the make-it-or-break-it factor when choosing a HHG provider. Let’s go! Continue Reading →
UK Customs (HMRC) has announced changes to customs procedures for household goods and motor vehicles entering the UK that will impact assignees being relocated to this region. This change goes into effect on 31 March 2017 and shifts responsibility for completing the Transfer of Residence (ToR) application from the shipper to the owner of the goods being shipped (in this case, the assignee).
Under these new guidelines, assignees moving to the UK are required to complete an online application for ToR relief. This form can be found here.
Once the online ToR form is completed and approved, the assignee will be sent a unique reference code which will allow the freight to be cleared and released by the HMRC. This reference code is critical and it is the responsibility of the assignee to ensure that it is issued in good time; therefore, your assignee should advice his or her Weichert contact as soon as it is received. If a shipment arrives in the UK without a reference code, it could be delayed or refused clearance.
Although it may be a new term to you, the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty has been around since the wake of the Titanic disaster to ensure that all ships are soundly constructed and safe to operate. The latest SOLAS amendment, created in response to a rise in reports of ships sinking at sea due to under-reported cargo weights, will require all container weights, including contents, to be verified prior to shipping. This amendment goes into effect on July 1, 2016.
In some areas of the world, such as the United States, Canada and most of Europe, gaining access to container scales should not pose a problem. But in certain regions of Asia, Africa and South America, where shipments are typically graded by volume instead of weight, there could be issues.
The Weichert Move Network has been monitoring these developments and strategizing with our move management partners as to how to best address the new regulation once it goes into effect. While there will be a lot written about SOLAS in the coming weeks, there are basically two things our clients and their globally mobile assignees need to be aware of: Continue Reading →
Sometimes, some of the most impactful learning experiences happen when we step out from behind our desks. That was the case last week, when some members of the assignment management team in our Chicago office, along with their client contact, took a morning field trip to a local household goods warehouse in the Chicagoland area. There, representatives of Nelson Westerberg offered an informative look behind the scenes of an international household goods shipment.
Each role in the process–from Origin Agent to Freight Forwarder to Destination Agent–was thoroughly explained, questions were answered, and a full tour of the onsite storage facility was given.
In the facility, the team got a first-hand look at the various packing materials, boxes, crates, and lift vans, as well as an LDN air container and a 40 ft sea container (which the team, determined to experience exactly what an international shipment goes through, could not resist standing in).
At the end of the day, it was a chance to get up close and personal with a part of the relocation process that’s most important to mobile employees and their families. It was also a new and much-appreciated perspective that the team truly learned from.
Household Goods: Although customs and borders are considered exempt from the shut down, staffing may be reduced until all governmental issues are resolved. Clients should be prepared for the possibility of shipment delays and extended time frames.
Mortgage processing: Please note the following:
— The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be able to endorse single-family loans during the shutdown; however, only a limited number of FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve new loans so the process may take longer.
— There will be no significant effect to Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
— The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will continue to operate, which means lenders will be able to continue originating VA-guaranteed loans.
For our latest relocation podcast, we caught up with Kyriako Bouris, our Director of Global Transportation, to get his views on the current state of household goods shipping, and also what he feels are the questions companies should be asking potential providers to get the most accurate picture of their service quality and cost savings potential.
You can listen using the audio player below or download the Mp3 directly here.
I recently received an inquiry from a client who was considering capping household goods benefits as a means to reduce costs, with the cap based on historical averages of shipment weights and costs.
In my experience, there aren’t a lot of companies that cap domestic HHG shipments based on weight or cost. According to ERC’s 2009 Transferred Employee survey, only nine percent of companies had set weight limits, ranging from 15,000 to 25,000 pounds, while three percent had set dollar limits, ranging from $30,000 – $100,000.
To get the big picture, I reached out to Kyriako Bouris, Director of the Weichert Move Network. He confirmed that, from a logistics standpoint, capping HHG shipments and making employees responsible for anything over the cap as COD can invite a number of challenges, including:
An increase in exception requests above and beyond the weight limit or authorized amount
Transferee requests to verify the weight of their shipments, since they’re now responsible for anything over the weight cap and want to be present when the shipment is weighed.
Collecting the COD (or “over the cap”) portion prior to delivering the shipment. Drivers don’t have to deliver until they’ve been paid the COD amount and this can create problems in situations where transferees don’t have access to cash, certified check, or credit card for the amount in question.
Increased claims. When transferees are asked to dip into their own pockets to pay for any portion of a relocation, they’ll sometimes try to find ways to get the money back. Claims are one way transferees will sometimes try to recoup their COD payments.
With cost control top-of-mind, you can see why capping certain provisions would come under consideration at practically any company. But you should keep in mind that when it comes to benefits that are considered “core” to a relocation — such as household goods shipping — placing limits can be difficult to administer and, more importantly, comes with the risk of upsetting your valued mobile talent.
Following the recently thwarted plot to conceal and ship explosive devices on board aircraft bound for the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has taken a number of immediate steps to tighten existing measures related to cargo bound for the United States.
One of these steps is a temporary ban prohibiting household goods shipments–which are being considered “high risk”–aboard international planes bound for the United States. This ban is in effect until further notice for both passenger and cargo-only flights. Weichert Relocation Resources will continue to keep our clients advised of future developments.
Here is an excerpt from the DHS’ official release:
Late last week, TSA directed industry carriers to begin implementing additional precautionary security measures for international flights inbound to the United States. These measures take effect today. Specifically, the ban on air cargo from Yemen will continue and has been extended to all air cargo from Somalia as well.
In addition, no high risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircraft. Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States. This ban will also apply to certain inbound international air cargo shipments as well. Further, all cargo identified as high risk will go through additional and enhanced screening. These measures also impact inbound international mail packages, which must be screened individually and certified to have come from an established postal shipper.
The Administration is also working closely with industry and our international partners to expedite the receipt of cargo manifests for international flights to the United States prior to departure in order to identify and screen items based on risk and current intelligence. We are also working with our international private sector partners on the expansion of layered detections system including technology and other measures.
A new procedure has been adopted by Brazilian customs, whereby the Power of Attorney required to clear inbound shipments must now be officially issued by a Notary Public. This means that, going forward, assignees shipping goods into Brazil will have to personally visit a Notary Public to have the Power of Attorney prepared.
Although Brazilian agents are fighting this new bureaucratic measure, for now, it must be followed by all customers whose customs clearance process was not started before October 13, 2010.
Unfortunately, it can take up to two weeks for an official Power of Attorney to be prepared through a Notary Public, meaning delays in the customs clearance process should be anticipated.
Nothing ratchets up the costs of international moves like the shipping of employees’ household goods. That’s why the bulk of the questions I get on the topic of international assignment policy concern the most “ideal” policy provisions for global move management.
Most of the problems concern the items that employees are allowed to ship overseas. Talk to enough HR managers and you’ll hear horror stories regarding things like art collections, exotic pets and antique cars that probably shouldn’t have been allowed.
I asked Kyriako Bouris, Manager of the Weichert Move Network, for his thoughts and he offered two cost-saving considerations that should be made when developing or reviewing your policy:
— Outline different provisions for assignees based on family size and whether the assignee is accompanied while on assignment. This will allow your company to control costs for excessive shipments while communicating equitable treatment.
— Reconsider weight limits in your policy. Although weight limits are an effective way to contain costs, a recent survey by Atlas Van Lines revealed that international firms are more likely than regional firms to allow shipments of unlimited weight (44% vs. 25%). This makes sense, because while the weight of belongings provides a good guideline and can be customized to meet your program’s specific needs, volume is the more important factor.
For example, consider a program that limits air shipments to 500 pounds. An assignee may decide to ship a couch which is, let’s say, 100 lbs. Although the couch only accounts for one-fifth of the limit, it will still prove expensive to ship since air shipment costs are based on volume and the couch takes up a significant amount of space.