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What do I pack for moving overseas?

What do I pack for moving overseas?

International relocation can be quite a daunting task, but with a little bit of planning, research and support from the right professionals, it doesn’t have to be. 

Planning is key 

Depending on how much time you have before your move, the more planning you do the better the outcome. Start by going through your day to day activities and decide which items are imperative and which are not and make a list of everything you’re likely to need and ask a number of questions such as:

Are you moving into a furnished or unfurnished home?

This is an obvious one, and will help you decide whether to buy new or take your own. If your furniture includes heirlooms going back years it might be worth taking, otherwise, flat pack furniture is easy to replace in most countries and isn’t worth the hassle of transporting. Some places will even assemble it for you if you don’t want to bother. 

What is the square footage of your new place-will your furniture fit?

This is tricky if you haven’t seen the property ahead of the move and can’t be certain which of your items will go where. Most professional properties will come furnished so you’ll also have to make the decision of taking, selling or storing until you have a clearer plan for the future. If necessary you can always go ahead of the move, view the property and then arrange for quick transportation of your furniture so that you’re not left without it for too long. 

Will you be coming back?

If your move is temporary it might be worth finding a furnished place or buying less expensive items and putting your own into storage until your contract ends and you return. Most professional moving companies will offer you the option of affordable long term storage so you don’t have to worry.

What additional items are imperative? 

Are you a keen surfer or a music lover? In that case you’ll need to remember your surf board, your guitar and amp etc. as these tend to have sentimental value and getting new ones isn’t always the best option.

Paperwork and Gadgets

When preparing to move you’ll need to take passports, visas, marriage license, birth certificates, medical insurance information and relevant pet documents with you, so don’t pack these with the belongings you’re shipping. Make paper copies of all of these and keep them separate from the originals in case of baggage loss or theft. You should also have a digital copy of all stored in the cloud as and additional back up. Forgetting them could lead to unexpected delays, possible medical costs or even unnecessary bureaucracy from inflexible border agents who won’t take kindly to poor documentation.

You should also back up your personal computer before you pack it away and store the hard drive separately as well as on the cloud. In the unlikely event that your shipment gets lost then you won’t have also lost important work or years’ worth of family photographs. 

In terms of other electronics you should make sure to pack a flashlight, socket adaptors, an electronic reader filled with the books you’re leaving behind as well as a sound system that’s compatible with your phone or tablet. Electronics can be more expensive in some countries than others so taking these compact versions will offer the comforts of home without breaking the bank when you’re at your new home. A good point to remember is to check whether your electronics are compatible with the voltage output of your new country of residence; there’s no point taking a load of equipment you won’t be able to use. 


It goes without saying that if you depend on prescription medications you should take enough with you to last until you’re settled and registered with a doctor. Make sure to do your research however as some medications are banned in certain countries like Dubai or Mexico, and could cause you unnecessary stress if you are found to be importing it by accident. 
Don’t forget to pack contact lens fluid or a first aid kit as they’re quite often taken for granted but a headache if you need them and can’t find any in the middle of the night.

Clothing & miscellaneous

This will depend on the weather in your new country but don’t fall into the complacency trap. Just because you’re moving to a hot country doesn’t mean you won’t need any sweaters or jackets; in many places air conditioning can be extremely powerful to compensate for the high temperatures, thus making large indoor spaces colder than a winter’s day. 
If your space is limited but find you need certain items look for hiking or travel versions which will probably be lighter and easier to pack. Some shops even do down jackets which can be rolled up into a small sack, saving you a lot of carry on space. Your list should also definitely include bathing suits, outdoor or summer footwear like hiking boots or sandals and sunglasses especially if you don’t want to be scrambling in low cost shops for items of lower quality than the ones you had at home.  

Vacuum pack your clothes to save valuable space or use them as wrapping for your fragile items; this protects your items while saving on bubble wrap and packing peanuts and reduces the volume of your shipping consignment. 

Things which might also be worth going on your list are a sewing kit (these can only be found online these days), reading glasses (if you lose your lenses), earplugs, notepad and paper.

Irreplaceable Items

Pieces of art, unique items of furniture, antiques, family heirlooms or beloved toys will be the items that you’ll want to take with you no matter what. Your chosen moving company will be able to give you a quote for packing and insurance and you should let them pack these for you using their specialist export packing methods. Many insurance suppliers will not pay out in cases where the owners did their own packing so it’s worth taking this into consideration. To learn more about Marine Cargo insurance read our blog post.  

If your move is temporary it might be preferable to put these items in storage. Your chosen relocation partner will be able to give you good long terms rates and you can relocate safe in the knowledge that your priceless possessions are in good hands.

What not to take

Some countries have very strict rules about what they’re allow so do your research before you pack. For example chewing gum is banned in Singapore and in Australia organic materials are carefully vetted due to biohazard risks, so if in doubt ask your Move Manager who will be able to guide you accordingly.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of items in your possession this is a good time to scale down and declutter. Separate items into “keep”, “toss” and “donate” piles and try not to be sentimental about which items to keep. For example something you haven’t thought of or used in over six months might not be worth keeping.  

Things that are technologically obsolete like CDs or DVDs are great for donating, while older appliances could be sold at a car boot sale, especially if you can buy them cheaply at your new destination. Old books, clothes and sporting equipment you don’t want you can give to friends and family. 

Find a trustworthy relocation company

Using the right relocation partner will give you the peace of mind you need during this stressful time. They will guide you through all the steps, advise on what you should take, and pack, store and transport your items as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our Move Managers will hold your hand throughout the process and even be able to advise on additional services like finding a home or a school if this is something you haven’t thought of already. 


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