International removals and insurance: agree and record well!

December 2022

Nowadays, international removals are common practice. For instance, employees are moving (temporarily) to another country for work and ask a removal company to transport their entire household effects. This is a complex operation and a huge responsibility for removal companies, what makes it necessary to agree upon proper arrangements.

In this blog, we will discuss the removal agreement between removal companies and customers under Dutch law. We will briefly explain the most important aspects and discuss how removal companies can draft their contracts in the best way in relation to avoid damage and to arrange proper insurance.

Furthermore, we will head into the international removals. What do removal companies have to check when they are going to perform international removals?

The removal contract under Dutch law

In The Netherlands the removal contract is regulated in Book 8 of the Dutch Civil Code (‘DCC’).[1] The CMR Convention does not apply to furniture removals (article 1.4 sub c CMR).

Mandatory law
According to article 8:1179 DCC the Dutch legislation is mandatory with a few exceptions. The liability of the removal company is limited to € 23,000. However, it is possible to agree upon a value for the household effects which exceeds the maximum of € 23,000. In that case the indicated amount is substituted for such maximum (article 8:1183 DCC). Moreover, the customer may in writing determine the amount of a special interest in delivery for the case of loss of or damage to the household property carried and for that of exceeding an agreed period of commencement or termination of the removal (article 8:1184 DCC).

General Conditions
Most removal companies in the Netherlands are affiliated with the Organization for Recognized Movers (de Organisatie voor Erkende Verhuizers, ‘OEV’). The OEV has drafted, in combination with the Consumers’ Association, the Terms and Conditions In Respect Of Removals (Algemene Voorwaarden voor Verhuizingen, ‘AVVV’).[2] These general conditions are applicable to private removals if a removal company declares these conditions applicable to the removal agreement and hand them over to its customer. These general conditions regulate, among other things, that removal companies can be liable for damage to the consumer’s household contents up to an amount of € 23,000. Furthermore, these general conditions regulate that the removal companies are obliged to issue the Guarantee Certificate (het Garantiecertificaat). This certificate guarantees their customers that the removal company has taken out a goods insurance for the household effects of the customer with an insured amount of € 100,000. The removal company arranges the insurance in the interest of the customer and the premium is included in the price of the removal. With the guarantee certificate the customer is able to claim damages from the goods insurers in case of damage to and/or loss of the household effects during the actual removal.
If storage is included in the removal contract the household effects are insured during storage for the first 30 days.

The Guarantee Certificate applies to domestic removals and also to removals to or from countries directly bordering the Netherlands. The Guarantee Certificate does not apply to international removals. So how does it work with international removals?

International removals

What kind of problems can occur?
Fortunately, most international removals are performed without any problems. But in our practice we came across the following example.

A Dutch couple asks removal company A to move their household effects  from Rotterdam to Paris. Removal company A carries the household effects to a temporary storage warehouse in France and has hired a local company (B) to perform the removal from the warehouse to the new premises of the Dutch couple in Paris. Removal company A is under the impression that it has arranged everything to the last detail.

However, once the household effects arrive in Paris, some of the furniture and a part of the art collection of the Dutch couple is found to be seriously damaged. Because it is no longer possible to establish where and how the damage occurred, the Dutch couple sues removal company A for the damage.
Because it concerns an international removal, the Guarantee Certificate is not applicable. The CMR Convention does not apply and there is not an international convention that applies to international removals. However, according to article 8:1170 sub 3 DCC parties can agree that the whole of the carriage by road will be governed by the whole of the juridical rules which would govern it, if it would concern goods other than household property. In that case such contract is not considered as a contract of removal. Therefore it is still possible to agree upon applicability of the CMR Convention.

In our example parties did not agree that the whole of the carriage by road would concern goods other than household effects. Therefore, the CMR Convention did not apply. The question is whether the removal company can limit its liability. That is possible if the removal contract would be governed by Dutch law. If Dutch law applies the liability of the removal company would be limited to € 23,000 according to article 8:1182 DCC. However, if Dutch law does not apply to the removal contract it is important to find out whether the removal company can rely on the general conditions i.e. the AVVV. The Dutch couple claimed that they never received the AVVV from the removal company. Therefore if the removal contract would not be governed by Dutch law there is a realistic chance that removal company A would be unlimited liable for the damage of the Dutch couple.

Make arrangements about the applicable terms and conditions and insurance

The above learns that it is important for removal companies to make proper arrangements with their customers about the applicable law and the applicable general terms and conditions, including the insurance of the household effects. If the Guarantee Certificate is not applicable because it is an international removal, it is important to make clear to the customer that the customer himself has to arrange adequate separate insurance for his household effects.
If no goods insurance has been arranged by or on behalf of the customer, parties fall back on the applicable law and the liability regime that applies to the removal agreement if the general conditions apply. As a consequence the customer could be faced by a gap between the actual damage and the limited liability (€ 23,000).

Record, record, record!

Finally, it is important that removal companies record the agreements with the customer properly. Removal companies should record exactly what has to be moved and where. It is very important for the removal company to agree upon the applicable law with their customers and to arrange that the general terms and conditions apply to prevent that under the circumstances it could be unlimited liable. By the way, Article 22 of the AVVV declares the law of The Netherlands applicable to the removal contract. Moreover, before and after the removal it’s important to record on the spot the status of the household effects and whether or not it concerns pieces of art and valuable items. The same applies in case a subcontractor is involved on behalf of the moving company.  


If you have any questions about this subject or would like to exchange views, please feel free to contact us. We have extensive experience in handling (international) removal claims and will be happy to advise you on how to prevent disputes from arising and how to handle them.

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[1] Article 8:1170 – 8:1201 DCC.

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