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I want to move a small library somewhere overseas (let's suppose I'm in New Jersey and am going to Melbourne), and I have over a thousand books that I want to bring with me.

Time to transport is not an issue.

I'm pretty sure that checking it as luggage on a commercial flight is out of the question. What is the cheapest way to transport that many books?

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closed as off topic by Dirty-flow, choster, HaLaBi, Rory Alsop, jozzas Nov 2 '12 at 2:42

Questions on Travel Stack Exchange are expected to relate to traveling within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Not sure if this is exactly on-topic. I started a meta discussion on this to clarify, but I think this type of question should be on-topic, although not in your particular circumstances since you won't be accompanying your goods and won't be using them abroad for the purposes of travelling. – mindcorrosive Nov 1 '12 at 18:25
Close voters: please weigh in on the meta discussion or in chat, or at least comment. – mindcorrosive Nov 1 '12 at 18:51
i voted to close, because for me the question is only about shipping and not about travelling – Dirty-flow Nov 1 '12 at 19:05
up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you want to transport a substantial amount of heavy stuff cheaply and time is not important, the obvious solution is transport by sea. There are three options that are worth investigating - which one is best/cheapest (or available at all) will depend completely on your specific origin and destination.

  • The postal service may offer sea mail, and books may even get a discount. For example, when I moved from Japan back to Germany, I had about 50kg of books. The Japanese postal service had a special "book bag" rate (you actually got a large canvas bag, and it was restricted to books, with a maximum weight of 30kg).
  • Freight companies often take private customers - especially those that compete with the postal service anyway, like DHL and UPS. Smaller ones may be quite cheap (subject to negotiation) but not do door-to-door delivery (i.e. they'll expect you to bring and take the cargo to/from their local office) and take longer while they wait for enough cargo to accumulate to fill a container.
  • International moving companies obviously do this kind of thing and are probably your safest bet - just not necessarily the cheapest option. They'll also help you with things like customs.

Customs is something you'll almost certainly have to deal with for this amount of cargo - either by paying it, or by providing documents that prove it's not a commercial shipment.

As for the delivery time to expect - US East coast to Australia would be a minimum of two weeks, but could easily be a month or more if your shipment has to wait for a container to fill up.

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