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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40 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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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

    • I’m afraid OPAS is not able to ship perfume to South Africa, as it is a dangerous good and none of the DG-capable carriers provide DG carriage to South Africa.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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)

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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!

  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?

    • 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!

  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.

  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?

    • 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!

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