Below is one of our three in-house moving quotes for Australia. The quote is from 2008, for our move to Sydney from Seattle.

Prices for your quote will most likely not be the same or even similar. For this reason, please do not think of this quote as a price comparison for when you get your quote. Instead, think of it as a guide for what to look for when you get your quote. Of course, every company is different, but this will give you an idea of what to expect.

Cost of Shipping Container from USA to Australia

There are three pages to our shipping quote. I am only discussing the first page for this post. I have listed the two other posts, where I continue with breaking down what our shipping quote included and excluded, at the bottom of this post.


Before we start examining the quote together, I need to point out that I have greyed out the shipping company name and details because this quote is not a referral. In fact, we ended up using a different company for our move.

Why I still have this quote and not the quote from the shipping company we used, I have no idea. Probably because I was very disorganized and then completely forgot about it. It doesn’t matter.

I am happy to have discovered it recently to share here on SMG.

Ok, so let’s go through the shipping quote together.

1. Shipping company associations and affiliations.

The first thing you probably have noticed is all the associations and affiliations the moving company has.

How can you miss it? They are all right at the top of the first page.

I have already discussed the RIM certification in my post “How to Check if Your International Relocation Company is Legit.”

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The other associations listed in the quote are:

Out of all these associations, the two that stand out are the IAM membership and RIM certification.

The Worldwide ERC is more for relocation companies, and service providers that help corporations with employee transfers. AMSA is for domestic long distance moves within the United States.

2. The shipping company’s Federal Maritime Commission License Number.

Second thing listed in the quote above is the Federal Maritime Commission License Number of the company. Now we know for sure that they are familiar with international relocations since they have taken the time to share their license number upfront. Note that by doing this they are leaving it up to you to double check to see if they have kept their license current.

The Federal Maritime Commission License pertains to US-based shipping companies. Sorry, I don’t know the equivalent for other countries.

If you come across a similar maritime licensing listing for your country or region, please let me know in the comments below, and I will add it to the next updated version of this post. Thanks in advance for your help.

Now I know what your thinking, “But there’s no number listed?”

That’s because I removed the number before adding it here for the same reasons I removed the company details.

3. Are the shipper and consignee the same person?

Next item is the statement about the rate assuming that the shipper and the consignee are the same person.

What’s the big deal here?

If we were shipping items to Australia but not to ourselves, we would then be an export business. In that case, we would need a business license and have a whole mess of other things to deal such as customs for both exporting from the US and importing to Australia.

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Special Update for Shipping from the US.

As of 2009, anyone shipping anything from the US overseas will need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. An EIN is a form of identification for the Automated Export System (AES). In the past, a social security number was satisfactory.

I’ve covered getting an EIN in detail here.

4. The quote reference number for the shipping quote.

The quote reference number is for both you and the company to know what quote is yours.

Be aware that international shipping quotes expire. Most are only good for a month.

Be sure to ask how long until the quote expires.

It might seem strange that international shipping quotes expire.

Pricing for things like the shipping container or the shipping line (the company that owns the cargo vessel that will be transporting your shipment to Australia) change frequently depending on space available and demand.

5. Why you want a residence-to-residence quote.

A residence-to-residence or door-to-door quote means they will pick up your shipment of boxes and furniture at your home and then deliver it to your new residence in Australia.

Many non-reputable shipping companies will give you a door-to-port or, even worse, a port-to-port quote. Their quote will be less expensive than a door-to-door quote because it is not inclusive of all of the fees you will need to pay such as customs and quarantine inspections plus delivery from the port to your new residence in Australia.

Port-to-port quotes also do not include Destination Port Fees or Terminal Handling Charges that will be due in Australia when your shipment arrives. Furthermore, most shipping lines will not release your container without getting a large deposit.

With a port-to-port shipment, you have an insufficient amount of time to clear your shipment through Australian customs and quarantine inspections before removing your shipment or costly charges will start to accrue.

An experienced, well-established international shipping company will most likely not even give you a port-to-port or door-to-port quote unless asked for one. Even when directly asked, they will most likely decline.

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6. Moving quotes are estimates and can change.

There are two estimations listed which is confusing. The estimates represent a range in price, not either or.

Did you notice that the weight is the same, but the volume is different?

The reason for this is they were not able to tell us for certain what the volume was going to be until they packed the shipping container with all our boxes and furniture.

Your moving quote is also an estimate and may increase in price as they start packing the shipping container.

That’s what happened to us.

We were already in Sydney when we got an email from the shipping company saying that they had misjudged our shipment and that it was larger than they initially thought.

The difference in price cost us about $200USD more than the estimated quote.

The next two sections of the shipping quote lists what the rate includes and excludes. I am going to cover these sections and the last section about insurance in separate posts to keep this post from getting too long.

You can find those posts here:

  1. Breakdown of What an Australia Shipping Quote Cost Includes
  2. What an Australia Shipping Quote Cost Does NOT Include
  3. Getting an Employer Identification Number for International Shipping
  4. What You Need to Know About International Shipping Insurance