Last updated 1 August 2016

A Guide to Packing and Shipping for an International Move


Make an inventory of the items you wish to take with you overseas. Some appliances, like televisions, may not work abroad and some will be cheaper to replace than to ship. Record the serial number of electrical equipment you intend to take with you. 

Use the move to have a good clear out; throw away junk that you have accumulated rather than send it overseas. 


It is important that you ensure you have full insurance cover for your goods. You can use the inventory you made in the planning stage to help determine the total value of your shipment, and the amount of insurance cover you need. Ask your international movers for advice. 

Practical Tips for Packing 

Your removal company may not insure any items that they have not packed themselves, particularly fragile and expensive items, so be sure to clarify.
If you are to pack yourself, then make sure you have the most appropriate packing materials for your possessions. You will need strong boxes, labels, wardrobe boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, plastic sealable bags and markers.
Wrap breakable items in protective material, but avoid wrapping items directly in newspaper as it can mark your goods with black print. Label these boxes clearly with ‘fragile’ and do not stack them at the bottom of a pile of boxes. 
Focus on one room at a time and pack non-essential items at the bottom of your boxes. If you are disassembling items yourself such as beds and wardrobes, use sealable bags to store screws and similar accessories securely, and tape the bag to the furniture. You can use tape or rope to keep the furniture parts together for the journey. Taking photos as you disassemble items could assist you in the assembly process overseas.
Remember to secure your washing machine drum, and shelves and accessories in your fridge and freezer, to prevent damage in transit. You could also fill your washing machine drum with soft items like blankets or cuddly toys.
To save washing and ironing once your clothes catch up with you overseas, use wardrobe boxes with hanger bars.
Pack a separate box with precious, irreplaceable items to carry with you on your own journey: items of sentimental value, expensive jewellery, important documents, special photographs and home videos. Make sure this box, along with your passports, suitcases and bags to accompany you on your travels, is set aside in a room that you designate out of bounds to the movers. It is easy to realise too late that everything you need for your journey is already sitting in the back of the removal truck. 

Importation Regulations 

When you ship your goods overseas, you are subject to importation rules and regulations. Discuss legal requirements with your international mover and ensure that assistance with documentation and customs clearance is part of their service.
For entry into some countries, you may not pack your belongings yourself, as an international moving company must provide a detailed inventory of the shipped goods and certified documents about the contents of the shipping container.
Make sure you know which goods are restricted for import into your destination country; perishable items and alcohol are regularly on the banned list, as well as hazardous materials like paint and aerosols. Think about flammable items like gasoline in your lawn mower, or poisonous liquids from your shed.


The process of shipping your goods overseas usually involves a number of parties. A local mover packs up your belongings and transfers them to a freight forwarding company who moves your boxes into a shipping container. The container is shipped overseas to the port closest to your destination, where a third company becomes responsible for clearing your goods through customs. A local moving company then picks up the shipment and reunites you with your personal property. Make sure your contract covers all parties involved in the process and determine which company is liable for every step. 

Get free quotes for international removals and compare international moving companies for a hassle free relocation.

Photo: WorldSkills

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