Congratulations! You’ve decided to study abroad, signing up for an adventurous voyage into the great unknown.

Living and learning in a foreign country is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have at university, but it’s important to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

You’ll settle in much quicker if all your belongings are delivered to your new home soon after you arrive – and shipping them is usually the best way to achieve this.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to navigate international shipping as a student, and how to keep your costs down.

If you’re ready to ship your possessions, fill in this form to get free quotes from specialists.

four students looking at the camera while holding books

How much does international shipping cost?

International shipping typically costs between £2,000 and £10,000. That’s a wide range, so let’s dive into why costs can vary.

How much you’ll pay will depend on the popularity and length of your route, as well as the time of year.

We’ve calculated the average shipping rates for some of our most sought-after journeys for international students.

The rates are sourced from GoComet, are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container, and were last updated in May 2022. Bear in mind that these are only estimates.

London to New York£4,060
Kolkata to London£5,860
Sydney to New York£2,850
Chennai to Toronto£9,530
Los Angeles to Melbourne£2,350
Singapore to Brisbane£5,990
Houston to Singapore£9,340

How to keep the costs down

It’s always a good idea to reduce your shipping costs, especially when you’re a student without a huge amount of disposable income.

Make sure you balance the need to take items which make you feel at home with the space that this may take up in your shipping container.

Fortunately, there are ways of saving money without abandoning all your favourite belongings.

Consider leaving your biggest items

Part of you will want to transplant your room entirely, taking your desk, chair, cabinets with you so your new home will feel like your current one.

Resist that impulse, and embrace your new environment. It’ll be cheaper, less stressful, and will actually help you settle in more quickly.

If you still need to buy these cumbersome items once you get there, you can visit local furniture shops, second-hand outlets, and Facebook groups for everything you’ll need.

Disassemble your furniture

If you absolutely have to ship large objects like a bed or cupboard, make sure you disassemble them before handing them over to the professionals.

If you’re not comfortable doing so, that’s fine – just ask the movers to do it for you.

You’ll save money by using less space in the shipping container, and your belongings are less likely to be damaged on their journey.

Make sure your insurance is sufficient

Your shipping company will almost certainly provide you with an insurance policy as part of their services.

Look over this policy, check whether it covers everything you need it to, then get some quotes from other companies and compare them.

That way, you can secure the best deal. 99.99% of containers reach their port safely, according to data from the World Shipping Council and Normal Global Logistics, but still, you should be covered in case the worst happens.

six students graduating

Top tips before you move abroad to study

  • Prepare for a culture shock, no matter where you’re going
  • Do as much research as you can into the area’s culture and laws
  • Decide how you’ll access money – a local bank account, a fee-free card like Monzo, or a prepaid foreign currency card are all good options
  • Find out how to join clubs and groups at your new university; they’re an excellent way to make friends and have wonderful experiences
  • Choose your classes carefully
  • Make photocopies of all your most important documents
  • Pack for all weathers and dress codes
  • Ask your doctor whether you need any vaccinations before you go
  • Work out how you would access and pay for healthcare there
  • Make time to talk to loved ones back home, even when you’ve made new friends
A free moving overseas checklist to download

Make sure you're well prepared before you move

What should you bring and what should you leave behind?

It’s never easy to know what you’ll need in a new country, and it’s difficult to leave belongings that are part of your everyday life.

However, this is also a great opportunity to decide what you do and don’t need to keep in your life. You can shake off the clutter and move abroad with only the items you care about.

Bring with

You should bring a suitcase of clothes for different weathers and events, while bearing in mind that you can always buy more clothes in your new home, if needed.

Shoes take up an unfortunate amount of space, so just bring the basics. That usually means one pair each for casual, smart, and active events, but you know your own needs best.

Take enough hygienic and cosmetic products – from deodorant to mascara – to last you a few weeks, during which time you can buy replacements at local stores.

You should of course take your laptop and phone, as well as a couple of adapters so your chargers work from the moment you arrive.

Obviously, you’ll also need your passport, visa, and any other necessary identification documents, but make sure to get some money as well, so you have cash when you land.

Leave behind

Your most valuable items – like a games console or jewellery – should ideally stay at home while you’re abroad.

If you need to take them along, you’ll have to pay more for your insurance and find a way to keep them safe while you’re there.

Your heaviest and largest belongings, like your bed, desk, and cupboards, are also best left where they are, though again, this is up to you. They can all be shipped if you wish.

In this vein, leave as many books behind as you can stomach, as they’re horrendously heavy. Pick five favourites – ideally paperbacks – and leave the rest.

The benefits of shared shipping for students

The best way for students to cut their shipping costs is to share them with other people, by choosing a Less than Container Load (LCL) option.

Your belongings will be loaded into a container alongside other customers’ possessions, and you’ll be charged for the amount of space you take up – which is another good reason to leave your bulky items at home.

As a student, you’re unlikely to fill an entire 20-foot container, known as a Full Container Load (FCL), and you could save thousands of pounds by going with an LCL instead.

Should you get international shipping insurance?

Yes, you should get international shipping insurance.

Your belongings are highly unlikely to be lost at sea – it happens to just 0.006% of containers.

However, if they’re misplaced or arrive damaged, an insurance policy will save you from having to replace all your possessions while also trying to settle into life in a new nation.

For all the information you’ll need to secure the best policy for you, check out our guide to international shipping insurance.

Next steps

You now have all the tools you need to quickly and safely ship your belongings to your new home, without breaking the bank.

You’re well on your way to creating a home away from home, which will help you to ensure your time studying abroad is everything you want it to be.

To take the next step, just fill in this form to receive up to six free shipping quotes, and find out how much it would cost to move your belongings abroad. Chances are, it’ll be less than you think.