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Shipping to New Zealand from UK

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - November 20, 2014


What household effects should I ship to New Zealand
Deciding what to ship to New Zealand is a tough decision. Whether it’s for work, a fresh start, to join family or a different pace of life, moving to the other side of the world is, without doubt, a daunting prospect. And whatever the reason, you can’t just pack a suitcase and stroll to the airport. As with any move, preparation is the key and there are two questions to answer in deciding what to take and what to leave behind

What personal effects SHOULD I move to New Zealand?

This is where you need to weigh up what is worth taking and what is worth replacing when you arrive. At the bottom of this page, we've identified some individual types of items you might be thinking about, but the main things to consider are:

  • What is the cost of shipping vs. the cost of replacing?
  • What items will fit in your new house? (remember houses in New Zealand might be quite different to the property you're living in now)
  • What items are already provided in your new house?
  • Is anything built in like wardrobes or white goods?
  • What items will work in New Zealand? This is of particular importance to review when it comes to electrical items. See the list at the bottom of this page for a few things to consider when it comes to your electrical items
  • What is my desire to shop for new items when I get there? Some people LOVE shopping, others aren't huge fans.
  • Will you have the time and the inclination to go out and research the best places to buy replacement items, make your purchases and arrange the delivery or are you going to have enough to do when you arrive that you don't really want the extra stress?
  • What's your sentimental attachment to your existing belongings? When you're 1000's of miles away are there some pieces that will just make you feel like your new house is a little bit more like 'home'?
  • Don't underestimate the power of having familiar things around you when everything else is changing, especially if you have a young family.

If you want to work out the cost to ship vs. replace the best way to find out is to book a free, no-obligation removals survey. Your move consultant can talk you through what you can and can't take with you (see below) and give you an idea of the costs for different options you are considering, for example just taking a few key items vs. taking your whole household contents.

When considering moving goods to New Zealand, these removals companies can advise you on shipping cost with a shipping quote and how to get any excess baggage to New Zealand like household goods, or personal belongings. When considering international shipping, they can also advise on cheap shipping and other shipping services like sea freight or air freight when moving from the UK to New Zealand.

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What personal effects CAN I ship to New Zealand?

The second thing to figure out is what you can and can't actually take according to New Zealand's customs regulations.

Restricted and Prohibited Items - what NOT to ship to New Zealand

As you might expect, there are very tough restrictions in place on what can and can’t be brought in to New Zealand. Being an island, the government here is very keen to protect the country's environment and biodiversity, so anything that can potentially bring disease or is considered a risk is completely banned.

Strictly prohibited items include:

  • Animals, insects, fish, reptiles, birds, etc
  • Weapons and firearms
  • Milk, meat and eggs
  • Noodles and rice
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Coral, ivory, snakeskin or whale bone – including ornaments, jewellery, souvenirs and handicrafts
  • Clam, turtle and tortoise shells
  • Indecent articles such as videotapes, films, records, CD-ROMs and publications
  • Cat skins or coats
  • Carvings or other things made of whalebone
  • Medicines using musk, horn or bone
  • Cannabis utensils

If you’re thinking of bringing in animal products such as shells and coral, you will need the correct CITES documentation.

While not strictly prohibited, there are some other items that might be subject to inspection by quarantine and must be declared upon arrival. These include:

  • Food items and dairy products
  • Herbs and spices
  • Stuffed animals and reptiles
  • Bamboo, cane, rattan, basketry and mats
  • Unprocessed wool and animal hair
  • Dried flowers, bulbs, corns, etc
  • Seeds, pine cones and potpourri
  • Saddles and riding equipment
  • Artifacts (wooden carvings, shields, masks, etc)
  • Camping equipment
  • Farm clothing, footwear and equipment
  • Furs, skins and hunting trophies
  • Vacuum cleaners

You MUST declare all of these items on your itinerary before you leave the UK. Chances are, you won’t get stopped at Customs, but if you do and you haven’t declared any of these things then the fines can be hefty. You’ll be required to foot the bill for any inspections and the subsequent treatment, disposal or exportation of any items that Customs refuse. And this can be costly.

If you’re worried about being stopped at the other end, there are a number of things you can do for peace of mind. Firstly, aside from declaring them, clean anything that’s on the high-risk list. All camping and fishing equipment, hiking footwear, watersports accessories (dive suits, life vests, etc) and anything else that’s come into contact with soil or freshwater needs to be thoroughly clean and free of organic residue. Once you’ve done that, make sure that it’s all packed together in the same box and that it’s then clearly labelled – Customs Officers charge per hour of their time, so making things easier for them will keep costs down for you if your container is pulled.

If there’s anything you’re in doubt about then check the New Zealand Customs website, where you’ll be able to clarify the status of any item - however, your international removal company should be able to guide you through all of this and explain what you need to do when it comes to packing.

Once you book your move your Move Manager will be on hand to answer all of your questions about what you can and can't include in your shipment to New Zealand, how to clean items thoroughly before packing, how to fill out all the necessary paperwork at each stage and even guide you through the process of shipping your car and/or pets if required.

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should i ship my.... 


This is where most people automatically start when packing. Before you’ve even got to your end destination you’re probably keeping one eye on the weather out there. It’s only natural to want to take everything with you – after all, you don’t know when you might be coming back (if at all) and forgetting things can be expensive – but think about where you’re going carefully. What season will it be out there when you move? In the case of NZ, if it’s winter here in the UK it’ll be summer out there, so you’ll want to wash and organise your summer clothes and make sure they’re in your main suitcase. Winter ones can then be packed away to be shipped and vice versa.

It’s worth bearing in mind that New Zealand is notorious for being the land of “four seasons in one day”, so always have something waterproof and warm to hand, just in case.

Electrical Items:

This is where it starts to get a bit more complicated. New Zealand runs on the same electrical voltage as here in the UK. However, the maximum current is 10 amps, as opposed to the 13 we use here. The best thing to do before packing any of your electrical items is to check the outage – it’s recommended that anything requiring more than 10 amps is probably best replaced when you get there. Anything that says 2400W (2.4kW) or less, or 10A or less will be fine to take.

As a rule, most of your everyday electricals will exceed 2.4kW of power; anything that generates heat - kettles, toasters, hairdryers, lamps, etc – uses more power, so all of these items will need to be checked carefully before you leave.

When it comes to your white goods, things like fridges, washing machines, tumble driers and microwaves will all work in New Zealand, and, as they tend to be much more expensive to replace out there, you shouldn’t immediately rule out taking them with you. If you’re moving into a place that needs all of these things, then check the power usage is 2.4kW or less on your appliances. If so, it might actually work out cheaper to ship these things rather than start from scratch when you get there.

Where televisions are concerned, many modern TVs bought here in the UK will likely be compatible with the system used in New Zealand. Again, don’t just assume yours will work – the standard for NZ televisions is PAL B/G, whereas the UK uses PAL I. If your TV doesn’t support PAL B/G then you might have a problem processing sound and will need a Freeview or Sky box to get your television working.

Interestingly, your house phone should actually work over in New Zealand. They use the same BT connector as in the UK, so providing your phone isn’t cordless (in which case you need to check the frequency is compatible), you shouldn’t have a problem.

Small electrical items – things like DVD players, CD players, computers, laptops and games consoles – should also all work fine, provided their power usage is 2.4kW or less. You might have to change the plug over to an NZ one when you get there, but this is easily done. Alternatively, a good way to save time and hassle is to simply bring a few UK multi-socket strips – all you then need to do is replace the plug on these and all your goods can be connected as normal. Always check the region codes for DVDs and games consoles – we’re Region 2 here, whereas NZ is Region 4. This means that you can play your existing DVDs fine, but new ones bought out there won’t work. If you can, try and change your DVD player to be region-free before you move. If that’s not possible then you’ll either need to buy a multi-region one before you leave the UK or when you finally reach NZ.

Want some more advice about what to ship and how it all works from someone who has already made the move? Sam and Jenny made the move from London to Auckland and have put together a guide based on their experience. Check it out at https://movetonewzealand.net/ 

Shipping a car to New Zealand

The general consensus on importing your vehicle to NZ is that it’s just not worth the cost - not to mention the time it will take. Restrictions on importing vehicles are far tougher than many of the other items you will be taking, therefore lots of time, money and paperwork will be involved.

That’s not to say it isn’t an option, though - especially if you’re relocating with your employer and your company has given you the budget to export your own vehicle or if you have a special vehicle that it's important to you to take. The most important thing you need to do before you even begin to look into the shipping process of taking your vehicle to NZ is to assess the condition of it and work out what might need to be changed so it adheres to NZ standards - this can be a time-consuming and costly process due to the fact that New Zealand have completely different regulations to us where environmental conservation is concerned, meaning their standards for vehicle emissions, amongst many other things, are completely different to ours.

Remember to give yourself plenty of time to work all of this out - shipping a car is far more complicated than shipping the contents of your house and there is a LOT of paperwork involved.

If you do decide to go ahead and ship your car rather than have the hassle of shopping for a new one when you get out to NZ, then there are four basic steps you need to go through to get your car ready to go:

  1. Firstly, you'll need to identify which New Zealand class your vehicle comes under, as this will determine the technical standards it needs to adhere to.
  2. Next, you'll need to prove that your vehicle actually does adhere to these standards by providing documentation for each specific requirement.
  3. Once you're satisfied your vehicle meets all of the necessary requirements and you have the documentation to prove it, you can begin the shipping process. At this stage, it's also worth noting that you should be checking to make sure there is no unaddressed safety recalls as these can have a major impact upon your import plans.
  4. Finally, you need to arrange for an entry certifier to carry out the entry certification inspection at the other end. Keep all of your documentation to hand and check it thoroughly before you leave - mistakes are far easier, and less costly, to put right at this end of the shipping process than the other.

If shipping your car is something you’re seriously considering, then all the relevant and up-to-date information on importing a car to NZ can be found here.

When you arrive in New Zealand

Providing you arrive in NZ on a Residence visa, you are permitted to bring all of your personal possessions into the country duty-free. However, to do this, you need to have owned and used these items for at least 12 months prior to your move and you must have lived outside of NZ for 21 months preceding your arrival.

Other than that, you must be aware that every item you bring in needs to be CLEAN. As with Australia, the people of New Zealand are very keen to protect their ecosystem, so anything contaminated with soil or grass from the UK will be banned from import. Make sure anything that’s been outside – and we mean anything – has been thoroughly cleaned. Paying someone else to do it when you get to the other end can be extremely costly!

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Topics: New Zealand

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