Going to India for my first overseas move! The flow of moving day and preps up to the day before

moving day prep

When it comes to domestic moves, you just pack your belongings into cardboard boxes, write what’s inside with a permanent marker on the outside, and you’re done! (Although I’ve moved domestically five times, compared to international moves, this seems pretty simple.)

On the other hand, our international move was unexpectedly challenging. I think the movers had it tougher than us.

Reflecting on what we could have done better, I want to share what we did up to the day before moving out and the flow of the actual day, including those aspects. Chalo Chalo!


Things to do before moving out

Here are 7 things what we did the day before.

Preparation of documents

  • Passport copies
  • E-ticket copies
  • Customer instructions (local contact information, address, workplace details)
  • Copy of VISA
  • Insurance packaging specifications (listing items sent and their market value)
  • Personal information consent form
  • Service terms of use

We prepared the above seven documents.

The most time-consuming was the insurance packaging specifications. To minimize losses in case of accidents or damage to belongings, we had to list the items sent for insurance purposes. The moving company specifically instructed us to list high-value items (worth tens of thousands of yen) on the packaging specifications.

Purchase of necessities

We stocked up on toiletries, tissues, diapers, and food items. Since food items have expiration dates, we bought them right before the moving day.

Confirmation of instructions from the moving company (items not to be handled)

The moving company will inform you in advance about items that cannot be handled, so it’s necessary to check the details and prepare your belongings accordingly.

While it varies by country, here’s the guidance we received regarding customs regulations in India. By the way, it seems that the list of items that cannot be handled is constantly evolving, and the situation may change during the actual moving process.

Items not accepted for both sea and air shipments

  • Valuables
    • Cash, passbooks, securities, precious metals, jewelry, seals, etc.
  • Dangerous goods
    • Sprays, gas cylinders, thinner, lighters, etc.
  • Plants and animals
    • Items related to the Washington Treaty, seeds, soil, living organisms
  • Food and beverages
    • Alcohol, mirin, cooking sake, tobacco, meat products (including beef and beef extracts)
  • Others
    • Prescription medicines, globes, world maps

Items not accepted for air shipments:

  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Perfumes
  • Opened food items

Other precautions

  • Prepare approximately two months’ worth of items for both air and sea shipments. There’s a risk of confiscation or taxation if deemed excessive by customs.
  • For food items, prepare no more than 10% per box for air shipments and no more than 20% of the total volume for sea shipments.


The moving company emphasized that sorting is the key to successful international moves. So, we sorted our belongings as follows the day before:

  • Items to be sent by sea
  • Food items for sea shipment
  • Items to be sent by air
  • Food items for air shipment

We wrote “Sea Shipment” and “Sea Shipment Food” on cardboard boxes with a permanent marker, and sorted smaller items into each box accordingly.

We also labeled relatively large items like clothing cases with stickers provided by the moving company.

Grouping belongings by storage location

About a week before the moving day, our house was in chaos. This was because we had divided the storage locations of our belongings into categories such as sea shipment room and air shipment room. Since the moving company advised us to keep the air shipment items in one place for smooth handling, we grouped our belongings accordingly.

There were cardboard boxes everywhere we looked, and no matter what we tried to do, there were always cardboard boxes in sight. It was stressful.

We endured this chaotic situation for about a week, hoping that the moving out process would go smoothly.

Preparation of tea, coffee, etc., for the workers

It’s easy to forget, but we prepared drinks for the workers who would be coming on the moving day. Since they would be working for about 4-5 hours continuously, we wanted them to take breaks regularly, so we made sure to prepare drinks for them.

Confirmation of truck parking

We had to confirm if the moving company’s truck could be parked in front of our house. Since the road in front of our house was narrow, we arranged for them to use our home’s parking space instead of street parking. If securing parking is difficult or if the road in front of your house is narrow, it’s essential to secure a nearby parking space, such as a nearby parking lot.

Flow of the moving day

Here’s how the moving day went:

Workers (2 people) checked the air and sea shipment items in each room.
Protected the walls and furniture with cloth, etc., to prevent them from getting scratched
Packing of air and sea shipment items simultaneously after confirming the belongings.
Creation of a packing list to be submitted to customs.

Since the moving company handled the packing, my husband and I mainly provided instructions. To be honest, we realized on the day that some items were missing and rushed to the nearest supermarket or drugstore.

The movers are truly professionals at packing. Especially for air shipments, where there’s an ideal of “10% food per box,” they balanced and packed food items accordingly. Not only food but they also packed other items in the same proportion, which was satisfying to watch.

Reflections and Realizations

Here are some reflections and realizations after completing the actual moving out process:

Prioritize items rather than just sorting them

We were satisfied just by sorting our belongings into four categories: air shipment, air shipment (food), sea shipment, and sea shipment (food).

However, on the day, the workers told us, “We can only send about 10 more kilos by air. Since we can’t send everything, please prioritize.” We hadn’t prioritized beforehand, and we had to decide in a rush. We asked them to pack the lighter items first.

Relatively heavy items like cling wrap and seasoning ended up remaining, exceeding the weight limit, and had to be sent by sea. If we had thought more about prioritization beforehand, it would have been better.

Thoroughly read and ask questions about instructions

Although we thought we had checked the instructions thoroughly, we regretted not being more attentive to food items.

Many retort curries and instant ramen contained meat ingredients. We had mindlessly purchased them on Amazon but noticed that the cup noodles had a picture of hearty chashu (braised or roasted pork belly or pork loin) on the lid. As a result, half of the cup noodles couldn’t be sent to India and had to be carried by hand.

Additionally, apart from meat ingredients, we were informed that items requiring storage at room temperature were not allowed. They said, “During the export process, it’s impossible to control the temperature, and it gets hot, so chocolates, for example, will melt.”

It’s better to carefully check items that cannot be handled. If you have any doubts, it’s reassuring to confirm whether they can be sent.

Check for missing items

We forgot to buy several things, and it led to a situation where we had to rush to the supermarket or pharmacy during the packing process. To avoid the chaos we experienced, thoroughly check the list of items to bring.

By the way, we forgot basics like diapers, supplements, and toners (laughs).

Check the capacity for items to be carried as hand luggage

Honestly, we still haven’t grasped or managed what items to carry as hand luggage (laughs).

Items that cannot be sent by air or sea, items that couldn’t be sent in time by either method (such as medication), must be carried as hand luggage.

On the day of handing over the baggage, items like cup noodles with beef extract and long-lasting tofu that needed to be stored at room temperature ended up becoming hand luggage, so it’s a mystery whether they could be carried.

The weight and size limits for items that airlines will keep for free vary depending on the class you’re flying in. If you become a premium member of each airline’s mileage program, you may be able to increase the amount of hand luggage you can carry.

Since the restrictions and conditions vary for each airline, it’s essential to check carefully before traveling.


Today, I wrote about the flow of the moving day and what we did the day before. I’ll write about receiving the baggage in India on another day.

By the way, we entrusted our move to Yamatane. It was really a good decision to choose them. I’ve written about the criteria for selecting a moving company in another article, so if you’re interested, please check that out too.

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