The complexities of shipping your household goods to El Salvador

LaFoca's picture

In searching the internet I found virtually nothing about shipping goods to El Salvador, so I hope at least shed some new light on this. I'm going to try to explain how complex this can be, if you do a great deal of this yourself, to save money.

To begin with, you need to estimate how much you need to ship. This means you will probably be selling many unnecessary items. But before you do that, have someone come out from a shipping company and estimate how much you have. (They will do this to give you a quote for free, and it IS wise to do this). I'd do this months before, if possible, so you can have time to sell what you need to. Know the prices of a a 40 ft container, a 20 ft container, and palletizing your items. I can tell you that you get more bang for your buck using a container, unless you have about one pallet with less than 100 pounds. That is not much! Maybe 5 boxes at the most?

Next...BUY A SCALE AND A MEASURING TAPE! You will need them both! I would also invest in a tool kit, if you are so inclined. This way you can take off the legs on certain pieces of furniture. I had purchased some IKEA book shelves purposely, to be able to tear them down. So my tools came in handy. Now here's what else you'll find valuable: bubble wrap by the roll, at least five to ten rolls of packing tape, and you will marvel at how wonderful shrink wrap works.

Now you are ready to pack. So, before you do, create a list (I created an excel spreadsheet). Here are the categories you will need:

(This will be the number of each piece. Each piece is counted seperately and this has to be an exact count).

(How many parts are there...six pillows? Then, if you have a couch with six pillows, if they aren't shrink wrapped together, they will be counted as seven separate pieces. If they are shrink wrapped together, they are one piece))

Packed Description
(Describe the item)

(Is this by the piece, set, each?)

(Any added descriptions to clarify. This is also where I list each of the contents of a box, instead of the more generalized "packed description")

(New or used? It really does make a difference in the value for figuring duties)

(How many pieces? Do you have 3 bookshelves shrink wrapped together?)

(Serial numbers of every electronic item')

(Model numbers)

(Measurements of the item. Height Weight and depth)

(weight of a box, a sofa, a mattress...whatever. You can often pull this up by comparing similar items on the internet and finding a general weight. Furniture stores have this too, if you purchased it there.)

Unit price
(How much is the item worth)

Next, the pricing is important. For us, the cost for shipping a 20 ft container from Los Angeles to El Salvador will run around $3400. But that doesn't end the costs associated with shipping your goods.

Now you have an idea of the complexity of this. If you are up for it, you will save a great deal. If not, a shipper will do all of this for you, but it will raise the costs. But here are some of the services they can offer: A Team of Full Time Professional Movers, not day Laborers - at pick up. Loading container.
Basic dismantling of necessary furniture,Taxes Tolls and Fuel surcharge at origin. Dispatch and Customer Service. Free no limit Valuation Liability Coverage of an estimated per pound per item. All origin warehouse fees.

What they most likely will exlude:
Special custom inspection, custom penalties, quarantine, custom duties or taxes GRI/VAT/THC, port related charges, container detention at origin or destination, storage at port, demurrage, special equipment, shuttle or long carry, barges, double handling, roll over fee. For these costs, you may want to contact a broker to help you clear these charges.

I found an excellent source who quoted around, PGL at Tel.:2263-0310 /17 For me, they quoted: Custom Clearance: $95.00
Warehouse fee: at cost (depends on the warehouse your shipping co. use. Document handling: Depending on the consolidation company cost.
Delivery: Depending on the address of final destination (ours is included in our shipping fees, but you can also pick up your items at port. Taxes: (We aren't paying taxes because my husband is returning to his country and has been away for more than five years, but most will...and you will want to find out how much this is when you figure the cost.) You will also want to know the EXACT measurements of the inside of your container, not the outside.

So...if you are down for all this work...and it IS work, you can have your household items. But is it worth it? Find out how much the items you will replace will be there ad add the cost of shipping. Still worth it? Then your next step is to get prepared.

My next step was to disassemble any furniture I could and shrink wrap pieces together. I placed all screws inside plastic bags and taped them to legs, etc. This was begun about two months before the packing. As I packed each box, I listed the number of the box and contents in my spreadsheet. Then I taped it shut and weighed and measured each one. This is a long, tedious process, but you will be glad you did it in the end.

Finally, the day comes when the container arrives. You should plan for the day to be when it won't receive any infractions if it is in the street. Now pack! Then let it will take at least 13 days to get there, and maybe more. I haven't included shipping a car in this, but many people do ship cars too. This is much more difficult, because it involves them loading the car, building a bulkhead, and emptying the fuel lines etc. It also adds to the cost of the load, but you will probably make it up in the cost of buying the vehicle there. Prices for vehicles are higher there.

So that's it, until you unload and they deliver.



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Your comment about shipping to el salvador

Hi there, I would like to know a few more things about your experience with shipping to el salvador. Thnks much!

Shipping belongins to El Salvador

me gusto tu articulo y sus explicaciones. es justo lo k yo kiero hacer, me gustaria saber cuando hiciste el envio y con k compania y mas o menos cuanto te costo? y en cuanto tiempo estaban tus cosas en su destino? agradeceria tu pronta rspuesta gracias

In El Salvador, there is no pay out

Recently, the people rose against the aduanas for this practice and for charging too much. Several were arrested. So this is a time like no other, where the aduanas in El Salvador are being very careful.

My experience entering the country was very good, even with all the items I brought. The only fee I paid was $9.04 to import our dog. I was prepared to pay about $400, but not one dime was requested.

But then, if I had to pay for my things, I would because they are important to me. I've already looked at the furnishings here and the beds...not what I can live with. I purchased some very nice stuff before I moved here knowing they wouldn't have what I wanted. I'm a bit into luxury when it comes to furnishing my home, so I'm not willing to settle on many items. There were a few things I didn't mind purchasing at IKEA, but most of my furnishings were quality items. I wanted a sofa that was not only attractive but soft. I wanted a Sealy Mattress with a pillow top that was soft but supportive. For those things you have to pay. I did, and I'm shipping them for that reason. I also purchased the lower priced appliances.

Unlike the amusing people at Nica Living, I don't feel I have to live a life of abject poverty and deprivation to move to Central America. I'm not the one apologizing for existing among Latinos. That would be our phony pal, Phil Hughes, who wrote the book on how to come to Nicaragua on his inheritance and then feign poverty by living like what he thinks a "Nica" lives like. I prefer to live like I live where ever I go, and enjoy the other benefits of the country. Being a Latina already, I don't feel I have to apologize for having things or enjoying what I can afford. That's what Anglos do through some stupid assumption that all Central Americans are poor beggarly folks, instead of understanding there is rich and poor in every culture. If Phil Hughes REALLY wants to live like a Nica, tell him to endure the racial discrimination they do when they try to enter the U.S. borders. Tell him to leave his mother's money behind and stop faking like he's poor and actually try the experience. It's a great deal different when you grow up with no hope and no back up funds than coming to a country and pretending you don't have them. He's a phony, I am not. I value what I worked hard for and fully intend to enjoy it, even in El Salvador. And if that means I can't live in the poorer colonias, then so be it!

Of course you need to isure the container and

if anything happens pay out. Are you willing to do that?

I doubt it.

Another way to save on your container

Place an ad on craigslist if you have left over room in your container. We had half a container, so I asked if anyone wanted to share half the costs of the container to ship items to family in El Salvador. Be creative and suggestive in your ad, so you lay out the idea of what they can ship.

In our case, I explained that they could ship family members appliances, televisions, high end items that cost more in El Salvador. We will create a contract if I find people to add items and they will pay their own duty and taxes. Their families can pick up their goods before they deliver ours. But it is always wise to lay out the idea for people you are trying to entice, so they have that dawning moment that they might need your service. If someone shares my container, I cut my costs by $2200 after all the associated fees, including demurrage and brokerage fees.

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