So, you’re looking to ship your stuff from the USA to India but can’t find a reliable source? Worry not. Your search ends here.
Many people return to India from the US every year. The reasons may vary but one question all of them ask is, what is the safest and cheap way to ship their household items to India?
I had a friend of mine who returned back to India because of personal reasons. After having spent 6 years in the USA, he had quite a lot of baggage. And when trying to ship them back to India, his initial choice was the most obvious shipping companies like DHL, UPS, etc. Big mistake.
The thing is, he had only heard of those brands as shipping companies and naturally, went to them. They did the shipping, and he thought that he did it the right way. Only when he heard the rates from another friend who shipped about the same items to the same place in India, for about 1/6th of the cost! It was too late.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the best and cheap options available for NRI Indians to ship their items to India, either partially or fully.
What is the cheapest way to ship from USA to India?
You know, there are several modes. For example, shipping by sea, by air, etc. Which is the best option for Indians?
In my opinion, the sea is the most cost-effective method, if you are not in a hurry. If you are in a hurry, then air. Shipping by sea takes about 8-10 weeks and shipping by air takes anywhere from a couple of days to 1 week. In both cases, you need to be present at the local customs office to take delivery of your items. So, it really depends on how fast you want the items shipped.
For example, when someone is returning back to India, once and for all, then they probably are going to build or buy a new house in India and may not be needing the household items immediately. If they can wait a couple of weeks or sometimes months, then shipping by sea is more economical and better.
Which are the cheapest courier shipping companies to India?
Let’s take a look at some of the most economical shipping companies to India from the USA. Keep in mind that these are the cheaper courier shipping companies as compared to mainstream (overpriced) ones like DHL.
How to prepare when shipping things from USA to India?
Preparation is an important step. You need to know how you are going to manage and organize your things. Also, you need to know how shipping companies work and what their standard rules are. This will help you make your shipment item easier to ship and economical.
- Put your things into double-ply boxes (Not the usual single-ply).
Get them from Uhaul or Home Depot. Shipping companies operate in standard box units, so as much as possible, try to place your shipment into standard boxes.
- Leave the heavy things behind or better yet donate them.
Use Craigslist to sell off things that have a resale value.
- If you know of new Indian families in your area, help them out by sharing unused or less used things with them.
- Take the small things with you.
Most airlines allow a good amount of baggage for each person. Utilize it on your way back to India and carry it along with you. Why waste your money shipping it?
- Mark out breakable and brittle things.
- Figure out which is the nearest city in your hometown in India, where the shipment can be delivered to.
- Get an estimate of the weight of your items combined and per box.
- Find out if you need door-to-door or door-to-port or port-to-door or port-port shipping.
In all the cases other than door to door, you need to collect the boxes yourself.
- Try getting a price quote from all the best chipping agencies.
I suggest emailing them all with the same email (including all your details) and doing a price match.
You need to be mindful that some companies don’t publish their rates in public, but if you have a quote from another company, they will try to beat it with an undisclosed price.
- Once you have packed your stuff, make sure you take a photo of all your boxes and one together will all, for record sake.
- Also, make sure you label your boxes and if any brittle items are inside, stick the “Handle with care” stickers.
All these stickers are available in Home Depot or Uhaul.
- After you have packed your boxes, make sure that you weigh them on both a domestic scale and an industrial scale and note the weight of each box. There have been cases where boxes, after the shipment was reported to weigh more, and customers, asked to pay more.
Price Difference in shipping by Air and Sea
- To get an idea of the price difference between Door-to-door and Door-to-port, a 10 boxes shipment from California to Mumbai will cost $950 Door-to-Door and $650 Door-to-Port. (via Ship)
- The same shipment will cost $750 by Air.
This is based on a sample quote given by one of the shipment agencies.
Should you buy insurance for shipping items to India?
Depends on what items you are shipping and what your goals are. If you are shipping valuable items, then there is no doubt you better take an insurance.
But at the same time, you should understand how insurance works. If you are packing yourself, most insurance companies will not give you insurance if one box out of your shipment is lost. Instead, they will only give you insurance if all the boxes are lost. It’s weird how insurance works, but it is good to know.
Normal household items don’t really need insurance as a shipment altogether is lost very very rarely.
Receiving your order in India
There are a couple of things you have to keep in mind about receiving your order/boxes in India. Depending on whether you’ve ordered door-to-door or door-to-port shipment, you need to go to the port or the local agency to take your order.
- Ensure that you are picking up the order yourself. Take with you your ID proof and also some US utility bills (to prove residential address)
- If you order door-to-door service, then you have to pay extra for custom duties and you can expect delays.
- Customs duties can be from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 8,000 for a 5-box shipment but can vary based on the weight and kind of items included.
- Arrange a truck before going to the place, so that you can get out of there soon after you take delivery. (Trust me, you will want to.)
- The customs officer will open all your boxes to check. Be prepared for questions.
- Keep some dollars ready with you for tips. Also, cash in rupees for fees and bills.
- If you have sent your items to the port, you will get a slighter faster delivery as you don’t need to wait for your shipment to be taken to the local office.
- Try to ship items to the nearest port/agency near your home or else ground transport can be costly for you.
Tips to avoid complications while shipping from USA to India
Everything said and done, there could be many complications that could arise during your shipping process. Here are a few to be mindful of.
Ensure you know the weight of each box.
Be paranoid about it and mark out each box with its exact weight so that if at all the shipping company claims there is more weight, you can fight your case with proof.
A common tactic of shipping companies is to claim that you have more weight than claimed and pressurize you to pay more. Don’t fall for it. If they understand that you have a proof for everything, they will back off.
Things can get really complicated in India for a couple of reasons.
If you pick a shipping agency that has really cheap rates in the USA, ensure that their local partner in India is included in their deal.
Because normally how these companies operate is out of partnerships.
You will be surprised that some shipping companies who claim really cheap prices don’t have proper agreements or partnerships with their Indian counterparts and only take responsibility for what happens in the USA.
This will bring in a lot of uncertainty for you, especially once the shipment reaches India. Don’t let this happen.
Ask your US shipping agency, who their local partner is and get their contact information as well. If possible, give them a call pretending you are a customer to see how their reaction is.
Super cheap doesn’t always mean good quality.
My recommendation is to always go for a company that handles many cases.
One-off, mom and pop shipping agencies are merely partners working on commission and will undercut you for initial rates, but often the customer ends up paying more at the final destination.
Best Courier & Shipping Companies from USA to India
Below are the best (and economical) shipping companies to India, chosen on the following factors.
- Economical pricing.
- Customer reviews.
- SFL Worldwide
SFL worldwide is a shipping company that specialized in international relocation services. They provide a lot of US-specific services that many of my friends have used. Check out their website for rates.
Offers shipping via Air and provides door-to-door delivery. They’ll pick up your boxes from where you are, and deliver at your door in India. Average cost – $93 per 10 pounds in a 10x10x10 box.
- Universal Relocations
Offers international relocations including moving from the USA to India. Not very economical. Several bad reviews from current customers. Will not disclose charges/rates upfront unless you have a detailed idea of items to be shipped.
Will offer shipping services if you are relocating to India (have to provide details of the change of residence). Rates are pretty much the same as others. Doesn’t have a pick-up option.
If you are looking to relocate or ship your stuff from US to India, contact me or let me know in the comments.
88 thoughts on “How to Ship from USA to India – 5 Best Companies”
Can’t recommend blindly but I’d consider them.
Thank you Karthik.. How is SFL? Do you recommend?
Which shipping company you landed up using?
Thanks for all the information. I am planning to ship some stuff from US to India. Few boxes containing books and other household stuff. Nothing too big. Just a lot more than my luggage can carry. Any advice?
I want to thank you for writing this blog about relocation. I am planning to relocate to Bangalore from USA (Portland, OR) and need guidance. I wanted to know the correct way to send my 65″ inch TV is an economic, safe and reliable way. Can you please help?
Hey Mani Karthik,
Awesome information shared by you! True there’s a lot to consider when shipping your belongings from one country to another. In this case, choosing the right shipping method and reliable company having a fast, safe, and cost-effective shipping service is important. The list of best courier companies shared by you is great. Hopefully, Shipasiaexpress.com makes the list on your journey in the near future. Thanks
Your blog helped me a lot for getting much information about shipping.
Thanks a lot for this post.
But can you please give some advise to me also related to shipping? (it will help me alot)
I live in India, and I know someone in usa who is also indian.
I want to buy a laptop from usa through him and then get it in india. I am worried about some of the things if you can answer-
If my laptop breaks in shipping, I mean will be responsible for it and what can I do if that happens?
What is best option for me? (which company for cheap, secure, safe, handle product safely shipping) (also both by sea or by air or any means is okay to me)
What could be the shipping price?
Would I need to pay custom duty or import charges, taxes like gst etc. or not? If yes, then when it is needed to pay this, before or after shipping in india?
Thanks in advance
Very interesting & helpful blog. I’m sending a package, to my dear friend in Punjab state. It includes many items like 6 shirts, jewelry, small toys, essential oils, etc. I don’t want to, list each item’s, individual cost on outside of box. It’s very rude, to disclose the cost, of gifts. The US post office makes you, list all prices on package. Is there a shipping company that doesn’t force you to do this? Also can my friend, be charged for import costs/taxes? I’m trying to avoid problems & embarrassment as the last gift, I sent him did not arrive at all. Surely, there must be a company that understands that gifts shouldn’t be given with their prices listed!
I wish I had a straight answer to this Stephanie. I don’t. My best guess is that it doesn’t exist for India, the rules have become very strict recently. If you use a mainstream shipper, however (like DHL), they might be able to get you through the authentication part. But it might cost you more than usual. Just a guess, though. Sorry I couldn’t help much.
Thanks 🙏 for your helpful information.
But do you have any advise for non-India’s wanting to help some good friends in India with a small parcel?
I have run into a barrier while trying to send a small parcel though a consolidating courier services. They quote me a 65$ price for my 10 lb package. My problem was they want the person who is receiving the package to be the principal person on the account. Fair enough, but they decline me because my credit card information and address and name of course do not match.
So what do I do? Do I Pay the higher prices from USPS or forgo The package and send money instead?
Since probably what I want to send them isn’t worth it.
I actually live in Dominican Republic, and we can ship a U-Haul dish pack box to the island from New York area for 70$ plus either oil or 20lbs of rice outside of the box. No weight limit Door to door.
I was hoping something like that exists for India. With so many people in need. Just asking 🙏 from a fellow blogger
Get ship from the USA to India at the best price with your doorstep.
Thank you for such an informative blog post. I would’ve also spent a fortune if I hadn’t seen your blog. I’m moving from the US on a limited budget and was wondering if/how you could help me get a better deal! Thanks again
I got a quote from DST Courier for sending Documents to India for Just $29.99 for the weight up to 0.5 Lb which will deliver in 3-5 Business days. For Non-Documents they are giving price 10lbs is $79.99
I felt this will help for others this is the best price I got in the market with Fast delivery.
Karthik if possible include in your post about this company this will help others
Nawal, just share this info with a shipment agency and they should give you an estimate.
I am planning to move a Second n=hand used piano from New York to India .
Dimension in inches 58 X 19 x 40
Weight 400 LBS
How much should it cost ?
I bumped across this blog. I am writing in hope to get a discount (as stated at conclusion) 🙂
I did a Diwali Clothing Drive and have tons of clothes to send/donate in India.
All boxes contain clothes.
I am hoping I don’t need to shell $$$$ for this good cause 🙂
I am in NJ. If you, or anyone reading this, knows local shipping cos, I would much appreciate recommendations!
What did you all end up using to move your stuff to India from Seattle, WA? Please let me know.
I am planning to move 15 boxes (18x18x24) to Bangalore from Dallas. The quote that i got from Universal Relocations is $1050 + palletization + port charges (which could be 25 per box). SFL worldwide is giving me $1300, all inclusive door to door. Hope this helps.
How about sending things to rural areas of Assam State
Very detailed and helpful information. Really appreciate your effort sir. Thank You for this.
I would like to ship few shipping items from Redmond to Bangalore, India. Could you suggest what was best happened for you?
You blog is great! Can’t say more as it is awesome.
Do you have a comparison of these regular shipping rates vs the airline additional baggage allowance? The kind of shipping i am referring is like few small items including shoes, small kitchen items etc that can fit in couple of check-in bag which we normally carry as part of checked baggage allowance. Just that we will have more than 2 bags when we relocate.
Hi – I have four 18″x18″x16″ boxes of personal effects (used clothes and shoes) to ship to an Ex who moved back to Mumbai from San Francisco. I’ll like door-to-door, it can take as long as it needs (timing not an issue, sea is fine) – just the most cost effective way that guarantees the items are safely delivered, avoiding customs/duties if possible. Most importantly avoiding any hold-ups and issues on the India end, as the priority is for limited contact/drama with the Ex. Grateful for your advice and recommendations!
Thank you so much for such useful tips on shipping items to India. We are relocating to India (Chennai) from Bethesda, Maryland (USA) this July. We plan to sell all our furniture and only carry clothes and crockery plus some miscellaneous items with us. Those would be about 20 boxes, 18X24X18″. Could you suggest the best way to ship these boxes to India?
UniRelo is popular, so is SFL worldwide, please contact them via live chat and tell them the dimensions, weight and your location, they should be able to give you a quote.
Try Unirelo or a similar shipping agency. Call them up and tell your luggage size, weight, location and destination, they should be able to give you an approximate quote.
I am looking to ship from NYC to Jaipur India. I have two suitcases :
1st suitcase: 17.5 x 26 x 10.5 inches (20 kg)
2nd suitcase: 23 x 16.5 x 15 (20kgs)
What would be cheapest option to ship them?
Hi Mani Karthik,
I need to ship 3 large boxes 1 20×30 suitcase , 1 small book box of 12×16 and medium box of China from NYC- New Delhi. Please could you advise me on the best company for shipment of assorted boxes and who handle shipments with care.
Rajuta, did you shift?. What shipping service did you use?
I am moving to India after a 30 year stay in the US. Unfortunately I had a “temporary” stay in India for 2 years before now deciding to move back permanently, so cannot get the Transfer of Residence concessions. Having seen the quality of items I am getting in India, I felt it is better to bring my furniture and other household items and my audio equipment to India. Most of my furniture and the audio equipment was bought at least 15 years ago. Most of it was considered high-end in the US. I do have invoices for some of the items but not all.
1)I read somewhere that these get depreciated at about 8% per year for customs duty purposes. Is that true or does the customs officer sets his own assessment and rates?
2) Some of the audio equipment (considered audiophile quality) has no re-sale value in the US because of the change in technology (Cd transport/DAC etc). They are also from non-consumer product companies, relatively unknown in India (eg: Krell, Wadia). How do they assess duty on these used items when the resale value in the US is negligible?
3) Do you know if light fixtures like chandeliers are considered furniture for depreciation rules (or is it dependent on the customs officer)?
Your info will really help me in deciding what to do with these items.
Cheapest is shipping, but comes with delays and customs hassles.
Fastest is to carry with you on Air, but it should fit the luggage criteria of your chosen airline.
Duty can range from 10 – 40% of the actual price.
I am planning to return to india, kolkata from USA Los angeles in a couple of months.I have 2 LED smart tvs which i want to take with me to india. One is 43 inch tv (one year old) and the other is 50 inch sony tv (5 years old). Can u plzz suggest me the best and cheapest option to ship those? Can i carry them on flight as checked in luggage? Also what is the expected duty on these at customs. Any suggestion would be highly appreciated. Thanks
use DTDC, they have offices in USA. You can visit their website or call them locally on their US number, they will help you to ship the packages from India to US.
Also they have online booking option through their website to book the packages from US to India and rest of the world in very economical prices.
Which company did you end up using?
I am looking to ship my house hold items from Redmond, WA to Bangalore, India. I am working with few companies. I am comparing the rates with my friends who moved recently from East Coast. Does the rate differ from West coast?
If you could help me in finding a shipping company that will be great.
You need to figure out the dimensions and the avg. weight of the box to get an approximate price. Approach any one of the agents mentioned above and they should be able to give you an estimated price.
I am exploring some shipping option from VA to Kochi, India.
May be 4-5 boxes, not so bulky items.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. All queries answered on one page. Yes, every word is in place and yet explained everything.
When are you shifting from boston? I am in boston too and will be shifting next month to bangalore
Best way is what works for you. One way is to ship via your flight as luggage, but different airlines have different policies so check with yours. Usually if it weighs more than the allowed weight, you have to pay more. Second way is to send through a shipping agency, this will take more time and you’d have to deal with customs etc.
I’m also looking to ship a 65″ or 75″ TV from USA to India. any thoughts on the best ways to ship??
Negative reviews for SFL? I Don’t Think So!
Once i shipped my brothers package from US to India, I really Impressed With Their Service.
I received Packages in short Period of Time.
Unirelo is very popular with the desi community, but like every agency, they too have mixed reviews. I suggest you compare the quotes from UniRelo and others to make a decision.
Looking for relocation from Hyderabad to Santa clara. Have a lots of stuff like kids toys, kitchen utensils, house hold stuff etc, clothing.
Which agency do you recommend?
Thanks for giving very useful information above. Answered lot of my worries. Though do you know what would be the reliable courier to send food items(Chocolate cookies in particular) from US to India so it doesn’t get hold up at customs and gets delivered in one piece? My friend is studying in India and she loves this particular cookies. Any guidance would be helpful.
Thanks in advance.
Hi Mani hope you are well ? my query is regarding purchasing of beer glass/can bottling unit from usa which cost individually around 170000 $ or in INR 1,30,00,000 for single , what would be exact duty need to pay here in India ?
can i go for sea shipping because i am not in hurry , as supplier told me if we go for air cargo that amount would be 3 $/pr kg for 10000 kg machinery in inr is almost 20 lakhs , which i think is very high prices
so what would be cheapest cargo service / should go for sea shipping ?
I am in Boston, MA. I am returning to India middle of next year. I would like to send household items (like 65″TV, Couch, Bed, Dining Table, Dress and other Kitchen items) to Chennai or Coimbatore.
Please let me know the best and cheap shipping options through sea. Because thinking if i put all the stuffs in the container that would be safe.
I am also in Seattle moving back to India, need to ship most of my household stuff.
Can you help me with your experience in this regard? And any recommendations?
For that I’d suggest USPS itself. I’ve used them to send Xmas cards/letters/documents to India and it works fine. Cost is also minimal.
hi there. i need to send one envelope weighing 200 gms only to india. which is the best and cheapest courier service for that ?
i want to ship a 70″ lg tv from usa to india , what is the best way to ship ?
Hi Karthik, I want to see some clothes, shoes and kitchen utensils to India as relocating from here. I am in Seattle. Please suggest some options. Thanks in advance.
What about from Delhi to San Francisco area
I am a student and need to ship my stuff back to India from Raleigh to Mumbai. I have limited amount of stuff. PL help.
wanted to ship some creams (3 counts may be ) just a small package from USA to INDIA
which service do u recommend?
i tried garudaveega for clothing but they r not allowing liquids or semi liquids..
any recommendations may be ?
I see your blog has useful information and I have gone through it. Which shipping company is much reliable if I need to ship my items as I am moving back. I keep thinking about shared container vs independent container. I see shared container may have problems with missing/misplacement of boxes and also they will take time.
And a complete container may be more reliable but has high price. Which is much reliable shipping company to move from Houston to Bangalore.
I’m trying to move to india from US. Please let me know if there is any discount I can avail
A phone on contract won’t work in India. You need to buy a non-contract, open to other carriers phone.
Hi My parents are badly need of Good Quality phone. I want to send my iPhone 8 to Hyderabad, India. whats service should be using and how expensive will it be. ?
I’d suggest getting them shipped via a shipping agency like Unirelo.
Hi Mani karthik,
I am moving to India. I have got 4 TVs(2 65″ and 2 55″) and two sound systems to ship India. Altogether it weigh close to 200lbs. What do you suggest me doing ?
I am trying to send 3 boxes of buggies diapers to India for my nephew In Hyderabad.Can you tell me the best way to ship them ASAP.
Hi Mani, I want to send 2 Bags to india. Could you please help me in finding better price for sending these items. Thanks in Advance.
Hi Venky, every company has negative reviews, so please do further reading on whether or not they are useful for you. There are groups where many who relocated have shared their experiences – perhaps ask there. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Hi Mani – I am relocating back to India (from Charlotte) and looking for a relocation agency. I have stuff close to 10-13 boxes (24 X 18 X 18) which includes very expensive hi-fi-audio equipment, toys, kitchen stuff, etc (face values would be around $4500). Which shipping agency do you recommend? I have been exploring both SFL Worldwide and Universal relocations, but do see lot of negative reviews for both and it makes me scary when i read reviews that stuff goes missing from the boxes. Please advise ?
Hey, I have an iphone Xs to seel from uk if you’re interested.
hi, I want to ship small parcels from India to US. These parcels contain clothes weighing less than 2 pounds which customers bought from my website. Which courier service is reliable and cheaper? Is it okay if I underwrite the amount in invoice?
I want to buy iphone Xs max from US and ship it to India. Please tell me the most most reliable and economic way to ship to India.
I suggest you only take it with you if you have some kind of emotional attachment to it. It’s going to be so much hassle bringing it and making it work in India. There are plenty of options in India these days.
I am planning to ship my 55 inch tv from Chicago to new delhi. This tv is of 2015 model. What u suggest?
I have a Ducati Monster and House stuffs to move from US to India(Bangalore) , Could you please suggest who can help me out
It will depend on the size of the box/boxes + the weight Neha. Get an estimate and approach the agencies, they can give you an accurate quote.
Check with any of the agencies mentioned above. It should be fine.
Need to send one bag of clothes and toys for my kid back in India for this birthday. 20kg should be fine.
Interested to get good shipping rate from Overland Park Kansas to Nashik Maharashtra
All the best Siddarth.
Try SFL Worldwide Ashok. They can help you relocate.
Thanks for a Great information. I need to buy lot of products from USA. now little clear how to shipping usa to india with cheapest courier services.
I have lots of decorative items which are actually a collection of Germany and Italian potteries and Books which I just do not want to leave here when I will return. So started thinking from now to ship those items.
But really need to know more about this.
But do you think shipping a sofa and a 50” TV would be a good decision? I believe that would be a lot of shipping charges.
Hello Mr. Mani,
Basically I am from Chennai. Now I am in Denver, CO. I am returning to India after 2 and half years. I would like to send some of the household items to Chennai. Please let me know the best and cheap shipping options thru sea.
Which is the best and fast courier service in Buffalo (US) to get official document from there to India?
Yes they do ship furniture. They calculate it in “boxes” not by furniture dimensions. Depending on which type of shipping you’re opting for (by shipping containers, regular boxes etc), they usually figure out how the furniture will fit or where they will fit and give a quote accordingly. Many people ship entire household things including electronics, furniture etc as a whole through shipping containers and they’ll let you know how many containers would it take. I would suggest you call up one of them (whichever you think is good) and let them know your objects to ship and they’ll let you know how much space it’d take. Simple as that.
All the best!
Thanks Karthik, till this point I was like very confused where to go for Shipping. I am planning to relocate in near future and started my investigation how to ship goods from USA to India. Your information is really very helpful and as you said my investigation had come to a stop. Thanks a lot. I will choose one of the shipping companies suggested.
Will these companies ship Furniture. as I see these companies do shipping related to Boxes. For example how much they would consider to ship just a 3 seater sofa and a 50″ TV.
Hello Karthik, You won’t believe how happy and relieved I was to read through your blog on shipping from USA to India. And I’m equally certain to expect some friendly and economical advice and guidance from you. I am looking to get a large number of old collection of used National Geographic magazines from 1917 to 2015 to India. A certain retired teacher from the USA is willing to share this collection with some of the schools here who work for the under privileged and needy students. I am based here in the city of Pune (150 kms from Mumbai) India. The deal is for us to arrange for pick up and then ship it to India. I am looking for shipping company that will collect the parcel from the local USA address and ship the same to me here in India. Please guide me to find such shipping company with reasonable charges.
Thank you. Best wishes and regards.
Mani, I really applaud you for your website and your intentions. As an immigrant, even with having lots of family here in LA and in Mumbai, I would still feel lost if I was to return to India. Like you , I have lived all over the world and am an LA local. I wish you the very best in your future endeavors, and hope to connect with you sometime. – A Indian in LA.
Thanks Karthik for the information.