Sound familiar? If so, don’t worry, you can keep all your ‘I Heart London’ mugs and Union Jack bedspreads (just us?), as you can ship them back to your homeland with ease.

Rates for shipping start at around £100 for one 30kg carton, and it takes from four to 12 weeks. However, it’s important to note that international shipping is not a product in a box – it’s very difficult to compare prices and services as you would with a TV or a car. It is important to budget for potential extra costs. You should factor in insurance, which usually costs 5% of the value of your goods. Also, as ‘the shipper’ you hold legal responsibility for the goods and are liable for extra charges such as inspections, extra storage time, and you may even have to pay out if there is a strike, causing diversions to your shipment. Seems unfair but ’tis be true.

Still, it’s got to be cheaper, and somewhat more logical, than making 10 flights to Oz and back with a 30kg suitcase each time. Airfreight is, of course, quicker, but will cost quite a lot more.

What to ship:

Bear in mind that you won’t have access to the stuff you ship for up to 12 weeks, so don’t pack all your underwear, for example. Soft furnishings, electrical goods, clothes and sentimental knick-knacks are good examples of what you could ship. It can be nerve wracking to be ship something particularly valuable, so if you can fit it in your luggage, do it for peace of mind (although don’t forget to get decent travel insurance!).

Be prepared:

Arrange the pick-up date with the company and give yourself plenty of time to get organised as you will need to complete some forms, supply passport and visa copies (if applicable) and pack. The shipping company will provide you with sturdy boxes of various sizes for your things, so arrange the free delivery (usually with a £50 deposit) of these in plenty of time before your departure date. You can pack yourself as they also provide you with bubble wrap and tape. Make sure none of your cartons weigh morethan 30kg. Tip: It’s better to over-order cartons as they will charge to deliver more, whereas they will collect any empty ones for free. On the day of the pick-up you will need to pay the remaining balance in full to the driver.

At the other end:

You can usually track your shipment online, or you can contact the company for updates. Once it has arrived you will be contacted and you may need to head to customs to fill out documentation for the arrival of your goods. Be prepared to pay extra fees, such as for examination by the quarantine authority if your baggage is selected. Once this is all sorted you can take your baggage yourself, or arrange for doorstep delivery.

Choosing your shipping company:

If you used a company to ship your stuff here and you were happy with their service, use them again. If not, ask around. Plenty of your Antipodean mates will have shipped stuff before, particularly the ones who have already headed back south, so ask who they used and if they recommend them. Remember, shipping is not a cheap business, so you should be suspicious if a company’s prices seem unusually cheap – they may well be scammers. The best thing to do is pick three reputable and recommended shipping companies, ask for quotes, and go with the one that seems to offer the best service and value for money (although remember the quote is unlikely to be the total cost).

Be sure that the company seems professional. Are they sending you important documentation? Are they easy to contact? Google their name for testimonials and potential scams. Be sure to read through the documents. If a company offers you a door-to-door service but lists ‘doorstep delivery’ under the ‘not included in the price’ section, you know you have an unethical company on your hands.

Here’s a list of companies we can vouch for: Anglo Pacific, PSS, Britannia, John MasonSimpsons and 1st Move International.

Image credit: Thinkstock

Just arrived in the UK? Feeling a bit nervous about stepping outside your comfort zone because you’re new to London? Give InterNations a go – they’ll help you find like-minded people, so you’ll be making friends in a jiffy.