Shipping Instruments from Australia to the US?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MustangWally, May 4, 2019.

  1. I have a couple instruments (one custom 30" scale bass, one Strat) that I left in Australia and I would love to get them back to Houston TX - does anyone here have any experience in shipping guitars internationally?

    I'm looking to find the best way to get them here in one piece without selling my remaining kidney or taking out a second mortgage. I will need to get better cases for them both, they are just in hard cases, not flight cases, and then I need to work out how to move them halfway around the world without getting them broken.

    I will probably be in Aus later this year but getting them onto my flight home as baggage is likely to be crazy expensive and then there is the thing about baggage handlers wrecking guitars which scares the heck out of me. I have seen folks carrying guitars on as cabin baggage domestically in the US, I think that they get stored in the closet near the front of the plane, but I am almost certain that the Aus airline boarding people will not let that happen: there is a tendency among them to do the 'Tin God' thing and be as unhelpful as possible in general and I don't want to be denied entry with my guitars at the last moment, that could really screw up the flight home. I guess I could buy them a seat in the cabin but that would likely be really expensive and even then I might not be allowed to take them on by some minor authority figure (I have flown quite a bit in Aus, hence my trepidation).

    The other option is to ship them but I have idea where to even start with that.

    Suggestions would be most welcome, thank you in advance.
  2. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Bumping this as I'm wanting to have a bass shipped from Australia (to Europe in this case). Anyone have any recommendations or warnings from experience or anything else that should be known?
  3. Sorry, I had forgotten about this thread - I posted this in the CITES thread when I got back:

    "I returned from Australia mid February with 1 bass and 1 guitar. The bass is a 1970's custom in mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and headstock veneer (not Brazilian, probably Indonesian rosewood). The guitar is a Squier Strat with either some kind of rosewood or pau ferro fretboard. Both were carried as accompanied baggage and both sailed though Houston (IAH) customs without a hiccup - nobody gave a damn. In fact nobody even so much as looked into the package, we just got spit out of baggage as quickly as we would have from a domestic flight. I had dreaded this for months and I had all the CITES paperwork in my bag, just printouts of the regs and the thing about less than 10kg of timber (I had tried to call the IAH inspectors multiple times before I even left the US but in typical public servant fashion nobody would talk to me.)"

    I can't speak to shipping a bass, but if this helps: I had to ship some rather heavy items from Houston to Australia a few months back and DHL were significantly cheaper than UPS or FedEx and the items made it Downunder in great time. All DHL do is international shipping and they were great. If I was shipping an instrument I would certainly look into them - their website indicates that they ship instruments for entire orchestras on tour in Europe, so they would seem to have some track record:

    Edit: and DHL picked up the packages from my house - nice touch.
    Dynacord and murphy like this.
  4. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Ive never sent guitars from Australia to the US, but i have sent them to Australia while working for a music shop here in NJ. The only way we were ever able to do it without huge costs was with the neck off and packed into as small of a box as possible. There was a point at which USPS wouldn't ship (I dont remember exactly, I know that length plus girth, so L + W + W + H + H was how it was calculated. I think 113" was the max? It's been 6+ years since I've had to do this)
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
    B-Mac, Dynacord and murphy like this.
  5. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Thank you - very helpful! I'm going to have to go with one of the courier companies as it's a set neck. Won't be cheap I know.
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  6. I will be very interested to know how you get on - good luck!

    Edit: for reference, the packages that I refer to cost me around $300 each to ship to Australia, the quotes that I got: UPS $500 and FedEx $550, may give you an indication of the price difference.
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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