Why can't you ship perfume internationally
using package forwarding?

Can something that smells good be a dangerous good?

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

For 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/hazardous 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.

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, several alcohol-free perfumes are available that are perfectly safe to ship internationally.

Perfumes are usually a mix of perfume oils and alcohol, but many connoisseurs consider alcohol a “filler” that dilutes the essential fragrance. Several companies, such as The Fragrance Shop and House of Rose, offer pure perfumes 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 the alcohol content, not the perfume, gets an item on the restricted goods list. So ensure you check the ingredients before you buy (or contact the store if the ingredients aren’t listed).

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