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How do I arrange a shipping container from UK to Australia for my belongings?

Posted by By Kirsty Parsons - January 11, 2024

The easiest way to arrange a shipping container from the UK to Australia for your household goods is via an International Removals Company. Arranging the shipping of household goods via container is a complex task - from safely packing and loading to understanding the customs documentation and procedures - it's strongly advised to leave it to the professionals. 

Why should I use an international removal company to arrange my shipping container to Australia? 

shipping container being loaded for moving from the UK to Australia

Professional movers are experienced in the art of international shipping to Australia

  • They will make sure everything is packed safely for transport by sea
  • They will assist with customs paperwork 
  • They will advise on the processes
  • They will provide guidance to help you reduce the most common mistakes that could cause extra costs or delays
  • They will make sure you're fully insured incase the unexpected happens to your container at sea
  • They may be able to save you money by sharing the space with other customers if you don't need a full container
  • They will get preferential rates with shipping freight providers (the shipping line)
  • They will have relationships with destination partners to help get your items cleared through customs and delivered to your new home
  • They can provide advise and guidance on what you can and can't take with you.

Planning Your Move from the UK to Australia: Shipping Container Guide

Moving across continents can be a daunting task. Learn how to effectively plan the transport of your furniture, personal belongings and other household goods from the UK to Australia using a shipping container.

Choosing the Right Shipping Container for your household goods move

The most common containers used for shipping household goods to Australia are:

  • 20ft Container - approximately the size of a single garage, typically will fit the contents of a 3 bedroom house (averagely furnished). 
  • 40ft Container - twice the length of a 20ft container (same height and depth). Often used for larger homes or shipments that also include a vehicle. 

size of a 20ft shipping container for moving household goods to Australia

High cube options are also available for larger shipments.

For smaller shipments a shared load service (sometimes called groupage) might suit you better - this is where you share a container with other families moving to Australia and you each pay a proportion of the freight charge based on the space you use. Find out more about shared shipping container services

Determining the right container for your needs

The best way to find out what container size you need is to arrange a pre-move survey with a local International Removals Company that provides household goods shipping to Australia from the UK. 

During the pre-move survey an expert will assess the volume of items you'd like to move and calculate the size of container you'll need. 

surveyor assessing household goods to evaluate size of shipping container

Understanding Shipping Container Costs and Logistics

Shipping Container Costs - UK to Australia

There are 3 elements to the cost of a shipping a container to Australia for your household goods. 

1) Origin services - packing smaller items into boxes, wrapping furniture, loading the container, preparing all your paperwork and transporting the items to the port for loading on the ship. 

2) Transport services (freight) - the cost of sailing from UK port to Australian port.

3) Destination services - customs clearance, delivery, unloading and unpacking. 

The only way to get an accurate idea of price for your individual move is to book a pre-move survey and get a personalised quote, however we have provided some guidance on the costs of removals from the UK to Australia if you'd like to find out more about what these costs might be and get a ballpark for your move. 

Shipping Container Process

Here's how a typical move using a shipping container from the UK to Australia will work.

  1. Get a pre-move survey and personalised quote to choose your international removals company.
  2. Prepare customs documentation (with the support of your move manager).
  3. Schedule move dates. 
  4. Removal company book container space on with chosen shipping line on a vessel to suit your dates. 
  5. Removals crew pack and load furniture and effects into the shipping container (or onto their lorry for loading back at their warehouse).
  6. Container is delivered to the UK Port and loaded onto a vessel. 
  7. Shipping line transports your container to port in Australia.
  8. Container is unloaded and submitted to Australian Customs for inspection.
  9. Australian Customs clear shipment and release to destination removal partner.
  10. Delivery is arranged.
  11. Removals crew unload the container at your new home. 

International Removals Container Ship - credit https://www.pexels.com/photo/green-and-gray-evergreen-cargo-ship-1117210/

Photo by David Dibert via Pexels

Navigating Customs and Documentation: Ensuring a Hassle-Free Process

Dealing with customs and documentation can be overwhelming - that's why we always recommend working with a  professional international removal company as they will provide all the advice, guidance and documentation you'll need. 

Learn about the necessary steps and documents required to smoothly navigate the customs process for shipping containers from the UK to Australia.

Understanding Australian Customs Regulations

Import documents, duty and taxes

Typically household goods are imported duty / tax free providing you meet the eligibility criteria.  Check out the FIDI customs guide for up to date eligibility criteria and the documents you'll need to import your belongings duty/tax free. 

Prohibited and restricted items

Australians are fiercely protective of their borders and take great care to ensure nothing that is prohibited is bought into the country as it may place their environment or citizens at risk. (Read more on the official website).

Australian border force are particularly concerned about:

  • food items
  • plant and animal products
  • biological products
  • potentially soiled goods (such as footwear, sports and camping equipment)
  • items that may be infested with pests (e.g., woodworm)
  • weapons and dangerous items

Check out the FIDI customs guide for up to date list of restricted or prohibited items. 

Quarantine regulations and inspections. 

All household goods shipments are subject to quarantine inspection and fees. The estimated cost should be provided by your international moving company when they provide you with a quote. 

If your items are evaluated as requiring treatment (e.g., cleaning or fumigation) you will be responsible for paying the fees before they are released. That's why it's important to make sure you've taken all the precautions possible to avoid this before your items are shipped including:

  • Check the restricted/prohibited items list and don't pack items of common concern. 
  • Empty, drain, clean and dry any  items that have been in contact with food, soil, plants, animals or their products. This may include garden furniture, animal bedding and equipment, waste bins, sports equipment, camping equipment etc. 
  • Ensure any timber/wood items are free from any signs of infect infestation.
  • Avoid packing anything containing plant material e.g., jewellery, ornaments, heat bags, dried flowers - Christmas decorations (e.g., wreaths and pinecones) are one of the most common items that have to be destroyed at the owners expense!
  • provide a clear packing list with clear labelling and numbering - include what material items are made of (e.g., metal chairs) - this will make it easier for inspectors to identify the items they need to look at. 
  • load items of likely concern toward the back of the container to avoid having to disturb the rest of the load during inspection. 

loading a shipping container for Australia

Next steps 

If you're ready to get a quote for shipping a container to Australia visit the FIDI Directory to find an International Removals Company local to you. 

If you're moving from the South East of England, we'd love to help. 

Book a specific time for call back

Get a free international removals quote




Topics: Australia

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