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How to make student shipping simple

Getting ready to study abroad can cause a whirlwind of emotions. A mix of excitement about the future and worry regarding transporting your belongings overseas. However, with the right information and a little preparation, international shipping doesn't need to be daunting. 

In this quick guide, we answer all the big questions, from how much shipping costs to finding the best student luggage moving company. With this knowledge, you'll be well on your way to a smooth and stress-free start to your studies.

What are the best international student shipping options?

When looking for international student shipping options, sea and air are the two main transportation methods to consider. The best one for your needs will depend on your timeframe and budget.

Sea shipping is the most affordable option and better for the environment as it produces fewer CO2 emissions, reducing your shipment's carbon footprint. It also allows you to send large or fragile items like furniture and wide-screen TVs. Due to weight and size limitations, these goods aren't feasible to ship via air. However, sea shipping takes longer, often several weeks or months, so plan accordingly.

On the other hand, air shipping is faster, sometimes taking days rather than months, making it the better choice if you need your items quickly. But speed comes at a cost, and this method is slightly more expensive than sea shipping.

It's also worth noting airlines use volumetric weight (not to be confused with our maximum weight limit, which is there to protect you and drivers from injury) to calculate prices. Essentially, the larger an item is, the more space it takes up on the plane, costing more to send. To work out a bag, box or suitcase's vol. weight, multiply its height, width, and depth, then divide the total by 5000. The airline will compare this figure to the actual weight and charge based on which is heavier.

Couple choosing an international shipping service on a laptop


Seven Seas Worldwide vans traveling across South Africa

How much does international student shipping cost?

International student shipping costs vary depending on several factors, such as the shipment's destination, the number of items sent, the transportation method and the shipping service used.

At Seven Seas Worldwide, we offer two student shipping services, each with its own base fee, catering to different load sizes.

If you only have a few containers to send, our International Student Shipping service is ideal. Plus, we provide high-quality cardboard boxes in Large and Standard sizes to protect your belongings on their travels. 

Alternatively, our MoveCube® is a mini shipping container we deliver to your door ready for you to load. Available in Small, Medium and Large, these sturdy wooden crates can fit anything from bicycles to furniture. Each can carry up to 1.25 tonnes, and we also provide multiples for even bigger shipments. 

Several other variables also affect student shipping costs, including transportation method, the destination and the number of items sent. Enter this information into our free online quote engine for an accurate fee tailored to your needs.


How to pack belongings for international student shipping?

When packing your belongings for international shipping, start early and declutter. Make an inventory of your items as you fill your boxes, and use quality packing materials such as bubble wrap and parcel tape. Place heavier items at the bottom of the container and lighter items on top to avoid damage during transit.

While we recommend hiring a professional to do the work for you, here are some tips to help simplify the process if you're on a tight student budget and decide to pack yourself. Remember to read our in-depth packing guides for more advice!


Start early and declutter:

After booking our reliable service, start packing sooner rather than later to give yourself enough time to declutter and organise your belongings.

Sort through your items and decide what to bring along on your study abroad adventure and what can be discarded or donated. Doing this will reduce the amount you need to pack and make the process more manageable.


Use high-quality packing materials:

Invest in sturdy packaging (or use the ones we supply!), such as double-walled cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape. Avoid plastic storage tubs, laundry bags, bin liners and used boxes, as they don't provide enough protection. Also, containers that have held food are a no-no because some countries have strict quarantine regulations and won't clear boxes dirtied by organic matter through customs.


Complete the inventory as you pack:

Keep track of the contents of each box, bag or suitcase you're shipping by accurately filling out your online Inventory Packing List, accessed by logging into your Seven Seas Worldwide account as you pack.

Then, using a marker pen, write the shipment owner's job number, box number, and destination country and city on at least two sides of every container. Please ensure these match the details on your inventory.


Pack your goods strategically:

Start by packing the heaviest items at the bottom of the box and lighter items on top to avoid crushing. Then, use packing paper or bubble wrap to cushion empty spaces and prevent your belongings from bumping into each other.

Individually wrap breakable goods like plates and photo frames in soft materials and place them in the middle of the box rather than resting against the inside walls.


Are there any restrictions on what can be sent?

Several items, including hazardous materials like explosives, flammable goods, and compressed gases, cannot be shipped internationally. Other prohibited items include illegal substances and counterfeit objects.

Before packing, read our Prohibited Items page and check you're not planning to send anything banned from importation. Failure to do so can result in unnecessary fines and delays, two things we're keen for you to avoid!

All governments impose restrictions on objects that could harm their environment or citizens. However, these rules vary between countries. For example, Australia and New Zealand enforce strict quarantine regulations regarding household goods that might contain soil, dirt and other contaminants.

So ensure shoes, sports equipment, and garden tools are thoroughly clean and dry before packing. Then, place them at the top of the box for easy inspection.

Also, please note that food and drink items are banned across all our shipping services. And it's best to avoid packing liquids like toiletries as they often spill or their bottles break, causing harm to yourself, our drivers and your other personal effects. 

Two international student packing a shipping box


How long does international student shipping take?

International student shipping can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on whether your belongings are sent by sea or air, the chosen service (such as Air Economy or Air Express) and the to and from countries.

While we work hard to make the process smooth sailing and even offer two weeks of free storage in most origin and destination countries, it's a good idea to allow a little extra time in case of customs clearance issues or unexpected delays like port closures or poor weather conditions.

Here are transit times* for some of the most popular countries our student shipping service covers, based on sending two Large boxes from London, UK, to the destination's capital city. 



By sea:

109 days

By air:

26 days


China Mainland

By sea:

120 days

By air:

29 days


Hong Kong SAR

By sea:

77 days

By air:

15 days



By sea:

86 days

By air:

15 days



By sea:

86 days

By air:

17 days


United States

By sea:

95 days

By air:

18 days

*estimated timings dependent on global shipping circumstances.


Couple packing a box for international shipping

Can I track my shipment?

Yes, you can track your shipment! Accessing our online tracking tool lets you monitor your good's journey, providing additional peace of mind and informing you of their progress from start to finish.

Plus, you'll receive regular email notifications updating you on your shipment's status. And our multilingual customer support team are only a phone call away if you need further advice.

How to choose a reliable student shipping company?

Choosing a reliable student shipping company can be overwhelming. Look for a company with plenty of experience and excellent customer assistance. And consider their shipping options, including the countries they cover, customs clearance support and any additional services they provide, like insurance policies.

Here are some more key points to keep in mind before hitting the order button:

  • Flexible services: we understand plans change — that's why our student storage and shipping services are fully flexible! Whether you need to send boxes or bags overseas at the end of term, move them domestically between different addresses, or store them securely while away on your summer travels, our company has you covered.
  • No hidden fees: no one enjoys getting hit with unexpected costs after purchasing a service, especially students on a budget. For 100% transparency, our quotes provide a clear, itemised breakdown of all the fees involved. Plus, we never ask for full payment upfront, instead charging in affordable instalments.
  • Customer support: we control a worldwide network of depots, covering countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania and North America. So, you can rest assured our customer service team will be with you every step of the way.
  • Amount of experience: loved by graduates for over 25 years, you can trust your belongings are in safe hands. Our friendly team are also expert in handling the customs clearance process, thanks to their in-depth local knowledge. Another task you can tick off your to-do list!
  • Convenient collection and delivery: simply get a free instant quote, place your order and choose suitable dates for us to drop off your packing materials and pick up your shipment. Our team will collect the items from your door. And once you've completed the customs documentation, ship them overseas and deliver them to their destination.


We understand plans change — that's why our student storage and shipping services are fully flexible!
Young woman on the phone to an international student shipping company