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Moving to Alaska FAQs

March 11th, 2015 - 3:28 PM

Frequently Asked Questions about Relocating to Alaska

What many people know of Alaska is what they’ve seen in movies and on TV. But there’s more than gold mining, crab fishing and moose. Alaska, while part of the United States, can feel far away and foreign when it comes to moving there. If you’re considering a move to Alaska, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you better understand your new home and make it easier to get there!

Moving to Alaska FAQs

How much does it cost to move to Alaska?

The cost to move to Alaska depends on a few things: where you’re moving from, when you’re moving, how much you’re moving and what company you use. Getting an online moving quote is very easy. Just enter the details of your move and we’ll email your price within 24 hours (after a U-Pack Moving Consultant manually reviews it). To get your price more quickly, you can call us at 800-413-4799.

What is the cheapest way to move to Alaska?

Most people will tell you that a “you pack, we drive” service like U-Pack is the cheapest way to move to Alaska. There are a few reasons for this:

1.    You do the packing and loading

2.    You only pay for the space you use (learn more about paying by the linear foot)

3.    After your shipment is loaded and the secure divider wall is installed, commercial goods are loaded into the remaining trailer space, lowering the cost of your move

4.    U-Pack uses carriers with efficient transportation systems to move your belongings to Alaska quickly and safely

You can save even more money by doing a Terminal-to-Terminal move, where you load and unload at the local service centers. This is a great option for small moves!

What is the best way to move to Alaska?

Because it’s convenient and more affordable, “you pack, we drive” services are often called the best way to move to Alaska. A moving truck or container is delivered to your home, you load it, and a professional driver delivers to your new home (in a move to Alaska, it will travel by ship from the port to Anchorage). You’ll normally find that full-service movers are extremely pricy for these long moves, and driving a rental truck from the lower 48 to Alaska isn’t easy.

Learn more about how U-Pack works

Can I move to Alaska in a rental truck?

Yes, but it’s not easy for everyone. A drive to Alaska from the lower 48 will take you through Canada on the ALCAN highway. It begins in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and “officially” ends in Delta Junction, Alaska – 1422 miles later (96 miles from Fairbanks). Today it’s a well-maintained, two-lane paved highway (minus a few spots under construction), but you may want to avoid driving it in the winter if possible. Once you pass through Fort Nelson, British Columbia, you’ll cross the Rocky Mountains – about 150 miles of narrow roads with curves and hills (and no guardrails through much of it). Also, keep in mind that you must go through customs in Canada.

If you do attempt to drive the ALCAN make sure you’re prepared: have the vehicle (whether your own or a rental truck) serviced and completely checked out before you leave, bring along your passport and driver’s license, make sure your registration is up to date, pack food, water, things to keep warm and basic tools (in case you have a break-down or other issues that cause a delay). It’s also good to note that cell phone signals may be very spotty along the highway.

Should I move to Alaska in the winter?

As you can imagine, during the winter Alaska is known for being dark and cold, with lots of snow. Of course, it varies by area, but you can expect below freezing temps wherever you go. It’s definitely a lower cost time to move, but we recommend avoiding driving a moving truck yourself if you can. Instead, let a professional do the driving and fly or make the adventurous drive in your own (familiar) vehicle. Much easier.

Read more about moving in the winter

Can I move my motorcycle to Alaska?

Yes! And U-Pack is a great motorcycle shipping solution – especially if you’re also shipping household goods. Just drain the fluids, load it into the trailer or ReloCube and secure it for transit.

Read more about U-Pack motorcycle shipping

Do I need a passport to move to Alaska?

It depends on how you’re planning to travel to Alaska.

If you’re driving, you will need a passport. This is because you’ll be traveling through Canada. Canadian law requires that all U.S. citizens entering Canada carry a valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card.

A passport is not required for flying since you’re traveling from a mainland state. If you happen to land in Canada (for weather, emergency landing, etc.) a passport isn’t required because Alaska is your destination.

A passport is not required if you travel via the Alaska Marine Highway System (with no stops in Canada from the mainland to Alaska). However, you will need to have a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.

When should I reserve my move from Alaska?

We recommend booking your move 4-8 weeks in advance. However, if you’re planning a last minute move to Alaska, we can normally accommodate with as little as 2 weeks’ notice. If you have an immediate need, please call a moving consultant at 800-413-4799 for assistance.

How do I ship my car to Alaska?

While U-Pack isn’t equipped to ship automobiles to Alaska, we refer customers with auto shipping needs to uShip.

Can I move to Alaska without going through customs?

If you drive a rental truck to Alaska through Canada, you’ll be required to go through customs to clear your personal effects and vehicle. You can move with U-Pack, let a professional do the driving, and avoid customs altogether.

How long does it take to move to Alaska?

This depends on how you move. Traditional van lines can take 1-2 months (or more), but U-Pack normally takes 8-15 business days, depending on where you’re moving from. Your U-Pack quote will shows the estimated transit time of your move so you’ll know what to expect.

Is it true you can get paid to move to Alaska?

Sorry, but it’s a misconception. What you’re referring to is the Permanent Fund Dividend that is paid to permanent residents of Alaska each year. Read our post “Moving to Alaska for Free?” for more detailed information.

What is the Permanent Fund Dividend?

The Permanent Fund Dividend is paid to every qualifying Alaskan, normally every October. The money comes from Alaska oil revenues. For more information about the fund, visit Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation Frequently Asked Questions.

How do I establish residency in Alaska?

To establish residency in Alaska (necessary to receive the Permanent Fund Dividend) you have to live there for at least one year and intend on living there permanently. You’ll need to sever residence in previous states you’ve lived in and provide one of the following:

  • A contract for moving your household goods to Alaska dated prior to the qualifying year (company paid is not acceptable)
  • Proof of home ownership or rental agreement for a home in Alaska (employer paid housing is not acceptable).
  • Employment and unemployment records
  • School records
  • Voter registration
  • Motor vehicle registration records
  • Court or other government agency records
  • Licensing records

For more information on Alaska residency requirements as related to the Permanent Fund, please contact dor.pfd.info@alaska.gov.

What is the cost of living in Alaska?

Try a cost of living calculator like the one used by CNN Money, Bankrate or Sperling’s Best Places. This will help compare the cost of living in Alaska with that of your current home town. You’ll see differences in overall cost of living, health care, housing, utilities, and more.

How do I find a job in Alaska?

The Alaska Job Center Network, powered by the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development, is a great place to start.

Do I have to pay income tax in Alaska?

No. Alaska does not levy income tax on personal income. And, as an added bonus, there is no statewide sales tax in Alaska. For more information on taxes in Alaska, visit the Alaska Tax Division.

Do I have to display two license plates in Alaska?

Yes. Alaska law requires motor vehicles to display two license plates—one on the front and the other on the rear of your vehicle.

Do I need to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle in Alaska?

Considering the weather, yes, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. If you don’t have a 4-wheel drive, make sure your vehicle is equipped to travel in wintery conditions (snow tires, chains, etc.).

What are the Motor Vehicle Registration Fees and Taxes in Alaska?

For the most updated information on motor vehicle registration fees and taxes, please visit the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles.

Do you have additional questions about moving to Alaska?

For any other questions you have about life in Alaska after a move, just leave a comment below. We’ll try to track down an answer for your questions.