Getting your belongings ready for international shipping to Australia and figuring out how to pack up a house can feel overwhelming. Your international removals company will come and pack everything for you, but there’s still a lot to sort out before they arrive, especially if you plan on shipping tools to Australia along with shipping sports equipment or outdoor gear.
As a self-confessed control freak and planner, I found it so difficult shipping items to Australia – I hated leaving things to the last minute for the shippers to come and pack it all up – I would have much preferred being able to pack everything up in the 20ft shipping container myself over a period of time rather than have someone else do it right before we moved out of our home. I found having a plan in place to get ready for the shippers really helped me to not feel so overwhelmed.
I hope you find this post about our experience shipping a container from the UK to Australia useful!
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Get quotes from multiple shipping companies for moving abroad
Watch this video interview I did with Alyce from Sirelo shipping quotes to get started…
My top tip to choosing the right company for shipping furniture to Australia is to get multiple quotes. When we booked our shipping container from the UK to Australia, we knew getting a number of quotes was important not only so we could find the cheapest international shipping company but also so we could find a company we felt we could trust for shipping our belongings to Australia from the UK.
Choosing your overseas shippers and packers doesn’t need to be a time-consuming experience, and getting a few shipping container quotes means you get to interview a number of companies to find the best shipping company for your situation.
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Another tip is I don’t recommend taking out the insurance offered by your movers without checking out independent shipping insurance too. I saved about £300 by going with another company and it wasn’t as complicated as the removal company made out it would be to go with an external insurer. We ended up having quite a bit of damage to our belongings and the independent shipping insurer paid up without any issue, so going with a different insurer doesn’t need to create any added problems, so don’t be afraid to shop around.
Let’s assume now that you’ve received your shipping quotes and you’ve chosen the shipping company you’re going to use . Let’s talk about how you get ready to ship furniture to Australia!
Getting ready to ship furniture to Australia
If you’ve gone through my four-month decluttering plan already, you’ll have removed anything that is mentioned on this list and this list of items that are prohibited in Australia before you start shipping your belongings to Australia. If you haven’t done that yet, skip back and get on with decluttering before you start planning your international removal. You don’t have to declutter over four months as the post suggests, that was just a relaxed timescale I decided on when I was shipping belongings from the UK to Australia so that I could get organised for our moving container without feeling too overwhelmed – you could easily cram your decluttering into a week or two depending on how much stuff you own and how much time you have spare to dedicate to the task of decluttering and cleaning.
Wondering what moving costs to expect? Click here to find out my international moving costs when we were moving to Australia from the UK.
When you’re fully decluttered and your shipping to Australia date is looming, it’s time to get everything in order and start cleaning things ready for your relocation to Australia. I’d suggest starting the process of getting ready for the shippers about one to two months before your shipping date. If you’re shipping tools to Australia or any outdoor gear, cleaning your things can take time! Giving yourself plenty of time to get organised takes a lot of pressure off so you don’t end up feeling overstretched.
It’s a fine balance here though – once you’ve cleaned things ready for your shipping container, you need to keep them inside to keep them clean (there’s no point putting them back in your shed where they might get spiders on them or get dirty again!). Your house can quickly become crammed with everything you’re trying to store, so tackling your international removal preparations later means you live in chaos for a shorter period of time. Consider how much you’ve got to take and how much of it is going to need to be cleaned thoroughly.
What to find how much to ship furniture to Australia? GET UP TO FIVE FREE SHIPPING QUOTES. Click here to complete one form and receive up to five shipping quotes that exactly match your needs.
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Looking for some more tips for shipping your things abroad? In this post, I share six of my top tips for shipping success!
How to ship belongings to Australia: What needs cleaning?
When you are shipping belongings from the UK to Australia (or from any other country), you need to clean anything and everything! If you’re taking tools, shoes, bikes, scooters, sports equipment, a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, tumble dryer, barbeque, garden furniture, a pram or buggy or anything from outside in your shed, garage or garden then it needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Shipping to Australia takes some serious prep!
This is a time for carefully reconsidering what’s coming with you. If you’ve got a pair of welly boots that have dirt in the treads, is it really worth the effort cleaning them (I’ve been in Brisbane for years now and I’ve never worn or needed a pair here!)? As for your vacuum cleaner… if it’s old and dusty then it could be worth leaving it behind and replacing it when you land rather than going through the headache of cleaning it. If you’ve got items that are relatively new though, even if they are dirty, it can be worth cleaning them to take to Australia if you are planning on bringing a shipping container to Australia anyway. It’s also worth considering the size of your shipping container. A 20ft shipping container sounds huge, but it can fill up quickly if you’re taking bulky furniture with you.
It’s always worth organising your things so you have a backup pile of extras that will go in IF there is space – these are the things you’d quite like to take to Australia but aren’t worried if your international movers can’t fit them into your moving container. You may find you have loads of space in your 20ft or 40ft shipping container and it all goes in easily, but you may find that you have to ditch a few things at the last minute. Working out what these items will be before the international removal company arrives will make it easier on the day.
We had a big Weber barbeque that was only a couple of years old, so we decided to clean it well and take it with us as we knew we’d only need to buy a new one in Australia and it wasn’t worth selling it for the money we’d lose (it did mean getting the connection changed for the gas when we got here though but that wasn’t too difficult). Our bikes were slow work to clean – a toothbrush on the tyres took a loooong time but I’m glad we brought them as there are cycle paths everywhere here. We ditched our lawn mower and vacuum though and lots of our garden tools as it didn’t feel like it was worth the effort to clean them.
Save on the cost of shipping belongings to Australia by comparing quotes: GET UP TO FIVE FREE SHIPPING QUOTES. Click here to complete one form and receive up to five shipping quotes that exactly match your needs.
What gear do you need to prepare to ship your possessions to Australia?
When you’re moving stuff abroad, whether that is shipping furniture to Australia or any household goods or tools, it must be thoroughly clean! Here are some products that will make the cleaning process easier as you plan your container shipping to Australia. It helps to have everything you need ready – there is nothing worse than running out of cleaning products when you’re in the middle of a job.
Cleaning products to prepare for the shippers
One of the shippers who came to quote for us suggested we use a smelly cleaning fluid such as Jeyes Fluid to clean everything so they would smell it was all clean when they opened the container in Australia. I’m not sure if it’s true, but it’s worth a try. You can buy Jeyes Fluid from Amazon in large containers. If you’re planning on shipping tools or any outdoor gear to Australia, Jeyes Fluid is a must-buy cleaning product.
Cleaning tools for shipping to Australia
You will need LOTS of sponges and scrubbers so that you’re ready to tackle the cleaning like a pro.
Get your bikes cleaned up
Get your bikes ready to ship with this bike cleaning kit.
If you buy a proper bike cleaning kit, it’s much easier than attempting to do it all with an old toothbrush which is what I did!
Buff up your golf clubs
Putting gold clubs in your shipping container? Clean up your golf clubs ready for shipping.
Clean up outdoor gear with a pressure washer before shipping items to Australia
Clean up your garden furniture and things from your shed using a pressure washer to get them ready to ship to Australia.
Shipping shoes and boots to Australia
Your shoes and boots will need a good clean up before shipping them to Australia. Make sure the treads have no mud in them and make sure they look clean.
Clean up footie boots or wellie boots with this tool before you ship your belongings. Football boots, wellington boots and hiking boots need a really good clean as you can’t leave traces of mud.
Rubber gloves to protect your hands as you prepare to ship your belongings
Protect your hands while you’re cleaning by wearing rubber gloves. Wearing gloves really did save my hands from drying out.
Clean your washing machine
Give your washer a deep clean if you plan on shipping it (which I think you should as they are expensive in Australia!) There are a range of tables and liquids available to give it a thorough clean.
Clean up leather goods like your sofa or handbags
Clean up any leather gear with a good leather cleaner and conditioner (this will also help it stay hydrated during transit).
How to prepare for the shippers for your international move to Australia
When you’re confident you’ve cleaned everything for your international shipping, consider whether you need to repaint any outdoor furniture or play equipment you want to take so there are no patches of bare wood.
After cleaning things from the shed or loft, it’s a good idea to keep them indoors and then inspect them again the following day because there will often be bits that you missed (especially with things like the bike tyres). I found, the hardest part of the cleaning was finding somewhere sensible to store things when they were clean. We couldn’t guarantee they’d stay clean and spider-free in the shed, but it was hard having everything inside the house. By the time the shippers came, we had a huge barbeque, tool boxes and five bikes in the dining room but at least I knew they were clean!
Your next job is to get everything down from the loft. We left this until two weeks before the shippers were due as we knew we’d need to allocate one bedroom to store the stuff. To make space, we took our bed apart and then used our bedroom as a big store room, and Matt and I moved on to the sofa bed in the living room. It was a pain but it gave us a big space upstairs to organise everything!
Remember: you also need an area that you can stack up your suitcases and the things you’re planning on taking on the flight, so you don’t want to get this mixed up with the things the shippers will be packing!
It was at this point we put our wardrobes on eBay. We knew that most houses in Australia had built-in wardrobes so there wasn’t any point taking them with us – plus we couldn’t take them apart and they’d have taken up a lot of space in the container and probably wouldn’t have lasted the journey. Getting rid of them meant we suddenly had lots of clothes to store – we just stacked them in piles in our room ready for the shippers once we’d worked out what to keep, what to donate and what we wanted to take in our cases.
To help me stay organised, I created a ‘Keeping’ list. This was everything that was going in our cases and hand luggage, plus everything we were still using and didn’t want to ship (like our vacuum and cleaning products which we’d then give away just before we moved).
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This is what was on my ‘Keeping’ list:
Bills we needed to pay off and statements for accounts we needed to cancel
2 x portable hard drives with backups of everything that was on the computer the shippers were taking
Tablet computers that we wanted for the journey
A laptop and chargers
Cameras and chargers
First aid kit
Birthday cards and gifts I’d bought for people whose birthday fell in the next couple of months (as I knew once we landed I wouldn’t have time to think about that)
My address book
Confirmation print outs of bookings
Any print photographs that I didn’t want to risk losing (I ran out of time to take digital copies of everything)
Favourite toys and books for the kids
Clothes and shoes that we’d need for the next few months until our belongings arrived with us in Australia.
We still had a month left in the UK after the shippers took our belongings, and we knew it would be weeks before our belongings would arrive in Australia. We had to balance having enough things to live with for at least three months with not keeping too much as we needed to stay within our luggage allowance for the flight.
I gathered everything we wanted to keep with us and put it in one corner with a big ‘LEAVE’ sign attached to it so the shippers knew not to touch it. I also took things that we needed to keep for the house clean up and put them in the shed so the shippers wouldn’t accidentally pack them.
Top tip: Unless you’ve specifically asked your shippers to quote for dismantling furniture, assume that you need to do it. So any beds, tables or cots that are coming with you will need taking apart before they arrive. If you are taking things apart yourself, don’t pack all of your tools up yet as you’ll be needing them!
On the day the international shippers arrive…
When the international moving company arrives, you can walk them around the house and show them the stuff you want them to take and which things you DON’T want them to touch (e.g. food in the pantry and the pile of things that are going with you which are clearly marked with a LEAVE sign). You can ask them to leave certain things until the end like the sofa so you have somewhere to sit, and kitchen things so you have somewhere to make food and drinks. Leaving the kettle and mugs til the end is essential, as is having a few packets of biscuits as your team of packers will appreciate being able to refuel.
The international shippers work as a team, tackling different rooms and they pack at a crazy speed so you won’t be able to be everywhere watching them telling them as they go. You need to be organised otherwise you’ll blink and they’ll have packed something you were hoping to keep out.
When it comes to your kitchen, make sure all of your food stuff is boxed and labelled clearly DON’T PACK (or similar) so it doesn’t get packed accidentally. Although if your shippers are used to international moves they should be savvy about what can and can’t go in in the shipping container to Australia.
Top tips for shipping your belongings to Australia
Wondering how to pack up your house when moving to another country? These are my top tips for making the process of shipping to Australia a little easier:
- Make sure you’re available on the shipping days. Yes, you could get the guys started and then leave the house for the day, but they will constantly have questions about things – like how you would prefer a particular item packing, and you might need to flat pack some extra items to make space in the container.
- Make sure they pack your tools last as we used our screwdrivers more than ever when the shippers were there and if they’d gone in first we’d have been stuck as the shippers only had limited tools on them.
- Aim to have your kids out of the way during the shipping process if you have little ones. The shippers work at lightning speed and it would be dangerous to have small people under their feet as they’re carrying heavy furniture. Also, they leave your front door open the entire time and you don’t want to be worrying about your little ones escaping onto the road. There was no way I could have handled two four-year-olds and a two-year-old while all of that was going on.
- Fill your fridge with easy meals on the run up to shipping. There was no time to cook so being able to grab an oven pizza and bag of salad or a ready roast chicken from the fridge meant we still got to eat without having to order in take aways every night (we reserved that for after the shippers had been when we had no kitchen gear left to cook with!) But if you do end up living on take aways for a week, it’s not a big deal. It’s just a short period of time and it will be over soon! The kids won’t hurt from missing a couple of home-cooked dinners so don’t beat yourself up – this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of craziness.
- Ask for help. If you have young kids you need help as it’s impossible to do it alone. Whether this comes from a childminder, family or friends it doesn’t matter, but doing all of this with young children and/or babies around 24/7 is challenging and really adds to your stress levels.
- Don’t worry that your house looks bizarre. I was worried the shippers would think we were crazy for having a barbeque and bikes in our dining room and stacks of clothes toppling everywhere but they told us we were really organised compared to lots of families and completely on the normal scale. They said they’d arrived at houses before where they couldn’t even fit through the front door due to the piles of stuff and they had to literally pack before they could step into the house.
- Try to allow yourself some time after the shippers have been to do all of the other admin jobs before you leave the country. There are a lot of things to work through before you go and while you’re busy with the packing/sorting you won’t have time to ring up to cancel credit cards or sort out your child benefit. And having a leaving party while you’re busy packing up your things will only add to the emotion and stress of it all. We spent four weeks after our house sale with family and this gave us some quality time with our parents as well as time to sell our car and do the remaining paperwork and admin jobs.
Take this phase one step at a time and before you know it you’ll be stepping off the plane on the other side of the world and it will all be a distant memory! Let the adrenaline and excitement pull you through.
Are you getting ready for the shippers at the moment? How is it all going?
If you are getting close to your moving date, have you seen my Ultimate Emigration Checklist yet? If not, be sure to check it out as it walks you through everything you need to do in the UK before you move, and everything you need to do when you arrive in Australia too.
I want to ship my belongings to Australia!
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Best of luck – you’ve got this!