Questions to Ask Your Shipping Company

If you need your household goods shipped or you're expanding your business internationally, choosing the right shipping company is very important. In order to ensure that your goods arrive smoothly and in a timely manner, you'll need to know how to spot a good shipping company. After finding a few potential candidates, based on recommendations either online or from people you know, it's useful to know which questions to ask your shipping company. So, without further ado, read on to learn more.

Time-related questions

The first among the questions to ask your shipping company is: how long will it take for my shipment to arrive? The time depends mostly on ports & routes, or to be more precise, on the origin port and the destination where the goods are shipped to. How frequently does the company ship goods to the given destination will have a great impact on the speed at which your goods will be delivered.

Usually, company representatives won't be able to give you the exact time, but they will be able to provide an approximate timetable. Still, even this approximate number should help you organize and decide on the company that's right for you. In order to avoid confusion, you'll need to know whether the time they're giving you refers to the time the shipment will be traveling, or the time it will take for your shipment to arrive from door to door. If you'll be moving after having your goods transported, having this information will also help you organize your move better, with the help of reliable professionals from Big Apple Movers NYC.

It's worth noting that if time is not of the essence, you can ask whether it will be possible for your items to arrive at a later time, but at a lower price. 


A reliable shipping company is fully insured, licensed, and bonded. This is among the most important questions to ask your shipping company. If a company can't show you all the necessary paperwork and documents proving that it's properly licensed and insured, then you're most likely dealing with a fraudulent, illegitimate, or otherwise unreliable company.

And while we're talking about paperwork, you should also ask about the paperwork you'll need to fill. Filling the paperwork related to shipping your goods can sometimes be a complex procedure, and you're likely to need help from someone who has more expertise in this matter than you. In some cases, the company legally won't be able to fill the paperwork for you, but will they give you the forms? And even more important, will they be there to help you when it's time to complete these documents?

These documents will include insurance, so ask about that as well. Insurance policies vary from company to company. Some (of the best) insurance policies will cover all potential risks; others might be total loss policies, or they might cover some specific cases, such as mildew and mold setting in, or cases of mechanical derangement. Knowing exactly what your insurance policy covers can make a difference between a company that's right for you and the one that isn't.

Costs and other financial-related questions

You'll also need to know how much will the initial cost estimate be subject to change after you request a quote. For example, the initial cost may only apply for the next 30 days. If your shipping date will be further down the line than that, the quote may not be accurate. Furthermore, some charges may be excluded from the estimate. Customs inspection is often excluded, and the company could be working with a partner whose involvement will further increase the price.

So, be sure to ask about any potential hidden fees. Shipping companies often have some "wiggle room", and not being aware of the additional costs can catch you completely off guard and leave you in a financial pickle. 

Another of the important financial questions to ask your shipping company is related to the form of payment you'll need to use. For example, if you'll be shipping goods to another country, you'll need to know in which currency you'll have to pay.

Questions regarding the items you need to ship

Of course, you'll also need to know which items you can and which items you can't ship. In a lot of cases, this is determined by the laws of the destination country. Some countries' governments prohibit certain kinds of items from entering their country or, in some cases, you may be allowed to ship certain items, but there'll be additional costs involved. For example, you won't be able to ship religious items (such as a Bible, for example) to some Arabic countries.

And even if all your goods are certain to get a green light from the country officials, in a lot of cases you should pose questions to your shipping company related to the safety of your items as well. This is especially important if you'll be shipping any items that may require delicate care or are especially valuable to you.

Be sure to ask about any items that you're concerned about. Will you ship large items such as furniture or a pool table? Ask if the company has experience with transporting such items, that will most likely first need to be disassembled. If you'll be transporting valuable items, ask how will they be protected, will any special materials be used for packing, and so on.  

Your responsibilities

Finally, you'll need to know exactly what your obligations will be. We already mentioned disassembling large items - will you have to do that or will the shipping company take care of it? Similarly, will the company do the packing or will you have to handle the procedure? Or is the job going to be divided between you and the company?

If your belongings are stored in a restricted/shared parking area, who will be in charge of booking/reserving the parking space? And once the company's employees arrive, do they have any advice on how to be prepared as best as possible? 

After asking about your obligations and all the other vital questions to ask your shipping company, you should be able to pick a company that will suit your needs the most. It is very important to be thorough with your questions in order to make sure that your precious items are in the right hands. What's more, being inquisitive will allow you to be sure that the company in question can handle all your requests. Don't rush things and give yourself enough time to choose properly.

Sophia Perry has been engaged in writing blog articles for the last 7 years. Although she started off her career in the moving industry, the experience brought her diversification for the content she covers. Today, her range of topics span from moving across the globe to everyday lifestyle tips, traveling, marketing and software-related news etc. In her spare time, Sophia enjoys running, reading books and spending time with her dogs Loo and Sill. As a great lover of life, she finds something practical and useful in every experience, which contributes to her portfolio as well.