Moving household items to Australia
In our guide, you’ll find information on:
- Prohibited items
- Fees and charges you can expect
- Duty-free concessions
- Clearing your belongings once in Australia
- Tips on preparing your goods
- The best way to pack your belongings
It’s safe to say that as a new resident entering Australia, you’ll send your personal belongings and household goods to the country via air or sea freight.
These items are referred to as Unaccompanied Personal Effects (UPEs).
Your UPEs may be inspected upon arrival by Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The Department will be particularly interested in items that:
- Originated from an animal or plant, including timber, or contains part of an animal or plant.
- Has been contact with animals, plants, water, food or soil.
The reasoning is simple – Australia wants to prevent pests and diseases entering the country.
Here’s what you cannot take with you
To make it easier for you to decide what to take, The Department has shared the following list of items you cannot bring as personal effects:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Live plants and bulbs.
- Prohibited and restricted seeds.
- Unidentified seeds, including spices.
- Live animals that require an import permit, including pets. Find out here how to take pets to Australia.
- Biological products including some plant-based, herbal medications.
- Unprocessed goods of plan or animal origin.
- Soiled goods, or goods containing organic residues.
- Goods knowingly infested with pests or diseases.
Consult the Biosecurity Import Conditions system if you have any doubts about whether or not an item can be taken to Australia.
Please note: Cars and car parts are not considered to be UPEs.
Fees and charges
There are multiple fees and charges you have to prepare for. These include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Documentation screening charges.
- Minimum 30 minutes up-front inspection fee. Your final inspection fee will depend on the time it takes to inspect your goods.
- Treatment of goods, if applicable.
- Facilitation fees and storage fees, charged by Approved Arrangement (AA) sites.
It’s best to ensure that you confirm all costs before moving household goods to Australia!
You may be eligible for concessions on customs duty and Goods and Services Tax if you and your goods meet certain requirements.
Requirements you should meet:
- You arrived on a ship or aircraft from a place outside Australia.
- You meet permanent residency requirements.
Requirements your belongings should meet:
The goods must be:
- Your personal property;
- Suitable and intended for use by you in Australia; and
- Personally owned and used overseas by you for a specified length of time. Usually, this is 12 months prior to your departure to Australia.
Please be aware that you won’t receive concessions for:
- Cars or car parts.
- Tobacco and tobacco products.
- Alcoholic beverages.
Clearing your belongings
You can arrange to have your goods cleared yourself, or you can use an agent or representative to arrange to have your goods cleared on your behalf.
To clear your UPEs, you must complete and lodge an Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement (B543 Form). You can lodge the form in person or online. Read more about both options here.
Tips on preparing your items
As mentioned, Australia wants to prevent pests and diseases entering the country. This necessities the emptying, draining, cleaning and drying of any items that have come into contact with food, soil, plants, animals, or their products.
Let’s look at some specific examples of what you can do:
- Garden furniture, fencing, pots, ornaments, outdoor toys, tools and implements: Remove all soil, animal and plant debris.
- Waste bins, brooms, and vacuum cleaners: Remove all waste from these items.
- Container and appliances: Clean these items.
- Camping and sporting equipment: Thoroughly clean tents, backpacks, golf clubs, soccer boots, and like.
- Carpets, rugs, and mats: Vacuum.
- Animal bedding, grooming equipment, cages, and fish tanks: Wash and vacuum; remove all traces of pet hair; drain and clean.
- Fresh water sporting equipment: Drain and dry equipment like reservoirs, wetsuits, and fishing tackle.
- Household items made from wood or with wooden components: Check wooden artefacts and toys, musical instruments, furniture, kitchenware, timber and items with wooden components for any signs of insect infestation. Either treat affected items or leave these items behind. Also check furniture and baskets containing materials such as bamboo, banana leaf, cane, rattan, and wicker.
- Everyday household items: Check for plant material such as seeds, flowers, leaves and pine cones. Think ornaments, photos albums, pot pourri, artefacts, decorations, and the like. Don’t forget to check the fillings of heat bags.
- Fresh food or opened packages of dry foods, and herbs and spices: Do not pack these items. You can check the import conditions of all food items, including pet foods and treats, on BICON.
Packing your belongings
If you pack properly when moving household items to Australia, you’ll minimize the time it takes the Department to inspect your goods. This in turn will help keep the costs of the inspection to a minimum.
Here are tips from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on how to make their job easier:
Create a packing list:
Record all boxes and what is in each box. Also include a description of what the goods are made from. For example, metal bed frame or cane basket. The Australian authorities will ask for this list.
Label and number:
Number the packing boxes and match the numbers on your packing list. Be sure to use permanent marker to write on boxes when you’re labelling them. Don’t use sticky labels, as these often fall off during the move.
Cartons and packing materials:
It is best to not use second-hand boxes or bags, unless you’re absolutely certain these are free from animal or plant material. Additionally don’t use straw, sawdust, wood shavings or other plant materials as packing or filler.
Pack items in groups:
Pack goods that the biosecurity officer may be interested in together and group the boxes together.
Pack for safety:
Securely wrap sharp or breakable objects such as knives or ceramic items. Clearly mark boxes with medical items, dangerous goods, or any items that could pose a safety risk. Do not pack flammable items such as fireworks or paint thinners.
Let’s recap what to do when moving household items to Australia
Your personal belonging and household goods are classified as Unaccompanied Personal Effects. The biosecurity officer will be interested in items that originated from animals or plants, or that have been in contact with animals, plants, water, food or soil.
To minimize the time it takes to inspect your goods, you should clean your belongings and follow certain packing guidelines. The inspection is charged on time, so the shorter the inspection has to be, the less you’ll have to pay.
If you meet certain requirements, you’ll be eligible for concessions on customs duty and Goods and Services Tax.
For more information, please see the Department’s website.