What NOT to pack when using a courier

Written by Jennifer Beattie on Wednesday, 18 February 2015. Posted in Tips & Advice

There are many advantages to using a courier to move your belongings including speed, convenience and ease of traceability.

What NOT to Pack
In fact, there are not many disadvantages except that you must be very careful what and indeed how you pack your things if you are intending to courier them. This is particularly pertinent if you want to send a parcel or a number of boxes internationally.

Fill out your Customs documentation correctly

All shipments containing personal effects that are being sent internationally will require a Customs Declaration stating the nature, contents and number of the boxes. Be warned that some countries require considerable detail. It is certainly in your best interests to take some time over this document. A Courier collection is often delayed because the Customs paperwork is incorrectly filled in, not filled in sufficiently and/or signed. Considerable amounts of time are wasted in email exchanges just to qualify details like make, model and number of items.

For example, Swiss customs like many other countries around the world require detail, detail and more detail, including the type of material (plastic, cotton, paper) that the item (s) are made from.

Australian customs is particularly rigorous and will not allow anything to enter if it does not have very detailed paperwork, even with this, some level of delay is inevitable.

Customs delays are rare in most other countries as long as the paperwork is correctly filled out and appropriate customs clearance charges are paid when requested. Your courier company will advise you on when and how to pay these charges.

Dangerous goods documentation info and waiver

There are very clear guidelines on what you can and cannot pack and send via courier. Inadvertently packing something on the dangerous goods list, or not declaring something that is restricted are the two most common factors resulting in a delayed or returned parcel.

All parcels are scanned prior to departure to check that the items declared on the customs form are represented in the package. If any dangerous goods are found then the parcel will be held in quarantine or even returned.

Items that frequently cause problems in shipments

There are several major categories of goods considered 'dangerous' and these are not permitted under any circumstances. Other goods are restricted in some countries but forbidden in others so if you are unsure ask your courier company to advise you.

The main categories that often cause problems are:

Aerosols. These are not permitted in any capacity. Please be aware that self-inflating life jackets, cooling Evian mists or anything else with a pressurized component will not be allowed in your package or packages.

Pump action bottles are usually permitted providing they do not contain any flammable liquids.

Flammable or potentially flammable liquids. This is a surprisingly large category of items and often people shipping their household effects via courier get caught out here. Anything from fire and cigarette lighters to sterilizing alcohol gel, nail polish remover, and alcohol cleaning wipes, perfume and aftershave are not permitted in your package.

Ink and Toner. Many people shipping their home office inadvertently forget to remove the ink cartridge from the printer or copy machine. If you do forget, the courier company will have no choice but to remove it and this will cost you extra.

Corrosive and Oxidizing Substances. The biggest offender in this category are batteries. Again household effects often contain forgotten batteries in toys, wireless keyboards, radio alarm clocks even smoke detectors. Some courier companies can ship batteries, but there will be an extra charge so you must declare them at the time of booking. Other corrosive substances include general cleaning products, bleach wipes, even mercury thermometers, so it is easy to make a mistake if you do not double check the dangerous goods list.

Ammunition and explosives. For most people this would seem obvious. However, also included in this category are fireworks, fuses and Christmas crackers, children’s cap guns and anything else that could create a potential spark. Guns or rifles are completely forbidden.

Restricted items that can cause problems

Just to complicate matters restricted items are sometimes permitted in certain countries but forbidden in others, for example perishable goods. Please refer to the categories of restricted items provided to you by the courier company and if you think your shipment contains anything potentially problematic seek advice or just remove it.

About the Author

Jennifer Beattie

Jennifer Beattie is the freelance journalist for FD Platinum. With lots of experience of moving and relocating nationally and internationally, Jennifer has personal and professional knowledge of the issues involved. She aims to provide up to date and accurate information on topics of importance to the industry.