The Top 10 Questions asked when Moving Overseas (and then some more for good measure…..)

So you have made that all important decision to move overseas. Whether it has been thrust upon you by a secondment through your current work situation, you have decided that going overseas is what you have always wanted to do or you are moving back “home” after a period abroad.

The all-important decision has been made for you or by you, either way there may be some questions that you have started to pose post your decision-making process.

Where you aware that there are dos and don’ts that you need to consider prior to having your worldly goods and possessions relocated? Through this article we hope to answer some of those questions you are currently posing.

Can I pack my own cartons?

The general rule is that yes, you can for sea-freight shipments, however for Customs Clearance purposes you will need to complete a Pack by Owner Inventory List, which will note all items that are included in each carton. This may also cause delays in customs clearance, as an inspection may be required, and therefore incur additional charges. You also need to consider if the cartons are in good condition (if they have been used previously). The removal company that you engage with will also be able to provide you with new cartons, if this is your preference.

The only exception is for airfreight items where removalists must pack these items.

Can we have the container delivered and we pack it ourselves?

This is generally not an option with any reputable international relocation company. There is an adherent risk if you are not experienced at loading containers, also customs clearance at destination can be costly should you run into any issues with quarantine, for example. Most international relocation companies will manage the whole process from start to finish including the customs clearance process, and have heavily invested in their highly skilled removalists with education and training to ensure that they are operating using best practices.

Can we do our own unpacking and unwrapping at delivery?

If you have packed your own cartons then you would be expected to unpack at destination. Unwrapping of your furniture items is a complimentary service with Allied and does not affect the overall cost to your relocation. Should the removalist pack your cartons they will then unpack to a bench tops, again this is a complimentary service.

Can we take foodstuffs?

It is generally not advised to include foodstuffs in your shipment. Each country has specific rules around foodstuffs and it is best to check with your Moving Consultant at the time of inspection.

How will my goods be transported?

In most instances a combination of road and sea will be the more economical way to send your consignment. However, air freight is also cost effective on smaller consignments.

How long will my consignment take to arrive?

This will depend on from which city you are leaving and to what country you are moving; please check with your Moving Consultant at the time of inspection for estimated delivery timeframes.

Are there any extra charges upon arrival?

Most international removal companies will endeavour to provide a door-to-door relocation cost, however additional charges could arise from taxes, duties, customs inspection, disposal or fumigation at customs discretion and unknown access at the time of inspection.

To be more specific, a common question can be around taxes on alcohol – this question is both country and state specific; please check with your Moving Consultant at the time of inspection.

Should you include alcohol please be aware that you will be required to complete an Alcohol List for customs clearance purposes irrespective of whether there will be taxes and duties payable in the destination country.

Is there a quarantine period for my goods or pets upon arrival?

Each country has country/state specific requirements; please check with your Moving Consultant at the time of inspection.

Will someone call me when my goods have arrived?

Yes, you will receive a call from the Imports Department of the company that has received your goods to confirm your goods arrival and to schedule a delivery date.

Further to the questions posed above, you may need to consider some of the following useful information:

How is the quotation calculated?

The quotation is calculated by the items you wish to have shipped and the number of cartons that are required to be packed based on an overall size of your move (cubic metre volume). When comparing proposals, you need to be sure you are equating “apples with apples”. If a comparative quote is considerably more economical there normally is a very good reason for this and is generally associated with the volume quoted or mode of transport and level of packing services provided.

Does your piano have ivory keys?

If your piano is older than 1972, you will need to check with an expert. Generally, post 1972 pianos do not have ivory keys. If they are you will need to have two Cites Certificates; one to export your piano from Australia and another one to import your piano into your country of destination. Please refer to:

Can you make your own wooden crates for fragile items?

You can use MDF however any crating made from timber will have to be ISPM 15 – (International Solid Wood Packaging Material) certified. Please refer to:

What will I take?

You will need to consider the many housing types overseas, and that they may be considerably smaller than what you currently enjoy in Australia. Considerations are; will you have space for your outdoor furniture? Do you need the 2nd lounge suite and spare bed? What about your lawn mower and wheelbarrow? etc.

It is often the case where you may have to place some items into storage. Allied Moving Consultants can assist you by providing you a quote for long-term and short-term storage that will ensure your belongings are kept safe during your absence.

Should I take my white goods?

In some cases, especially Asia, white goods are supplied with your rental property. Best to do some property research in advance. Remember that not all countries have the same voltage as Australia, therefore some appliances will not work, or will have additional strain on them to work overseas.

What happens if I don’t have a delivery address?

Most people will not have a delivery address at the time of consultation, just a general area that they will be relocating to. A delivery address will not be required until your goods have arrived at your destination. Even then, if you don’t have an address, storage can be an option. You will also need to advise if there will be any foreseen issues with delivery, such as; narrow streets, lift access to an apartment or staircases that are too narrow for furniture.

Will I have issues bringing the same goods back to Australia?

Good question, as Australian quarantine requirements are very strict, and quite possibly stricter than the country that you are considering relocating to. If you have raw timber ornamental pieces, shells, Christmas decorations made from nature etc. you will need to declare these items upon your return. You will also need to be aware that they may require steam cleaning, fumigation or destruction, which will delay customs clearance and will incur additional charges.


The Top 10 Questions asked when Moving Overseas was written by Narelle Hainsworth, a Senior Moving Consultant of close to 20 years’ experience in assisting people, just like you, with their relocation requirements. In collaboration with other Senior Moving Consultants within the industry being Jeremy Olrich, Simon Tinsley, Karen Dudding, Clinton Karl, Alan Wood and Cameron Walsh.

Narelle not only has worked with major corporations assisting their personnel to relocate from point A to B whether it is within Australia or around the world. She has also worked with individuals who are on tight budgets to facilitate their relocation needs.