Three Things You Need to Know Before Getting Your Australia Shipping Quote
1. Be sure to get an in-house survey.
Don't try and estimate on your own what you are shipping to Australia and the number of boxes you will need. Also, don't trust online moving quote forms that ask you to itemize your shipment.
Full Disclosure: The shipping quote form I have does ask for an itemized estimate by room (living room, bedroom, etc) of what you are shipping to Australia but, as I say before the form, just skip that part, it's optional, and wait until the salesperson comes to your house and has a look. Here's a link to the form. It's super easy to fill out and you'll be contacted by experienced, qualified movers in your area.
You want to meet the person face-to-face and do a walk-through of what you are planning on shipping.
Firstly, this gives you a chance to interview the company representative and ask questions to suss out how familiar they are with international shipping and their experience with shipping to Australia. Australian quarantine is very strict. You need to familiarize yourself with what you can and cannot take with you to Australia.
The second reason is that most people tend to underestimate the number of boxes they will need.
Easy to do if you have never relocated overseas before as packing for a move from one neighborhood to another is not the same as packing for a shipping container.
Trust me on this as we made many extra trips to pick up bubble wrap and never seemed to have enough newspaper to make sure all the boxes were packed up tight so that there was no shifting of any items within the box.
If you are moving with your spouse or long-term partner, both of you should be present for the survey. It's just a good idea to have everyone involved present instead of asking one person to be responsible for relaying and explaining all the details later.
2. Get at least three in-house shipping quotes.
Schedule in-house surveys with three different shipping companies and let them know it.
Competition between companies can be a good thing for you when it comes down to negotiating prices and services.
International shipping companies all know each other by reputation if not personally.
In fact, when we got our quote from Sterling International Shipping they point-blank asked who else we had contacted. When we mentioned Rainier Overseas, the Sterling customer representative asked if we had talked to Brian or David. We had in fact corresponded with both of them, but Brian was the one that did our in-house survey.
Your in-house survey is an estimate. Don't be afraid to negotiate.
3. Read the fine print.
Be sure you not only get everything in writing but that you understand what your moving quote includes and excludes.
Yes, I’m talking about reading the fine print of all three shipping quotes.
Don't assume that they are the same or cover the same services. For example, is one quote less because it is a “Port-to-Port” quote and not a “Door-to-Door” quote? Hint: you want a door-to-door quote, not port-to-port.
Be sure everything you discussed with the movers is in writing. Again, don't assume that since you talked about it during your survey, they will remember. Essentially, if it's not written down on your quote, it will not happen.
I can tell you right now that the number of boxes or cartons will not be the same. Read over your quote and ask yourself if you need ten boxes for all the books and trinkets in the living room. Or perhaps the opposite is true and two boxes for all your shoes is definitely not enough.
Ask specifically about what is not included in your quote. Do not assume that the different movers include, or exclude, the same services.
Unethical sales reps know that most people will not read the fine print or question it. This is the perfect opportunity for them to add in charges or exclude charges that will pop up later after they have your shipment or in Australia when your shipment arrives.
For example, Australian Quarantine Fees will not be included in your quote because they won't know how much it will be until after the fact.
They can give you a range of how much it may cost based on past customers but they cannot quote you the exact amount because quarantine inspection is charged by the hour. There is no telling how long it will take per shipment that arrives in Australia.
Fees often excluded in Australia shipping quotes:
- Destination port fees
- Terminal handling charges
- Taxes and duties
- Crating and storage if needed at either the port of origin or the destination port in Australia
- Difficult delivery (things like pianos or perhaps your apartment in Sydney doesn't have an elevator, and the movers will have to use the stairs)
- Packing and unpacking
- Charges for inaccurate or insufficient paperwork from the shipper
- Parking permits for either pickup from your home or delivery to your new home in Sydney
I know that price is going to be an important part of your decision when choosing movers but what is more important than that final number on your moving quote is what is included and what you will have to pay for when your shipment arrives in Australia.
Easier said than done.
If you're interested in getting a very rough idea of how much it is going to cost to ship your household to Australia then read this post but remember your move depends on what you are shipping, not just volume-wise, but total weight and of course other factors like delivery, packing, insurance and shipping fees.
Ready to Get Started with Your Move to Australia?
Australia Moving Checklist
39 pages, packed full of resources you need to kick start your move to Australia. Plus invite-only access to my Private Facebook Group with over 2,200 members. The group is a great place to get answers to all your questions, from visa applications to moving with pets and schools. Join us!
Lock-In Your Exchange Rate
Did you know the Australian dollar is a commodity currency? This means the value of the Australian dollar is linked to the price of iron ore and other Australian exports. It also means that it's HIGHLY VOLATILE! When a good rate comes along, you need to be ready to jump on it and lock-in that exchange rate.
Have You Started Packing Yet?
No, not yet? Still got several months to go? Ok, but have you at least started thinking about what you're taking? Maybe even started a list? The truth is you don’t need to know what's going with you before getting your shipping quote. Why? Scheduling a shipment to Australia can take as long as 6 months.
Open Your Bank Account
In 5 minutes or less, you can open both a checking and savings account BEFORE you move to Australia. There are only 3 things you need to get started.
1. Your passport and visa details.
2. Know where you're going to live.
3. Be arriving within the next 3 months.
*This link will take you to Commonwealth Bank of Australia's special accounts for newly arriving expats and migrants. Commonwealth Bank is a sponsoring partner of Sydney Moving Guide.