Image by David Watkis
  • Elite Woodhams Relocation

Moving Household Goods from Overseas in a COVID world


Here’s a scenario that may be familiar to many of you who have been ordering items online from overseas.

Last year I (Lucy) pre-ordered a Christmas gift for my daughter in October, from a small, Australian company. Delivery was expected in early December. In late November, I received an email to explain that delays in shipping and logistics meant that my item would not be available until late January 2021. The email then went on to list, over three full pages, 16 reasons for the delay. There could be no argument - the list was extensive and covered many complexities that I had not known about.


While we are all acutely aware of the increased costs and complexities of moving people – but many of us don’t realise the wide- reaching impact COVID has had on moving other items!


The relocation industry is certainly seeing the flow on effects to moving household goods. Shipping and customs clearance times have always taken a number of weeks when household goods arrive into Australia. Over the past year, these timeframes have certainly increased, for many of the 16 reasons my Christmas gift supplier outlined, including working conditions under COVID, industrial action, labour shortage, congestion in ports and reduced air freight.


The flow on effect has also affected costs – rates from Asia are some of the highest in 35 years. This is not going to change quickly. In January it was reported that there were 38 vessels waiting to berth in LA.


In the past 12 months we have seen shipping costs increase by 30-70% and over most locations. The US, Europe, UK have particularly taken a hit cost wise. Additional to this most US ports, some EU ports, UK ports, Asia and East coast Australia are all suffering port congestion which is increasing transit times by 2-4 weeks and port surcharges have been imposed.

So what does this mean for our clients moving goods from overseas?


Moving house is always daunting and logistically challenging. Now, more than ever it is important to plan, be flexible and patient. Be aware its going to take longer, and be more expensive than in the past. Here are some points to consider that can make the process less daunting for staff moving their household goods.


  • Set expectations for employees – understand that shipping will take longer and costs are going to be higher than in the past;

  • Plan– reduce what is carried by airfreight as this is the most expensive, reduce what is being packed;

  • As always, ensure you have adequate insurance coverage;

  • Be aware of COVID rules in both departure and destination location. We are fortunate that almost universally, moving house is regarded as essential and has been able to proceed throughout any lockdowns. However, it is important to be aware of and adhere to all protocols the moving company requires. This includes understanding that delivery cannot be made to people self-isolating or quarantining in their own home.

  • Hiring furniture at destination can provide a solution to allow a property to be move in ready;

  • Purchasing furniture and household effects at destination may be more cost and time effective than shipping – although its important to note that delivery times on new furniture can be long due to same shipping and logistics issues.


The wider shipping and transport industries, as well as the moving industry are adapting and adjusting in response to these unprecedented conditions. At EWR we continue to work with our clients to enable them to move their household possessions with the expectation that is still possible and the understanding it may take a little bit longer than anticipated and costs may vary in a COVID world.


And, yes my daughter’s gift was delivered in late January and she loves it. Slow for sure, but well worth the wait!


Written by: Lucy Wood – Client Account Manager