Moving to Australia is Different Than Other International Relocations
The main reason moving to Australia is different is the strict quarantine policy.
Australia has a strict quarantine policy to protect its unique flora and fauna as, in the past, there were no restrictions thus several invasive species were introduced into Australia and have since grown out of control, threatening the native species.
Just how strict are they?
Well, if any restricted items are found in your shipment, the items will be confiscated and then either cleaned (i.e. fumigated for biosecurity) or destroyed.
And here’s the kicker, you will be charged for the cleaning or destroying of those items.
I'm speaking from experience here as we paid Australia Quarantine to destroy two pairs of shoes for having foreign dirt. We paid to have them destroyed instead of cleaned because it was about three times more to have them cleaned.
Ok, now that I have your attention, let’s go over what is prohibited by Australian Quarantine.
What Is Prohibited by Australian Quarantine
Items you take with you in your suitcase are accompanied items and a different list. Not that much different but different.
Unaccompanied, in this case, is referring to your shipping container since you will not be at the dock nor will you be traveling with it all the way to Australia.
“Biosecurity concern” is also different from prohibited.
It means that quarantine officers will investigate it further to see if there is any foreign dirt or exotic seeds or anything else suspicious.
If there is a biosecurity threat then you will be also given the option of having the item professionally cleaned by quarantine or destroyed. There is no third option.
What Not to Pack in Your Shipment to Australia
This isn't all-inclusive as Australian Quarantine does make changes to the itemized list of biosecurity concerns every once in a while. It’s a good place to start though for when you are beginning to think of what exactly you are shipping to Australia.
- Open/Used Spices, Teas, or Other Dehydrated Food Items
- Potpourri, dried flower arrangements, or anything else that may contain seeds.
- Christmas decorations such as conifer items, pine cones, dried holly, sphagnum moss, vines, or wreaths.
- Lawn mowers – Far too hard to get cleaned enough to pass inspection. Besides, it’s a huge red flag to Australian Quarantine.
- Barbecues – Same as lawn mowers as far as cleaning.
- Vacuums – This one is kind of a toss-up. If you are moving from the UK or another country that uses 230 voltage then you may want to consider taking your vacuum but be sure that it is very, very clean as it is an item that they look for.
Items to Make Sure are Extra, Special Clean Before You Pack Them
- Camping gear including backpacks. Make sure there is no dirt in any of the pack's pockets.
- Shoes especially running, hiking shoes, and winter boots.
- Outdoor furniture and gardening tools, pots, or statues that you might bring with you.
- Pet Bedding and fish tanks. Also any kind of animal grooming items.
- Bicycles and any other sports equipment.
- Diving equipment and wetsuits.
- Suitcases that may have sand or dirt either in the suitcase or on the wheels.
Again, both of these lists are a condensed, shorter version of what's on the Australian Department of Agriculture's site.
When you are interviewing movers, during your in-house moving quote survey, ask them about what you can and cannot bring with you to Australia.
A qualified company that has experience with shipping to Australia will not bat an eye and, in fact, will most likely have printouts or a packing guide available.
Are you looking for trusted international shipping companies in your area? I have a quick, easy form here that will put you in touch with qualified shipping companies in your area.
Special Note About Shipping Wooden Items to Australia.
When you take a look at the complete list of items of biosecurity concern, you will notice a section for wooden items.
When you expand that section you see that basically everything wooden that could possibly be in your house is listed.
Based on our experience, treated wooden items are ok to import into Australia. This includes most furniture and kitchen items like salad bowls, mixing spoons, and cutting boards.
We had no problem with taking our pine bookcases from Ikea which are obviously treated. I packed all my wooden mixing spoons including one that is bamboo, a large wooden salad bowl, and a wood cutting board. No problem with quarantine.
Antique furniture can sometimes be a problem.
Give your wooden antique furniture a good inspection. Take all drawers out and pull it away from the wall to get a good look at the back or flip it over to inspect the underside.
Do you see any areas that look untreated or that have previous bug damage?
Most antique furniture has been treated, varnished, or painted and will not be a problem but remember it’s traveling to a tropical, humid environment and, under those conditions, bugs that have been dormant for several years sometimes sudden spring to life. Not something you want to happen while in a shipping container making its way to Australia.
Reused or repurposed wooden furniture will most likely be a problem too.
Should you fumigate before you ship?
There are two schools of thought as far as fumigating any wooden furniture before you ship it to Australia.
The first school says to fumigate it yourself and the second says not to because Australian Quarantine will do it again anyway since they have no guarantee that it was done right the first time.
The catch is, Australian Quarantine is going to charge you a lot more than if you do it yourself. Of course, if they are going to do it anyway then you end up paying and spending time fumigating for nothing.
If it’s one or two pieces of furniture then it might be worth the gamble to see if they make it past quarantine.
If you have more than that then you may want to spend the time and money at home to have it done.
Fumigating wooden furniture before shipping it to Australia.
A cheap way to treat wood furniture for bugs before shipping is to move the furniture to your garage, or isolate everything in a single room, then set off a bug bomb.
A couple of SMG readers have done that before packing up old pieces of furniture and it worked out fine. No problems with quarantine.
Sorry for the wishy-washy answer for shipping wooden items to Australia but it all depends on the person inspecting your shipment and the company, or Destination Agent, that is receiving your shipment in Australia.
This is another reason to make sure you get qualified movers with experience shipping to Australia. These are the companies that have good relationships with qualified Destination Agents in Australia.
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.