STORM HARVEY UPDATE: A message from Allied International

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with all of our customers, agents, staff, drivers and all people in the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey and the lingering tropical storm. The situation with this storm is ongoing and extremely fluid though clearly there is a tremendous impact along the Texas Gulf Coast and into Louisiana. Specifically for Houston we can advise the following:

  • Many of our agents in the Houston market are still closed due to the flooding and are assessing the situation on an hourly basis.
  • Over 500 roads and highways in the metropolitan area are closed due to flooding.
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) closed to all inbound & outbound commercial flights until further notice.
  • The port of Houston/Galveston will remain closed until Thursday, August 31st

Our teams are working closely with our agent & vendor networks to try and provide the most current update and necessary assistance for all our customer and clients affected by this disaster.”

UPDATED: Important information following global cyber attack on Maersk Group

Maersk has confirmed that some of its IT and communications infrastructure has been impacted. Pickfords will monitor the situation closely and keep our customers informed, should their shipments be affected.

Message from Maersk Group:

Please see the following information from Maersk Group. Pickfords will monitor the situation closely and will make contact with our customers, should they be impacted by this incident.

“Following on from our communications yesterday (27th June 2017) regarding the impact of the global cyber attack, Petya, on A.P. Møller-Maersk group, we can confirm that some of our IT and communications infrastructure have been impacted and we have proactively shut down as a security measure.

For now this means the following:

All immediate vessel operations will continue as planned, making the majority of planned port calls.

Access to most ports is not impacted, however some APM Terminals are affected and gates are closed 

Cargo in transit will be offloaded as planned.  Import Cargo will be released to credit customers

At the present time we are unfortunately unable to serve new quotes or accept future bookings. However we do greatly appreciate your patience and look forward to carrying your cargo as soon as it is practically possible 

Unfortunately due to the impact on our IT and communications systems we are limited in our ability to communicate with you. We will continue to email you when appropriate and will be updating our Social Media channels regularly.

We apologize once again for any inconvenience this may cause your business and we are working hard to resume normal operations as soon as possible.

The Maersk Team”


*UPDATE 11:50am* a further message from Maerk

“Dear Customer,

As per our previous customer advisory regarding the impact of the global cyber attack on Maersk Line we are able to provide you with the following services at this time:

  • All immediate vessel operations will continue as planned
  • Access to UK and Irish ports is not impacted
  • Cargo in transit will be offloaded as planned. 
  • Import cargo will be released to credit customers
  • Export haulage booked to load in the next 24 hours will be accommodated where possible”

Moving to Canada: what you need to know

Canada has long been a favourite destination for UK expats. As the second largest country in the world, Canada has no shortage of things to do and places to go, boasting everything from stunning, snow-tipped mountains to bustling, metropolitan cities.

If you’re preparing for a move to The Great White North, here’s what to expect from the emigration process and expat life once you settle in:

Applying to work or study

British citizens applying to study or work in Canada will require an Eletronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly there. To study, you will need a study permit. Working in Canada may require a work permit depending on the type of work you intend to undertake.

Shipping your belongings

Once you have arranged accommodation in Canada, you will need to ship your belongings over using an international removals company. When your belongings are being shipped over, it is important to remember that in Canada you must be present in Customs in order to clear them – if not, they will be “held in bond” by the Customs Office.

Cost and quality of living

Canadian property is generally more affordable than in the UK and many other countries. Overall cost of living can also be lower, depending on the city you settle in.

At the time of writing, Canada is 2nd in the Social Progress Index, demonstrating a very high quality of living compared to the rest of the world, especially in access to education and healthcare and personal rights.


With much of its vast landmass uninhabited, Canada is among the world’s lowest in population density. While this varies across the country, even the most populated provinces are far more dense than much of the developed world.


Approximately 85% of Canadians speak English, although only 58% recognise it as their mother tongue. Much of Canada is French speaking, especially in Quebec, where it is the official language.


Canadian weather varies across the country and throughout the seasons, though winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, with temperatures sometimes dropping below -40°C in the interior and Prairie provinces. Snow can cover the ground for almost six months a year in noncoastal regions, and can persist year-round in parts of the north. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C, while some interior regions can exceed 40 °C in summer months.

See also: How does Canadian culture differ from the UK?

With partner offices in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, Pickfords relocates hundreds of expatriates to Canada every year. To find out how we can help you fulfil your expat dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.

Moving to Hong Kong: what you need to know

Holding a powerful role in the global economy, Hong Kong is a thriving business hub with many financial institutions, international businesses and factories running their headquarters out of the territory.

Expats moving to Hong Kong are greeted with a strong Eastern culture, but with clear Western influences. Hong Kong is said to be ‘where east meets west’; the two cultures have grown to exist alongside each other.

So what’s required to emigrate to the financial and cultural hub of Hong Kong, and what can expats expect once they get there?

Entry requirements

Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China, though as a Special Administrative Region, it has its own immigration controls. It is possible to visit and stay in Hong Kong for up to six months without a visa, but after that you are required to apply for one.

While Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China, you are not allowed to travel to mainland China without a Chinese visa.


Hong Kong has a population of over 7.18 million and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a population density of 6,300 people per square kilometre. Hong Kong also has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, with 1.11 births per woman of child-bearing age. It is estimated that by 2033, 26.8% of the population will be aged 65 or over.

The vast majority of Hong Kong residents are of ethnic Chinese origin, making up over 93.6% of the population. Approximately 50% of the population belong to an organised religion, with Buddhists and Taoists being the two largest groups, followed by Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.


Because Hong Kong was initially established as a colony of the British Empire, English is still one of the official languages, as well as Chinese. Due to the territory’s multiculturalism however, there are a variety of other languages commonly spoken, including Cantonese, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.


Situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Hong Kong has a humid subtropical climate, with four distinguishable seasons. Spring is usually warm and humid, while summers are hot and rainy. Autumns are quite sunny and pleasant, and winters are relatively dry and cool. Hong Kong is sometimes subjected to typhoons in summertime, which can lead to flooding and landslides. Shops and banks will be closed when a level 8 typhoon warning is given.

Quality of life

While overall wealth has increased, recent years have seen the quality of life drop in Hong Kong, partly down to increasingly unaffordable property prices. The latest quality of life index, compiled by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found that housing affordability was at its lowest point in a decade, despite an improved unemployment rate and increase in wages.


It is important to note that there is no NHS equivalent in Hong Kong; no healthcare is provided free of charge. It is vital that you get medical insurance arranged if you plan to move to Hong Kong, otherwise, should you fall ill or injure yourself, you could be hit with very high medical bills.


Hong Kong law is based mainly on UK law. Residents can receive on-the-spot fines for littering and spitting, and a zero-tolerance system is in place for those travelling without a ticket on the Mass Transit Railway. All Hong Kong residents are required to carry a valid Hong Kong ID card with them at all times, and can face prosecution if stopped by the police without one.

With a key partner office in the heart of Wan Chai,  Pickfords relocates hundreds of expats to Hong Kong every year. To find out how we can help you fulfill your expat dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.


Rio customs strike affecting clearance

Brazilian customs strikes are expected to impact goods clearance until the conclusion of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Customs clearance and delivery of household goods services will be affected within the city and ports of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s remaining 26 states, including primary business centre Sao Paula, will not be affected.

Customs at the Rio airport and sea port are undergoing a partial strike over a wage dispute, currently working just two days per week. Customers emigrating to the capital can expect delayed customs clearance until well beyond the official end of the Olympics on Sunday 21 August.

Road traffic within Rio is also seeing significant challenges as athletes, delegations and country dignitaries arrive ahead of the Games. For security reasons, some road closures will not be announced in advance.

If you have concerns about customs clearance and emigration into Rio de Janerio, please contact your Move Manager or call 0800 019 8557.

Pickfords wins British Government removal contract for a second term

Pickfords is delighted to announce that on Monday 20th June 2016 it was officially confirmed as the appointed contractor to the British Government for overseas removal services. The contract will run concurrently with the existing contract held by Pickfords and commences on 1st September 2016.

The contract covers removal services for numerous British Government Departments who post staff overseas including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, British Council and many others.

The team at Pickfords is immensely proud that it has been awarded the contract for a second term and Steve Boyd, Pickfords Government Services Director commented, ‘This award is a reflection of the hard work of the Pickfords Government Services team, the quality of our tender submission and our promise to the British Government to continue to provide value for money at all times ensuring service quality is never compromised’.

Pickfords has already embarked on the implementation program with the British Government and will work with them in the coming weeks to ensure that we align our services with the dynamics of the new contract.

Oz trike trek propels Legion fundraising

Pickfords Truro is proud to sponsor ex-REME member Andy McReady, who will ride 2,493km (1,549 miles) from Perth to Port Augusta, Australia on a recumbent trike in aid of The Royal British Legion in September.

Sixty-seven-year-old Andy is expecting to make the journey, a distance nearly twice the length of mainland Britain, in 28 days plus six rest days,pulling a twin wheel trailer carrying camping equipment and food.

Andy hopes to raise as much money as possible for The Legion, a leading British charity who provide financial, social and emotional support to British armed forces veterans and their families.

Pickfords Truro will transport Andy’s trike to and from Perth to allow his ride to take place. Andy was quick to show his gratitude to his local Pickfords branch in a letter addressed to Damian Dawes, Truro Branch Manager:

“On behalf of myself and the Royal British Legion, thank you for for your agreement to sponsor my ride. Your company’s extremely generous offer will allow the ride to proceed. Our grateful thanks to you and your colleagues for your gracious help which is so gratefully received.”

If you would like to sponsor Andy for his incredible ride across Australia, please visit


Moving back to the UK: a repat checklist


Has the sun set on your time abroad? Whatever your reason for returning to the UK, there are a number of things to remember as you prepare. Here’s our handy checklist for UK repatriates:

Get your tax affairs in order:

Update your health records:

  • Register with a UK GP and dentist
  • Notify your medical and travel insurance providers
  • Transfer your GP, dental and other healthcare records to the UK

Sort out your children’s schools:

  • Notify your children’s host schools that they will be leaving
  • Contact your local UK education authority to arrange school places in your home county

Prepare to move home:

  • Arrange to sell or end the lease on your foreign property
  • Arrange for accommodation in the UK
  • Notify your bank, building society, utility companies and local council (for electoral registration) in both your host country and the UK of your new address
  • Arrange to have your mail forwarded to the UK
  • Book your international removal company

If you’re looking to return to the UK, find out about moving with Pickfords, get a quote or contact us on 0800 019 8557 or

Culture clash: UK v New Zealand


One of the most popular destinations for UK expats, New Zealand offers a rich multi-culture, low tax rates, slow pace of life, affordable food and fuel, and of course a sub-tropical climate and all the fantastic outdoor views and activities that come with it!

Convinced? Well, as with any new country, settling into New Zealand is contingent on understanding and embracing a different culture. So what are the main differences between UK and New Zealand, and how can expats avoid culture clash?

Outdoor lifestyle
If your idea of a social event is a group Netflix marathon, prepare to be taken out of your comfort zone. Make friends in New Zealand and you may find yourself fishing, sailing, rowing, skiing, surfing, playing rugby, hiking (known locally as ‘tramping’), mountain biking… to name a few possible activities!

How to counter culture clash: Always be open to trying new things, and recognise such activities as the best way to bond with the locals.

Low class consciousness
While the UK is still influenced by the concept of social class, this idea is largely absent in New Zealand. The country is a multicultural melting pot, and locals usually mix across socio-economic groups.

How to counter culture clash: Talk to everyone. We’re all human after all.

Casual dress
Corporate dress code is company and industry dependent, but typically more casual than in the UK. Outside of work, locals wear a lot of black, and tend not to ‘dress up’ for clubbing or parties.

How to counter culture clash: Get advice about dress code before starting your new job. If attending a special event, ask the host, but in many cases casual will be fine.

Casual attitude
New Zealanders’ laid back attitude can be disconcerting, especially in the workplace. Timekeeping especially is not so rigid as in UK business.

How to counter culture clash: Don’t misconstrue a relaxed approach as lack of care.

Local slang
While 96% of New Zealanders speak English, the local tongue includes several phrases that will be lost on the average Brit.

How to counter culture clash: Brush up on common New Zealand phrases before you arrive. If you don’t understand what someone said, just ask, but be prepared to explain your own Britishisms.

With partner offices in 12 key cities, Pickfords relocates hundreds of expats to New Zealand every year. To find out how we can help you fulfil your expat dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.

Office Moving Alliance wins contract to move NATO Headquarters


Office Moving Alliance (OMA) has been appointed to project manage and deliver the relocation of NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels.

Pickfords is the UK member of the Office Moving Alliance, an international network of office moving specialists and they collaborated with fellow members Mondial Movers from The Netherlands and AMT Transfer from France during the formal bid procedure.

The iconic NATO HQ building in Brussels will move to a new purpose built premises across the boulevard from the existing site.  The move is planned to take place in 2017 and will see the relocation of circa 4000 staff.

NATO considered proposals from a number of potential suppliers and followed a rigorous selection process before appointing the OMA consortium to manage the contract.

Russell Start from Pickfords Business Solutions said

“We are delighted to have been appointed following the selection procedure.  NATO will be able to draw on the considerable experience and expertise of our project teams to manage the relocation.  We look forward to working with the NATO management team during the course of the contract.”