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Moving to America from the UK Guide

When it comes to moving abroad, more people want to move to America more than any other country in the world.

How to move to America from the UK

This is an international removal guide, written by a former expat who has also worked in the international removals industry for over 20 years. It details what you need to know when getting a move quote for moving house to America from the UK.

Key steps to follow when moving to America

There are several steps you’ll need to consider for your move, the guide explains these. It also includes useful tips to help save you money and make your move to the United States of America easier.

Pre-move checks

Here are a few key questions and checks you need to consider before you move:

Can I move my home during Covid?

Yes but check with your mover. International removal companies have been able to continue to move people’s household goods throughout lockdown and from the UK into the USA. The situation is constantly changing, so make sure you talk to a reputable international mover who can advise you of any recent restrictions, potential delays, customs changes and what safety procedures they have in place. For example, Sterling Lexicon’s Covid safe work practices are designed to protect you and their employees during the packing and moving of your items here and at destination.

Travel advice UK Government USA travel advice site has additional and detailed advice. If in doubt, you can call Sterling Lexicon to discuss the requirements.

Do I need a US visa or work permit*?

Yes, unless you are a returning US citizen. Before you can move to America you will need to have received permission to live in the USA. If you are not a US citizen moving with work, you will also need a work permit. Some permits can take up to 6 months to obtain.

Returning US citizens: As a citizen of the United States of America, you will be permitted to live, work and travel in the USA.

Types of US visas for UK citizens moving to America: There’s a wide range of US visa categories and US visa types. The visa type required will depend on your circumstances and intentions when you arrive. For example, whether you are moving with your employer, starting a business, moving with a spouse who is a US national, seeking permanent residence, a diplomat, etc.

Family members and accompanying adults: If you are a family moving to America, or a couple, you must check that each person moving has the correct status to live, study or work. Unless they are US nationals, they will also have restrictions, for example accompanying partners may have restrictions on working.

Documents to provide as part of a US visa application: A valid passport, an up-to-date CV (resume), educational/professional qualification, certificates, marriage certificates, birth certificates for accompanying children.

Have you already started your application? If yes, please ask for a move quote. You can get a quote here. If not, why not check Sterling Lexicon’s immigration updates. or talk to a Visa Consultant

*Information provided above is for awareness purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. Please ensure you consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.

Have I got a property to move to?

You will need to have an address to stay at whether it be temporary or permanent. You will need to state the address where you are staying to enter the country.

Temporary accommodation: when you arrive, this may be temporary accommodation while you wait for the key to your new home. Companies like Sterling Lexicon can help to find temporary accommodation at great rates.

Rental property: If you are moving into a rental property, you will need a signed lease with the details of the property address.

Home purchase: If you have purchased a property, then a copy of the purchase and mortgage statement with the details of the address will be required.

Do I need health insurance?

It is highly recommended: There is no equivalent of the NHS in the United States of America for expats. Health insurance is one of the most important things you will need to consider if you are moving to America from the UK. It can also be expensive, so it is worth getting several quotes. Here is a website that can help you find the best policy for you and if you have a family.

Customer reviews

What people say about their move from the USA to the UK

Eric V UK to USA
All the goods from my flat arrived yesterday at my apartment in America. Thanks again for the professional and friendly service!
Katia S UK to USA
Extremely satisfied. Everything has been packed nicely and safely and the delivery was really fast.
Lara B UK to USA
Excellent, really professional, even brought some stickers for doing an inventory before loading it into the truck, also helped with the washing machine cabling/closing pipes.

International Removals Process for
Moving to USA from the UK

The Sterling Lexicon Promise

Book with confidence. Book to reserve your move date and if things change you can move your dates. Sterling Lexicon is an accredited international mover who provide professional support throughout your move from here in the UK and at destination. FIDI protected.

Here is a useful checklist to help you plan each stage of your move to America.

Finding an international removal company

It helps to research before deciding on which international removals companies to request a quotation from. An international move is very different to moving house within the UK, so it is always recommended to choose a specialist international removal company. Here are a few points to consider when finding an international removal company:

Guaranteeing your international move to the USA

The international removal company you choose will essentially need to guarantee the delivery of your household goods in America, so check they are a registered international mover, are certified and have all the correct insurances.


Always check the removal company is FIDI certified. FIDI is the primary association for certifying international removers. Only companies who are able to prove they can fulfil their commitment to customers can receive FIDI certification. FIDI audit their members regularly and award those that pass either their FAIM certification, or FAIM Plus which is the highest certification level. You can also check they are registered as a UK international removal company approved by the British Association of Removers.

Step 1: Get a Move Quote

You will need to get a quote for your international move to America. The easiest way to do this is via an online Move Quote Form.

If the moving company have a UK based international removal office like Sterling Lexicon you can also call them or send an email.

young man working on computer

Step 2: Pre-move Consultation

A reputable mover will contact you and provide an international removal consultation, to understand your moving requirements and conduct some pre-move checks to define what you need for your move to America.

Speak to experienced International Move Consultants not sales people

At Sterling Lexicon, the consultation is conducted by an experienced International Move Consultant, rather than a sales person, who fully understands the technical requirements for your move to America from the UK. They will walk you through the international move process and answer your questions.

A home survey:

You may be asked to take part in a pre-move survey of your home contents. This will ensure you receive an accurate move quote. Some companies can do this using a survey app, which works on your mobile device and is very similar to having a conventional video call where you walk around your home and show what you want to move.

When you speak to your mover, you may like to ask about these things during the video survey:

  • Packing standards
  • Access and parking
  • Pet moving
  • Storage
  • International money transfers
  • Temporary accommodation arrangements
  • Insuring your items
  • Vehicle shipping and storage
  • Fine art and special items
  • VAT reclaims
Sterling Lexicon Video Survey App

We offer covid safe, quick and easy Video Surveys. 

Delicate items, antiques and fine art works
will need to be highlighted to ensure they receive specific treatments such as casing and preservation. They will also need to be handled differently and most likely have specific customs requirements. Make sure your moving company has the ability to handle these requirements.

Ballpark quotes may be provided by some movers over the phone. If you are offered this option without a complete assessment, please be aware that the final price you pay might be considerably higher. For example, Sterling Lexicon will ensure they have the full details for an accurate price to minimize the potential for additional charges.

Your International Move Summary and Quote will normally be sent to you after the survey. Check the details to make sure that everything is clear. If you have more than one quote, make sure you are getting a like-for-like comparison.

Step 3: Book your move date

Simply review your move summary and quote, then complete and submit the booking form to secure your move date. If you have any questions just speak to your dedicated Move Consultant.

Step 4: Pay for your move

You will normally be asked to pay to book your move. Payment can made by credit card over the phone or your mover may enable you to pay online. Credit card is recommended as the safest way. You can pay online here with Sterling Lexicon.

Track and manage your move online

You can save time by managing parts of the move process using a web portal and tracking the progress of your move online. Check your international removal company has this option.

Step 5: Moving home preparation

Great! Now, you can start to prepare your home, for your move to America. Here are a few things you can do to prepare and get your home ready for the move day:

Confirmation of packing and move dates

Your international removal company will confirm any key dates. For example, a Sterling Lexicon Move Consultant would provide your International Move Summary with dates of packing and estimated shipping times. Be sure to add these straight in your diary!

Argh! Form filling!

Sorry! There is no getting away from it. Ensuring that your documents are all correctly completed will prevent delays and avoid incurring additional costs. Luckily, most international movers will help guide you to save time. If you book with Sterling Lexicon, your Move Consultant will explain what you need to do.

Mature couple reading forms in front of laptop in home

Customs requirements for moving household goods to the USA

You will need to ensure you have all the correct customs documentation. If you are moving with Sterling Lexicon, they will help you with the documentation process and completing the US Customs 3299 Form, importer’s declaration, as it can be very detailed and sometimes unclear.

Below is a list of the documents you will need when planning an international removal to America from the UK:

  • Copy of valid Passport (some ports require Passports for all family members listed on the 3299)
  • Copy of valid Visa non-US citizens, or copy of Permanent Resident Card if a returning US citizen
  • A-1 Visa if it is a diplomat moving to America
  • CF-3299 – Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles, if applicable
  • Form DS-1504 (applicable only to diplomatic relocations / diplomats moving)
  • Form CF-6059B – Customs Declaration
  • Copy of Bill of Lading (OBL) / Air Waybill (AWB) – Your international removal company should take care of this if completing the entire international removal to the USA for you.
  • Detailed moving inventory in English – Your mover should complete this if you want them to undertake a full packing service for your removal
  • Food Questionnaire
  • CBP Form 7501 - Customs Entry Summary
  • Importers Security Filing (ISF)
  • Stamped I-94 Card
Prepare your home

Start to sort out the items you want to take with you, store and those that will stay. Those items that are being moved by air should be put to one side. Work through your home room by room. Any items that cannot be taken with you (e.g. prohibited items) should be set aside. Your moving company may provide you with low tack stickers to label items ready for the packing crews. Make sure you empty the loft, basement and any out houses. You can take pictures down from walls and put them on the floor propped against the wall ready for packing – but not obstructing common walk ways.

Items to set aside to travel with you

Put your passport, visa, phone, charger, power pack, adaptor, documents, items of jewelry and medication aside in a clearly identifiable container so they do not get packed. Also keep your important documents such as your insurance, lease for the new home, mortgage letter, etc in a wallet – make sure you have physical and digital copies to hand.

Moving with pets

Please make sure that you have someone who can look after your pets on the day(s) when your home is being packed.

If your pets are moving with you, please talk to your Move Consultant or Move Manager regarding the specific requirements for your pet. For example, if you have a pet cat or dog, it will have different requirements to a reptile or an exotic pet. If you choose Sterling Lexicon, they will provide a consultation and will arrange for a time and date to collect your furry family member. Speak to Sterling Lexicon about pet moving.

Step 6: Packing your household goods on the day of moving home

On the first day of your move, expect the packing team to arrive at your home at the agreed time. Companies like Sterling Lexicon will ensure the packing crew foreman introduce themselves and their team for security purposes. You will then normally walk through your home and discuss what you are packing for transport by sea, air, items for storage, special care and those items you are not taking.

Professionally trained international packing crews

Sterling Lexicon’s professional international packing crews are some of the best in the business and have been working for the company for many years. We only use people we would trust in our own home, so we know they will be professional and respectful in yours too. Their experience ensures all your personal possessions are packed perfectly to withstand being handled and transported over thousands of miles.

Eco-friendly export packing materials

Check the packing materials being used are sustainable and are to the required standard. Reputable companies like Sterling Lexicon will use packing materials that offer the highest level of protection and are kind to the environment. For example, sustainable and eco-friendly 4-6 ply export wrap, thick-walled specific packing boxes, acid free tissue paper, cornering for furniture and thick carding. Expect the packing crews to use specialist export wrapping techniques, operate safely and take measures to protect your home from damage. They should also recycle as much as possible.

Taxable items and duties

You should identify all the items you plan to take with you to your Move Consultant so that they can advise you on restricted items and anything that will incur customs duties. That way you will be able to take action before the move and find the most cost-effective way to handle your move and keep costs down.

Items you are not allowed to bring into America

Here is a list of items that you are not allowed to bring into the USA as part of your shipment, as defined by the US Customs and Border Protection. If in doubt, ask.

  • Absinthe (Alcohol) and Alcoholic
  • Biologicals
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Firearms
  • Fish and Wildlife
  • Food Products (Raw and Prepared)
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Game and Hunting Trophies
  • Gold
  • Medication
  • Merchandise from Embargoed Countries
  • Soil, plants and seeds
Bits box and box for your first day in your new home

Make sure you pack all those nuts and bolts from disassembled furniture, remote controls, etc into a single box marked accordingly. Also, a box with items for your first evening at your new place with cutlery, plates, cups, blankets, etc. Make sure these boxes are clearly identified and are the last things loaded so they are easy to find.

Your Packing inventory

Once the packing has been completed, your mover will generate an inventory list, itemising everything that has been packed. Keep hold of this until your possessions have arrived in America and are unpacked in your new home.

International transit protection

Your possessions will be transported roughly 4,000 miles / 7000 kms between the UK and USA. You can protect your move by taking out transit protection, which will cover your personal items, furniture, art, collections, etc. You may need to complete an inventory list that identifies the value of your items so you have the right amount of cover. Ask your mover to help you get covered.


If you need to put any items into storage, check with your international mover what options they offer.

Step 7: Transporting your household goods to America

Your international mover will prepare your possessions for transportation. Sea freight is often the best way to move your household goods long distance with a lower environmental impact. It is also common to arrange an air shipment for your most essential items.

How long will it take to move my household goods to arrive?

You should allow approximately 4-6 weeks for your sea shipment to arrive in America.

US Customs documents

Household goods being moved to America will be subject to US Customs clearance checks. Check how your international mover will support you here. For example, if you use Sterling Lexicon, they will help you complete the forms in advance and manage the clearance process.

Step 8: Travel and temporary accommodation in America

Make sure that you allow enough travel time to get to the airport. Before you travel check you have all your documents ready and to hand. Check you have done everything you need to travel legally in regards to your Visa, Covid and travel arrangements. If you are moving your pet(s), they will be travelling in safety and comfort too.

Temporary accommodation booking

Until your possessions arrive, it is likely that you will be staying in temporary accommodation or a hotel. Please let your Move Consultant know when you have arrived and passed through customs. You can arrange for your air-freight to be delivered with your essential items to this address.

If you would like help sourcing the best value temporary accommodation in the USA, check with your moving company if they offer this. The Sterling Lexicon team would be happy to provide a competitive temporary accommodation quote

Step 9: Delivery to your new home and unpack in your new home

Your international mover should provide support for the customs clearance of your possessions at destination. If you choose Sterling Lexicon, their offices in the United States of America will handle the import process for you and will contact you to let you know when everything is complete.

Once cleared, your international removal company will contact you to arrange a delivery date to your new home.

Step 10: Welcome to your new home

Congratulations, you are home! It’s time to get to know your new neighbourhood. Always make sure you do this safely, so it’s best to do things during the day.

Your first night will often feel strange so make sure you locate your first night box so you can get takeaway or even cook yourself.

mature couple settling into new home

On a more practical note, you will also need to get all your utilities connected, register for a local doctor, dentist, arrange for a bank account (if not already organised) and get yourself set up correctly. Speak to your international mover at the early stages as you can often get this set up in advance.

Settling-in and orientation support

If you have moved with Sterling Lexicon and would like any local advice on places to help you settle-in, or you need additional support for the practical things such as utilities, local expat club introductions, schools, or anything else. Simply contact your Sterling Lexicon Move Consultant.

Additional areas Sterling Lexicon can help with

Visa services

If you need to talk to someone about starting the visa process, speak to our specialist immigration team. The first 30 mins are free and will help you understand or reconfirm what you need.

Moving classic cars and motorcycles to America from the UK

We have been moving classic cars and motorcycles to America from the UK since 1990. Speak to us today about a quote for importing your classic vehicle to the USA.


Moving your pets to America from the UK

We have been moving pets with their families from the UK to the USA for over 30 years. Talk to our team for advice and get a pet travel quote.

Temporary accommodation arrangements in the USA

We have a complete network of great temporary accommodation providers across the United States of America with whom we can offer competitive market rates. If you want city centre serviced accommodation or need a recommended hotel booking, talk to your Move Consultant to help them get you the best price and they’ll even handle the booking for you. Get a temporary accommodation quote.

Moving fine art to America

If you have a work of fine art you wish to take as part of your move to America, we have specialist advisory, art technicians, fine art crating and shipping services to ensure your works receive exceptional care. Please contact us for a consultation.

Do you have any questions?

Why not speak to one of our experienced team members in the UK who can answer your questions clearly and simply. Call us today.

What do to next

Get a move quote

To get a free moving quote to America from the UK, complete this form.

Book a video survey

The next step in the move process is to book your free video survey. This allows Sterling Lexicon to accurately estimate the weight/volume of your household goods and get you the best price for your move. All you need is a smart phone and a move specialist will guide you through the estimate at a time that is convenient for you. To book your video survey, speak to your move consultant.

Pay for your move online

Payment can be made by credit card over the phone or you can pay online

Sterling Lexicon

Each year we help many returning residents, professionals moving with work and their families to move to the United States of America. We support them with their visas, finding homes and moving house. Everything they need to start their new lives in America. We have offices in the UK and across the United States, so our team of international move consultants can support you from the UK and at your new destination in America. Check out our locations here.