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How to ship belongings from the UK to Australia - A Guide

Posted by By Kirsty Parsons - February 9, 2023

Are you starting to think about shipping your belongings from the UK to Australia? Not sure what you need to know and want to learn about the best way to arrange shipping? This guide explains what you need to consider and how to get started.

In this post we will cover: 

  1. What to ship when you move to Australia
  2. Documents you will need for shipping your belongings
  3. Shipping Options
  4. Cost of shipping to Australia
  5. Transit time for removals to Australia
  6. How to get a quote for International Removals to Australia

What to ship when you move to Australia and what to leave behind

aeroplane in the sky moving to Australia





The Australian government allows duty free import of most household goods for returning Australian citizens AND non-citizens with long stay or permanent residence visas, providing you have lived outside of the country for at least one year and they are intended for your personal use. 

This is good news if you'd like to take most of your belongings with you when  moving to Australia if you meet the eligibility criteria. It's worth noting however that car(s), tobacco products, alcohol and some other specialist items like antiques may not eligible for duty free concession so always worth speaking to your International Removal Company for specific guidance for your situation. 

When deciding what to take with you, there are a few areas to consider:

  1. What CAN you take with you under Australian Border Control rules?
  2. What items might not work or fit?
  3. What is the cost of shipping vs. buying new?
  4. How much work/stress would it be to replace items when you arrive in Australia?
  5. How important is it to you to have your own familiar things around you in your new home? 

What belongings can't I ship to Australia?

three sisters - Australia Image sourced from: freeimages.com/Gavin Terpstra

Restricted items for moving to Australia 

There are a some items that most international removal companies won't allow you to ship due to UK export or Australian import regulations, safety standards or because of risk of damaging other items in your shipment.

Always check with your mover if you need to move any of the following items:

  • Alcohol and food (Can be imported sometimes but varies by state and there are special considerations or restrictions we'll need to explain to you)
  • Combustible liquids (lubricants, alcohols, anti-freeze-cleaners etc.)
  • Compressed gasses (including aerosols or diving tanks)
  • Flammables
  • Firearms, ammunition and weapons
  • Narcotics and controlled substances
  • Corrosives (including some batteries)
  • Commercial goods
  • Animal, bird or plant products

Australian Customs Restrictions / Prohibited items for household moves

As an island nation Australia is very concerned about items entering the country. 

When your goods enter the country they are subject to Bio-security control and may be inspected by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

There is a strict list of restricted and prohibited items as well as common items of bio-security concern which may attract the interest of the Department of Agriculture and Water resources for inspection. If any of these items are found not to comply with regulations they may require treatment, re-export or disposal at your expense.

Check the items you want to ship to Australia against these lists and take action accordingly. This might mean obtaining special paperwork or simply making sure items are really clean with no traces of mud.

Find out more about Department of Agriculture and Water resources rules and regulations and tips for preparing your items here.

Bio-security inspections.

australian customs inspection for bio security and household goodsImage Sourced from: Wikimedia Commons

When you import household goods into Australia there is often an inspection by  the Department of Agriculture and Water resources, who charge you a fee to assess your goods to ensure they comply with import regulations. The fees are based on the amount of time it takes a Bio-Security Officer to inspect your goods plus any action that needs taking (e.g. treatment).

Paying inspection fees: 

If you're using a professional removal company ask how these fees are handled.

Some ask you to pre-pay this for a fixed fee (which won't always change if the actual cost is less / more or if your shipment is not inspected) others will let you know this is excluded and ask you to pay on arrival once the actual cost is known. Usually the reason for this is that it's not a fixed fee and can vary depending on your individual shipment, the time it takes to inspect and department decisions regarding treatment prior to release, if applicable.

More information on Quarantine fees associated with the clearance of personal effects can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website - Deparment of Agriculture and Water Resources fees.

How can I minimise Australian Bio-Security Inspection Charges?

  • Follow the advice on the Department for Agriculture and Water Resources website
  • Don't pack anything that is prohibited entry into Australia
  • Don't pack anything that will require a treatment of some kind, unless that item is of particular significance and you are willing to pay treatment fees
  • Ensure your packing list is accurate and clearly identifies contents and matches the numbered boxes
  • Pack items likely to be subject to quarantine inspection in the same box
  • Clearly label to identify boxes that may contain items of quarantine concern
  • Ensure items that have been in contact with animals, plants and soil are thoroughly cleaned and free of quarantine risk material before they are packed. 10 tips for cleaning household items for international shipping.

If you are using a professional international removal company they should help you manage these risks. 

What UK items might not work in Australia?

As cost of shipping is largely based on the volume of goods it's a good idea to check what will and won't work before paying to have it shipped.

Here's an overview of some key areas: 

should you ship your washing machine to Australia

Electrical goods:

Australia’s power system runs on the same voltage as the UK (240), however plug shape is different. Items will either need a new plug or a travel adapter to convert original plugs to the right shape.

For fridges/freezers/washing machines etc. don't forget to check if any of these appliances are already built in to your new home, or if your items will fit into the space and be easily connected. 

TVs and DVDs:

Your TV will likely work when plugged in and you should receive a picture, but sound processing can be an issue.

Always check your specific make and model before you go. For some models you can use a SCART connection at the back to convert to Australian standards.

DVD players and games consoles will usually work fine as long as there’s the option to plug a video or audio cable into the back of the TV, but it is worth noting that Australia also have a different region code for playing DVDs.

The UK runs on Region 2, Australia is Region 4; therefore any DVDs bought here will work on your existing DVD player, but new ones bought out there won’t. The only way around this is to either try and convert your existing DVD player to be region-free, or buy a multi-region DVD player before you leave/when you get to the other end. You may have the same problem when it comes to playing computer games too. 


Typically Australian houses are slightly bigger than in the UK, so you might want to bring as much furniture as you can to fill the new space you have as comparatively speaking, buying from scratch in Australia tends to be more expensive than in the UK. 

If you’re taking garden furniture then the most important thing to ensure is that it’s CLEAN as regulations around importing outdoor items are particularly strict. Make sure there are no traces of grass or soil on any outdoor items you’re bringing with you (tents, tent pegs, trampolines, benches, sun loungers, toys – you get the picture).

You should also check the surfaces of any timber items for signs of insect infestation – if present then you either need to discard them from the move entirely, or treat thoroughly prior to the move.

Should I ship or buy new when I move to Australia?

Shipping your household goods to Australia vs. buying everything new when you get there is a very personal decision.

Here's what we recommend considering:

  1. The cost of replacement vs. the cost of shipping
  2. The stress of buying everything new
  3. The value of having familiar things around you

furniture shopping - Photo by Michelle Williams on Unsplash  Photo by Michelle Williams on Unsplash

1. Comparing the cost of replacement to the cost of shipping

According to Admiral, a leading UK Insurer, the average value of a 3 bedroom house contents is just over £41,000. 

If the cost to replace everything you own when you get there was similar then this would be far higher than the cost of shipping from the UK to Australia. In many cases, items are more expensive in Australia than here in the UK, so it's important to do your research. 

Step 1: Research Replacement Costs

  1. Make a list of the items you are considering not shipping
  2. Research cost of replacement in Australia
  3. Evaluate if you could sell your used item in the UK to contribute toward replacement cost
  4. Deduct money from selling used items from the replacement costs to get your cost of replacement. For example if you had an Ikea 3 seater sofa you could buy this new in Australia for $699 (£396). If you could sell your old one in the UK for £100 then the cost to replace is £296. 

Don't forget to be realistic in researching new items - look for replacements you'd be happy with, that are to your taste and are available in the area you're moving to. 

Step 2: Get a quote for shipping

The cost of removals to Australia is made up of a number of things such as: where you're moving from and to; access to your properties; the speed you want to get your items to Australia; and the amount and type of items you have to move.

Every move will be different. The only way to get an accurate quote for shipping is to get a free, no-obligation quote from a removal company that handles international removals to Australia.

Ask the mover to provide you with two quotes if you are unsure about taking some items - one quote to include all the items you're considering leaving behind, and one without. This will help you evaluate which is the more cost effective option.

Get a free removals quote

Step 3: Compare the costs

Once you've got these two figures you can do an easy comparison - here's a simple example: 

  • Cost to ship everything - £9000.
  • Cost to ship essentials only - £4000
  • Saving = £5000
  • Cost to replace all non-essentials new in Australia - £10,000
  • Shipping would be the cheaper option by £5,000

2. Consider the stress of buying everything new when you get to Australia

If you love shopping and won't be starting work right away when you arrive, then this may be not be a concern to you, but if that's not the case think carefully about the task of buying everything new.

What will you do for furniture while you're waiting for your new things to arrive? Will you need to stay in temporary furnished accommodation and how much will this cost? Will you have credit in place if you don't have funds to buy outright? Are the shops you need close by? Are you good at making decisions and visualising what will work well in your new home? Do you have time to find the best stores and the best prices? Can you take time off work to take delivery? 

Don't forget the hassle of getting rid of everything in the UK too. If you're selling things take into account the time required to list your items, negotiate with buyers and arrange delivery/collection. If you're disposing of items take into account the cost/time required to do this before move day. 

3. Consider the value of having your own things around you in your new home

family settling into a new home with their belongings shipped from UK to Australia

Don't underestimate the power of familiarity when making your new house feel like 'home', in a country where everything is very new. 

For some people this doesn't matter and lots of new stuff is far more exciting, but for others the transition to a completely new life in a new country is made a little easier by having their familiar items around them while they settle in, particularly when you havechildren. 

Customs Clearance

When your belongings arrive in Australia they will need to clear customs before being delivered to your new home. 

This will include a quarantine inspection as explained above, as well as checking and approving your customs documentation. 

If you're using an international removal company they will handle the official processes for you.

an international removals move manager

The customs clearance process may seem complicated, but don't worry, your removal company will make sure you've got everything done in advance, make all the arrangements for shipping and import and on arrival of your belongings in Australia they will handle the process of clearing the customs and bio-security inspections on your behalf, using all the correctly completed paperwork so your belongings can be delivered to your new home. 

International shipping quotes normally include the basic customs clearance process, but won't include any duties and taxes that might be applicable. They may also charge separately for any customs inspections incurred, so ask about the cost of these upfront. 

Get a quote for Removals to Australia

Documents you will need for shipping household goods to Australia

documentation and paperwork for removals to Australia

You will need to complete a number of forms when you ship your belongings to Australia. Your international removal company should inform you which documents you will need, provide copies where possible and help you to complete them. 

Depending on your individual move circumstances and what you are shipping the forms may vary, but it will almost certainly include the Australian Customs Service B534 'Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement'. This is used to clear your belongings through customs and is a legal declaration made to the Department for Immigration and Border Protection AND the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. 

If you are insuring your goods for shipment (which is strongly advised due to the level of risk involved in international transportation) then you'll likely need to complete an insurance application and valuation too. 

Making sure everything in your shipment is labelled and inventoried.

bournes international removals labelling items for shipping to australia


You will be required to provide a detailed inventory of your shipment including clear labelling. If your removals company are providing packing services they will complete this on your behalf and provide you with a copy. If you are doing this yourself ensure you label your boxes clearly so the removal company can reference these properly on the inventory with a list of items contained in each box.

If you have identified any items that the Bio-security inspectors may be interested in it is a good idea to pack these items together and separately from the rest of your items that are not of concern. This way the inspectors do not need to unload/unpack your entire shipment to perform their inspection.

If you are using your own packing boxes be sure that these do not pose a concern on their own – for example used food packaging that may have been in contact with organic substances and do not use straw/sawdust or wood products for packing or filler. Ensure any previous labelling on boxes is removed or covered if you are using second hand boxes to avoid misunderstandings or confusion during inspection.


options for shipping household goods to AUSTRALIA

There are several options for international removals to Australia including shared load or full container services. 

  • Full container shipments are best when you are moving a whole household, usually 2 bedrooms and up.  
  • Shared container shipments are best when you have a small move or are only taking some of your household effects.  

The speed you need your items and the flexibility in your move schedule may also impact what the best shipping option is for you. 

Check out our Ultimate Guide to International Removal companies to find out everything you need to know about your different options for shipping and how to find reputable movers. 

Download the Ultimate guide to international removal companies


Guideline International removal costs from the UK to Australia can be as cheap as £1,000 for lower volume shared container services, door-to-door. For full house moves a 20ft container from the UK to Australia starts at £9000* (usually suitable for a 3 bedroom house) and a 40ft container from £13,000* for larger homes.

Check out our full guide to the cost of removals from the UK to Australia to find out more about how these costs are determined, what to look out for, tips to reduce your costs and some ballpark door-to-door estimates.


transit time for shipping household goods to australia

container ship moving household goods to australiaImage Sourced from: freeimages.com/Karen Winton

Door to door transit time involves 3 elements::

  • Time to get your shipment packed, loaded and transported from your home, to the port and loaded on a vessel.
  • Sailing time.
  • Time to unload from the ship, clear customs and get delivered to your new home. 

Packing and Loading Time

At origin your items may be loaded directly into the container at your home and then transported to the nearest sea port, however sometimes your items are returned to your movers warehouse and loaded into a container there before transporting to the port. There are lots of situations where this is best, for example if you don't have space for a large container vehicle at your home, if you need storage before you go, if you are shipping as a shared load etc. 

If you're using a shared container service then typically you'll need to add some time at the beginning for your removal company to consolidate other shipments to go in the container with yours, each company has different timescales for this but with Bournes this timeline moves to around 10-20 weeks door to door.

Port to Port Sailing Time

The transit time on the water can vary depending on which shipping line your removal company uses. Some also offer faster options that go direct, or slower options that might call at more ports on the journey. Speed of sailing can influence the price you pay too.

Customs Clearance and Delivery Time

Once your items reach Australia you need to allow for your container being unloaded from the ship, processing through customs and being collected by your shipping company for delivery to your new home. This typically takes around 2 weeks.

Average household goods shipping times from the UK to Australia

Container Service

Average Transit Time

Full Container Load

8-12 Weeks

Shared Container - LCL

8-12 Weeks

Shared Container - Groupage

10-20 Weeks 


If you need a few items quickly small air freight shipments can be a great idea.

packing personal effects to move to australia

professional packing service

Most international removal companies offer a professional packing service to make sure your personal effects are safely protected for the move to Australia.

Packing for an international move is very different to packing for a move within the UK. In fact, at Bournes our 'export packers' take part in special training to develop the skills needed to ensure the right materials and techniques are used to avoid damage during a long and often rough journey at sea. 

Smaller items are wrapped and placed into sturdy boxes, and furniture items are export wrapped using special materials. Custom wooden crates can also be made for delicate items that need extra protection, or those that might move around in transit. 

If you would prefer to do your own packing make sure to let your mover know up front and ask how this might impact your international removals insurance.

Top tips for packing for a move to Australia

  • Declutter early 

Start your decluttering process ASAP - as volume is a key element of shipping cost you'll save money by ensuring you only ship the things you want to take. Check out our guide to decluttering for your move.

  • Use plenty of padding

When items are moved internationally the journey can be rough. From containers loaded onto boats by crane, to rough seas and customs inspections, there are lots more risks of damage than a standard UK move. That's why it's important to make sure your boxes are packed securely. If you're not using your mover's professional packing service make sure you wrap each item individually, load the heaviest items at the bottom, and fill any gaps with shock-absorbing materials like crunched-up paper, foam peanuts or softer items like tea towels. 

  • Tape boxes well

Don't just tape along the middle seam - place strips along all the seams on the bottom to make sure your box has a strong and sturdy base. 

As your mover if they need you to leave boxes open at the top until they arrive. Some movers will want to check you haven't packed anything that might cause issues at customs before sealing the boxes. 

  • Label everything and keep a detailed inventory

Make sure you label boxes clearly with their contents. This will help the movers when loading, customs inspectors during clearance, and will help you when it comes to unpacking several weeks later. 


HOW TO Find the best mover for international removals to AUSTRALIA

international removal company carrying box up stairs

Handing over your personal effects to an international mover is a big deal - especially if you have sentimental or expensive items that you're worried about. That's why choosing a reputable International Removal Company that is right for you is so important, and worth doing some research about. 

From accreditations and membership of professional associations to reviews, services and pricing there is lots to consider. That's why we've written our Ultimate Guide to International Removal companies to find out everything you need to know about your different options for shipping and how to find reputable movers. 

Download the Ultimate guide to international removal companies

At Bournes we provide a full range of international removals services from the South East of England to Australia and we'd love to provide you with a free, no obligation quote for your move. 

Get a quote for Removals to Australia

If you're moving from outside of the South East of England where we are based check out the FIDI FAIM international movers directory for a list of reputable movers in your area. 


Topics: Australia

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