Moving to Australia from NZ


What??? You’re moving to Australia??? Strewth! Stone the crows mate. She’s full of snakes and spiders and Aussies! And remember the old saying – “Every time a New Zealander moves to Australia, it raises the IQ of both countries”!

Well, if you’re sure you’ve made up your mind, it’s obvious you’ll need all the help you can get! So read on!

Of course, the rivalry and friendly banter between Aussies and Kiwis is well known, and despite the one-upmanship, we’re pretty matey with each other. Probably better not to mention that you’re a rugby fan, and never use the expression “All Black”, unless you’re talking about your mood or new colour scheme! And if you’re looking for a change of lifestyle, Australia’s not a bad choice – friendly people, similar cultures, speak the same language (almost!), and not too far from home for that quick visit back. Interestingly, a lot of New Zealanders move to Brisbane or Perth for the climate – fair dinkum, don’t the flamin’ galahs know how hot it gets there in summer?! Air con and a swimming pool a definite must in those cities.

OK, first things first. Get yourself organised early. You’ve got a lot to think about and you don’t want to leave things (like arranging the actual removal) to the last minute. Your starting point is deciding what to take and what to dispose of. Pay particular attention to large items of furniture and whiteware – remember that you’re going to pay for the space your effects take up in the container and it may be better to get rid of some items and replace them in Australia. Have a look at some of the big Australian furniture retailers’ websites and get a feel for prices; you can then ask the removal companies what the approximate saving would be if you left certain things behind.

Now, start the big clean-out! Be ruthless, without going crazy – after all it’s really important that you have familiar things around you in your new home, particularly if you have children, so that despite being in a different country, you (and they) don’t feel alienated and homesick. Pictures, ornaments, decorations, rugs, toys etc fall into this category, as do some items of furniture, so choose thoughtfully, without being sentimental! It’s really important that you are quite definite about what’s going, before you get quotes from the removal companies, to enable them to provide you with an accurate price for your move.

And be realistic in choosing what you really need. Un, or seldom used crockery, cutlery, glassware are going to take up needless extra time and materials in the packing process, for which you’ll pay, so get rid of that stuff – along with clothes that don’t (and maybe shouldn’t!) see the light of day anymore – they’ll love you at the op shop!

Moving to Australia from NZ: Finding the Right Moving Company

OK, now you’re ready to call the movers! You should probably get three quotes – more is excessive, time consuming and won’t really help in the decision-making process. If you choose wisely, you’ll get a good comparison of services and prices, along with a feel for which company you’ll be most comfortable using. Some New Zealand international moving companies have their own offices in Australia and they’ll extol the benefits of the “one company” move. While this may seem a compelling point, it’s not axiomatic that they’ll provide the best service – this is a people business, and so much depends on the calibre of staff employed – plus of course there isn’t the same imperative for a sister company to perform, as they’re going to get ongoing business anyway, regardless of standards. This is not to knock them, but just be aware that the independent Australian companies have a vested interest in ensuring their New Zealand partners’ clients are treated well, so don’t dismiss such companies out of hand. Ask around; look at reputations; and trust your own instincts! All removal companies will claim to have impeccable credentials, but it’s worth checking whether they actually mean anything. Companies that are members of FIDI (The FIDI Global Alliance) have gone through a rigorous process to attain FAIM accreditation (FIDI Accredited International Mover) – it’s similar to an ISO certification, except it’s Industry-specific, it’s written by FIDI for all its 600+ members worldwide, and it’s audited globally by Ernst & Young. FAIM is truly the gold standard for international moving.

Shipping to Australia from NZ

The next thing to consider is what shipping options are open to you – sole use container, groupage, air freight.

If you’re taking pretty much the complete contents of your New Zealand home, a sole-use container is likely to be appropriate, where, as the expression suggests, usage is exclusive to you. As an indicator, the contents of an average three-bedroom home would total some 30 cubic metres (or the capacity of a 20 foot shipping container). If the volume of your shipment is estimated at 20+ cubic metres, it’s likely the sole use option will be the most cost effective. This has the advantage of likely shipping on first available vessel, plus the fact that the container would normally be loaded at your residence, sealed and delivered direct to port, giving you the comfort of seeing the loading first hand, along with the added security.

The second sea option is “groupage”, where your possessions will be packed in your home, then taken to the mover’s depot, and loaded with other people’s goods, so as to maximise container space utilisation, before being taken to port. The main benefit is that you only pay for the space your effects occupy in the container; however shipment may be delayed until the mover has enough other lines for the same destination to fill the container. This can be critical, so you need to establish before choosing your removal company, what the likely delays are going to be (and get it in writing!), otherwise you may end up paying a cheaper moving price, and then blowing it all on temporary furnished accommodation at destination (or sleeping on hard floors and eating takeaways on your laps, while watching real-life creepies and crawlies in your cheap temporary digs, rather than watching the wild life on the David Attenborough show on your recently delivered TV!).

And then there’s air freight. Certainly worth considering for those essentials for immediate use, but be judicious, as air freight is expensive (and can be subject to rough handling – just watch the way some baggage handlers load passengers’ suitcases on or off aircraft!).

Average Time-frames for Shipping to Australia

Depending on the method of shipment, groupage (shared container), sole use container or airfreight you can expect the average door-to-door shipping time-frames from New Zealand to Australia to be as follows…

  • Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne: sole use container service 4 to 6 weeks and groupage 5 to 7 weeks
  • Adelaide: sole use container service 5 to 7 weeks and groupage (usually via Melbourne) 5 to 8 weeks
  • Perth: sole use container service 6 to 8 weeks and groupage 7 to 11 weeks
  • Air freight: 1 to 2 weeks across Australia

It’s important to remember that these time-frames are a guideline only and a groupage shipment is subject to the moving company having enough freight to ship the container. It’s important that you check with the removal company how their groupage shipments are looking to provide you with a more accurate time-frame.

Insurance Options for your move to Australia

Next consideration – insurance. Critically important. No matter how good your removal company may be, or the degree of confidence you have in them, the fact is there are a lot of elements beyond  anyone’s control, which can lead to damage – ever seen photos of the Tasman sea in a storm?! All risks marine insurance cover is not hugely expensive and should be considered a prudent investment, rather than a cost. When you think about it, you insure your possessions in your own home, where they remain in their allotted static position, so doesn’t it make sense to cover that extra exposure they’re subjected to while in transit?  It’s called peace of mind, and with all you’ve got going on in your lives, isn’t that what you want?

Packing – DIY or get the professionals to do it? Look, if you’ve only got a few bits and pieces to go, and nothing super-fragile or valuable, you can save a bit of money by doing your own packing. You’ll need to source cartons, newsprint paper and tape. One big don’t – don’t use banana or other fruit boxes – the Australian quarantine authorities will go troppo, mate! Just be aware that most removal companies won’t offer insurance cover for owner-packed items, so if you don’t think you’re up for “Packer of the Year” award, maybe leave it to the people who are! (On the other hand, there are people who not only pack all their own possessions, they even load their own shipping container – all credit to them, and their prematurely grey hair and furrowed brows!). Seriously, professional packing is really the way to go – sure, you could make some small savings by packing the simple stuff, like linen, clothing, etc., but is it really worth the aggro? Better to focus on the myriad other things you need to finalise.

Now, while you’re thinking about what to send in your shipment, give some consideration to your wine and liquor stash. Australian Customs levy duty and tax on all alcohol, so plan a pre-departure party and get rid of the stuff – your friends will remember you fondly and you’ll save money and avoid delivery delays in Australia. And of course Australian wine is generally quite cheap there (and almost as good as New Zealand’s!).

Moving Pets to Australia from NZ

Ahem – haven’t you overlooked something? What about the furry face gazing up at you soulfully (or dolefully)? You’ve always said that he or she (cat or dog) is part of the family and the loud purr or wagging tail indicates complete agreement. Most removal companies can give you a quote, though they’ll refer you to a specialist pet-moving company and leave you to deal directly with them for the logistics, which generally works fine, but you do need to check the credentials of the pet company to ensure their reputation matches that of your chosen household mover. Alternatively you could choose your own pet moving provider – MPI has a complete list of all registered New Zealand pet transporting companies.

Moving pets from New Zealand to Australia is a pretty straight forward process, although it can be a bit expensive (they’re worth it though!). And the best part is there is no quarantine period for cats and dogs arriving from New Zealand, so as soon as clearance formalities have been completed they can leap into the car with you!

Prices for shipping cats or dogs to Australia depends on the size and weight of the pet, but as a ball-park figure you could work on $800 to $1000 for a cat, and up to $2500 for a dog (better put Felix or Fido on a diet prior to departure!).

Pet transporters offer a range of service levels, and you can certainly make some savings by taking care of a lot of the arrangements yourself, such as organising vet requirements, documentation and delivering and picking up your pet at the airport. However, you’ll need to use a pet transport company to arrange the actual airline booking.

Here are a few tips to help you through the process.

First and foremost, check that your pet will be allowed into Australia – pretty important really! MPI have a really comprehensive website, which should cover everything you need to know.

Your pet will need to be microchipped, and if it’s a dog you need to provide evidence of Council registration and that it’s lived in New Zealand all its life.

You’ll need to hire or buy a suitable cage for your pet. There are strict rules regarding size, so check this with the pet transport company. They will also give you a statutory declaration form, which needs to be signed by you and witnessed by a JP or lawyer, confirming all details are true and correct.

Next, you’ll need to get an approved vet to provide an export certificate, and he or she will need to examine the pet within 72 hours of departure to confirm it’s fit to fly, and to treat it for fleas, worms etc.

And finally, try and get your pet booked on a flight which arrives in Australia during business hours, as that will speed up the collection process.

You might also find it useful to check out chat forums to learn from other people’s experiences. But whatever the hassle and possible inconvenience – it’s all worth it, when you’re in your new home with your faithful companion!

What else? Are you considering shipping the family car over? Think again mate! Look, some people do take their cars to Australia, but honestly, you have to ask why. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of second hand vehicles of all makes, models and sizes in Oz. And really, because of the size of the market, prices aren’t bad. And it’s going to cost quite a bit to ship your car – taking into account all the component costs – loading and unloading charges, freight, quarantine costs, probable steam cleaning in Australia (some 80% of all vehicles fail the quarantine inspection and need to be cleaned) plus insurance and duty and GST, you won’t get any change out of $5000. And the hassle! Our best advice is – forget it! Sell the car before you go, research the Australian car market, and walk off the plane and into a dealer (they’re really no worse than New Zealand car traders and won’t rip you off any more than Honest Kiwi, The Car Buyer’s Friend!).

OK! OK! You’ve made up your mind to take your car. Well, the first thing you need to do is – research! Lots and lots of reading to be done. And after you’ve done all that, if you’re still determined to go through with it, you obviously love your car! Here’s a bit of an insight into what’s required. This is a guide issued by the Australian Authorities, which provides a good overview and an ideal launching pad for your research!

8 steps to import a vehicle

This page provides an overview of all steps involved in importing a vehicle into Australia. This process involves a number of government agencies. You should familiarise yourself with the requirements of these agencies prior to importing a vehicle into Australia.

  1. Conduct research
  • Is the vehicle eligible to enter Australia?
  • Which import option can I apply under?
  • What costs are involved? (eg shipping, storage, delivery, permit application, taxes, Customs duties, cleaning for quarantine purposes, asbestos testing/removal, quarantine inspection costs modification costs, State or Territory registration and insurance requirements, etc)
  • What are the timeframes involved for getting the permit and other necessary arrangements?
  • What documentation do I need?
  • What are the requirements for each government agency?
  • Do I need to use a broker?
  • Will I need to have modifications done to meet Australian standards?
  • What are the risks involved with importing a vehicle?
  1. Apply for a vehicle import approval
  1. Receive Vehicle Import Approval
  • Receive email with Vehicle Import Approval attached
  • Approval may contain conditions for use of the vehicle
  • Government agency: Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities
  1. Arrange shipping of vehicle
  1. Get Customs clearance
  • Lodge an import declaration
  • Pay Customs duty
  • Pay Goods & Services Tax (GST)
  • Pay Luxury Car Tax, if required
  • Ensure there is no asbestos
  • Government agency: Department of Home Affairs
  1. Meet Australian quarantine requirements
  1. Meet Import Approval Conditions
  • Arrange for modification of vehicle if necessary
  • Conduct testing and develop evidence of compliance
  • Apply for identification plate approvals or supply to the market approvals if necessary
  1. Register the vehicle


Easy, eh? (Yeah, right!). That old banger of yours better be a beaudie!

Another thing to consider when moving to Australia – what are you going to do with all that cash you’ve accumulated through selling the family home (and silver!). Ask your friendly bank manager to open an account for you in your destination town, and pop all your money into it? We don’t think so! More research needed. There are several reputable FX (Foreign Exchange) companies, like OFX (formerly NZForex) who will invariably give you a better exchange rate on your funds than your bank. And we’re not talking small change here. If for example, you’ve got the proceeds from the sale of your New Zealand home of perhaps several hundred thousand dollars (or if you’re from Auckland, maybe a couple of mill!), the saving you could potentially make using an FX company as opposed to your bank could pay for your move (plus pet – and maybe even your car, if you’re that bloody-minded!). Most New Zealand international removal companies will have a connection with an FX company and be able to steer you in the right direction.

We could go on – and on! So much to consider. So much to organise. So much information available, but how to sort the wheat from the chaff (or, in Australian parlance, “the fair dinkum from the bulls…!). We hope this article has given you some insight and has put you straight on a few things!

And our final piece of advice – don’t forget to pack the flip-flops, and enjoy the barbies!