I am a bit OC when it comes to packing. I have to have my lists, Ziploc bags, Sharpie, packaging tapes (which for security reasons, as I recently found out, you cannot bring in your carry-on luggage), and scissors among other things.
I don’t have any idea as to when or how many days you should pack before your departure. (I was packing for a whole week and I was stressed at the very last minute). I’m guessing, you should be packed, at least your check-in luggage, two or three days before your departure date. Afterwards, you can just dump anything you forgot in your carry-on luggage or purse.
Other than that, here are a few simple things you can do to make sure you got what you need:
1. Pack new clothes and ship the old ones.
You won’t be taxed for your clothes purchases, as far as I know. To be on the safe side, make sure you don’t go over $1000 on your shopping expenses, including your gadgets. So keep your receipts.
Your old clothes can be shipped as unaccompanied personal effects, including old shoes. Make sure you have used or owned them for 12 months and have had everything sanitized. Write down everything that you packed too.
2. Sea freight or Air Freight?
There are many pros and cons to having your stuff shipped from the Philippines to Australia. They call it reverse cargo and it comes at a much heftier price tag than sending a balikbayan box from the US or Australia to the Philippines.
Sea freight packages needs to be picked up at the port, which means you have to have a car. Second, you may have to clear customs by yourself and pay certain taxes. I don’t have experience on this regard so you may want to ask around. But from what I gather, you can ship as much as 3 boxes for the price of one. Still, you may have to wait for about 15 days to a month for it to arrive.
Air freight ships your package door to door, in 3-4 days. However, this does not guarantee that you won’t be charged by customs for certain taxes. There have been stories about that going around. I, however, didn’t get charged for anything at all. So, you may want to verify that and you may also want to shop for the cheapest cargo forwarder around.
PS. From what I gathered, FedEx doesn’t ship used clothes.
PPS. As of Oct 16, 2012, the DTI released a number of cargo forwarders who are blacklisted because some of the packages failed to make it to their destinations. You can view it here.
3. Check your airline baggage restrictions.
PAL offers 23kg for economy flights, a hand-carry luggage limit of 7kg, and two carry-on items such as your purse and laptop bag. JetStar allows you to choose your baggage allowance, allowing you to purchase up to 40kg. The only drawback is JetStar does not offer direct flights from the Philippines to Australia, unlike PAL.
I have also been reading certain information on the forums that you can try and get the help of IOM or International Organization for Migration for booking your flights as family/migrant to Australia. The contributors to the forums also said that you would be able to get between 40kg – 60kg baggage allowance per person. Again, you may verify this on your own.
You may be asked to pay certain taxes or fees by Australia customs for bringing in more than $900 worth of new electronic goods or gadgets. But, if your gadgets have been used or owned for more than 12 months, then I’m guessing it’s all good. So, once again, keep your receipts if you can.
But, the duty free concession for minors is less than $450. So please, compute and check how much your household will be bringing in. You can read more about it here.
Australia is strict when it comes to piracy. So don’t bring any pirated CDs or DVDs. I’m not sure about pirated, luxury bags, but to be on the safe side don’t bother.
They may also do random checks on your laptops or external hard drives. Purchase and store only original software, music, movies, and books. No pirated materials!
6. Bag it!
Place all your gels, liquids, lotions, and even perfume in Ziploc bags so the customs can easily see how much liquid you have on your carry on. More than 100ml and Philippines customs will chuck it out before you board the plane. But, if you plan to put them in your check-in luggage, double bag it for good measure.
Do you really have to?!? No porn!
8. Food Stuff
You can’t bring in any dairy products or food with dairy as an ingredient from the Philippines such as milk, cheese, or polvoron. Meat products, canned, dried, or otherwise, cannot be brought in Australia as well. Certain spices, fresh fruit or dried fruit with seeds, produce, and other food stuff with seeds are not allowed either.
One way to breeze through customs is to just not bring in any food, even the ones from the airplane. But, if you persist, read and familiarize yourself with Australia customs rules and regulations.
Only 50 pcs of cigarettes is allowed tax-free. Bring more than that and you either have to throw it away or pay the appropriate fees and fine.
10. Wood, shells, feather, and raw hide.
No, no, no, and no. If the restriction on animal by-products is too vague for you as it was for me, I declared the pearls that I was wearing to Australia customs and I had no problems whatsoever. So, if in doubt, declare it.
This list is not a comprehensive guide that lists what can be brought in or what shouldn’t be brought in. It is a rough guide that will give you an idea on what restrictions there may be. So, once again, if you aren’t sure, declare it to customs. Or you can learn everything by heart here, here,
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