The main reason moving to Australia is different is the strict quarantine policy.

Australia has a strict 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.

Yes, destroyed.

And here’s the kicker, you will be charged for the cleaning or destroying of those items.

So not only will you be paying for shipping them all the way to Australia but paying again in Australia.

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.

Here is a link to an expansive list of items of “biosecurity concern” in unaccompanied personal effects.

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 than 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.

Below is a short list of items not to pack in your shipment.

This is not all inclusive as Australian Quarantine does make changes to the itemised list of biosecurity concern every once in awhile. It’s a good place to start though for when you are beginning to think of what exactly you are shipping to Australia.

Short List of Items Not to Pack

  • 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 packs 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 wet suits.
  • Kayaks
  • 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 guide for packing for your move to Australia.

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.

Reused or repurposed wooden furniture will most likely be a problem.

Antique furniture can sometimes be a problem too.

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.

There are two schools of thought as far as fumigating any wooden furniture before you ship it.

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.

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’s 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.

Have any other tips or questions? Please add them in the comments below.