Sterling International from Calif/Florida to France

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Sterling International from Calif/Florida to France

Postby Guest » Wed Apr 13, 2005 2:40 pm


I've visited this site as I researched moving companies. We had a bad (an understatement) experience a year ago – with Dolphin International. Wish I'd known then about this site! So, here's our experience for others to profit by.

We're moving household goods from California to the terminal in Paris, France, and shipping a Mini Cooper from Miami port to the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium.

After doing all the research suggested on this site and reading other people's posts, we decided to go with Sterling International (
Sterling is a division of Arnold Moving in Kentucky. They use the same DOT number as A Arnold: 007953
Their address:
5200 Interchange Way
Louisville, KY 40229

Their agent, Phil Aescleman (tel: 302.762.2896 email:, has been very good. He's answered the phone most times when we call. Also, if he doesn't know something or if we need further information, he comes back with it after doing research. He takes pains to explain what we can expect (with the car, this was a big help). We've been very pestery with our questions, have been in contact often, and he has been professional every time.

A word of caution: We started this process in November and were ready to use Gateways International. However, when we revisited our research in March, we learned that they'd let their insurance with the FMC lapse. We also looked at Stevens (; they were ok, but Phil at Sterling sounded like he knew what he was doing. So, nothing against Stevens.

Both Stevens and Sterling quoted similar prices. Sterling quoted:
HHG: $1395 for 23 boxes and an 8-foot windsurf board (in other words, everything together was estimated at 160 cft or 1000 lbs)
Car: $1,005 for Ro-Ro (roll on roll off vessel, not in a container)
They offered TOTAL LOSS insurance only for 1.25% of total value.
Estimated transit times: 5-7 weeks for HHG, 13-19 days for car.

HHG: We booked the shipment with Phil and paid the deposit, which was 25% of the total. The shippers had to custom-build a crate for the windsurf board, which added to the cost. We weren't there, and we'd already packed and sealed the boxes, so we had to provide an inventory to the shippers. The inventory was necessary so they didn't have to put “PBO” (packed by owner) on the boxes – a red flag for customs overseas. The pickup took just under an hour. That's where things stand. We'll have to pay the rest of the amount before the shipment sails.

CAR: We had a slightly different experience shipping the car. You need to have the original title, free of liens, to ship a car. In Miami, they also require a Letter of Intent/Permit to Export because they get people trying to ship cars illegally. Sterling booked us with Wallenius Wilhelmsen, the ocean carrier. Phil passed us to a colleague, Susan Frockt, who gave us the dates of departure and entry, booking number, and name of the Ro-Ro vessel. Her email was not clear about what we needed to do; she gave us Wallenius's contact number, saying we had to get the Letter of Intent from them. But that number was disconnected. And she gave us the number of POMTOC – the Port of Miami – but no one answered. So at that point, it was Thursday and we had to get the car with all documentation to the port on Tuesday. We did not give Sterling any money or deposit until we were sure of what was going on.

Basically, we had to do a lot of work to get the Letter of Intent. Susan was unavailable. We called Wallenius from their number on the Web, and were passed around to 5 people, but nobody knew what to do. Finally, we called Phil. He said Susan was swamped & he would contact a friend at the port who might help.

On Monday, still with no Letter of Intent, we called Phil again. He said he'd put Theresa Banta on it. She called later in the day, saying she'd sent an email with all the info we needed and the Letter. True to her word, she'd given us a step by step list of what we needed to do. So, the night before drop-off, we typed and printed the Letter of Intent (U.S. customs won't accept handwritten stuff).

The day of drop-off, we drove to the port and arrived just before 8am at the customs office. A note on the door said they'd changed offices. We called Danny at POMTOC, who told us that we needed to see him first before customs. So we drove to his office – not easy, since you have to get a pass to enter the restricted port – and presented the 3 things needed:

Original title, plus two copies of front and back
Letter of Intent, plus two copies
Dock receipt, plus two copies

He stamped the Letter of Intent with the POMTOC stamp and address (very important!!!), and inspected the car, gave us another dock receipt with proof that there were no scratches, etc. Then we left the car there.

Next stop, Barwil – an agent of Wallenius. Barwil was the one who finally provided the Letter of Intent, so they had to sign it before we could go to customs.

Arrived at the Miami Freezone/U.S. Customs office around 11. Stood in line along with 15 or so other people. IMPORTANT: If you're shipping less than 5 cars, arrive at 1pm. Before that, it's open to agents who come in with 50, 60, or more car titles to ship. These are the people who arrange cars in containers, the professionals. The line did not move until 1pm since there were only two agents processing – in one case - 101 titles per person.

We finally saw a customs officer at 1:30. He was looking for the following on our title and Letter:

Booking number
Name of the vessel
Original title presented by the car's owner (if you're doing this for someone else, you need to get a power of attorney – I don't anything about this)
POMTOC stamp

You pay a $7.50 processing fee. We're shipping the car back in six months, so we got a registration document from the officer and were told we need to get the original Bill of Lading from Sterling (Theresa receives this after the ship sails).

That's it. I'll update this post when we get our stuff.

Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Sterling International from Calif/Florida to France

Postby Diane » Wed Apr 13, 2005 2:53 pm

I'm exhausted just from reading this, but thank you, and please keep us posted.


Follow-up: Sterling International from CA/FL to France

Postby Guest » Sun Jun 26, 2005 2:45 pm

Here's the result of our shipment of household goods from California to Le Havre, France with Sterling International (

Their agent, Phil Aescleman (tel: 302.762.2896 email:, has been very good.

Sterling quoted:
$1395 for approx 160 cft or 1000 lbs)
They offered TOTAL LOSS insurance only for 1.25% of total value.
Estimated transit time: 5-7 weeks

The deposit at time of booking was 25% of the total.
The pickup took just under an hour.

Date of pickup: second week of April
Date goods arrived in Le Havre: May 20
Date goods arrived at our home: June 20

Sterling contracted Cargo Lines in France. They were supposed to take care of our customs and transport from Le Havre to Paris. Their service was not exceptional. They didn’t give us the required information up-front about customs documentation. They also gave the truckers the wrong delivery address, adding three days to the arrival date.

Docs required by Cargo Lines:
• A line-by-line valuation of our inventory, signed by us and mailed (or faxed). Couldn’t be electronically signed and emailed.
• Proof of our residence in the US for the past calendar year. This had to be from the French consulate.
• Pay stubs from employer.
• Copies of our passports.
• Proof of our residence in France (utility bill from our house)
• Personal letter explaining our intentions in shipping/returning to France

For others who wish to ship overseas, I’d suggest contacting Cargo Lines ahead of time to get a clear idea of the documents required.

Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Sterling International from Calif/Florida to France

Postby Diane » Sun Jun 26, 2005 3:02 pm

Thanks so much for posting this. I would like for Michael and our newly registered international advisor "hardatwork" to comment on this shipment, if they want, and then I'll move the whole thing to the International Moving forum.

Posts: 1077
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:52 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Re: Sterling International from Calif/Florida to France

Postby hardatwork » Sun Jun 26, 2005 6:12 pm

My own question or comments was why the household goods were only sent by Sterling International to the Port in France instead of through to the Door in France? It would then be Sterling International responsibilty to have all the customs documentation in order to hand to their agent in France?

I am just curious?

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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 5:18 pm

Re: Sterling International from Calif/Florida to France

Postby Tyrone » Mon Jun 27, 2005 5:34 am

Did you ever file a complaint against Dolphin?
Dominus amotioni capitis e clunibus sum.

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