Sending your luggage back from a holiday stay can often prove more economical than paying the excess luggage charge at the airport – and the added benefits are that you don’t have to carry your luggage to the airport or waste time collecting your luggage at the other end.
Whilst it’s really easy to ship your luggage back from a holiday stay, there are some things that are vital to a successful collection and delivery.
In this blog we will cover all the things you need to know to send your luggage back from a holiday stay, including:
- How to organise a collection from your hotel
- What to know before choosing a courier
- Advise on customs charges and how to avoid them
- How to label your luggage correctly for shipping
- Checklist; what to do before leaving your luggage behind
How to organise a collection from your hotel
If you are staying a hotel, then it is important to check with the concierge or front desk staff to find out how they can assist you with shipping your luggage back home. Most hotels will have a designated area where you can leave your luggage for pick up via courier, and it is important to find out the following information before you book a courier to collect your luggage:
- Is there a collection point onsite? If so, will the hotel charge you for using this facility?
- Will the hotel staff be happy to hand your luggage to the courier upon collection?
- Will the hotel staff be happy to contact you if there are any issue with the collection?
- Will the hotel be able to help you print out your shipping label?
Where to leave your luggage for pick up
Most hotels will have a collection point onsite where the courier will go to collect your luggage. It is usually the concierge or reception, but be sure to check as you will need to add this information to the collection address on your shipping label.
It’s also important that you get the name of the person in there so you can add this to the collection address details when booking your courier. Don’t just write ‘concierge desk’ as your contact may be on a break when the driver arrives, and their colleagues may not be aware of your collection and send the driver away.
If your collection fails, then don’t just assume that the hotel staff will automatically organise another collection for you or contact you to let you know. Instead make sure that you give them your personal contact details and ask them to call you if there are any problems with collection.
Make sure you can print your shipping documents
Once you have booked your collection online, you will need to print off your shipping documents; most hotels should be happy for you to use their print facility. If not, you will need to find another alternative such as an internet cafe.
What to know before choosing a courier
Luggage is classed as ‘personal effects’ and not all couriers are able to transport personal effects. So make sure you check this prior to booking your collection. ParcelHero can transport personal effects to and from most destinations worldwide.
How safe it is to use a courier for your luggage?
So long as you use a reputable company, transporting via courier is a secure means of shipping, so you don’t need to worry about your luggage’s safety, however it may be worth taking out additional insurance with your courier to cover you in the unlikely event of loss or damage – especially if you are sending any items that are irreplaceable or high value. Additional insurance should not cost you much extra, but there are some items that you can’t insure via courier, so be sure to check that your items qualify by checking your couriers ‘non compensation’ list in advance.
It’s worth noting that the suitcase itself is classed as ‘external packaging’ to a courier, and you will not be able to claim for any damages, scrapes, tears, rips or dents that your luggage may incur in transit, unless you put your luggage inside a box. If you opt for taking out additional insurance this will only cover the contents of your suitcase and not the case itself.
Duty and VAT relief for importing personal effects into the UK
If you are shipping your luggage across the EU borders, you will be required to provide a customs invoice, which you should be able to prepare online if you’re using a reputable courier with good technology.
As all luggage shipments imported into the UK are considered as personal effects, you may be subject to duty and VAT charges upon customs clearance – however if you meet certain criteria, you should not have to pay anything at all. To qualify for duty and VAT relief for your personal effect shipment, you must fulfil all of the following criteria:
- Be the owner of the goods and have personally owned and used the goods for at least 6 months before entering the UK
- Complete a C3 form for customs clearance. (The receiver will be sent this when the goods arrive back into the UK)
Goods that can be declared as personal effects usually include, but are not limited to; personal clothing and footwear (but not fur apparel), souvenirs and grooming equipment (but not perfume or perfume concentrates).
Personal effects/goods that do not qualify for duty and VAT relief:
- Alcohol and tobacco products
- Goods you intend to sell (commercial goods)
- Goods you have purchased from overseas that you have not owned for 6 months or more (including souvenirs)
All items that are not considered as personal effects will be subject to duty and VAT charges, however for low value items, there are some further concessions as follows:
- If the total value of your goods is less than £136.00 GBP, then you will not have to pay any duty charge, but you will still be subject to VAT charges (20% of the value of the goods)
- If the total value of your goods is less than £15.00 GBP, you will not have to pay any duty or VAT charges
If you require more information, contact the HMRC National Advice Service on Tel: 0845 010 9000 or +44 208 929 0152 for international callers.
How to label your luggage correctly for shipping
Only affix the shipping documents on the side of the suitcase if it is a hard-case suitcase otherwise the labels may not properly grip and may fall off during transit. If your luggage is made from textiles of fabrics, then affix the shipping documents to the luggage handle instead using a ‘documents enclosed pouch’ (your hotel should have this in their mail room) and affix the same way they affix the luggage tags at the airport. Make sure that the documents are firmly affixed and wrapped around the handle securely.
If the hotel does not have a document enclosed pouch that you can use, then you need to find another solution like a plastic sleeve for documents, available at most post offices worldwide.
Whichever way you affix the shipping documents, it’s imperative that you ensure that the barcoded label is on top, fully visible, and straight. Ensure that the barcode is not folded or creased in any way, as otherwise the courier will not be able to scan it.
Checklist for what to do before leaving your luggage behind
Before you hand your luggage over to the hotel, or courier, make sure you have done the following first:
1. Ensure that your luggage does not contain any items prohibited for transport via courier. This is very important as every courier will have a list of items that they cannot ship such as aerosols, perfumes and tobacco, for example, so make sure you remove these from your luggage prior to collection. Usually prohibited goods include, but are not limited to:
- Aerosols Dairy Furs Ivory Fresh Food Animals Cash
Nail Varnish Perfume Plants Tobacco Seeds
If you are unsure of what you can send via courier then check with the courier before you book your collection.
2. Make sure that you place a copy of all shipping documents, including the customs invoice, inside the suitcase in case the shipping label comes off during transit.
3. Make sure your suitcase is not locked. This may seem like strange advice, but if you are shipping your luggage across EU borders, your luggage will be subject to customs clearance and inspection and if your suitcase if locked, then customs officials cannot inspect your goods and your luggage will be delayed until you can unlock it.
If you follow these guidelines you shouldn’t have any issues with shipping your luggage back to the UK, but it’s worth asking your courier if you have any further questions or if you need any assistance.