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Moving to Vietnam: A Guide to Shipping Your Belongings (and Local Moves)

Posted by jeanseb on May 23, 2024

Embarking on a New Adventure

Moving your family across the globe to Vietnam is an exciting adventure! But amidst the whirlwind of planning, navigating the logistics of shipping your belongings can feel daunting. This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about shipping your household items to or from Vietnam, ensuring a smooth transition to your new home.

Deciding What to Ship

Expat families often grapple with what to bring and what to leave behind. Vietnam offers a wide range of household goods, so consider if purchasing certain items locally might be more cost-effective. Focus on shipping items with sentimental value, essential furniture, and electronics that don’t function on Vietnamese voltage.

Choosing a Reputable Shipping Company

International moving companies specialize in transporting household goods, handling packing, customs clearance, and delivery to your new home. Opt for a company with experience shipping to Vietnam and a proven track record of customer satisfaction. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Services Offered: Does the company handle the entire process, including customs clearance, or will that be your responsibility?
  • Cost: Get quotes from several companies to compare pricing structures, which typically depend on weight, volume, and destination.
  • Insurance: Ensure your belongings are adequately insured against damage or loss during transit.

Packing Tips for Success

  • Declutter Ruthlessly: The less you ship, the less you’ll pay.
  • Inventory Everything: Create a detailed list of your belongings for customs purposes.
  • Pack Strategically: Pack heavier items in smaller boxes for easier handling.
  • Label Clearly: Mark each box with its contents and destination room.
  • Protect Your Valuables: Use proper packing materials for fragile items.

Customs Regulations: Avoiding Delays

Familiarize yourself with Vietnamese customs regulations to avoid delays. Certain items may be restricted or require special permits. Research online or consult your chosen shipping company for guidance on customs clearance procedures.

Shipping Timeline: Plan Ahead

International shipping can take weeks, so factor this into your overall moving timeline. Book your shipping container well in advance, especially during peak seasons.

Must-Bring Expat Packing List

While shipping bulky items might not be ideal, there are certain essentials you’ll likely want to bring with you to Vietnam. Here’s a starting point to help you create your packing list:

  • Documents
    • Passports (with validity beyond your stay) & Copies
    • Visas and Work Permits (originals and copies)
    • Birth Certificates (originals and copies)
    • Marriage License (if applicable, original and copy)
    • Medical and Dental Records (copies)
    • Vaccination Records (copies)
    • Prescriptions and Medication List (copies)
    • Pet Health Records and Vaccinations (if applicable)
    • School Transcripts (if applicable)
    • Travel Insurance Documents
  • Finances
    • Credit Cards with international capabilities (ensure you notify bank of travel plans)
    • Debit Cards (check for international fees)
    • Emergency Cash (in USD or EUR typically)
  • Essentials
    • Comfortable Clothing for Various Climates (Vietnam has diverse weather patterns)
    • Sturdy Walking Shoes
    • Essential Toiletries
    • Basic First-Aid Kit
    • Over-the-counter Medications (consult regulations on what you can bring)
    • Glasses/Contacts and Prescriptions (enough supply for the initial period)
    • Adapters and Converters for Electronics (check Vietnamese voltage standards)
    • Universal Powerbank
    • Essential Bedding (consider downsizing for space)
    • Important Photos and Documents (scanned and uploaded to cloud storage for backup)
    • High-Quality Motorcycle and Bicycle Helmets (Important Note: Helmets available in Vietnam are mostly lower quality and used simply to meet the legal requirement. Your safety is paramount, so bring your own!)


  • Space is limited, prioritize essentials and consider buying bulky items locally.
  • Research voltage requirements for electronics to avoid needing transformers.
  • Check Vietnamese customs regulations for prohibited items.

Additional Considerations

  • Temporary Housing: If you’ll be in temporary accommodation upon arrival, factor in storage costs for your belongings.
  • Prohibited Items: Be aware of items prohibited from entering Vietnam. Common exclusions include firearms, hazardous materials, and certain agricultural products.

Moving Within Vietnam?

Navigating local moves within Vietnam is different from international moves. Here’s what you need to know to find the ideal moving company for your relocation within the same city or a short distance:

  • Popular Choices for Local Moves: While the previously mentioned international companies (EVo Moves, Prime Relocations Asia, Logical Moves) might handle local moves, many other reputable Vietnamese companies specialize in domestic relocations. Here’s how to find them:

    • Search Vietnamese websites or social media pages: Look for companies with a strong online presence in Vietnamese. Utilize translation tools if needed.
    • Ask for recommendations: Get suggestions from friends, colleagues, or online expat communities for local movers in your area.
    • Look for local services: Search for companies that advertise local moving services or “dich vụ chuyển nhà” (moving house service) in Vietnamese.
  • Services Offered for Local Moves: Local movers in Vietnam typically focus on specific services compared to full-service international companies:

    • Transportation: This is the core service, ensuring your belongings are securely transported to your new location.
    • Loading and Unloading: Reliable movers will efficiently load and unload your belongings onto the truck.
    • Packing (Optional): Some companies offer packing services for an additional fee. You might choose to pack yourself or hire part-time help for this aspect.
  • Cost Considerations for Local Moves: Local moves within Vietnam are typically more affordable compared to long-distance or international moves. Here are some factors influencing the cost:

    • Distance: The further you move, the higher the price.
    • Volume of Belongings: The amount of furniture and boxes you have will affect the cost.
    • Services Included: Packing services or additional labor will increase the total price.
  • Tips for Hiring Local Movers:

    • Get Multiple Quotes: Contact several companies and request quotes tailored to your specific move.
    • Negotiate: Once you have quotes, negotiate a price based on the information you’ve gathered.
    • Ask About Insurance: Ensure the company offers basic insurance for your belongings during the move.
    • Understand the Terms: Carefully review the contract before signing, paying attention to any hidden fees or limitations.

By following these tips and focusing on companies with strong local reputations, you can find a reliable and affordable moving service for your relocation within Vietnam.

Moving to Vietnam, whether internationally or locally, can be a smooth and exciting experience with careful planning and the right resources. This guide equips you with the knowledge to navigate the shipping process and find reputable movers, ensuring a stress-free transition to your new home in Southeast Asia.

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