Shipping Container to Australia

A Complete Guide to Shipping Household Goods to Australia

Heading to the Land Down Under? Then we would be impressed if all your possessions fit in a suitcase! For most of us, moving overseas will mean hiring a shipping container to Australia, but what does this entail? In our complete guide, we cover the ins and outs of shipping costs and times, as well as how to prepare for shipping household goods to Australia. Read on!

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How Much to Ship a Container to Australia?

Before we go any further, let’s put the money question on the table. What is the cost of shipping a container from the USA to Australia? On average, this comes out to around $12,000 for a three-bedroom house.

However, averages have a way of being deceiving. In fact, there is no sure-fire way to determine your container shipping rates to Australia.

Why is this? Well, several factors play into the costs, with the two main contributing factors being the size and distance of your move.

Containers come in a few standard sizes (20ft & 40ft), and have different costs associated with each. Because your shipment could be departing from one of many American ports, you can imagine that distance will vary!

SireloTip! Having a tough time figuring out how much container space you need? No worries! Our handy Moving Space Calculator will get you to an approximate shipping volume in just a few clicks.

shipping container to australia outback

How Much to Ship a 20ft Container to Australia?

To bring some clarity to this rather vague introduction to shipping costs, we have compiled typical price ranges from several major American cities for sea freight to Australia. Because Sydney is Australia’s main port, the below ranges feature Sydney as their destination.

City of Origin20ft Container Cost
New York$ 12,000 – $ 13,500
Chicago$ 16,000 – $ 18,000
Los Angeles$ 4,400 – $ 4,700
Houston$ 11,000 – $ 13,000
Seattle$ 6,000 – $ 7,000
Miami$ 12,000 – $ 14,000

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Rates for a shipping container to Australia regularly fluctuate per season and per carrier.

How Much to Ship a 40ft Container to Australia?

If you think a 20ft container isn’t going to cut it, we have also compiled the price ranges for a 40ft shipping container to Australia. If your eyebrows keep raising at the vast differences between cities, remember that if you start from the east coast, you need to pass through the Panama Canal!

City of Origin40ft Container Cost
New York$ 24,000 – $ 26,000
Chicago$ 30,000 – $ 34,000
Los Angeles$ 8,000 – $ 9,000
Houston$ 22,000 – $ 25,000
Seattle$ 12,000 – $ 13,000
Miami$ 23,000 – $ 25,000

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Rates for a shipping container to Australia regularly fluctuate per season and per carrier.

Request Quotes for Sea Freight to Australia

They say that logistics is an exact science, but if we have learned anything, the pricing certainly is not!

The fact is, you will never really know what price tag awaits you for your shipping container to Australia until you receive a quote from an international moving company.

At Sirelo, we believe in shopping around to find the best price, but we know how time-consuming this can be. To make this easy, you can complete the form below to receive up to five free no-strings-attached quotes from reliable, trustworthy movers. You might end up saving a buck too!

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Shipping Household Goods to Australia: Things to Consider

You might be surprised to learn that getting a shipping container from the USA to Australia is not a one-size fits all enterprise. In fact, there are a range of options available to tailor your shipment to your needs, convenience, and budget.

So what does this mean in practice? Belo we will discuss the different available container sizes and delivery options. We’ll try to contain our enthusiasm (get it?).

20ft vs. 40ft Shipping Container to Australia

As we mentioned already, there are two standard container sizes, a 20ft and 40ft container. In truth, there is a third size, a 40ft tall container which adds a bit of extra headroom.

A 20ft container has a volume of 33 m3, or 1,179 ft3. 40ft containers range from 66 m3 to 76 m3 (2,330 ft3 – 2684 ft3), depending on if it is extra tall.

Because there are only two options, there is not much thinking to which you should choose. The real thinking comes when we are just over the recommended volume, which calls for a bit of downsizing. Need help downsizing? We got you!

Solo Travel vs. Shared Container Shipping to Australia

We can imagine that you are in the difficult position of needing to get a shipping container to Australia even though you don’t have that much to ship. Afterall, everything you can’t bring on a plane needs to get there somehow!

Enter shared container shipping (also called LCL shipments or ‘less than container loads‘), a solution designed with small moves in mind. In principle, it is rather simple. By sharing the container space with another person, you pay a substantially reduced price.

Ever shared a taxi? Same thing!

Door-to-Door vs. Port-to-Port Delivery

Depending on your delivery preferences, your bottom line might inflate or deflate. When shipping household goods to Australia, you can choose whether this means you get your items delivered to your new home or collect them from the port.

The red-carpet service is called a Door-to-Door move, and the name says it all. From one door to another, you just have to be there to let the movers in!

However, if you want to shave a few bucks off your bill, consider the Port-to-Port option for your shipping container to Australia. Here you are responsible for getting your items to the port on both ends, arranging any added moving services on your own.

Don’t forget! You can combine these for a Door-to-Port move or (less commonly) a Port-to-Door move. The combinations seem endless, don’t they?

shipping container to australia stacked containers

Container Shipping Times from the USA to Australia

Depending on where your shipment starts, your delivery times can have quite a substantial difference. The reasons we can imagine are obvious: the Pacific is vast and for east coasters there’s a whole South America in the way!

Don’t forget that if your shipping container to Australia starts inland, it will need to be trucked to the port as well, adding onto the overall delivery timeline. As you plan your move, make sure to keep this kind of flexibility in mind.

Sea Freight

So what is the shipping time from the US to Australia? Below we have compiled typical delivery times from a number of major American cities to Sydney. Keep in mind that if your shipment needs to reach Perth on the far side of the Australian coast, this may extend your expected delivery time!

City of OriginShipping Time
New York28 – 35 Days
Chicago28 – 35 Days
Los Angeles21 – 28 Days
Houston21 – 28 Days
Seattle21 – 28 Days
Miami28 – 35 Days

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Container shipping times to Australia regularly fluctuate per route and per carrier.

Air Freight

While we have been discussing sea freight options so far, we would be remiss if we did not give an honorable mention to another (expensive) option. Shipping by air is much faster than by sea, but comparably far more expensive. Check out the delivery times below!

City of OriginShipping Time
New York2 – 4 Days
Chicago2 – 4 Days
Los Angeles1 – 3 Days
Houston1 – 3 Days
Seattle1 – 3 Days
Miami2 – 4 Days

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Shipping times to Australia regularly fluctuate per route and per carrier.

What You Need to Know When Shipping Household Goods to Australia

Now that we have covered the most important logistical questions, let’s move on to some necessary practicalities. Once you have your shipping container to Australia booked and paid for, the next set of preparations will be crucial to ensuring a smooth move.

Below we dive into how to prepare, as well as cover what you definitely should not stow away in your container.

How to Prepare for a Shipping Container to Australia

While moving is no small undertaking, it can certainly be said that moving overseas is quite the doozy. In order to prepare, we have selected our best recommended tips for your journey:

Create a comprehensive packing list

There are several reasons why you might want to carefully document everything you put in your container. Besides just knowing what you brought, you might need to share this information with your moving company for insurance reasons.

In addition, if your container is held for inspection at customs, having a clear inventory will help speed the process along!

Protective packaging is your friend

Moving is a business bound with damaged goods, and when getting a shipping container to Australia the boundedness is all the more intense.

Why is this? Well, your goods need to be trucked to a port, and unloaded to be trucked to their final destination. The added steps in between mean that splurging on the good bubble wrap might be a wise investment!

Don’t leave before the bon voyage!

The last thing you want to hear when relaxing on the beach on the Gold Coast is that there is a problem with your container. For this reason, we strongly advise that you do not board a plane until your cargo ship has left the port.

On the flip side, definitely be there when it arrives!

Customs Duties and Inspection

Among the least exciting parts of your move to Australia will be handling the bureaucracy of customs inspection. One thing is certain: you don’t want to have to pay import tax on your own stuff!

Luckily, you will not have to. Australia allows you to import personal effects without customs fees so long as you can prove you have owned your things for at least twelve months. In addition, you can import items you inherit if you have the proper proof documents. Whew!

Want to know more? Check out the Australian Border Force’s website for more details!

What Is Prohibited?

It may feel possible to fit everything you have ever dreamed of into your shipping container to Australia, but that does not mean you are allowed to. Some of those things might be illegal, so it pays to pay close attention to leaving those things behind. These items include:

  • Raw/unprocessed foodstuffs
  • Live animals
  • Alcohol/Cigarettes above the declaration limit
  • Currency creater than $10,000 AUD
  • Specific cat/dog breeds
  • Automatic/Butterfly knives
  • Fake dsigner goods
  • Soil
  • Pet treats
  • Pepper spray
  • Firearms

shipping container to australia police boat

Will Your Electronics and Appliances Work in Australia?

Like so many things moving, the answer is that it depends. In short, small electronics will probably work, but large appliances will not.

Why is this? American appliances are built for 120-volt currents, and Australian outlets put out 230 volts. This means that you will need to install power adapters in order to convert the power to the correct voltage, but this might be more expensive than simply replacing your appliances after you arrive.

Small electronics, on the other hand, can typically handle a much broader range of currents. This means that they can take charges from other voltages mostly without issue. However, it never hurts to stick a cheap adapter on there!

Shipping a Car to Australia

There are many places in the world where you can get by without a car… and Australia is not one of them! Australia’s wide-open spaces will be reminiscent of the American terrain we are so accustomed to, so we can imagine you’d like to bring your car along.

Bear in mind, though, that Australians drive on the left side of the road, meaning that you might prefer a car with a steering wheel on the correct side!

City of OriginShipping Cost
New York$ 15,000 – $ 20,000
Chicago$ 19,000 – $ 25,000
Los Angeles$ 7,000 – $ 11,000
Houston$ 14,000 – $ 20,000
Seattle$ 9,000 – $ 13,500
Miami$ 15,000 – $ 20,000

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Rates for a shipping container to Australia regularly fluctuate per season and per carrier.

shipping container to australia containers overhead

Container Shipping from the USA to Australia Made Easy at Sirelo!

We hope that by now you feel like a logistics mastermind as you gear up to book your shipping container to Australia. While not necessarily household knowledge, making these arrangements will be a critical part of your shipping household items to Australia. Need further assistance with your move? Then check out the other useful articles linked below for further reading. Good luck!