Moving to Australia
A removals and relocation guide for your move Down Under
Moving house is stressful at the best of times, let alone when you’re moving the other side of the world. Not only have you got the logistics of the move to organise, you also need to get used to a new culture. The good news is we’ve got you covered.
We’re going to take you through the key information you’ll need for moving to Australia – from packing your belongings all the way through to an overview of the healthcare system when you’ve arrived. There’s quite a bit of information, so we recommend saving this page so you can refer back to it whenever you need it.
This guide will cover:
- Why use Nomad International?
- How shipping to Australia works
- Customs and quarantine in Australia
- Cost of moving to Australia
- Transporting pets to Australia
- Shipping a car to Australia
- Nomad International Storage
- Healthcare in Australia
- Education in Australia
- Cost of living in Australia
We’ll be updating this page on an ongoing basis, so if there’s any information you’d like to see that isn’t currently here, please let us know so we can add it on. And of course, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any moving-related questions.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Why use Nomad International?
We’re not only here to safely transport your belongings – we’re also here to take the stress out of moving. Here’s why Nomad International is the ideal moving partner for your move to Australia…
You’ll benefit from more than 16 years of professional moving experience when you move with us. We’ve moved thousands of happy customers in that time, so we know all there is to know when it comes to moving overseas. There isn’t a road too narrow, a hill too steep or another hurdle we haven’t been able to overcome. We understand the process might seem overwhelming, but don’t worry – we’re here to guide you through it, step-by-step.
We have a specific focus on a small number of countries – a conscious decision which means we can provide a better, more comprehensive service. Because of this, it’s even more important we do a good job – our business relies on word of mouth referrals in our specialist countries. Why Australia? We’ve chosen to specialise in removals to Australia because of the background of our team. Some of us are Australian emigrants (and the rest of the team likes beating the Aussies in the Ashes) so it’s fair to say we know your destination inside out and will use all our knowledge to make your transition to life in Oz as smooth as possible.
We’re a small, dedicated team which means you’ll receive a personal service throughout – all our customers know us individually by name. We care about your experience and this will be evident from the moment you first get in touch with us, right the way through to when the final item is unloaded at your new home.
You’ll have your own Move Manager who’ll communicate with you every step of the way so you’re always in the loop. We’ll treat your possessions like they’re our own so you can rest assured they’ll be well looked after. And there’s nothing our trained team of removals experts don’t know when it comes to packing, moving and problem solving!
As the old saying goes – “you get what you pay for”. It’s true – we offer a premium service to give our customers a premium experience. It’s as simple as that. Another mark of quality? We’re members of the British Association of Removers (BAR), the trade body for removals in the UK. We also hold the British Standard BS 8564 in Overseas Moving, which is one of only two internationally-recognised standards in international removals. These qualifications are not easy to achieve, and we are audited each year to make sure we are continually operating at this very high standard, so you know you’re in safe hands.
Don’t just take our word for it – here are a selection of testimonials kindly written by our previous customers. You’ll also find lots more reviews on our Facebook page, on Google and on our other website dedicated specifically to our removal work in Greece and the Mediterranean.
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How shipping to Australia works
Here’s an overview of the moving process in five simple steps.
- Packing – we’ll pack everything for you with our professional packing service, or you might prefer to pack some (or all) of your belongings yourself. If we’re packing for you we’ll conduct your collection (Step 2) at the same time
- Collection – we’ll collect your goods ready to be shipped! We’ll do all the lifting of course and our expert team will load everything securely for the journey
- Shipping – your belongings will be safely transported by sea container to your nearest port of arrival in Australia
- Customs clearance – your belongings will go through customs and quarantine on arrival (don’t worry – this is standard procedure for all goods entering Australia)
- Delivery – our partners will deliver your belonging to your new home, placing items safely in their designated rooms. Don’t worry about the location of your new property either. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an apartment ten floors up or if your house is on a road with tight access – we’re used to problem solving and will find a way to deliver your items. Just let us know in advance so we can plan for it
Sea container sizes
There are two ways to ship your items to Australia – by sea container or air freight. For shipments larger than a few boxes or items of luggage, sea container shipping is the way to go. The most common container sizes are 20ft or 40ft. The below table will give you an idea of the capacity of each.
|Container Size||Total Volume||Practical Volume*||Capacity|
|Cubic Feet||Cubic Metres||Cubic Feet||Cubic Metres|
|20 Foot Container||1172||33.2||1060||30||Typical 3-4 bedroom house, no outside or garage contents, no loft or basement contents|
|40 Foot Container||2389||67.7||2120||60||5 bedroom house with loft and basement contents, or typical 3-4 bedroom house plus a car|
* The practical volume is the volume of household goods and personal effects that could reasonably be expected to fit into the container. While the total volume given by the actual internal dimensions of the container is correct, in practice this would only tell you how much liquid you could pour into the space, rather than the volume of physical objects like furniture and boxes you could fit in there. So, removal companies work with volumes of 30m3 and 60m3 for 20ft and 40ft containers respectively.
How long does sea container shipping take?
The most common UK ports for departure to Australia are Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton.
Shipping to each of the main ports in Australia (Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane) typically takes between 39 and 45 days, but some routes can take up to 55 days.
You’ll also need to factor in the type of shipment (more on this in the next section), the time from collection until departure (a few days usually), the time required for customs clearance and quarantine on arrival in Australia and the time for delivery to your home. While there can be delays at ports or out at sea, Australian customs is the most important variable in determining the overall duration.
We recommend allowing approximately 8-10 weeks from door-to-door.
Full container versus part load shipping
Full Container Load or “FCL” is when you have an entire shipping container to yourself – i.e. your belongings only. “Part load”, also known as “Less than Container Load,” “LCL” or “groupage” is when your belongings are combined with other people’s goods.
Which shipping container is right for you?
FCL shipping tends to be quicker. That’s because no-one else is sharing the container with you, so you aren’t waiting for the space to “fill up” before it can depart. LCL shipping takes longer (because you have to wait for the container to be sufficiently full before it can depart). You can expect it to take an extra couple of weeks compared to FCL shipping. Shared containers can also cause slightly longer delays on arrival in Australia because of the risk that someone else in your container causes a problem with customs or quarantine, thereby delaying clearance of the whole container.
LCL shipping also tends to be the more cost-effective option, but it’s not always significantly cheaper versus FCL shipping. It depends on the volume of your belongings. We can provide a quote for both options so you can make a fully informed decision.
If you’d like to talk through the above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise.
Packing for your move to Australia
Your belongings have a long journey ahead of them – they’ll be travelling by road, by sea and then by road again. So, it’s especially important they’re packed properly – damaged goods are the last thing you want to be greeted with when you arrive at your new home!
Given the nature of travelling such a long way and the necessity of handling the goods several times, it’s standard practice for all furniture and large electrical items to be “export wrapped” for transport. This means wrapping them in a heavy-duty version of bubble wrap (called Furniguard of Furnisoft) to protect them.
We’re happy to wrap and pack everything for you, which saves you the time and effort of doing all of this yourself and gives you the peace of mind that everything has been professionally packed. It’s also good from an insurance point of view as it gives insurers more confidence that everything will be safe in transit. This means they won’t impose the same insurance limits they impose if you’re packing and wrapping yourself.
We regularly handle fine art and antiques too, and we can provide custom crating services for items that need to be crated for shipment.
If you do decide to do the packing yourself, it’s important (for Australia in particular) that you don’t use second-hand boxes that have previously contained any kind of food. Also, don’t use any wood-related products (like sawdust, wood shavings or any other plant-based material) as filler for your packing because of quarantine restrictions (we cover the reasons behind this in the next section).
If you need any packing advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’re more than happy to help.
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Customs and quarantine in Australia
Australia is particularly strict with customs and quarantine, so you do have to take this seriously and prepare for it. This is because Australia’s ecosystem is vulnerable, so these strict measures are in place to protect and preserve the environment. Any goods coming into the country pose the risk of carrying pests and diseases and must undergo biosecurity control before they can be released.
Generally, you can’t take:
- Live plants
- Flammable products, like lighter fluid and gas canisters
- Perishables, like food
You also need to make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned and dried any items that have come into contact with food, plants (including soil), water or animals before you pack them. This includes:
- Any used equipment, machinery, outdoor furniture and camping equipment
- Animal and pet care items
- Waste items including vacuum cleaners, brooms and bins
- Kitchen items including appliances
- Sports equipment, especially if it’s been used outside or on fresh water
- Any farm-related items
- Carpets, mats, etc.
The more prepared you are, the better. Unfortunately, any problems at customs could significantly delay the moving process. For full guidance on how to prepare take a look at the Australian Government website.
Cost of moving to Australia
There are lots of sources on the internet that provide a table of approximate costs for shipping to every destination around the world. But these lists have a few problems:
- They usually only refer to the cost of the sea container movement, while ignoring the costs of:
- Road haulage of the container to and from the ports
- Customs clearance and quarantine
- Packing and wrapping
- The removal team to do the carrying, loading, unloading and carrying again into the right rooms at your new home
- Even the container shipping prices are often incorrect
Costs can vary enormously depending on the quantity of goods and the nature of the removal. While smaller shipments will be in the region of hundreds of pounds, full container load shipments will be in the mid-thousands of pounds.
Generally, complexity adds cost – so if your removal is straightforward (in terms of access, packing, distance from the ports in both countries, and the distance our removals team are carrying everything) then the price will be lower. Increasing the volume of the removal, increasing the distances, and increasing the complexity of the packing and crating will naturally increase the cost.
The important thing is that you choose a removals company who won’t let you down. From small baggage shipments to the relocation of large country homes, Nomad International will take the greatest care in moving your goods to Australia and making the process efficient and stress-free. Get an accurate quote today.
Transporting pets to Australia
It’s natural to have concerns about your pets’ wellbeing when it comes to transporting them safely to your new home, especially when it’s such a long distance. We work with specialist pet transporters who organise the process by air freight, keeping pets’ best interests at heart. We can put you in touch, or we’re happy to manage the process on your behalf. It’s up to you. Please get in touch for more information.
Shipping a car to Australia
We regularly get asked – “can I ship my car to Australia?” The basic principles are that you can import a car into Australia as long as:
- You’re migrating (or returning) to Australia
- You’ve owned the car for at least the last 12 months and used it for your own personal transportation during this period
- The car is safe and roadworthy
- You haven’t already done this with another car in the past 5 years
Because British cars are right-hand drive like Australian ones, there’s far less hassle than there would be for left-hand drive cars.
Importing your car – the application process
You must receive “Vehicle Import Approval” from the Australian government before you ship the vehicle. So, if you’re planning to move to Australia this application has to be done well in advance of your move date. Take a look at ‘8 steps to import a vehicle’ which explains the step-by-step process and Personal Imports Option for more information. It’s also worth taking a look at the following eligibility assessment – this guide will help you assess suitability for a range of vehicles, as well as cars.
Remember to plan the whole process before shipping your car to Australia. For example, prior to shipping, the Australian government recommends that you have the car steam cleaned inside and outside to remove any materials that may pose a quarantine risk.
How much will it cost to import my car?
You’re required to pay import duty and GST (Goods and Services Tax, the Australian equivalent of VAT). While the cost is occasionally based on the UK purchase price it’s usually based on the “landed” value of the car, which can be as low as 50% of the Australian market value of the car.
- For cars up to 30 years old the amounts payable are 5% import duty and 10% GST
- For cars older than 30 years and all motorcycles the rates are 0% import duty and 10% GST
In addition, “luxury car tax” can be applied but this is relatively rare as it only applies to cars with a GST-inclusive value of $65000 and over.
Nomad International vehicle shipping
When you’ve received Vehicle Import Approval, we’re here to help you move your vehicle safely to Australia. We can collect from (or deliver to) anywhere in the UK. Please get in touch.
Nomad International Storage
You might not be ready to receive your belongings straight away. If that’s the case, we can store your items as part of the moving process at our secure storage locations. You can store any quantity of items with us for as long as you need, both in the UK and Australia. Just ask us for a quote for storage and we’ll be happy to help.
Healthcare in Australia
Australia has an excellent healthcare system and British nationals are entitled to free healthcare under the reciprocal agreements between Australia and the UK. But there are some important differences to keep in mind.
Dual public and private health system
Australia has universal free healthcare called Medicare (the Australian equivalent of the NHS). But the Australian government encourages Australians to take additional private health insurance on top of this (the tax system incentivises people to do this), so there’s a much greater utilisation of private insurance in Australia than in the UK. This varies from state to state (Western Australia is particularly high).
The private and public systems work together in ways that might seem foreign to Brits. For example, the majority of private GP surgeries charge privately for their appointments. You can expect to pay around $50 to visit your GP. But the government will reimburse you most of the cost (the current amount is $36.30, leaving you with an out of pocket expense of only $13.70).
While it may seem strange to pay to visit the doctor, you’ll also notice the benefits. It’s generally much easier to get in to see a GP than it is in the UK – while many practices do have waiting lists, they tend to be much shorter versus the UK. Also, you’re free to visit whichever doctor you want – if one surgery is busy you can go to another (depending on whether or not you’d prefer to see your own regular GP of course).
And there are some GP surgeries that are completely free – these surgeries “bulk bill” their charges directly to Medicare, so you don’t have to pay anything at all (including nothing up front). These practices tend to be busier, but if you don’t mind waiting to see your GP then it’s a reasonable option.
Hospitals in Australia
Hospitals are either “public” or “private”, with the former generally being free at the point of use. There isn’t much difference between the two, and many private services are actually performed within the public hospitals, just like in the UK. Public services aren’t considered second class by any means – it’s just that waiting periods can be longer. Because of the higher usage of private health insurance in Australia compared to the UK, public services (while still strained) are not under quite the same pressure.
One unusual thing to highlight is that ambulances are not free in Australia. The cost of a journey in an ambulance will be in the hundreds of dollars (often the high hundreds – $900 is not unusual). Private insurance usually includes ambulance cover, and there’s separate ambulance cover that’s also sold. As a result, ambulances are used more often for emergencies than for sprained ankles.
Do I have to take out private health insurance?
No, there’s no obligation to take out private health insurance – it’s your choice. Ultimately, it’ll depend on your individual circumstances and which state you live in. Either way, it’s worth applying for your Medicare card relatively soon after your move.
You’re in safe hands
Overall the standard of healthcare in Australia is excellent. Once you get used to the quirks it’ll make sense and you’ll find it easy to use. A recent study ranked Australian standards of healthcare second in the world, beaten only by (you guessed it) Blighty.
For more information, take a look at Australian health system: how it works.
Education in Australia
Changing to a new education system is something lots of people worry about. But there’s no need. Education standards in Australia are generally very high, with one of the highest ranked education systems in the world.
Schools in Australia
Like the UK, there’s both a public and a private system, but it’s slightly less complicated.
Public schools vary, but the range isn’t as great as in the UK. Private education exists, but the private schools are almost always operated by religious organisations and operated effectively as not-for-profit entities rather than being owned by corporations. This means that private school fees are generally lower in Australia than in the UK.
Nurseries in Australia
Nurseries (called “day care” centres in Australia) are expensive, just as they are in the UK. Costs vary depending on your location but the (wide) range is from $80 to $150 per child per day, with reports of some centres in Sydney suburbs charging as much as $200 per day. The Australian Government subsidises the cost of childcare, but the calculation of how much you’ll receive is an individual one because it’s based on your individual circumstances (means, earnings, etc). It’s substantial (it can be up to 70% of the cost of childcare), but you have to be a permanent resident to be eligible. You might find this article giving an overview of childcare costs useful.
Cost of living in Australia
The cost of living varies depending on which city you live in and your personal circumstances. It’s generally more expensive compared to the UK, but this is offset by salaries which tend to be higher, so it’s all relative depending on earnings. Here’s a useful chart where you can compare the cost of living by country.
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