Relocation Companies Explained

Relocation Companies Explained

Relocation companies are specialist agencies that are designed to assist people who are moving overseas. Their underlying aim is to assist people with their move and handle all difficult issues on their behalf. Their service offerings are generally split into two distinct groups; pre-departure services and post-departure services.

Pre-Departure Services

Some of the types of services that a typical relocation agency will provide prior to a move abroad include the following:

  • Pre-acceptance of assignment decision-making. Many companies will offer support and guidance that is aimed at helping you to decide if the move overseas is right for you. They may even arrange a short visit to the host country in advance so that you can get a feel for what you can expect.
  • Pre-departure cross-cultural training aimed at familiarizing an individual with the traditions and cultural expectations of their host country.
  • Assistance in identifying the educational requirements of your children and locating an appropriate school. Support with the enrollment process.
  • Help with fulfilling immigration requirements and gaining appropriate visas.
  • Support arranging pet relocation and the documentation associated with this.
  • Shipment of household goods.

Post-Arrival Services

Once you have arrived in your host country, relocation agencies may provide assistance in some or all of the following:

  • Area orientation.
  • Assistance with finding a home.
  • Assistance with any outstanding administration, including driving licenses, insurance and other documentation requirements.
  • Introductions to expat networks and events.
  • Advice and support for the trailing spouse.
  • Translation services if required.

Who uses relocation agencies?

Although the majority of relocation agencies aim their services at corporate customers, there are some niche agencies that do provide their services to private individuals.

Finding relocation agencies

Many corporations will have a preferred supplier that they utilize for all relocation activities and you may have no choice in the company that is used to support your move. If you are in a position whereby you may select your own agency, it is worthwhile researching the agencies that are available in your host country or city as a local agency are likely to have the most experience in that particular destination. While there are very few regulations in place covering relocation agencies the EuRA has recently introduced an accreditation system that is responsible for auditing worldwide relocation service providers. Their assessment is based on benchmarked service requirements and any service providers who have been awarded the EuRA Quality Seal are determined to be the best in the industry. It is therefore advisable to utilize the services of providers who have been awarded this seal, a full list of which can be found in the EuRA directory (

Things to look out for

  • Ensure that the relocation agent you utilize to find property overseas is independent and also acting as a real estate agent. If they are, the chances are that you will not gain an independent view of the property market, as they will be more interested in renting or selling their own properties.
  • Consider how long the services will be provided for. Ideally find a service that will offer an open helpline that you can consult when the need arrives.
  • Check whether the agency will demand a percentage of the rent or sale price for finding you a property, if you use a real estate agent as well you may find yourself hit with a hefty bill.
  • Before you formally contract with a supplier visit expat forums in the host country and ask people there if they have any experience of using that particular company. People’s past experiences are one of the best gauges of the service levels you can expect.

If you do not have the luxury of being able to afford a relocation agency then do not fear. Our comprehensive expat’s manual contains a wealth of information to help you plan and implement your move overseas including a free moving checklist template.