How to Pack for International Shipping

Know the customs regulations

An international move is a complicated process that requires extra preparation and research to execute successfully. When shipping your goods overseas, you will want to ensure they are properly packed, listed on your inventory, and permitted in your destination country. While hiring international shippers to help you with your packing is the best way to ensure your items arrive safely, the following tips will help you do your part.

Learning the customs regulations in your destination country is important during an international move. Each country has its own set of regulations for what items can and cannot enter the country, and your shipment must meet these requirements in order to clear customs.


There will be specific protocol for importing your household goods and personal effects, restricted items that can only be shipped with proper permits and paperwork, and prohibited items that may never be shipped. When hiring international movers, you can enlist a customs brokering service to assist you in the complicated customs process to ensure your shipment enters the country without trouble.

Downsize your belongings

Does hauling your whole life across the ocean seem impossible? Shipping goods overseas can be costly and much more complex than transporting them across state lines. To simplify the process and save some money, it’s a good idea to downsize your belongings prior to your international move. Separate your items into three categories: ship, sell and donate. Ship what you need, sell what you can, and donate the rest.

When determining what to ship, keep in mind that some items can be costly to import due to customs duties and other restrictions.

Have a complete inventory

When clearing your shipment through customs, you will need a detailed, valued inventory of all items packed inside the container. Make sure it is accurate and no prohibited items are packed inside. If you enlist packing services from your international movers, they will help you with this task.

New items (less than six months old) may require receipts or invoices. Electronics and appliances should be accompanied the following information: the size, make, model, and serial number.

Use proper supplies

Your belongings have a long way to go-it’s essential that you wrap and pack them with extra care. Avoid skimping on the professional moving supplies and pack your items in sturdy, high-quality boxes. Bubble wrap is crucial for protecting fragile glassware and delicate surfaces. Items that require special handling-such as artwork or antiques– may require crating. Professional movers are equipped with the knowledge and the materials to effectively wrap and protect your goods to ensure they arrive overseas without a scratch.

Get insurance

When traveling across the ocean and passing through several ports and inspections, there is a chance some of your items may become lost or damaged. It’s important to purchase an insurance policy on your shipment to receive compensation in case of mishap. Your international moving company may be able to offer you an insurance plan, or you may have to purchase one from a separate company.

If you have any items of extreme value, such as artwork or antiques, it should be appraised prior to purchasing to verify its accurate value.

Air freight vs. Sea freight

There are two different kinds of overseas shipping methods-air and sea. Your air shipment can arrive in several weeks, while your sea shipment may take months. You can ship all of your goods via one method, or use both. You may opt to send more necessary personal effects such as clothing, cookware and bedding in your air shipment, and pack other items like furniture, knick knacks or other household goods for your sea shipment. Discuss your options in further detail with your international moving specialist.

Keep valuables separate

Some items should go with you on the plane. Valuable items, important documents, medicines, and anything you will need immediately upon arrival should be packed in your carry-on or luggage.

The following essentials should stay with you in your carry-on:

  • Important documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, medical records, school records, insurance policies
  • Jewelry, heirlooms and other valuables
  • Laptop, camera, phone, mp3 player, chargers
  • Your passport and other important personal documents
  • Medicine
  • Wallet, credit cards, cash, check book

In your luggage you should pack items that you will need upon arrival, but that you can live without should they be lost:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing and shoes to last until you receive your shipment
  • Toys for children
  • Books, backpacks, and school-necessary items for children
  • Air bed

Get professional assistance

The best way to pack for international shipping is to enlist the assistance of professionals. Allowing your international moving company to handle all of the packing, wrapping and crating tasks will decrease the chances of damage during your shipment’s journey to your destination country. Begin comparing quotes from international shippers today for your overseas move!