United States

Guide to Shipping Luggage Overseas Before You Travel

5 min read
facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
linkedin sharing button
Smart Share Buttons Icon Share

Lost luggage, damaged bags and delayed suitcases are a traveler’s worst nightmare . Unfortunately, with the increasing occurrence of extreme weather coupled with the global airport manpower crunch, this is more common than ever. But there is a silver lining: thanks to international express shipping, you can ship luggage abroad in advance.

Why send your suitcase abroad before departure?

Using international express shipping services like those offered by DHL Express has numerous benefits: not only do you avoid the risks of luggage delays, but you’ll also eliminate the stress and cost associated with luggage mishaps. 

These services also offer the added advantage of delivering your suitcases directly to your desired international destination, saving precious time spent waiting at the luggage carousel. And unlike with airlines, the bags you send with DHL Express can be tracked and traced internationally.

Save 35% on luggage shipping and more

Ship an international shipment with a credit card using PromoCode: DISCOVERDHL


Key considerations of luggage shipping

When shipping luggage overseas, there are several things to keep in mind to make sure your suitcase is appropriately handled and arrives where you need it to be on time. 

1. What category of shipping does luggage shipping fall under?

Luggage is classified as personal effects, which are individual property usually worn or carried or has an intimate relation to the individual, such as clothing, footwear and toiletries. Knowing this is essential before you ship your suitcase overseas since every international shipment is subject to customs clearance, and countries have different regulations for different categories of shipments.

For example, for entry into the United States a  US Customs and Border Protection Form 3299 - Declaration of Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles should be completed prior to the importation of used personal effects over $200 USD.  Shipping personal effects to Mexico will require the shipper to provide documentation such as a passport, airline ticket or boarding pass.

It is important to always make sure to clearly list out all the contents within the package on the Air Waybill as well as the shipping invoice, along with the value of each item. The term ‘personal effects’ can then be added in the description to allow DHL and customs authorities to clearly identify the intention and purpose of the shipment.

By understanding your shipping category, you can ensure that all the required documents are prepared, avoiding delays caused by customs clearance issues and facilitating a smoother shipping experience.


Travel, summer holidays and vacation concept. yellow suitcase with hat on background of hotel pool area in Egypt.

2. How to pack and secure your luggage for shipping internationally

Now that we understand our shipping category, the next step is figuring out how to pack your luggage securely. Deciding on the best way to do so involves considering the following factors:

1.  Type of luggage

  • Hard plastic & metal cases are most suited to Express transport and are easily stacked & handled without risk of damage
    • Tips:
      • Avoid using thin ‘shell’ suitcases
      • Tape down the handle & avoid suitcases with exposed non-recessed wheels
  • Reinforced soft-sided canvas suitcases can be shipped with DHL but should be shrink wrapped or boxed.
    • Tips:
      • Tape down the handle & avoid suitcases with exposed non-recessed wheels
      • Wrap suitcase with shrink-wrap or box
  • Hard reinforced plastic or metal cases offering adequate protection for fragile sporting & musical equipment
    • Tip: 
      • Tape down clasps to avoid accidental opening or shrink wrap entire case
  • Non-Rigid Soft luggage (duffle bag) offers no protection to contents of bag
    • What to do: 
      • Box the bag in one of the standard boxes available at your DHL Service Point

2. Type of items in your luggage

If there are fragile items in your luggage, you should wrap them individually with a protective wrap and ensure that all empty spaces in the luggage are filled with fillers. To ensure that your baggage is handled with extra care, affix a ‘fragile’ label on the outside of your shipping container.

3. Intended shipping destination of your luggage

Each country has its parcel labelling requirements. That’s why it’s essential to research the most recent customs regulations to ensure that your luggage meets the shipping requirements.

Useful tips:

•       Do not use sticky pouches for the shipping labels and documents, place your label and documents into a tie-on holder

•       Ensure name/address is on both inside and outside of luggage

•       We do not recommend the use of locks as luggage may need to be inspected for regulatory or security purposes

•       If using a lock, please be aware this may be removed for Security or Regulatory inspections and not returned

4. Shipping heavy luggage

Luggage weighing more than 75 lbs. should use a pallet, crate or a made-to-measure box that is sufficiently sturdy. Pieces weighing above 150 lbs., require a fork-movable crate or loading your luggage onto a pallet, as handling equipment is often required to move heavy weights.

Ship luggage abroad safely with DHL Express

While packing your luggage carefully can significantly facilitate the shipping process, choosing a trusted logistics partner offers extra assurance that your important belongings arrive at their overseas destination quicker and more safely. As a leading logistics service provider, DHL Express US can offer reliable and cost-effective international shipping solutions such as time-definite delivery servicesshipment value protection and more to meet your varied needs.

With an extensive global delivery network and rich industry experience, we can guide you through the entire shipping process, from baggage pick-up to shipping documentation and tracking in real-time. Let your summer vacation or next holiday be stress-free. Create your luggage shipment online now with just a credit card.  You can schedule a pick up when you create the shipment or bring your labeled luggage to one of our DHL Express Service Point locations.

Ready to save time and money by shipping luggage to your destination?

Save 35% off any U.S. international export shipment. Use promo code: DISCOVER35 every time you pay with a credit card on MyDHL+.* 


*Offer valid through 11:59pm EST on 12/31/2023. Discount applies to export shipments from the U.S. Must ship online using a credit card. No account required. Use promo code DISCOVERDHL. Discount may not be valid in all areas and rate discount subject to change. All services may not be available in all areas. Services are subject to DHL’s terms and conditions as published https://mydhl.express.dhl/us/en/legal/terms-and-conditions.html and/or as set forth on the waybill of the country of origin. This offer is subject to change without notice.