Shipping Your Belongings to New Zealand | Transition Medical

Your Guide to Shipping Your Belongings to New Zealand

So, you’re thinking about moving to New Zealand? Perhaps, you’ve already secured a job offer from one of our lovely GP clinics. Or, maybe you’re still in the early days of researching and planning?

Whatever stage you’re at in your move down under, our guide offers impartial advice on to shipping your belongings to New Zealand and starting your new life as a local GP.

Shipping your belongings down under is certainly not an easy task. It’ll take some preparation and even professional help. But, let’s start at the very beginning — figuring out what you should bring with you.

How to Figure Out What to Bring When Moving to New Zealand

Getting your life into a shipping container is a tricky challenge, especially if you’ve lived somewhere for a long time. On the one hand, it can be sad to say goodbye to the old jumper you’ve had since college, but on the other hand, bringing everything with you can be extremely price.

Start by thinking about whether the cost of shipping the item outweighs the sentimental or actual value of your belongings. Some things can’t be replaced or would be pricey to do so. You may also want to have familiar items in your new home, especially if you’re moving to New Zealand with young children.

Next, think about your new life and house. What items will fit in your new home? Are you downsizing to a smaller place? If so, not all your furniture will fit. Also, remember that New Zealand houses are different from UK homes so they might have different space requirements. Your new home may also come with some items like large scale appliances or furniture.

When thinking about electrical items, it’s important to remember that New Zealand has a different electrical system. While appliances in New Zealand use the same electrical voltage as the UK, the maximum current is only 10 amps (rather than the 13 we use here). So, you’ll need to check that your appliances will work, before you ship them.

What You Can’t Ship to New Zealand

New Zealand has some strict requirements on what you can’t bring with you. These rules are in place to protect their unique and beautiful ecosystem and largely apply to items that might impact it.

Items that are strictly prohibited:

  • Weapons and firearms
  • Most food items
  • Items made from animal by-products including coral, snakeskin, whalebone, shells or fur
  • Medicines using musk, horn or bone

Items that require additional documents or quarantine:

  • Herbs & spices
  • Taxidermied animals
  • Bamboo, cane, rattan, basketry and mats
  • Unprocessed wool and animal hair
  • Dried flowers or bulbs
  • Saddles and riding equipment
  • Artefacts (wooden carvings, shields, masks, etc.)
  • Camping equipment
  • Vacuum cleaners

Check the status of any item on New Zealand’s customs service website.

What to Do If You Plan on Bringing Any of the Above

If you plan to bring these items, you’ll need to declare them on your itinerary before departing. While you probably won’t get stopped at Customs, the risk isn’t worth it as you’ll face a hefty fine if they discover any of these items, undeclared, in your suitcase.

You’ll get a bill for any inspections, treatments and disposal or exportation of any items customs refuses. And, the total cost can be mind-blowing.

How to Pack Your Belongings for Moving to New Zealand

Controlled Items

As part of the packing process, it’s important to clean anything that’s come in contact with freshwater or soil. For example, you’ll need to clean items like camping equipment, fishing supplies, hiking shoes, and watersport accessories like dive suits or life vests.

After you’ve cleaned these items, make sure to pack them in the same box and clearly label what’s in the box. Customs offers charge by the hour, so anything you can do to speed up their work will reduce the overall costs if your container is inspected.

Clothes

You’ll obviously want to bring along your clothes. When packing your clothes, remember that New Zealand has different seasons than in the UK. So, when it’s winter here, it’ll be summer there and vice versa.

Make sure to pack warmer/summer clothes, depending on the season in New Zealand, last so it’ll be easy to access your clothes immediately. You may also want to pack one or two bags separately and check these bags under the plane, so you’ll have clothes while you wait for your container to clear customs.

Electrical Items

As we discussed earlier, New Zealand has a different electrical system than the UK and their electrical current tops out at 10 amps, three amps less than Britain. So, you’ll need to check your devices before you pay to ship them down under and discover that they won’t work there.

You can find this information on most electrical devices or by looking up the brand/model online. Anything that needs a stronger current, above 10 amps, should be left at home. Most appliances should be fine, but pay close attention to any heat generating items like kettles, toasters, hair dryers and lamps as these typically require more energy so might exceed 10 amps.

Shipping a Car to New Zealand from UK

Should you bring your car? It may seem tempting, but most professional moving companies suggest otherwise.

Importing a car to New Zealand can be extremely expensive and complicated, making it simply not worth it. New Zealand has some tough regulations on vehicles, so bringing your car down under is very time-consuming and will require far more paperwork and money than other items.

Some companies may help you with the cost as part of your relocation package. Before you take them up on the offer, you’ll need to consider whether your car will meet New Zealand’s regulations as they have strict standards on factors like emission rates so many UK cars won’t pass the test without serious work. So, you may find it easier to buy a new car rather than ship your old one.

If you’re still thinking about shipping your car, you can find more information on the process and requirements on NZ Transportation Agency’s website.

What Documents You’ll Need Before Moving to New Zealand 

Once you’ve figured out what items you’ll take and started packing, you’ll need to contact a shipping company. Most shipping companies will help you sort custom documents and streamline the process.

But, it’s important to know the documents you’ll need to ship your household goods. Most people will need:

  • A copy of their passport & visa (so you’ll need to secure a new job before you start the shipping process)
  • A combined customs and quarantine declaration form
  • A numbered inventory/packing list
  • A personal effects supplementary declarations for consignments containing items which are a biosecurity risk.
  • Valid treatment certificates for goods that have been fumigated, heat treated or cleaned.

Your moving company can advise on any additional forms you may need.

How to Ship Your Belongings to New Zealand

When it comes to shipping your items, you have a few options depending on how much stuff you plan on bringing with you.

Sole use containers. Best for people looking to ship most of their belongings, sole use containers are one of the cheapest and quickest methods. You can use either a 20ft container, which is generally large enough to fit a 2- 3 bedroom house. Or, a 40ft container, which can hold a 3- 4 bedroom house. From door-to-door, sole use containers take eight to ten weeks to arrive in New Zealand.

Groupage. If you only plan on bringing a small amount of items (i.e. less than a 2-3 bedroom house), groupage consignment might be a good option as your stuff is grouped with other items which will reduce the overall cost. However, this method normally takes a bit longer at about 10-14 weeks.

Cost of Moving Belongings to New Zealand

The expected cost varies widely based on how much stuff you’re shipping and the type of items. You’ll have to take clearance and customs duties, insurance, storage costs as well as international shipping costs into account.

Generally, most families pay between £2000 to £5000 depending on container sizes and final destination. But, we recommend shopping around to make sure you find the best deal and a company that can meet your needs.

Transition Medical — Helping GPs Make the Move Down Under

Here at Transition Medical, we specialise in helping UK GPs make the move to New Zealand. We’ll support you throughout the entire process, from connecting you with attractive GP New Zealand vacancies to providing advice on moving your family pet and finding a new school for your children.

Check out our other related blogs for more information on making the move.

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