When you’ve decided to make the big move Down Under and your visas are in place or almost in place, it’s then time to start thinking about shipping your household furniture and belongings.
It’s recommended that you contact a removal company at least three months before your moving date to make sure that there is enough time to arrange a quotation, amend it if needed, complete the relevant paperwork and to thoroughly prepare all your items for shipping. Of course, removal companies should also be able to accommodate you at a date nearer the time but the more time allowed, the less stressful the process will be.
Do plenty of Research
Thanks to the internet, the opportunity to research and educate yourself about the moving process is unlimited and it can be a good starting point. Be careful however to look at reliable sources and keep in mind that customs regulations can change on a regular basis so ask a removal company for the most up to date information.
As with most industries, there are professional trade associations which can provide a directory of approved suppliers. For the UK, a key trade association is the British Association of Removers (BAR) and the sub-group, the BAR Overseas Group. BAR Overseas Group members also provide a financial guarantee for their service and are subject to regular annual inspections to make sure that quality standards are maintained.
FIDI is a well-known International Moving Association with over 500 members worldwide. The organisation requires that all members meet the quality standard of FIDI FAIM which involves through regular quality audits and financial health checks. Another worldwide moving organisation to look out for is Overseas Moving Network International (OMNI).
Make sure to check out reviews of removal companies on their social media pages or on expat forums such as Pomsinoz.com, Britishexpats.com and Expatforum.com for customer experiences.
When you have your shortlist, it’s time to start making enquiries. Unless you already have a strong idea about which companies you would consider, it is advisable to obtain at least three quotations for your move.
Some moving companies offer online quotations where you can get a quotation for your move on the company’s website. This will usually involve listing or clicking on the household items you would like to ship in order to create an inventory and quotation. For a more accurate quotation however, a pre-move survey at your property or a video or telephone survey is usually needed to make sure all requirements are included.
For a part or full house move, it is typical for a consultant to be sent to your property for a pre-move survey. Some removal companies however offer video / skype surveys if this is not possible. If you have a smaller size of shipment or just a few items to ship, a telephone or online quotation may be sufficient.
During a pre-move survey, a consultant will arrive an appointed time and date at your property. During the visit, you will be asked to point out what you are taking with you so that an inventory can be created, a copy of which you should receive with your quotation. The consultant will also usually discuss all aspects of your move with you including packing methods, shipping options, transit times, customs regulations and advice regarding how to prepare your items for shipping. The consultant should also make sure they have discussed all your requirements with you to make sure that they are included in the service description. This is also a great time to ask any questions you may have about the process.
If you need to add or delete any items at a later stage, your moving company should be able to adjust the inventory and quotation accordingly.
Depending on the size of your shipment, you may have several different shipping options available to you. Your moving company should advise you on which are the most suitable options for your particular circumstances.
In terms of sea freight, the typical options are as follows:
Sole Use Container (20ft, 40ft or 40ft High Cube) – As the name suggests, this means that the container will be exclusively yours and in most cases if access at your property is fine, you will see it sealed outside of your home. When the container arrives in Australia however it will not be delivered to your home in the same way due to the quarantine inspection process. As a rough guide, the contents of a three bedroom house can usually fit inside a 20ft container.
Shared Container Service – Some moving companies offer a shared container service. This options is often more cost effective, particularly if you have a part-house or smaller shipment. This service means that you will share the container with one or more clients.
Air Freight – You may also wish to consider an air freight shipment if you require certain items to be with you straight away for example baby items or a tool kit needed for work. Make sure to first check your additional luggage allowance on your flight.
The Final Decision
Make sure you have received formal quotations including terms and conditions from all of your selected removal companies before comparing quotations. Check carefully what is included and excluded so that you can compare apples with apples.
The decision regarding which company to choose is likely to be based on many factors including recommendations and reviews of the company, quality of service, gut feeling and price. Some other things to consider include how responsive and helpful the company have been to your initial enquiry, how much advice was given during the pre-move survey, how knowledgeable was the consultant who came to visit you and is the company a member of any professional trade associations.
In addition, you might want to check if your removal company offers International Removals Insurance in case you prefer to arrange this with the same company. Make sure that all insurance options are clearly explained to you and stated on the quotation so that it is clear what is and isn’t covered. Most removal companies will offer at least two options, All Risk Marine Insurance and Total Loss Only.
In terms of preparing items for your move, The Australian Department of Agriculture have issued very strict guidelines with regards to what you can and can’t bring into the country and how you should prepare your items. This is order to protect the country from agricultural threats such as foot and mouth disease.
A full up to date list of what you can and can’t take should be provided to you by your moving company. The general items to watch out for include items made out of plant material such as wicker, pot pouri, bamboo and cane. Make sure also to check your Christmas decorations as pine cones and natural wreaths will not be welcomed. Untreated wood will be subject to inspection to look for evidence of woodborer activity. These items will be subject to a quarantine examination which may result in fumigation charges and possible delays to your shipment.
Be very careful with food products as certain items are strictly not allowed (e.g. dairy products). It is generally not recommended to ship food items if possible. If you do really need to take something, make sure to check with your Move Manager first to see if there are any customs and quarantine implications.
Alcohol is generally expensive to ship due to high customs duty and taxes in Australia. If you do plan to take alcohol, your moving company will normally ask you for details of the alcohol you are taking for customs purposes.
Make sure not to pack anything that is corrosive or flammable, the general rule is no liquids or gases (e.g. aerosols, gas bottles, cooking oils, paints etc).
Anything that has been associated with soil or dirt, outdoor items in particular, should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before shipping. This includes items such as garden equipment, outdoor furniture, camping equipment, golf clubs, children’s outdoor play equipment, bikes and shoes.