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Why Can’t I Ship Perfume Internationally Using Package Forwarding?

Can Something That Smells Good Be a Dangerous Good?

Most people don’t think of perfume as hazardous. In fact, it’s just the opposite, right? Perfume smells nice and is often sent as a gift, so it’s usually associated with well-being and health, not hazards or harm.

shipping perfume internationallyFor this reason, many people order perfume online from the US, intending to use a US package forwarding address for international shipping. (Like most luxury products, perfume is usually expensive, and it’s much cheaper to buy in the US than in other countries.)

But unfortunately, most perfumes cannot be shipped internationally. This isn’t a decision made by the merchant, and it’s not a decision made by the package forwarding services. It’s a decision made by customs authorities and enforced by international carriers. (For example, perfume is the first item on DHL’s list of “dangerous/harzardous goods.”)

What’s Dangerous/Hazardous About Perfume?

Well, nothing, if all it’s doing is making you smell nice. But if it’s traveling under pressure in an airplane’s cargo hold, it can be a serious threat to safety.

That’s because many perfumes are almost 90% alcohol, and can be flammable under certain conditions. (Colognes and aftershaves, which also seem harmless, fall into the same category.)

But Wait… Are There ANY Perfumes That Can Be Shipped Internationally?

Yes! The problem is not with the perfume, it’s with the alcohol it contains. Luckily, there are a number of alcohol-free perfumes available that are perfectly safe to ship internationally.

Perfumes are usually a mix of perfume oils and alcohol, but many connoiseurs consider the alcohol a “filler” that dilutes the essential fragrance. Several companies, such as The Fragrance Shop and House of Rose offer pure perfumes that are not only safe for international shipping, they also smell fresher and last longer than alcohol-based perfumes.

(There are even alcohol-free perfumes from designer brands like Calvin Klein!)

To Ship or Not to Ship?

Remember that it’s the alcohol content, not the perfume, that gets an item on the restricted goods list. Make sure you check the ingredients before you buy (or contact the store if the ingredients aren’t listed).

Are there any other items that you’ve ordered, but been surprised when they couldn’t be ship internationally? Share your experiences in the comments section!

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64 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Ship Perfume Internationally Using Package Forwarding?”

  1. This rule is stupid! I can’t understand what is the difference buying a perfume in the airport in one country and travel into another and post the same perfume in a protected package to one country to another! WHATS THE DIFFERENCE HERE FOLKS??? Maybe I’m missing something hmmm.

    Reply
    • The difference is in location on the plane, honestly. With a carry-on bottle, it’s able to be controlled and monitored. Bottles of flammable substances in the cargo hold (where shipped packages would be) are much more dangerous because of the difficulty accessing in flight. As a licensed Dangerous Goods shipper, OPAS is able to ship perfume to many destinations, but there are added costs and some limitations on which service can be used, country-to-country.

      Reply
  2. I really dont understand this. I put all my liquids in my hold luggage due to the 100ml rule. So when I travel internationally I always have at least 3 bottles of perfume in the cargo hold. Never in all my years of travelling have I been picked up on this so, why can’t I post it.

    Reply
    • There’s actually a few reasons for almost all perfumes requiring to be shipped as Dangerous Goods. Primarily, it’s that regulations are different for checked bags and luggage than they are for cargo loaded for transport by a company like UPS, FedEx, or DHL into the hold of a commercial aircraft because of the process of inspection available. Generally speaking, a bit more latitude is allowed for passengers than third parties. Different airlines are used by the carriers as well, and they may have different regulations on what is permissible. The final decision on all such matters rests with the pilots of the individual aircraft, and these are the regulations they have agreed to with the airlines and shipping companies.

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  3. can we apply for this particular licence then? if we look to send perfumes back to families in another countries like 7 or 9 times a year?

    2nd question: what’s the difference is it with a passenger who checked in his/her luggage containing like 5 or more perfumes for gifts which each has 50ml or plus?

    Reply
    • OPAS is able to ship perfume to many destinations around the world, we are an approved Dangerous Goods shipper, but there are added costs. These aren’t fees that OPAS charges, we do the specialized packing and paperwork for free, but we are charged by the carriers for handling a DG shipment, so we must pass that charge along to our customer. Availability of DG shipping varies based on carrier and destination, and the regulations for shipping are different than the regulations for carry-on or checked luggage. If you’d like more information, please email us at service@opas.com; if you provide the intended destinations, we can advise on options to ship perfume for you.

      Reply
  4. I want to purchase perfumes from the States and get them through to South Africa. What is the best way to do so. The purpose is for resale I’m South Africa

    Reply
    • I’m sorry, but OPAS cannot conduct DG shipments FROM Italy. All shipments must originate in our US warehouse. Beyond this, there are no carriers that provide DG carriage to East Africa, I’m afraid.

      Reply
    • There are no carriers that provide parcel shipping options for Dangerous Goods (alcohol) to mainland China. Freight via cargo plane may be a possibility, but the quantity would need to be substantial to get a freight quote. Please contact us at service@opas.com with more details.

      Reply
    • I’m sorry, but OPAS cannot ship site to site from Bali to Australia. All shipments originate from our Portland warehouse in the US. If your friend in Australia wishes to purchase perfume from the US and ship to Australia, we can help with that.

      Reply
  5. I want to ship partly used 50 personal bottles of perfume (I am relocating to norway for job)
    Do you have service from mumbai to bodo (norway)

    Reply
    • I’m sorry, but we can’t provide site-to-site shipping from India to Norway. We operate from the US, receiving purchases from our customers and shipping them onwards internationally. All shipments must originate at our Portland, OR warehouse in the US. We can help you receive new purchases from US companies once you get settled in Norway, though.

      Reply
  6. So can I ship a bottle in the US to another state in the air f the size of the bottle is 1 oz and it is an oil-based cologne with more oil than alcohol? It’s almost like a pure oil but it does have little alcohol in it.

    Reply
    • This would depend on the particular formula of the product and whether it is considered dangerous goods by IATA/ICAO code. A rule of thumb is that 24% alcohol content is the line for being DG, but this is not always the case, as laboratory testing for flash point and things such as this must be done, which OPAS does not have the ability to do. Ground shipping within the US is much more lax, using the 49CFR code, which does not require as much added caution, packaging or regulation for sending products by ground.

      Reply
    • Yes, but perfume is almost always considered Dangerous Goods due to alcohol content. DHL is the only carrier that provides DG service to Maldives, and the added costs from the carrier are somewhat high. They are flat-rate, however, which means the more volume you send, the better the value is on those added fees. Email us at service@opas.com for more info.

      Reply
  7. I bought bath and body works products to ship by usps international, but I was told that maybe it does not go through some of the products that contain alcohol, so I can not import them?
    I have not sent yet, but I will at the risk that my box never arrive?

    Reply
    • Certain Fragrance products are Dangerous Goods, and regulated for international shipping based on this. OPAS can ship DG, however, so if you can provide us the details of destination and the like in an email to service@opas.com, we will be happy to help!

      Reply
  8. I want to send my own inspired by perfume to my relative in japan from here in the Philippines. It’s an oil based perfume made by me. Is it possible?

    Reply
    • Hi Archie,

      We do not ship items out of the Philippines currently. Our warehouse is located in the US, so we only receive products here to then forward to our customers. When it comes to shipping perfumes they are considered a dangerous good so shipping will depend on the destination country and carrier. For more information on this topic visit our restricted items resource page here: https://opas.com/restricted-commodities/. Let us know if this helps!

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  9. I thought that one of the reasons perfumes containing alcohol could not be shipped in the cargo bay, was because the bottle can explode due to the pressure, resulting in an uncontained flammable liquid.

    Reply
  10. I have started a fragrance line and have completed the formula for my fragrance. However, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to ship or distribute internationally. Can you help or provide resources?

    Obviously big name houses and brands like Dior or Tom Ford are found internationally and they are not formulated and bottled in those countries, so perfumes have to be able to be distributed somehow. How do so ensure that my fragrance line can be sold in every country?

    Reply
    • Hi Erik, depending on the size and other specifications of the perfumes being shipped there may be shipping restrictions and it could fall under the Dangerous Goods category. If you reach out to our Customer Service team at service@opas.com with more details they’ll be able to assist further and help you find the best option in this case. Thank you for reaching out!

      Reply
  11. I want to ship 2.5fl oz of perfume from a friend in California to the UK is this possible and if so what’s the estimated cost?

    Reply
    • Hi Naomi, this is possible if your friend from California ships to our facility in Oregon and if you are shipping the package to mainland UK only. We cannot ship to a postal code that begins with IM. For a more accurate estimate on the cost of shipping perfume please reach out to our customer service team at service@opas.com. Thank you!

      Reply
  12. there is a question: what is different between sending perfume by air freight(in boxes with a pallet) and taking by checked baggage and carrying in a handbag?
    thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Zi, the main difference would be the perfume size and quantity that you are able to ship. If you know the specific amount that you plan on shipping you can reach out to our customer service team at service@opas.com for a more accurate estimate on sending perfume by air freight.

      Reply
  13. Can perfume be import/shipped to india via this freight forwarding service? I want to import 3 – 4 bottles of perfume. Is it possible?

    Reply
    • Hi Komal, thank you for reaching out. Please provide the following details to service@opas.com so that we can better advise you on our shipping options and fees: City Name, Zip Code, How Many Bottles of Perfume, Volume per Bottle (such as 3.4 oz) and the Product link. Thank you!

      Reply
  14. I want to order some perfumes (alcohol based) from USA to india…Is there any freight forwarding service or website that ship perfumes

    Reply
    • Hi Leslie, thank you for your inquiry. Our Osaka office closed a few years back so we are unable to ship from Japan to the US at this time. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Reply
  15. I am entirely confused about the whole matter of shipping perfume by air. Perfume may not be shipped by air, according to the USPS, only by ground. So by this regulation, getting perfume to Hawaii is not possible. In also can not be transported in cargo/shipping containers such as PODS. BUT… TSA says you can check an unlimited amount of perfume and alcohol-based fragrances in your luggage. Yes, that would be no limit. Can anyone direct me to a link or credible source that would explain this? Is it simply a matter of having a pressurized cargo hold? What would happen if suddenly there was a change in pressure? Thank you in advance for any help with clarifying this. I’m looking for regulations but can’t find any.

    Reply
    • Hi Ana, thank you for reaching out! We are so sorry for the confusion and wish we could be of some better assistance in this matter. As we specialize in the process of shipping Dangerous Goods internationally rather than domestically we would recommend reaching out directly to USPS or another carrier option to request their options on shipping perfume to Hawaii. They may be able to best offer a direct solution. Please keep us updated on how everything works out for you!

      Reply
    • Hello, we do not currently ship from the UK to the US. As we are based in the US, we primarily receive from stores within the US and export out to other countries. We hope this is helpful.

      Reply
  16. Hello! Unfortunately, there are CERTAIN PERFUMES that will not be allowed shipping US to Philippines and vice versa. It’s because of the product’s alcohol content. To be sure, choose alcohol-free perfumes, so it will be shipped without any hassle.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment. Yes, that is correct. Choosing an alcohol-free perfume works best. We can still ship perfumes that contain alcohol but it usually falls under the Dangerous Goods category and there is an additional expense. If you have questions it is recommended you contact us before you have the product sent to us so we can advise you prior to you purchasing.

      Reply
  17. Hi, do u have shipping services from Malaysia to Hong Kong? The parcel would include 100ml EDT, wondering if this is possible. Look forward to hearing from u! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Melanie, thanks for your inquiry. It sounds like you mean that you’d like to get a package from Malaysia to HongKong.
      We do ship both to Malaysia AND to HongKong, but since we’re located in Portland, Oregon, USA, we can only ship from here, and we’d be unable to help you if your need is between those countries.
      Please let me know if I misunderstood you or if there’s anything else I can assist you with.
      Kind regards and please stay safe out there!

      Reply
  18. Hi, your comments about perfumes/colognes being a serious threat to safety in an aircraft is wrong. An aircraft is pressurised at 8000 ft. and there isn’t anything dangerous to anything else at this pressure. Pilots during WW2 and Korea regularly flew between 20000 and 35000 ft. with bottles of whisky onboard generally without mishap. If a bottle broke (usually during battle) then the air crew only complained about a waste of a good drink. There has never been an incident involving perfumes, colognes or other alcoholic substances in the history of aviation with the exception of getting drunk and picking a fight (which still happens) and alcoholic beverages
    and are still being served onboard planes despite this. How is it that I can fly internationally and bring a large checked bag full of perfumes and colognes with me without any problems but I can’t get the two perfumes I want from a small business sent to me? Also how is it that some businesses can ship these items but not others? I can have them shipped by boat but the red tape and expense is ridiculous even though a boat is the cheapest way of shipping a package
    Regards

    Reply
    • Steve, thanks for your input.
      I tried to find any comments from anyone here at OPAS claiming perfumes/colognes being a serious threat to airplanes, but was unable to find what you were referring to. (Please feel free to point it out to us if you can find it. I used search term “perfume”, and then “threat”, based on your comments.) I also wasn’t able to find anyone here at OPAS that believes that perfume or cologne is a serious threat to an airplane, so I’m unable to corroborate what you’re referring to.
      I wonder if instead, maybe you were referring to a comment from our staff, that used the term “Dangerous Goods” or “DG”. If so, were you aware that “Dangerous Goods” and “DG” are standard terms used throughout many parts of the transportation industry?
      If you are aware of that, you probably also realize that we have no control over the terms DG/Dangerous Goods or its use, its meaning (that something might be a threat or dangerous) or its requirements for it, and since we are a business in the transportation industry, that we are at the mercy of governmental bodies that make these decisions, and all we can do is abide by those regulations.
      Yes, I’m aware that alcohol is regularly served on airlines. While I might personally agree with you that alcohol-based perfume or cologne is not dangerous in most cases, wouldn’t you agree that it really doesn’t matter what I think or what OPAS thinks, because in the real world, if we wish to do business, we have to abide by whatever regulations apply to whatever business we are in?
      Its already been well-said here: when it comes to perfumes and colognes, its best to try to ship alcohol-free types.
      While shipping alcohol-based perfumes and colognes technically CAN be done, the process to do so is quite restrictive and cumbersome and anyone doing so would need to be prepared for the extra work, time and cost to make it happen.
      Steve, I hope that clears up any misunderstanding about what might have been said here on this page.

      Reply

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