10 tips for shipping your belongings  

January 27, 2020

It is a lot of work to move possessions to another country, especially if you are moving abroad with children or planning to bring your pet on an international adventure

At a time when stress levels are high, careful consideration of the shipping company you choose, how you prioritise what to bring and how you pack, will have an impact on your overall moving experience:

Do your research when it comes to choosing a shipping company. Although time and budget may constrain your choices somewhat, shortlist companies that:

  • have experience shipping to your destination
  • have good reviews from other users
  • can move your possessions in the timeframe you have
  • offer easy access tracking 

There are several service levels offered by international moving companies. The right option for you will be based on budget and whether you have secured accommodation in your new home:

Full service: includes a packing service as well as shipping belongings from your existing home to your new home abroad. Although this is the most expensive option, it may save you so much time that the extra cost is well worth it.

Door to door: the moving service collect your packed belongings from your home and move them to your new address. 

Port to port: you must drop your packed possessions to the port and they must then be collected from the port at your destination. This may work well if you have not found accommodation yet and you have a mode of transport to get your belongings from the port to your home. 

This step is critical to save you time, space and money during your move. We all accumulate ‘stuff’ if we have been living in the same place for a number of years. Take some time to consider the items that are really important to you. Sub-divide the big-ticket items in your home and wardrobe into five categories:  

  • Bring  
  • Store
  • Sell
  • Donate
  • Recycle

It might be helpful to use coloured stickers to identify each category. Storing items while you are living overseas is going to be an ongoing cost, so consider what you include carefully. 

Once you have made some decisions on what you want to bring, consider the customs regulations for the country you are moving to. Australia and New Zealand have strict rules and regulations about importing raw wood, bamboo and similar items that may impact their unique biodiversity.
If your shipping company does not provide you with packing supplies, invest in the best quality you can afford. Remember when your items are being shipped they may well be in a large container with other items, so you need to ensure they are well protected.
Ensure breakables are well wrapped in bubble wrap or similar material and are placed in sturdy containers before being put into cardboard boxes. Mark these boxes clearly as fragile. 
There are likely to be a number of weeks between packing and unpacking boxes. Make finding what you need in your new home easier by labelling or numbering boxes with exactly what they contain. It’ll make things easier when you want to find your favourite mug for a cup of coffee or tea in your new home. 
A UK based study suggested moving home was the most stressful life event, even surpassing divorce or starting a new job. An international move has the potential to be even more difficult so enlist all the help you can when it comes to shipping your belongings abroad. Perhaps family or friends can spare an afternoon to help. 
There is a lot to do to get your own documents in order for an international move but there will also be additional paperwork for the items you hope to bring with you. The shipping company you are working with should be able to provide you with the documents needed.

Last but by no means least, consider moving insurance. Although global mobility means shipping possessions abroad is much more common, accidents do happen. Make sure the important things in your life are protected.  


While you are planning your international move, take the pressure off by letting us help you find the right international health insurance to meet your needs.