Moving to Australia – The Do’s and Don’t of Household Goods Shipping Down Under
The other side of the world is a long way away. Moving there can be a daunting prospect. But not if you’re prepared. Making sure you know what you can and can’t take and how to take it there is half the battle. So where exactly do you start? So you probably want to take most of your electrical items, right? Well, the good news is that Australia’s power system runs on exactly the same voltage as ours (240), which makes life a lot easier. However, while their electricity supply is the same as ours, their plugs are not
The other side of the world is a long way away. Moving there can be a daunting prospect. But not if you’re prepared. Making sure you know what you can and can’t take and how to take it there is half the battle. So where exactly do you start?
So you probably want to take most of your electrical items, right? Well, the good news is that Australia’s power system runs on exactly the same voltage as ours (240), which makes life a lot easier. However, while their electricity supply is the same as ours, their plugs are not. This means that whatever you take will either need a new plug or, for sake of ease, a travel adapter to convert original plugs to the right shape.
So far, so good; this move is looking easy, yes? Well, not quite. Adapting your appliances to the power supply might be one thing, but what actually works is another. For example, you won’t have much trouble with your small electrical appliances – things like kettles, toasters, alarm clocks, lamps, radios, PCs and laptops – but bigger items can cause issues.
Things like TVs, DVD players and games consoles are a bit trickier. Yes, your TV will work when plugged in and you’ll more than likely receive a picture, but sound processing can be an issue. If you’re insistent on taking a UK TV on your move Down Under, then your best bet is to make sure it has a SCART connection at the back as it can then be converted to Australian standards. The same goes for DVD players and games consoles. These will work fine as long as there’s the option to plug a video or audio cable into the back of the TV. If not then you need to think carefully – it’s really not worth taking all of this if you can’t use it over there? Bear in mind also that you don’t want to be trying to sell it when you get either – a UK TV isn’t really worth much to people in Australia. On the flip side, selling it here means you’ll get less than you paid for it and it might not be enough to cover replacing it all when you’re out there. Think carefully before you go about what you can do to convert existing items and how much this will cost against the hassle and price of replacing things when you get to your end destination. “¨”¨While we’re on the subject of DVD players, it’s worth noting that like America, Australia also have a different region code for playing their DVDs. We run on Region 2, Australia is Region 4; therefore any DVDs bought here will work on your existing DVD player, but new ones bought out there won’t. The only way around this is to either try and convert your existing DVD player to be region-free, or buy a multi-region DVD player before you leave/when you get to the other end. You’ll have the same problem when it comes to playing computer games too, by the way.
So that’s the small stuff taken care of, but what about the bigger things? Fridges/freezers, washing machines and cookers are all things you think you might want to take with you. But consider these carefully. A cooker, for example, is particularly tricky; not only are there issues with connecting it up when you get there, but if it doesn’t fit the space it’s going into or your new kitchen already has one installed then it’s a costly mistake to make. Same goes for fridge- freezers – standard Australian ones are generally much bigger than those we use here, so shipping your own would be fine for an interim period, but you’d probably want to replace it soon after settling. And that’s not to say you won’t move somewhere where this type of fixture is included as standard.
Washing machines, however, might be a consideration. Top loader machines are standard practice in Australia. Front loaders (the kind we have here) are far more expensive to buy out there, so if yours is in good condition and you like what you know, then definitely consider shipping it. Again, this all depends on what kind of fixtures your new house will have and what your budget for shipping goods versus buying new is.
As a general rule, Australian houses are slightly bigger than what we’re used to in the UK. Therefore you might want to bring as much furniture as you can to fill the new space you have. Also, comparatively speaking, buying from scratch in Australia tends to be more expensive than in the UK – not to mention the time and effort involved in actually organising all of this post-move, when you probably have more important things to be concentrating on.
Another thing to consider is that most Australian houses have built-in wardrobes in the bedrooms, so you might not need to bring all of yours. Again, this is only something you can decide once you know what kind of house you’re moving in to. “¨Musical instruments tend to be way more expensive to buy from scratch in Oz than the UK, so think carefully about buying these new – especially if you have extravagant items like a grand piano.
If you’re taking garden furniture then the most important thing to ensure is that it’s CLEAN. Australian’s love the outdoors, and protecting their eco-system is hugely important to them – therefore regulations around importing outdoor items are particularly strict. It’s imperative that you make sure there are absolutely no traces of grass or soil on any outdoor items you’re bringing with you (tents, tent pegs, trampolines, benches, sun loungers, toys – you get the picture). “¨Check the surfaces of any timber items for signs of insect infestation – if present then you either need to discard them from the move entirely, or treat thoroughly prior to the move.
Where lawn mowers are concerned, check the size of your new lawn – if it’s bigger than your existing one then it might be worth ditching a standard UK lawn mower and getting a new one out there. Petrol mowers will probably be okay (provided they’re clean and empty) – and always remember to drain any water or liquids and remove rubbish from bins or outdoor storage boxes.
These rules don’t just apply to outdoor items, though; in order to pass inspection at the other end ALL of your household goods need to be clean – particularly those that have been in contact with food, plants or animals.
Be especially thorough when packing kitchen goods -half-opened packages of dry foods are a complete no-no, as are herbs and spices (which might harbour insects) and give careful consideration to any natural plant or animal product that has not undergone some form of manufacturing process (cheap tourist souvenirs are classic examples).
While it’s fairly lenient on what can come in to the country, the Australian Government is also pretty hot on what can’t. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) states that the following items are strictly prohibited from import:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables”¨”¨
- Live plants and bulbs”¨”¨
- Prohibited and restricted seeds”¨”¨
- Unidentified seeds, which can include some foods, including spices
- “¨”¨Live animals (including pets) that require an import permit”¨”¨
- Biological products, including some plant-based, herbal medications”¨”¨
- Unprocessed goods of plant or animal origin
- “¨”¨Soiled items, or items containing organic residues
- “¨”¨Items knowingly infested with pests or a disease
If in doubt, always check the DAFF website where you’ll be able to find out exactly where you stand on whether an item is prohibited or not.
*tip: Look out for Christmas decorations that include pine cones or holly “¦.these are typical items that flag AQIS to investigate further”¦.About the Author: Leanne Bilsby works for Bournes International Moves one of the UK's leading removal companies: www.bournes-uts.co.uk . If you have questions about International Removals ask our experts here