I am Moving to Alaska: What can I bring and what do I have to leave behind?

It is time to start planning your big moving day to “America’s last frontier,” and you might be unsure of what exactly to bring. You should begin working on a complete packing list far in advance to guarantee that you don’t leave anything behind or bring too much and cause yourself more stress than necessary. One of the most difficult subjects that comes up regarding relocating to Alaska is about the state regulations for what you are allowed to bring with you. Some items seem very basic and you probably would have accidentally packed them up if you weren’t properly informed, while others are more abstract and will only apply to certain people. Either way, you should be very careful not to bring or pack any prohibited items that will get you a hefty fine during a customs check.

What you need to know before packing:

  • Gas engines: Bringing your car, motorcycle, ATV, lawn mower, and any other item with a gas powered engine must be nearly empty before you pack it up. If you are shipping your car to Alaska, the company will advise you to run out all the fuel before they load it up. But you might have forgotten to take out the last bit from your ATV or weed eater which are sure to get you some unwanted fines if they inspect your shipping container.
  • Plants: Most moving companies will not allow you to pack plant life in your container but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring some along in your car if you are driving. Certain species of plants are not allowed into the state so give the Alaska State Department of Agriculture a call before you decide to bring any plants.
  • Animal products and trophies: Although the piece might be very important to you, if you have any animal products from endangered species such as fur, skins, ivory, and tortoise shells, you will not be allowed to bring them to your new home in Alaska. Even if you acquired them legally, they may be illegal now and there is a chance they can’t be moved across the state line.
  • Food: Your best bet is to leave all your food behind and restock the fridge and pantry when you arrive in Alaska. If you are driving from the continental U.S. to Alaska, you will be passing several borders that won’t want you bringing across any food.
  • Healthcare: Unfortunately, your family doctors cannot come with you to Alaska. While they aren’t something you would pack in a box (which would definitely be illegal!), it is a good idea to plan far in advance who your new doctor will be and get on the new patient waiting list.
  • Pets: Fido should not be left behind just because you’re moving far away, so get your paperwork in order in advance and look into shipping pets to Alaska. Pets can go in your car, in the plane, or even on a ferry but they will all need a health certificate supplied by a veterinarian. Double check the regulations with your method of travel because they may require additional documentation or have fees. Regardless, Fido should definitely come with you to “the last frontier.”
  • Poisonous, flammable, corrosive, or perishable: A general rule of thumb is to leave everything behind that fits into any of those categories. Common examples that people accidentally pack for the trip are aerosol cans, cleaning chemicals, food, oils, insecticides, lighters, liquid bleach, matches, paint thinners, paints, pressurized tanks, and propane tanks among others. All of these are legal in Alaska but you will have to sell yours and buy new ones when you get there to comply with the state laws and shipping company’s policies.
  • Guns: Moving to Alaska and the long drive up often gets people a little excited about hunting and/or needing some additional protection. There are different restrictions depending on the type of gun you own, and you should be careful to plan in advance how you will get your gun to Alaska. While it may be possible, almost all hand guns are illegal to bring through Canada and must be shipped from and to a professional Alaskan moving company where you will pick it up when you arrive. Shotguns and rifles are generally okay to bring in the car but you will have to fill out some paperwork at the borders and keep them unloaded at all times.
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