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How to Ship Furniture: Costs and International Shipping

Jude Abraham

Shipping furniture across international borders can be complex, especially for importers and exporters dealing with large and heavy furniture shipments. 

In this guide, we’ll explore costs and key considerations for international furniture freight. Read on to learn how to pack, which transport mode to choose, how to save on costs, and more. 

shipping furniture

Looking to ship furniture?

Tips for exporting & importing furniture

Importing and exporting furniture requires careful planning and attention to detail. Make sure to pay attention to the following factors to maximize efficiency and safety:

Proper packaging

Furniture items vary in size, weight, and fragility. Ensure each piece is packaged safely using the right combination of boxes, blankets, bubble wrap, crating, and padding to prevent damage during transit. Speak to your supplier and freight forwarder to plan the best packaging for your goods.

Secure loading 

When your goods are loaded onto vessels, use straps to keep cargo in place, especially for items that are relatively light per cubic foot. This prevents shifting and potential damage. Your forwarder can help make sure you have the right equipment.

Expert providers 

Choose a freight forwarder with expertise in transporting furniture. Look for professionals who understand packaging, loading, potential pitfalls, and any special equipment you might need for delivery.

Early booking

Whenever possible, build extra time into your furniture shipping timetable. This is especially important for large and heavy shipments where air shipping may be complicated. Advance preparation also allows more time for documentation preparation.

Documentation preparation

Work with your freight forwarder and customs broker to make sure you have all the necessary documents to keep your furniture shipment moving smoothly. Required documentation typically includes export and import licenses, invoices, packing lists, and any specific certificates required for customs clearance. Read more about required documentation here.

Common types of furniture that are shipped

Furniture that frequently crosses borders includes:

  • Tables: from dining tables to coffee tables, tables are shipped for both residential and commercial purposes
  • Chairs: everyone needs them: homes, offices, schools, you name it – and that’s why chairs are shipped around the world so frequently 
  • Sofas: couches and sofas are shipped to meet the global demand for varied seating options
  • Bedroom furniture: items like bed frames, dressers, and nightstands are regular candidates for global shipping 
  • Cabinets and shelving: storage solutions such as cabinets and shelving units are commonly transported, catering to both residential and commercial storage needs
  • Outdoor furniture: patio sets, outdoor tables, and chairs designed for exterior spaces are shipped to meet the demand for outdoor living and entertainment
importing furniture

What freight shipping mode should I use for furniture shipping?

Sea shipping may seem like the obvious choice for shipping large, heavy furniture items. And it is usually the most cost-effective. However, air shipping can come in handy if you’re in a real rush. Let’s look at each shipping mode in depth:

Ocean freight shipping

Ocean shipping is a great option for bulkier shipments since it offers much more space than air for a lower price. Depending on how large your shipments are, and how frequently you ship, you can choose either LCL (less than a container load) or FCL (full container load). 

LCL is suitable for smaller shipments that do not fill an entire container. If the overall volume of your furniture is relatively low (ranging from around 2-13 square meters), LCL shipping is recommended. Read more about LCL here.

Choose FCL if your shipment fills a whole 20ft or 40ft container. For volumes larger than approximately 14 square meters, or if your furniture items are difficult to palletize, such as sofas, mattresses, or other bulky items, FCL shipping is a more practical choice. Read more about FCL here.

Air freight

Air freight is much faster than ocean freight – think days instead of weeks – but it can be extremely costly, particularly for large and heavy items like furniture. This makes it a great option for urgent shipments, but not the most economical choice for regular furniture transportation. Read more about air freight here.

How much does it cost to ship furniture internationally?

Several factors determine the cost of shipping furniture internationally, including size, weight, item value, and shipping distance. 

To help you estimate how much it will cost you to ship furniture, here are a few tips:

Use freight rate calculators

Our freight rate calculator provides cost estimates based on your shipment’s size, weight, and shipping route 

Compare freight quotes

Request quotes from multiple freight forwarders to compare rates and services. Be sure to provide detailed information about your furniture, including dimensions and weight, to get accurate quotes. Hint: you can compare quotes easily on – every search offers quotes from dozens of vetted providers.

Package carefully

Packaging can impact costs. Ensure your furniture is packaged efficiently to prevent damage during transit, potentially reducing insurance costs. Don’t forget to include packaging in your shipment dimensions to get accurate costs and avoid added charges later. 

Get instant freight quotes for your furniture shipment

How to ship large furniture overseas 

If you’re shipping large furniture overseas, you might be dealing with extra-large packages or items that don’t fit into standard boxes or containers. Here are some factors to consider and discuss with your freight forwarder: 

Custom packaging

For furniture that doesn’t conform to standard dimensions, you’ll need custom packaging. Work with freight forwarders experienced in handling oversized items to create secure and tailored packaging solutions.

Customs compliance

Large shipments may attract additional scrutiny during customs clearance. Ensure all necessary documentation is accurate and complete to help prevent delays in the customs process.

Insurance coverage

Freight insurance coverage is critical when shipping large or high-value furniture. Verify that your insurance policy adequately protects against potential damages.

Regulatory compliance

Talk to your forwarder about international regulations regarding oversized or large shipments so you can comply with any special requirements.

Best freight forwarder for importing and exporting furniture

Partnering with a reliable freight forwarder for importing or exporting furniture will make your shipping experience smoother and more successful. Here’s why: 

Logistics expertise

Freight forwarders specialize in managing the logistics of international shipments, including complex processes related to customs clearance, documentation, and transportation.

Lower costs

Freight forwarders leverage their network and experience to find the most cost-effective shipping solutions, which means savings for you.

Customs compliance

Freight forwarders, along with their customs broker partners, are well-versed in the intricacies of international trade, which will help you ensure your furniture complies with all necessary customs requirements

Risk management

Freight forwarders provide valuable insights into potential risks and offer solutions to mitigate challenges, reducing the likelihood of delays or damages during transit.

furniture transportation

Looking for the best forwarder for your furniture shipment? can help. Our digital freight marketplace allows you to compare quotes from top-rated freight forwarders, enabling you to choose the best option for your business. Try it free today to compare pricing, then book and manage your shipment all in one place.

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