International Shipping

I know this is not good news to start the new year, but I am going to suspend most international shipping for now (please read all the way through for options). Alcohol-based perfume is not supposed to ship by regular airmail in or from the USA, and regulations are becoming tighter on shipments of perfume in other countries too. In two weeks alcohol-based perfume will be illegal to ship to the UK, and it is already illegal in numerous other countries, with some being more strict about it than others (for example, Italy and Canada are strict and customs throws out perfume if they find it in packages). Alcohol-based perfume is supposed to ship by FedEx/UPS or other courier, not by regular airmail. The problem is that FedEx and UPS charge over $150 to ship to most countries from the USA, even for tiny packages. It is not worth paying the FedEx/UPS fees unless you are buying a lot of bottles in a group buy and splitting the shipping fees. As of a few months ago, all first class international usps shipments are now recorded in an online USA postal system, creating a record of every shipment along with the declared contents and value. Clearly we have bigger hazards in the USA than worrying about shipping a few bottles of perfume, much less samples, but it is a risk I shouldn’t be taking, especially given the many international orders I have been receiving lately.

For those in Canada, I should soon be able to ship to Canada via UPS Standard Ground (the way Luckyscent does) and the cost is reasonable at about $18, though duties may apply depending on the value. I have already done it, but I need to get it set up on the website so that duties can be predicted ahead of time.

For customers overseas, I have several suggestions. If you want to purchase directly from me, you can use a freight forwarding service that gives you a USA address; I would ship to the USA freight forwarder and then they collect and forward all your packages on to you, or they can send one at a time. If you consolidate your packages from several USA merchants, you can save on shipping. Many freight forwarders will not ship alcohol-based perfume by regular mail, but some of them have other methods of shipment to offer, depending on your country. One freight forwarder I have worked with on a shipment to Saudi Arabia can possibly help many of you. His name is Jim Rojas and he has an ebay shipping store. His shipping costs are very reasonable (though you may have duties depending on your country). You can get a quote from him if you give him the size and weight of the package, and I can give that information to you if you tell me what SSS items you would like to buy. Many larger freight forwarding companies exist, like myus.com, and some of my customers have used others. So far I have had good experiences with freight forwarders, but you probably need to check their reviews/testimonials. Another option is for me to ship to a friend or family member here in the USA who can then get the package to you. And a third option is to buy from one of my retailers who ships to your country. Sundhaft sells my boutique line in Germany, and I hope to have several more retailers in Europe in 2013. Also, Indie Scents in the USA does some international shipping and carries my boutique line. And for decants and samples, Surrender to Chance does some international shipping. Each retailer considers the rules and the risks and then decides how to handle international shipping; some retailers are willing to take more risk than others and that is why you see varying policies. (When I say risk I am not talking about bottle breakage, which never happens when you pack well; I am talking about the risk of being fined for shipping alcohol-based perfume and/or having the contents of packages confiscated.)

I will continue to work on this issue, and when I add body oils and other non-alcohol products those will be easy to ship by regular mail to any country. I value my international customers very much and want to find more ways to get my products to you. Meantime, please consider the options I have mentioned. I will do as much as I can to help.

About Laurie E

artisan perfumer and owner of Sonoma Scent Studio
This entry was posted in Sonoma Scent Studio Updates. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to International Shipping

  1. kry says:

    Sad Canadian here.
    I need an Amerifriend.

    • Laurie E says:

      Actually I should have a fix for Canadian shipping since we can use UPS Standard Ground (no oceans to cross). The Canadian duty taxes are the issue at the moment, but the shipping itself is doable. It is sad that it’s all so hard though.

  2. Wow. This is ridiculous! As you pointed out, there are more things in the US that require attention.

    • Laurie E says:

      I wish there was a small quantity exception for perfume for international shipments by regular airmail. With FedEx/UPS, there is a total ml limit and a per bottle ml limit below which you get an exemption from hazardous goods rules. We need the equivalent exemption for usps. A bubble mailer with some samples of 1 ml perfume is not the same as a huge pallet of perfume bottles, yet it’s all prohibited.

      • Exactly! It’s these one-size-fits-all regulations that just makes people batty.

        I used to work in a wine store and the laws in NY state are that we can ship alcohol within the state, but it cannot cross state borders going in or coming out.

        Which means all those lovely cult bottles from CA are no-no’s! So sad!

      • Laurie E says:

        I bet wine is even harder because the bottles are bigger! And drinkable alcohol has all kinds of regulations…

  3. laniersmith says:

    Oh this is just distressing! Thanks for posting the news.

    • Laurie E says:

      Sure, I felt I needed to explain the situation. I’m sorry. šŸ˜¦

      • laniersmith says:

        No need to be sorry. You have no control over the situation. And as you point out there are options. So where can one test your fragrances in San Francisco I would love to try them out.
        Lanier

      • Laurie E says:

        USA customers can order samples for $3.50 each plus $3.50 shipping, so that’s a fairly painless way to try the scents. I’m not in a SF boutique right now, but as soon as I launch the first few naturals I will work to find a local retailer (I’ve been in contact with a few and have some possibilities). I also want to add some open studio hours here during the warmer weather season so that people can stop in while wine tasting in Sonoma. I do the bulk of my sales online from my own website rather than through boutiques (and that’s how I keep prices more reasonable). I have not yet taken advantage of my great location though, so it’s time to do that!

  4. How excruciating for you and us. It’s all about the theatre of looking like they are doing something and it makes me furious.
    Good Luck with it all,
    Portia xx

  5. Donelle Talintyre says:

    Very disappointing, having never placed an order with you but had considered it several times, I wish I had ordered when I had the chance. Have emailed some of these contacts to see if they can help ship to Aussie SSS fans…awaiting response(s). My husband made the comment, blame the Taliban, he does work in the freight forwarding industry but his company doesn’t export perfumes. Fair enough comment though there must be more too it than that. Maybe one day perfumes will contain a fire-retarding ingredient and or fire protection packaging will be designed which will stop this nonsense…

    • Laurie E says:

      Hi Donelle. That’s an interesting thought about packaging! Shipping to Australia has gone very well. I’m sure Jim would say yes but I don’t know about other freight forwarders. If you want to try a freight forwarder you can send me an email and we can talk about it.

      • Donelle Talintyre says:

        Hi Laurie, after corresponding with myusa.com, they told me that they will ship perfumes to Australia. I set up an account with them today and have placed a small order with MAC cosmetics (their American site charges at least half the price of their Australian equivalent), and it seems that they have accepted my order with a U.S. address without any problems. So in a few weeks I will try and place an order with you and if it works well, Myusa.com can then repackage and combine the orders and send to me. Fingers crossed that this all works!

      • Laurie E says:

        That’s great news, Donelle! Combining orders to ship together makes sense. Thanks so much for reporting back!

      • Laurie E says:

        Donelle, I just set up a coupon code to help people who are trying out freight forwarders. For Jan and Feb of 2013 I’m giving free shipping to those using freight forwarders and ordering $20 or more. You can use code FreightForward20 and give me a link to the freight forwarder you are using so I can check to be sure that’s the shipping address. If the code does not get abused I’ll keep it up beyond Feb. If it doesn’t work I’ll try to think of something else.

  6. Roza says:

    What!? has just prepare to orders…

  7. Berni Ross says:

    I’m really disappointed to read this, since I’ve just recently discovered your line, and have been enjoying a few of them with a view to buying full bottles soon. She who hesitated has truly lost. . . It seems that common sense has flown out the window yet again.

    • Laurie E says:

      I agree, the rules do not make sense (small amounts of perfume ought to be ok). I answered your email, but to clarify for others, it is fine to ship oil-based perfumes, body lotion, body cream, solid perfume, etc. It’s just the alcohol that is the problem. Here in the USA you are supposed to “present any package containing liquids” to your postal service person to accept/deny, but as long as the liquid does not contain alcohol, is not flammable, and is wrapped properly it is ok.

  8. Mark Evans says:

    Hi Laurie,
    Being an indie perfumer in Australia with the same restrictions, I’ve been struggling with this problem myself for a while and have had to resort to offering non-flammable, oil-based versions of the fragrances for overseas customers. Nothing can ever replace alcohol as a solvent (yet) but after a bit of fiddling around with the formulas, the oil based fragrances are pretty close.
    Maybe this could be an option for yourself (and others), it just requires an inevitable change in the expectation and mindset of the overseas buyer.

    • Laurie E says:

      Thanks so much for the suggestion, Mark! I’ve been wondering about that; I’ve been trying to decide whether people would rather have a higher concentration parfum oil or a lower concentration body oil. Do you find that people prefer a roll-on application for a parfum oil or a dab on?

      I used to do some oils and stopped because it was complicated to have to stock two different versions of each formula, but it looks like it is time to go back to that.

  9. Christine says:

    Very sad news! I would love it if you offered a higher concentration parfum oil version of your perfumes. I have Velvet Rose in the perfume oil & I actually love it more than the extrait. I sometimes have trouble with roll-on perfumes not working properly but the Velvet Rose one works great. I’d be happy with either type of application method.

  10. b_happy_s says:

    so where is Jim Rojas? he is not replying all of my emails

    • Laurie E says:

      Jim doesn’t seem to be shipping perfume anymore; I no longer link to him from my site. I’m sorry about that. It’s really hard to find a legal way to do it. Indie Scents does ship via UPS (which is legal and they’ve negotiated better rates than I can get). Surrender To Chance is the best option right now for samples and decants.

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