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Frequently asked shipping questions

Everything you want to know about shipping your goods internationally, quickly and safely. Have a question we haven’t answered? Our team is only an email away.

How do I arrange a quotation?

Fill in our online shipping quote for an estimate of your costs. We will then confirm the quotation by return email. You can also contact one of our consultants on +44 (0) 808 141 5520.

What method of shipment is right for me?

There are many considerations to take into account when selecting the most appropriate service for your needs. These include urgency of delivery, ultimate destination and budget, among others.

  • By sea: We are one of the largest container operators in the UK, with frequent shipments to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, North America and South East Asia. Should you choose to ship by sea, transit time will be between 8-12 weeks. Your belongings will share container space with other consignments bound for the same destination.
  • By air: Most airlines allow only one piece of carry-on cabin luggage and approximately 20kg of luggage in the cargo hold. As any traveller knows, exceeding this allowance can result in exorbitant extra baggage charges. We offer an unaccompanied airfreight services as a cost-effective alternative. With this option, transit time is approximately 10-14 days. For smaller consignments, we offer a fast courier service, which takes approximately five to seven days door to door.
  • By road: Consignments bound for European destinations may be delivered by road trailer service, to your doorstep in Europe. Transit time is around 10-14 days.

How should I pack my goods?

We offer an extensive range of export-strength cartons designed to withstand the rigours of transit. We can also supply bubble wrap and tissue paper for packing fragile items, if requested.

You should ensure that breakables are placed in the centre of the box and packed tightly to prevent movement in transit. Heavy items such as books should be evenly distributed throughout your consignment to limit the risk of damage. We advise against packing clothing in plastic bags, as condensation will occur.

We provide a professional packing service, for a small extra cost, if requested. Call one of our expert consultants on +44 (0) 808 141 5520 for more information.

What cartons do you offer?

We offer an extensive range of robust cartons designed to withstand the rigours of international transit and will supply and deliver them free of charge throughout the UK on payment of a £50 deposit. Our tea cartons or export cartons are recommended unless you have a specific requirement such as pictures, books, clothing or a bicycle. We recommend you order surplus to your initial requirement, as a return trip would incur a £20 delivery fee. There is no charge for unused cartons, which will be collected with your shipment. Please bear in mind that cartons and materials remain our property until shipment.

Do I have to use your cartons?

You may use your own boxes if you prefer, but please ensure that they are of export strength and suitably robust to withstand the rigours of international transit. We can arrange casing for plasma TVs and other delicate or valuable items at our depot for a small extra charge. Please note that any package considered unsuitable for export will be repacked at our depot and will incur a £30 packing fee.

What sizes are your cartons?

Our cartons cater for most packing needs. We can also construct plywood cases to your specific dimensions for the transportation of electrical and fragile items.

1st Contact Shipping cartons

Stock cartons INCHES
L x B x H
L x B x H
1.0 cu ft picture carton 32 x 22 x 3 81 x 56 x 8
2.0 cu ft book carton 19 x 14 x 13 48 x 37 x 32
3.0 cu ft export carton 19 x 17 x 16 48 x 44 x 41
5.0 cu ft tea carton 19 x 17 x 24 48 x 44 x 61
11.0 cu ft bike carton 60 x 10 x 31 152 x 25 x 79
4.0 cu ft flat screen TV 27”-42” 42 x 6 x 28 107 x 15 x 70
8.0 cu ft flat screen TV 42”-52” 52 x 8 x 34 132 x 20 x 87

As cartons are free, we recommend ordering more than you think you’ll need, to avoid paying a delivery fee should you run out. We also ship suitcases, bags, guitars, skis, surfboards, snowboards, bikes and more.

How do I get my boxes delivered and collected?

We offer a free next-day delivery and collection service within Greater London. We require a £50 deposit prior to delivery, after which you may keep the cartons for as long as you wish.

Outside Greater London, we employ the services of a next-day national courier who will deliver and collect with 48 hours’ notice. A credit card deposit will be required prior to delivery.

Courier services are limited to what one man can lift from the kerbside. You should therefore limit your consignment to a maximum of 5 cubic feet or 30 kg per item.

Nationwide delivery/collection charges are as follows:


Please note: The baggage service is restricted to what one man can lift, please do not exceed 30 kg per item. A re-packing surcharge of £30 per item will apply if items are deemed not suitable for transit.

How do you calculate the shipping price?

Sea and road freight charges are based on the overall volume of goods for shipment.

To calculate the volume of an item multiply the length, breadth and height in feet. For example, a trunk measuring 3ft (length) x 2.5ft (breadth) x 2ft (height) = 15 cubic feet.

Airfreight charges are based on the chargeable weight of your consignment in kilograms. This is the greater of actual gross or volumetric weight.

To calculate the volumetric weight in kilograms, multiply the length x breadth x height in centimetres and divide by 5,000.

Courier charges are based on the chargeable weight of your consignment in kilograms. This is the greater of actual gross or volumetric weight.

What do your prices include?

Our charges include nationwide delivery of robust export cartons and packing materials, one free collection in London, Manchester, Edinburgh or Glasgow, international shipment to arrival destination port/airport, destination port/airport handling charges, customs clearance and kerbside delivery to mainland residence (except airfreight to airport service).

Shipping charges are not subject to VAT unless your destination is within the European Union, in which case VAT applies at the current rate.

What do your prices exclude?

Our charges exclude destination import duties, taxes or other sums due to government departments, such as quarantine inspection, steam cleaning, fumigation and any resulting treatment fees. For further information on charges that may be payable, please refer to the relevant guide to importing personal and household effects. If you country is not listed, please refer to our Customs guides. Please note that airfreight to airport excludes charges for destination customs clearance and delivery to residence. If required, this fee can be paid locally to our destination representative.

Is anything prohibited from excess baggage shipping?

Certain items cannot be accepted under general conditions of carriage and storage, for example: Food, cash, bonds, jewellery, alcohol, explosives, flammable gases, liquids or solids, poisons and toxins, scuba tanks, gas cylinders and aerosol cans. /p>

If you’re unsure about whether the items you’d like to include in your cartons are prohibited, speak to one of our consultants.

What cover is available?

We take every precaution to protect your possessions while they are in our care. Nevertheless, we recommend you cover your goods for a sum equivalent to replacement value at their destination.

Our marine transit insurance covers all risks of loss or damage in transit and is available at a premium of 5% of the value you declare on our insurance proposal form. Alternatively, we can offer protection against total loss only, at a premium of 3.5% of the value you declare. Insurance premiums are subject to Insurance Premium Tax at the current rate.

Please note: Should you decline our marine transit insurance, we will rely upon our terms and conditions (clause 8) in the unforeseen event of loss or damage, however caused.

Is excess baggage storage available?

If you are en route, we can arrange to store your goods and defer shipment to coincide with your estimated arrival date. Our storage facilities are modern, customs approved and security protected.

The first seven days of storage are free of charge, after which you will be charged £20 per item per month. Alternatively, our destination representative can arrange to store your goods upon arrival. Marine transit insurance may be extended to cover additional periods in store, at a rate of 0.5% + VAT of the declared value per month or part thereof.

What happens following shipment?

Once your goods are shipped, you will receive an automated shipping confirmation email from 1st Contact Shipping with details of the vessel or airline, container identification number, estimated date of arrival at the destination port or airport and details of our local representative. Sea freight consignments can be monitored in transit via our shipment tracking system.

What happens at the destination?

When your consignment arrives at the destination port or airport, our appointed agent will contact you to arrange customs and quarantine formalities. If you have selected the prepaid option, they will also arrange a suitable date for delivery to kerbside at your residence.

Each representative has been carefully selected for their local knowledge and the quality of their destination services. They will handle everything at your destination with the same care and attention to detail that we do.

Can I track my shipment online?

Our online shipping tracking enables you to monitor your consignment in transit. To access the tracking portal, enter your invoice reference and the surname that appears on your shipping documentation.

Full details including estimated date of arrival and contact details of our local representative will also be advised by email following shipment.

What payment types are offered?

We will require a non-refundable deposit of £50 prior to delivery of empty cartons. If you live in London, payment can be made directly to our driver. We accept cash and cheques, as well as debit and credit cards. Please note: Payment via credit card is subject to a 2.5% surcharge.

If you live elsewhere, payment should be made by debit or credit card, or by cheque. Please do not pay the driver or send cash through the post.

Our terms require payment in full prior to shipment. All business is undertaken subject to our 1st Contact Shipping terms and conditions.

What financial protection is available?

We are a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR). In the unlikely event of failure of a member, BAR will appoint another member to complete your contract at no additional expense and with minimal delay.

Clients also benefit from our participation in the International Movers Mutual Insurance (IMMI) advance payment guarantee scheme. IMMI is the only authentic bonding scheme of its kind offering total protection against insolvency.

Do you offer a money-back guarantee?

Sea freight customers will be entitled to a full refund of shipping charges in the unlikely event that overall transit from receipt of payment and completed documentation to arrival at destination port exceeds 12 weeks, subject only to force majeure or other circumstances beyond our control. Please note that shipping charges exclude customs formalities, delivery at destination and insurance.

Do I have to be present when my goods arrive?

As a general rule, most countries will require your presence to clear customs on arrival of your goods, although a few countries will permit you to nominate a representative to clear customs on your behalf. For further information, please refer to our relevant guide to importing personal and household effects. If your country is not listed, please refer to our FIDI customs guides. If you are en route, we can arrange to store your goods and defer shipment to coincide with your estimated arrival date.

We have some exciting news
for all our 1st Contact clients...

1st Contact is rebranding to Sable International!

For the last 18 months we've been merging with our big brother, Sable International. By the end of the year, we're going to complete the rebrand.

The accountants, brokers, advisors and caseworkers that you are used to dealing with will not be going anywhere as the entire 1st Contact team will be in the same roles at Sable International. You'll still get that same great service, just under a new name.

We'll be keeping you in the loop as we prepare for the next exciting phase in this rebranding.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us directly.

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