Personal Effects Shipping: Your FAQ Answered

Cover Image for Personal Effects Shipping: Your FAQ Answered

Navigating the world of personal effects shipping can often feel like a complex puzzle, especially when you're looking to ship personal items overseas.

Whether it's the shipment of personal effects for a new adventure abroad, relocating for work, or expats moving back to their home country, understanding the ins and outs of shipping personal belongings overseas is crucial.

This guide is designed to answer your frequently asked questions, providing clarity and confidence as you prepare to ship personal items or handle the shipment of personal effects.

1. What Are Personal Effects?

personal effect shipping

The term ‘Personal effects' refers to personal items regularly worn or carried on the person for his/her personal use. This can range from your essential clothing and wallet to your cherished watch.

It's crucial to understand what 'personal effects' means, as this determines how your items are categorised and handled during shipping.

2. Should I Choose Sea or Air Shipping for Personal Effects?

air shipping vs sea shipping

When it comes to shipping personal belongings internationally, the choice between sea and air freight is a significant one. Each mode of transport has its advantages and considerations.

Here's a comparison to help you understand the differences:


Sea Shipping

Air Shipping


Slower, suitable for non-urgent shipments like furniture.

Faster, ideal for essential items needed immediately upon arrival like essential clothes.

Volume and Weight

More cost-effective for larger, heavier shipments. Ideal for bulkier items.

Best for smaller, lighter shipments.

Risk of damage and loss

Relatively higher risk of damage and loss as it often involves longer transit times and more handling, but suitable for durable items.

Relatively lower risk of damage and loss as it involves less handling of goods which can be preferable for fragile and high-value items.

Additionally, it's worth considering a hybrid approach: shipping essential and high-value items via air for speed and security, and less urgent, bulkier items via sea to optimize cost and efficiency.

This strategy ensures your critical items arrive quickly, balancing efficiency and cost.

3. Do I Need to Pay Duties and Taxes When Shipping Personal Effects Internationally?

duties & taxes for international shipping

The short answer is… it depends.

Understanding the implications of customs duties and taxes is crucial when shipping overseas.

Generally, most shipments are likely to incur taxes if their value exceeds the tax and duty threshold of the destination country.

That said, every country has its own set of thresholds and rules, so familiarizing yourself with these specific requirements is important.

Take relocating to the UK as an example. In such cases, you might be eligible for the Transfer of Residence (ToR) Relief.

So, make sure to thoroughly research how your destination country deals with the taxation of personal effects shipments. If you believe your items are not taxable, opting for DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid) is a wise option.

4. How Should I Pack My Items?

packing personal effect shipment

Packing smart can save you both headaches and money. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Exclude Low-Value Items: Think twice before packing everyday items like tissues, hangers, and pillows. These might seem essential, but they can add unnecessary weight and volume to your shipment, hiking up the cost. It's all about balancing what you truly need versus what can be easily replaced upon arrival.
  • Ship Food Items Separately: Navigating food shipping regulations can be a complex affair. Each country has its own rules, and some are quite strict about food imports. To avoid potential customs complications that could delay or even result in the return of your other important items, consider shipping food items separately. This way, you ensure that your essential and urgent belongings aren't held up due to food-related issues.

5. How Should I Declare My Items for Personal Effects Shipment?

While this might seem tedious, a well-documented list can greatly facilitate the shipping process. Here are a couple of tips to ensure your declarations are up to scratch:

  • Be Specific and Clear: Include a comprehensive list of items in your shipment with detailed descriptions. It's crucial to note that customs authorities may request information about the material composition of your items, especially for clothing. Therefore, it's important to be specific when declaring your items on our form. A little extra effort now can prevent potential customs issues and delays later in the process!
  • Distinguish Between New and Old Items: Some countries are particular about whether items in a shipment are new or used. Clearly marking this distinction in your declaration can prevent confusion at customs and expedite the clearance process. So, if possible, separate and identify new items from old ones in your declaration.
example of detailed description

sample of detailed description

6. What Possible Customs Issues Might I Face When Shipping Personal Belongings Overseas?

Effective cooperation of both the sender and the recipient with customs authorities is essential for smooth customs clearance. This is especially important for shipments with different senders and recipients.

If you are sending items to someone else, ensure that the recipient is well-informed and ready to handle any customs inquiries. They should be able to clearly explain who owns the items and precisely what's in the package.

In situations where the sender and recipient are not the same, a lack of cooperation or inability to fulfil customs requirements can lead to complications and significant hold-ups.

Additionally, be prepared to provide necessary documentation. Customs authorities may request to see passports, proof of residence, flight details, information about your stay, and details regarding the contents of the package.

Having these documents readily available can significantly streamline the customs process and prevent unnecessary delays.

7. Should I Opt for Shipping Insurance?

insurance protect parcels from damanges

Yes. We strongly encourage shippers to opt for shipping insurance when dealing with the shipment of personal effects to protect themselves against the risks of damage and loss during transit.

Ultimately, insurance is not just about financial reimbursement; it's about the peace of mind that comes with knowing your personal effects are safeguarded throughout their journey.

8. How to Ship Personal Items Overseas with JustShip?

Shipping your personal items overseas with JustShip is a straightforward and user-friendly process. Here's how you can get started:

1. Sign up for an account to get started.

The first step is to create an account with JustShip. This will be your portal for managing shipments and accessing our services.

sign up for an account with justship

JustShip’s sign-up page

2. Create a shipment order

create a shipment order

JustShip’s shipment form

Once you're signed up, you can create a shipment order. You'll need to provide the following information:

  • Sender’s Details: The sender’s name, email, and phone number.
  • Recipient's Details: The recipient’s name, mobile number, and address in the destination country.
  • Package Details: The dimensions of the box (Length x Width x Height), weight, and a detailed description and value of the items.
  • Select Add-On Services: Choose any additional services you need, such as insurance and DDP (Delivery Duty Paid, which means prepaid duties and taxes).
  • Checkout & Arrange for Pick Up/Drop Off: Once you've filled in all the necessary details, proceed to checkout and arrange for a pick-up or drop-off at your convenience.
  • Payment: Make your payment using PayNow or a credit card.

3. Tracking

And voilà, your shipment order is successfully created.

Once we receive your parcel, we will process it and hand it over to FedEx, our trusted courier partner. You will then receive an email containing your shipment's tracking number.

Typically, it will take approximately 2-5 working days for the parcel to arrive at the destination country.

With JustShip, shipping personal items overseas is as simple as that. Our streamlined process ensures that your items are handled with care and efficiency, providing you with peace of mind every step of the way.


We hope this guide has answered your key questions about shipping personal effects internationally.

Ready to ship your personal belongings for your new adventure?

Sign up with JustShip today and experience the ease and reliability of our services. Let us take the hassle out of international shipping, so you can focus on what matters most to you.

February 19, 2024

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