Removals Guide

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Most migrants will have some personal and household belongings that they will want to transport to Australia.

The quantity may vary from a few cartons to a 40-foot container!

For our family (2+2), a 20-foot container has been adequate to transport our entire household belongings on the three occasions we've moved UK-Australia or back.

Information in this section comes from our own personal experience and other information provided by our sponsors.

Please consider your own personal situation and priorities before making your own decisions and read our disclaimer statement.

Your Options

Air or Sea

If you have a small quantity of items and it's important you get them quickly in Australia, you may consider sending them air-freight, or just taking them as part of your checked-in baggage allowance.

In most cases, however, sea-freight is the only viable option. Your belongings will be packed, put into a container which is loaded onto a ship, transported to Australia, checked through customs and delivered to your new home, or collected by you from the port.

Within this process, you can choose how much to do yourself and how much to pay a company to do. The easiest (and of course, most expensive) option is a complete door-to-door service.

At the other end of the scale, I believe it is possible to simply book an empty container on a ship and load it yourself. I have never done this and wouldn't really know where to start, but I imagine the cost would be significantly less (I'd like to hear from anyone who has done this!).

Packing Yourself

Whatever the quantity you're shipping, you have the option of packing everything yourself, or paying the removal company to pack.

If you pack yourself, you may find your insurance premium is higher, or there's an excess on any damage in transit.

Shared or Sole-Use Container

If you have a small quantity to ship (say, a few cartons), these will be packed at your home, taken away and loaded into a shared-use container.

If you have enough for a quarter of a container, some companies may load your cartons into a sealed wooden crate which is then loaded into a shared container.

If you have enough for a 20-foot container, you get sole-use of the container, which is normally brought to your home, loaded with your belongings and locked up before being driven to the port.

How Big's a Carton?

A standard carton is 4.5 cubic feet - 24 x 20 x 16 inches or 61 x 51 x 41 cms.

There are lots of other size cartons ranging from book cartons at 2 cubic feet to some at 9 cubic feet.

A standard 20-foot container is 232 x 92 x 94 inches (1172 cubic feet) or 5.9 x 2.35 x 2.39 metres (33 cubic metres).

Step-by-Step Guide

This guide has been provided by our sponsor, PSS International Removals

When to start

You need estimators from International Removal Companies to visit you 3 to 6 months before your departure or earlier, the popular Companies are always busy so allow a couple of weeks before the estimator can call.

What to look for

The quote will reflect how experienced they are and how many removals they ship to Australia, not how local their depot is. Local removers may not have qualified export packers or export staff fully employed in shipping duties. The quality assurance standard for international moving is FAIM ACCREDITATION which is recognised world-wide and regulated by FIDI. Also the British Association of Removers Advance Payment Guarantee Scheme (I.M.M.I.) offers financial protection if the remover is a member of the BAR Overseas Group.

Assessing estimators

The estimator will compile a packing inventory of everything you intend to take and give you information about their Company (normally a brochure). Beware of estimators who suggest you don't need other quotes or who bad mouth other removal companies in an attempt to reduce their competition. These tactics are not used by professional International Movers.

What next?

You should receive a written estimate within a few days which includes the list of items, a cubic volume and the names of the move managers whom you can contact with any queries and who will control your removal.


Just like restaurants the best ones are busy. Most international movers like about a month's notice.


There are two means of shipping your household goods to Australia:-

Smaller removals are shipped in shared containers with other removals, the transit time of a shared container removal will normally be between 8 and 12 weeks.

Larger removals will be shipped as Full (Sole use) Container Loads. The major advantage being that the actual shipping container is brought to your home, loaded with your packed items and sent immediately to Australia. The transit time for Sole use containers is normally 5 to 7 weeks.

What happens upon arrival?

The UK registered company is responsible for every stage of your removal until your goods have been installed in your new home in Australia. They will use a destination partner to handle the importation and unpacking and it's important that their destination partner has also achieved FAIM ACCREDITATION in their own right.

Quarantine inspection charges

All shipments entering Australia are subject to a government quarantine inspection which is carried out by AQIS. All containers including sole use containers are unloaded into a bonded warehouse for examination. Quarantine charges cannot be included in the removal quotation and have to be paid by the owner after arrival in Australia.

Customs duty and GST

Providing you have the appropriate visa in your passport (more details available from PSS), Household and personal effects which you have owned and used for 12 months may be imported free of duty.

Further information

PSS endeavours to give Australian migrants more information - our Australia brochure (available free upon request) is constantly updated plus our web site has links to Country and Customs information.

Removal Companies

PSS International Removals
PSS International Removals - the Overseas Moving Specialists operating from anywhere in the UK to anywhere in Australia. We are the UK's 1st Choice for Moving Overseas.

Our rates are the best because we have negotiated special rates based on the large volumes we ship. Wherever you live in the UK you will find that we can give you a competitive quotation. PSS only move people overseas, so all our staff are export trained.

Household Removal Services

  • FULL CONTAINER REMOVALS, Export Packed, loaded and sealed at your residence
  • SHARED CONTAINER REMOVALS, you only pay for the amount of space you use
  • From anywhere in the UK to anywhere in Australia

  • FIDI & BAR approved International Movers & Packers
  • Members of FIDI - accredited by FAIM quality standard
  • Financially Bonded by BAR OVERSEAS
Tel: 020 8686 7733

Anglo Pacific International plc

Anglo Pacific International Plc is one of the largest international movers of household effects in the United Kingdom, now celebrating our 25th anniversary, with depots in London, Manchester and Glasgow and reliable representatives throughout Australia.

No matter where in Australia you are moving, you want your possessions to be delivered on time and in perfect condition. At Anglo Pacific we strive to fulfil these objectives and in the last 10 years alone we've safely delivered over 400,000 consignments worldwide, exactly as promised.

Nothing is too small, too large, too complex or too much trouble. From the outset, we plan everything for you - from packing, collection and shipping, to final delivery and unpacking at your new home. Every item in transit is monitored via our shipment tracking system from door-to-door. Nothing is left to chance. What's more, as a fully bonded member of the British Association of Removers and a FIDI Accredited International Mover (FAIM) your possessions couldn't be in safer hands.

So get the facts from our friendly experts and contact us now for a free quotation.

+44 (0)20 8838 8081

John Mason International
John Mason International is a family owned company founded in 1884. Today, we have developed into one of Europe's largest and most successful moving companies.

Throughout our history the company has built its reputation on efficiency and integrity. Now, more than ever before, it is judged by the quality of its service and its ability to provide the personal attention essential to both it corporate and private customers. The company's FAIM quality accreditation provides an unbiased, independent confirmation of its ability to meet or exceed its customers' expectations.

Our packing teams have access to the finest materials to cater for everything from the largest items of furniture to the most fragile crystal, with paper products being largely manufactured from recycled or managed sources.

With almost 15,000 international movements a year, John Mason International has a significant buying power with air and shipping lines to negotiate cost-effective, reliable services worldwide. We offer single use containers, shared containers and air freight consignments to all Australian destinations and working alongside some of the leading moving companies in Australia gives us a continuity of service.

Our company is an active member of many international moving organisations which provide tangible benefits to the customer. These include BAR Overseas, which provides complete Financial Protection for all pre-payments to the company and OMNI, a group of some 250 of the world's finest independent movers providing first-class destination services in 72 countries.

Experienced personnel are always on hand to provide helpful advice, please contact us on:

Tel:0800 093 2623


Marine insurance is intended to cover any breakage or loss of your belongings in transit.

It's a significant part of the overall cost (around 3% of declared value as a guide).

You can choose not to insure, or to insure only certain specified items - it's your call.

If you do your own packing, you may find the insurance won't cover those items, or the premium is higher.

Watch out for exclusions in the small print - eg. you may find that appliances are not covered for "electrical or mechanical derangement", meaning that if the appliance no longer works, but there was no sign of physical damage to the item or its carton, you're not covered.

Customs & Quarantine

Australian customs and quarantine regulations are very tight. If you deliberately or unknowingly break the rules it can be very costly and inconvenient. An Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement must be completed, along with any permits required for specific items.

If you are clearing your household effects through customs yourself, you are responsible for obtaining all relevant permits you will need to do your research - try the links below as a starting point.

Most migrants will engage a removal company to ship their effects AND handle the paperwork. But you probably still need to do your basic research and then ask the company rep. exactly what they handle - ie. does the cost cover customs clearance and any permits? Who pays for any additional cleaning ordered by Australian customs?

Fridges - CFC emmissions
Legislation concerning Ozone Protection places restrictions on the type of refrigerative equipment that can be imported into Australia. It is unclear (to us) how this affects migrants wanting to bring in their fridges/freezers, but it's certainly something to discuss with your removal company. Also see for more

Guide to Importation of Personal & Household Effects into Australia, from Anglo Pacific International. Contains advice on:

  • Customs Clearance
  • Quarantine Clearance
  • Fumigation/Steam Cleaning
  • Restricted and Prohibited Articles

Australian Quarantine Inspection Service - follow their Quick links from the homepage to:

  • Emigrating/Moving to Australia
  • What Can't I Take To Australia
They also have phone numbers for their offices in each city - it's probably worth a phone call if you're in doubt about a particular item.

Australian Customs - choose Travellers from their main menu.

Trade Associations

There are trade associations in each country, and an international body (FIDI). Click the logos to visit their websites:
British Association of Removers (BAR) - the largest trade association for the removals industry in the UK.
Australian International Movers Association (AIMA)
The International Federation of International Furniture Removers, FIDI, comprises members from each country's organisation, to form a global network.


FIDI operate a worldwide accreditation system: if the company is a "FIDI Accredited International Mover" they can display this FAIM symbol.


Information on this website is intended to give the reader an overview of many aspects of life in Australia, such as healthcare, real estate, tax, superannuation etc.

While we at have performed a large amount of research on each subject area, we do not claim to be experts in those fields and we recommend that migrants discuss their requirements with companies specialising in those fields before making purchases, investments or other decisions concerning their move.

The content of this website is general in nature - no specific advice is intended.

We provide links to other companies as a service to our readers. We have taken reasonable care to ensure that each linked website does not contain offensive or inappropriate material. However, we are not responsible for the accuracy of any of the material in any linked website, or the advice that may be contained therein.