Many people have moved themselves and all their worldly possession to their new homes in Turkey, but one reader is on the way back and tackles the logistical conundrum – how do I get my stuff back to the UK?

After 6 quite wonderful years living and working here in Fethiye it’s time for this local resident to move back to life in the UK.

This return to the homeland was always planned but when the time came to pack, the quantity of personal possessions collected along the way was astounding!

Having lived in rented accommodation all this time there was very little to worry about on the furniture front but there were so many precious momento’s of my life here that would be difficult to leave behind. Too few to hire a container, too many to be carried back on the flight as excess luggage.

Questions, Questions.

Who could I get to transport them? How would I pack them? How much would it cost? What about customs duty? How long would it take for them to get to the destination? Being very inexperienced on such a logistical nightmare I spent many nights chasing these worries around in my head and waking up bleary eyed in the morning no nearer to the answer than when I went to bed the night before.

But in the end it was all SO EASY!

It’s at times like these that I wonder how we ever lived without the internet and, having got up one morning fed up with procrastinating, I gave myself a good talking to and googled ‘international shipping companies’ which, in turn led me to a company called Excess Baggage. To cut a long story short, they couldn’t help me (despite boasting that they ship to and from 300 countries and 25,000 cities – Fethiye wasn’t one of them) BUT – their website is a mine of information (www.excess-baggage.com) and when I rang and spoke to them, they were more than helpful with all those little situations which need conversation to comprehend fully.

Not all cargo companies in Fethiye do international shipping but, having done some research locally, I opted to use Aras Cargo on Olu Deniz Caddesi at Tasyaka (on the left hand side about 500 meters up from the Otogar heading towards Olu Deniz). One of my main considerations here is that although other companies do ship to the UK (including the PTT Kargo service), this was the only one that I found to employ someone who speaks very competent English and was helpful into the bargain – so the lovely Harun Tahanci was my man and he can be contacted at Aras on 6140371/72.

Another helpful resource for useful information was HM Revenue and Customs (www.hmrc.gov.uk/index.htm) the site tells you everything you need to know about getting your possessions back to the UK efficiently and from this site, you can also download all of the relevant customs documentation that you will need. I have always been a bit averse to chats with the taxman but when I called them for clarification of my understanding of procedure, the young man I spoke to was helpful, polite, and courteous. Neither was he without a sense of humour which made me think (not for the first time recently) that UK government officials have all been beamed up by aliens and sent back as normal people – just like us!

What follows friends, and soon to be ex-neighbours of Fethiye, is how it all works:

  1. The shipping of what amounts to ‘excess baggage’ (however much there is) all goes by airfreight (except PTT Kargo which does a cheaper land/sea freight service) and is calculated by volumetric weight. So, without your complete consignment being packed up and present in the shipping office, a firm price cannot be quoted.   Whichever cargo company you use however, should have a price list which will help you roughly estimate the financial damage. The maximum weight per item is 30 kgs but you can pack it in any size box or container.
  2. On the outside of each container you must attach a comprehensive packing list of every item that is inside the container. If your consignment runs to several boxes (as mine did) you number them 1 of 7, 2 of 7 and so on.
  3. Download a form C3 from the HM Customs site – this is a declaration of what you are sending back and MUST accompany the consignment. If the things you are shipping are standard personal and household effects and you have owned them for more than 6 months then there is no customs duty to pay! Write on the top of the form ‘To Claim Relief on Relocation of Permanent Residence’.

So all that remains now for me to tell you of, is the practicalities and outcomes of executing such a task….

Packing

The boxes were easy – they need to be strong and can be readily located by participating in that local fun pastime which takes place most days hereabouts called ‘dumpster diving’! Yes – every day, there are numerous packing crates left at the side of refuse dumpsters all over the area. If this idea upsets you, think of it as the ultimate in recycling. I got all of my boxes this way but you can always make friends with your local shop-keeper or buy the boxes from the cargo company.

Make sure that you bubble wrap EVERYTHING inside to prevent damage and secure the outside well with miles of parcel tape. There is no knowing how much handling these boxes are going to undergo during their journey.

I made arrangements with Harun at Aras for him to come and pick up my containers and the following day I went to the office to finalise the paperwork and wave my boxes on their way. As I had done all the packing lists and customs paperwork beforehand – this was easy. All we had to do was sort out a price. So the boxes were weighed and measured to calculate the volumetric weight and the outcome was well within my allocated budget – but then I had a nice surprise. Harun called the DHL head office in Istanbul (Aras are their agents in this area) and negotiated me an additional discount. How good was that?

Did it arrive??

And, here is the best bit – the boxes set off on their lengthy journey on Friday 4 September and part of the consignment turned up at the destination in the UK on Monday 7 September. The remaining boxes turned up a day later with no damage and no hold-ups. How did I know? I received a text from DHL advising me – worth every penny in my book. I can sleep at night now…..

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