Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

Get all information you need to make a successful and stress-free move across the ditch.

Should you take your belongings to Australia or buy new ones there? Find out…

Moving is one of the most stressful things we do. Moving to Australia wants to make your move easier. Here, you will find tips and advice on moving your personal effects to Australia from New Zealand that will help remove a lot of the stress from this process.

Moving to Australia Checklist

This is one of the most popular posts on my website. It includes our Moving to Australia Checklist (Pre Move Planner), which helps you organize and plan your move. Read more here.

In this post you will find information on:

Editor’s Note: I have moved to Australia twice. The first time I was young and didn’t have anything worth taking with me. Second hand bed, I brought another. However, the second time I was older and had a household of personal effects.

I did a cost comparison of how much it would cost to take everything with us and how much it would cost to replace everything. For us, it worked out a lot cheaper to take our possessions with us. It saved us money and more importantly time. I didn’t want to have to sell everything before I left (a lot of time on Trade Me) and then have to buy everything in a city was not familiar with (I do like to shop around and not pay more than I have to).

I recommend getting multiple quotes from moving companies and going with the company that is both competitively priced and has good reviews. You are able to get up to five free moving quotes from trusted moving companies in the form below. 

International Shipping

A lot of people don’t realise how much preparation goes into international shipping. It’s more than packing your belongings up, loading them onto a truck and moving them down the road, like a domestic move.

Working with a trusted international moving company that understands what it takes for your goods to make it to Australia in one piece is important.

Relocating your personal effects from New Zealand to Australia will probably be your largest cost, and it is important to weigh up the pros and cons and minimise the cost where possible. It takes a lot of time and energy to replace/buy everything you will need when you arrive in Australia, and there are always special things that you will want to take with you.  

Costs for international shipping

So, how much will it cost to ship your household items from New Zealand to Australia? There are a lot of factors that get taken into consideration when calculating the costs:

  • Distance – the further you move the higher the cost.
  • Quantity – how much you are taking with you. The more items, the more weight, the higher the cost.
  • Transportation – container truck at your home in NZ, ship by sea to Australia, container truck to your new home in Australia. Shipping by air is much more expensive.
  • Route—if your items follow common routes, they will be cheaper. If you are moving to the outback in the middle of Australia, it will be more expensive. 

Shipping overseas using sea freight

The most cost-effective way to ship your household goods to Australia is via sea freight. This involves the mover sending a container to your home to load your personal effects into. Once filled, they will pick up the container with a truck and transport it to port, where it will be loaded on a ship and sent overseas.

International moving companies are generally full-service and will arrange for your container to be unloaded and brought to its destination with all the proper documentation needed.

Your options depend on the amount of stuff you’re taking…

Full Container Load (FCL)

This option allows you to use an entire container to ship your belongings. Because you are renting a private shipping container just for your use, this option carries a higher price. It involves loading your personal effects into a shipping container dedicated exclusively to your personal and household effects.

One of the main benefits of sole-use container shipping is that you can book the sailing dates with the shipping company that suits your schedule. You don’t have to fit in with anyone else.

Groupage (shared container shipping)

A groupage service is a great option if you’re shipping a smaller volume of effects to a popular destination like Australia. Groupage involves consolidating your shipment with other shipments of personal effects and shipping them together in a container.

This is a very popular option because it’s much more economical for smaller shipments. You’re only paying a portion of the sea freight costs, i.e., the amount of space your shipment occupies in the container. That is if you don’t have a full container worth of belongings.  

Professional Packing vs Home Packed

You can’t simply throw your belongings in a box as you might do if you were moving down the street. Packing your household goods for an international move requires a number of extra steps that you may not even think about, not to mention international-quality packaging material (thicker and more robust).

You don’t want to unpack broken cups and vases or have scratched televisions and tables. Your items need to be professionally wrapped and packed by a specialist international moving company to make it through their long, bumpy journey.

But this is not the only reason international shipping companies have their packing team pack your goods…

When you are moving overseas, most companies will insist on packing your goods because they need to go through customs in Australia. In most cases, the company needs to vouch for your shipment. They have to guarantee that your container doesn’t contain anything that is considered illegal, e.g., weapons, drugs, animal products, etc. They want to make sure that they avoid any possible fines or punishments that come with transporting illegal goods.

List of items you can and can’t bring in – Australian Border Force.

Can you organise shipping yourself?

I have recently been asked if renting or purchasing your own shipping container and organising the shipping yourself is worth it. Great question! So I contacted a friend who worked in international shipping for 30 years, and this is his advice…

Yes, you can, but there are several issues to consider seriously:

  1. When the container arrives in Australia, it has to go to a quarantine bonded faculty. 
  2. You will need to pay someone for this service.
  3. Australian customs treat An owner-packed container very differently than one professionally packed container.

AQIS (quarantine Australia) treats owner-packed containers with way more caution than professionally packed containers with personal effects. When it gets to the guarantee facility, it must be devanned (emptied) for a full inspection. They may then choose to fumigate, clean, or destroy any items that are not up to standard. This will all be at your cost. Your goods will then need to be loaded into a container or truck to be delivered to your residence, not to mention all the documentation you need to complete.

Therefore he highly recommends that you use the services of a professional moving company

Transit, Storage and Moving Insurance

No matter who packs or unpacks your belongings, every move involves risks. A few of your things may be lost or damaged, so we recommend you purchase insurance to cover these potential losses.

Most moving companies offer a range of insurance options. You can insure your shipment against all foreseeable issues at very reasonable rates.

The type of insurance you purchase will depend on your specific needs, e.g. marine transit insurance for shipping by sea. Make sure you check what the policy actually covers. The higher the value of your shipment, the more you will pay in insurance. 

Secure Storage

Everyone does not think about storage when shipping their household belongings to Australia. But you will sometimes need it no matter how well you’ve planned your move. Your shipment might arrive before you, or you might not have found a home yet.

Secure storage is an extra cost. The more items you have, the more space you’ll need and the more you’ll have to pay. 

Duty and Taxes

When moving goods to Australia, it is important to know that the Australian Customs Service must clear your goods for entry. Most international moving companies undertake this formality on your behalf as part of their service.

You will be required to provide a copy of your passport and complete an ‘Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement (B534)‘. The moving company will submit these documents to Customs together with your inventory of goods being shipped.

As a general rule, you are able to import your used personal effects and household goods into Australia without having to pay customs duty and tax. As long as:

  • The goods are your personal property that you have owned and used whilst overseas for at least 12 months before departing for Australia.
  • Be an arriving person who is a permanent resident returning to Australia or a first-time migrant taking up permanent residency.

You can also import inherited goods without paying duty and tax, provided you can show proof that the goods have been willed or given to you as part of the estate of a person who passed away.

If you include alcohol or tobacco products in your shipment, you will have to pay import duty and tax on them. There are also very tight controls around prohibited and restricted goods. Please be aware that some goods are prohibited, while others may require special permits for importation. 

Shipping Times

Shipping your belongings to Australia takes approximately 6 weeks, but many factors must be taken into account. These include the availability of space on board the ship, the loading and unloading time, customs, and possible quarantine delays that can delay your shipment in Australia.

Shipments generally take 5 to 8 weeks to arrive in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane and a little longer to arrive in Perth.

However, Covid has created a global shipping crisis. Therefore, it’s important to discuss this with your chosen international mover to determine the current delay for the port your goods are travelling to and what additional costs this creates.  

Global shipping crisis caused by COVID-19

There is currently a shipping and supply chain crisis directly affecting every facet of international commerce; its impact far-reaching enough to touch the lives of consumers and businesses everywhere in the world.

Simple solutions are not available in our interconnected global economy. While significant industry efforts are underway to highlight the issues and draw attention to them, the plight of the international moving industry and its customers will barely register as a blip on the radars of government regulators.

Read more here in my Global Shipping Crisis Caused by COVID-19 post.  

How to lower the cost of international shipping

Only take the items that are most important to you. If you can live without one, you can save yourself the expense of getting it moved.

Try to reduce storage time. Follow the rules to avoid paying additional duty and tax.

If you are looking to ship household goods on a tight deadline, this can increase the cost, especially if the mover needs to make a special trip just for your move. When there are no strict deadlines, the shipping cost may be cheaper due to the shipping company’s ability to combine several clients’ shipments into one.  

Pet Transportation

You have two options for taking your pet to Australia with you. You can arrange the move yourself by purchasing a plane ticket, ensuring they are microchipped, securing a pet passport, and vaccinating them. The amount you pay will depend on the breed of your animal, its size, and its medical needs. Or you can have a specialist international pet transport company take care of everything for you.

Read more in my International Pet Transport post.  

Car/Vehicle Shipping

Moving your car to Australia is not as easy as moving your bed. Very specific documentation (import permit) is required to ship your car to Australia. Without it, your car will not be allowed entry and will be stuck at the port. There are also other considerations you need to know about, like length of ownership and tax payable issues. It’s not always worth taking your car with you expense-wise.

Import permits are mandatory for all road vehicles imported to Australia. Different import permits are available for different types of cars. Unfortunately, not all cars can be imported to Australia.

Autohub offers a door-to-door worldwide vehicle shipping service that you can trust:

Find out if it is worth shipping your car

Before deciding to ship your car to Australia, there are two things you should do:

Want to know how much it will cost to move your household goods to Australia?

We have partnered with accredited moving companies worldwide to assist you with your international move. Select where you are moving to and from, fill out the quick form, sit back, and let the moving companies do the rest. Compare reliable and trusted international moving companies to save time and money. 

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Still got unanswered questions?

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  1. Mary Smith

    March 3, 2024 at 10:55 am

    Kia ora,

    What’s your shipping advice for someone moving from Wellington to Melbourne in July with personal effects (heaps of clothes, shoes, etc) a couch, queen bed (slat bed so can be taken apart) & mattress, as well as a few kitchen items?

  2. Maia

    September 19, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    Hey JJ,
    Great advice !
    I’m planning to move over to Australia in November, but I still have car payments to follow through, will I be able to pay off my car payments while in Australia?

    • JJ Smith

      September 19, 2023 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Maia,
      Thank you for your comment and compliment.
      If you keep up the loan payments then you shouldn’t have a problem.
      However, I do recommend that you check with your loan manager, especially if you are selling the car before you leave.
      Also, make sure that you use an online foreign exchange provider like XE to save on bank fees and to get a better exchange rate when you transfer money between Australia and NZ:
      Hope the above helps.

  3. Marilyn deadman

    September 19, 2023 at 8:26 am

    Can you recommend several.good removalists to move household goods from nz to tasmania also companies that can transfer pets thank you

    • JJ Smith

      September 19, 2023 at 12:28 pm

      Hi Marilyn,
      If you complete the form at the bottom of the moving company page you will receive up to five free quotes from trusted international moving companies.
      Regarding moving your pet, if you advise where you are moving from I can recommend you a company.

  4. Mere

    July 14, 2022 at 2:24 am

    Kia Ora
    I’m only taking personal belongings (clothes, shoes,etc) which is a lot as I’m moving from NZ to Sydney and living with my partner.
    I’m prepared to pay excess baggage unless yih hv better options.
    Am I not able to keep open a bank account here in NZ at all?

    • JJ Smith

      July 15, 2022 at 12:06 pm

      Kia Ora Mere,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Excess baggage is a good option if you are only taking clothes etc. However, it would be best if you organised the extra baggage when you book your flights rather than when you arrive at the airport, as it’s cheaper.
      Yes, you are able to keep your bank account open. Most kiwis do.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  5. Carolina Gartner

    April 18, 2022 at 4:59 am

    You used to recommend Ausmove as a moving company Do you still recommend them? I see that they have some not very good reviews. I filled in the form above to request up to 5 quotes form and have been contacted by Allied Movers but no one else. Is there anyone else you recommend? Thank you

    • JJ Smith

      May 5, 2022 at 4:10 am

      Hi Carolina,
      Thank you for your comment.
      How much are you planning on taking to Australia with you? This might have impacted who offered you a quote.
      There is no one else I would recommend at this stage sorry.
      Good luck with your move.

  6. Mr Welsh

    August 6, 2018 at 12:58 am

    I am planning to move to Sydney New South Wales Australia. What do I need to do to prepare?
    I am moving a 2 bedroom home from Highland Park to Sydney.

    • JJ Smith

      August 6, 2018 at 1:04 am

      I recommend you use the above form to get up to five free no obligation quotes you to move your personal effects.
      Can you please give me more information regarding your move so I can help? Is it just you moving, do you already have accommodation lined up? Have you already got a job?
      Here’s some info on Sydney: It’s an expensive city to live in but has a very high quality of life. It has good public transport so you won’t need to worry about buying a car immediately, but it will help you maximize Sydney’s beautiful surroundings.
      I recommend living close to where you will be working. Here’s some info on real estate in Australia, both renting and buying.
      Please let me know if there anything else I can help with.


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