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Tips for Moving Overseas

Investigate the Customs rules well in advance of your move. Your removalist should advise you about Customs requirements, but we strongly recommend that you do your own checking too.

See also Tips on Electrical Systems & Games

  • Tip 1 - travel WITH your documents. Do NOT ship them with the rest of your belongings. Shipping overseas can take several weeks, so you'll need to think about what documents you may need until then. You'll need things like proof of when an item was purchased (if returning to Australia to claim an exemption), financial records if you're buying a home, birth certificates, etc.
    For example, a hovercraft (boat that floats on air) along with household items was shipped into the USA from Australia. It was held up in US Customs because they suspected something illegal was going on. Because the owners had documents with them to prove they owned the hovercraft for several years, it was finally cleared along with the rest of their shipment.
  • Tip 2 - pay attention to Customs rules on what is not allowed in the new country. Australia has on their prohibited list such things as replicas of firearms, daggers, spring bladed knives, martial arts equipment, and articles manufactured from wildlife (including coral).
    Some items must be specially cleaned upon entry into Australia. For example, a four foot high pine cone wreath (for Christmas) had to be specially treated before Customs would release it. The cost was $100.
    So make sure you discuss with your removalist what can and cannot be brought in and the costs involved when you do.
  • Tip 3 - make sure every document Customs requires has been sent to them BEFORE your shipment arrives. Customs can and will send back a shipment that does not have proper documentation.
  • Tip 4 - be prepared to pay more than you thought for Customs duties and fees. Your things won't be released until the money is paid so plan for added costs for items you didn't anticipate.
    For example, someone we know was sent a package from overseas. Being honest, the person who sent it wrote on the declaration that the package contained a food item - specifically a $3 jar of Kraft Marshmallow Cream. (We don't have that in Australia.) Customs charged $25 to examine the package and confiscated the jar. Why? It seems that marshmallows are made with eggs and you need a permit to bring eggs into Australia. Yes, we're thinking the same thing you are.
  • Tip 5 - talk to other people who have shipped things overseas and find out what mistakes they've made so you can avoid doing the same.
    For example, a Christmas gift was shipped to Australia from overseas a few years ago. The first mistake the person made sending it was that he forgot to write "gift" on the documentation. The second mistake was that he sent it by Federal Express. Why are those mistakes? If he had said it was a gift, the first $250 of the value would have been exempt from Customs duty. And if he had sent it through Australia Post the exemption would have been $1,000, not $250. The result was that the person receiving the gift had to pay over $100 duty on not just the package but the shipping costs as well before they would deliver it. To correct the mistake of not writing gift on it would have cost over $25 Customs fee to process the paperwork with no guarantee the duty would have changed. So ask around and then check the current Customs rules.

Note: We assume no liability resulting from any errors or omissions. Translation . . . we've done our best to bring you accurate information. However, you should seek your own independent advice as to the accuracy of the information supplied.

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