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How to Move Your Items to Italy

As promised in my last post about what to pack on your move to Italy, here's a post about how to move your items to Italy. I get asked about this all the time, so I wanted to share my experience.

Step 1: Figure Out What You're Shipping

Go back and read my post that tells you to cut in half what you think you need! I don't advise shipping furniture unless it's really special furniture, like a family heirloom. I let go of some really beloved pieces because:

a) I wasn't confident they wouldn't get damaged during the move

b) It's hella expensive to ship heavy furniture!

What you ship will help you navigate the right shipping avenue.

Step 2: Explore Shipping Options

You have several options when it comes to moving your items to Italy:

Sea Freight

Ideal if you're shipping heavy items like furniture. This option may cost less than air freight, though it can take weeks or months for your items to arrive.

Air Freight

While it's an expensive option, it's a fast one, as you'll get your items within days. It's best if you have a few boxes and/or highly valuable items.

International Moving Companies

There are companies that handle the entire process, door to door, including customs. This option can relieve some of the headaches that come with figuring out how to move your items to Italy, but that comes at a cost.

Container Shipping

This is another sea option that's good if you're shipping a lot of large items. You can take an entire container or part of one. You may, however, have more logistics to deal with at customs.

Self-Pack Moving Services

This is the option I chose, and I'll talk more about my experience in a minute. If you want to spend little and don't mind jumping through a few hoops to ensure your boxes and suitcases are appropriately packed, this option can get you your items in a week or less without breaking the bank.

My Self-Pack Experience

I used Send My Bag, and I highly recommend this service. Though there's a lot to read about what you can and can't pack, how to pack, and how to measure, the process was surprisingly simple.

With Send My Bag, you pay based on weight. Here are some sample prices:

Standard (5-6 working days)

  • Up to 30 kg: $181 per item

Express (2-3 working days)

  • Up to 5kg: $55

  • Up to 15kg: $104

  • Up to 30kg: $188

I don't remember which option I chose, but my items made it to Italy just days after I did.

The Stressful Bits

I'll admit, it was stressful at times because I had to figure out what size boxes I was going to use before I'd finished packing. Then after I'd packed many of the boxes, I reread the instructions and realized I'd done a few things wrong, so had to repack some boxes! (Obviously, you can avoid this by carefully reading the directions several times before packing!).

Another challenge was weighing each box. So many of them were heavy, so I struggled to slide them onto my bathroom scale. I was nervous that I'd be charged if I was wrong on the weight, but I had no issues once the shipment was accepted.

And because you're required to list every item you pack and its value, that was a pain. Honestly, I fudged a lot of the numbers and values, and it was fine. I think it's just for customs to review to see if you're shipping diamonds or anything! TIP: do this as you pack, not after!!

What You Can't Ship

Some things to note: you can't ship things like aerosols, liquids, money (including coins), batteries, or glass. There's a comprehensive list of no-nos here. The site says that customs reserves the right to remove anything that shouldn't be there but I didn't have an issue.

I did ship a piggy bank of coins and it made it through fine. However, one mistake I made was packing picture frames with glass. Pretty much all of the glass broke, despite being carefully wrapped.

Pleasant Perks

I liked that each box came with complimentary insurance of $200 per box. I had the option to upgrade the insurance but decided that my books and Christmas decorations weren't really worth more. Also included were text updates on the status of my items, which provided much relief.

The shipping was faster than I expected, and I received a call the morning of the delivery to confirm. The company brought the boxes right to my doorstep.

And the best part? The price. For 12 boxes, I paid around $2,500.

Learn from My Experience

The only drawback of the entire experience was how beat-to-shit my boxes were when they arrived. It looked like they had been kicked from San Diego to Calabria!

I'd bought boxes from Lowes and Home Depot, and the Home Depot ones fared better, slightly. Some boxes had holes in them with items sticking out. Send My Bag does sell double-walled cardboard boxes, so I recommend doing that.

I'm not sure if I can blame SMB for the destruction of the items or everyone else who touched the boxes during the shipping process. At any rate, there's a claims process if anything (that was on the approved list of items to ship) is damaged. Obviously, I couldn't claim my illegal broken glass!

I gave a sigh of relief once all my boxes arrived, and was glad to be done with the experience!

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