What not to move

Moving overseas - what not to move

First, before looking for an international mover, confirm whether you need to ship everything: it might be cheaper to replace it at your destination than to pay for the cost of moving it. Be sure to do some research on cost of living in your destination country (see our blog post on Cost of Living Analysis). Our blog article, The Ikea Cost of Living, does an analysis on whether purchasing in your new destination is cost effective. 

Additionally, many electronics will not work in foreign countries without power converters and plug adapters (and some television formats differ) so consider whether it's worthwhile to take these things with you.

Think about how long you might be living in the destination country. Six months? Three years? Forever? If you're going somewhere for a short time, it may not make sense to take over all the comforts of home like artwork, books, etc. and it might be more cost effective to put those items in storage or if you are lucky, at a family members house.

But we'll assume you have decided you need to ship at least some things to your new home. So let's start with the basics: what not to move. It's tempting to just throw everything in boxes to keep it simple. But there are some things you shouldn't ship and some things you aren't allowed to ship, so you'll need to find alternatives. We've listed the key items below you should carry with you when you move, which you might want to sell, and which you legally can't ship.


Don't ship:

  • Important documents you may need when you arrive or that can't easily be replaced, such as birth certificates, financial records, visas, and passports
  • Jewelry and other valuable personal items -- your possessions could change hands many times on the way to their final destination and that means many opportunities for someone to steal


Shouldn't ship:

  • Some electronics will not work in foreign countries without power converters and plug adapters, and some television formats differ between countries so may not be compatible with your TV. Consider leaving behind your electronics. 


Can't ship:

  • Any perishable goods. Prepare to have food items (including your trusty Campbell's Soup) confiscated
  • Plants, seeds, and dirt. Most countries don't like the risk that some new bacteria or invasive plant could be brought in this way. You also need to ensure you remove dirt from any sporting or gardening equipment.
  • Firearms
  • Hazardous or flammable materials (paint, aerosol cans, explosives, etc). That's right: don't ship fireworks.
  • Alcohol and illegal drugs


Walk through your home with a notepad, selecting what you might want to move, sell, store, or give away. This will help you knowing what items you will want to ship which will be useful when you start talking to moving companies and requesting quotes.

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