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Q7.3 How can I import goods from the US to Italy? Shipping by air cargo


This article is from the Italy FAQ, by Gianluigi Sartori gg@angel.stanford.edu, Paolo Fiorini fiorini@telerobotics.jpl.nasa.gov with numerous contributions by others.

Q7.3 How can I import goods from the US to Italy? Shipping by air cargo

Furio Ercolessi <furio@tsmi19.sissa.it> writes:

Air cargo is a quite effective way to ship stuff quickly across
the ocean. The caveat is that you have to carry the goods by
yourself to and from the two airports involved, and handle the
customs procedure by yourself. Typical delivery time may be around 72
hours or less. Keep in mind that leaving things "parked" at the final
airport is not free. For example, Venezia charges L.19/kg/day,
unless you pick up your things within three days from the
arrival. Pack your things into any random assembly of boxes
of whatever size or weight, but it is strongly recommended
to pack very well (use foam, and nested boxes with foam in between
for delicate equipment such as bombs, kalashnikovs etc), and
protect from humidity (large garbage bags are great), just in case
the plane makes a dive into the ocean along the way. Use strong
tape such as 'Duct' (sp?), seal all holes. No one will ever care
to orient your boxes so that the 'up' arrow points upwards,
and 'Fragile' labels are simply pathetic in their ingenuity.
But in general the handling method is gentle enough to avoid
damage, unless accidents occur.

It is essential to shop around, as there are significant price
differences among different airlines. As a guideline, I enclose
the results of my (not exhaustive) search made on january 1994,
and relative to a US->Italy shipment for a total weight of kg 200.
I guarantee that some of the information presented below is
wrong, and that I do not know which is right and which is wrong :-)

If you are moving back after a period spent working in the US,
you must go to the italian consulate with a list of all the
stuff you are shipping, including serial numbers for all
electronic and photographic equipment. They will prepare
a form that you will present to the italian customs to claim
tax exemption (it really works!). The list does not need to
make reference to the individual boxes in your shipping (so
that you can easily do it in advance), it is not necessary
to specify the value of the goods, and must be in italian.
In principle you must be in the AIRE list to do this.
In practice, at least at the Chicago consulate, they can
AIREize and deAIREize you on the spot on the same day, so
it's not a real problem.

For shipping and insurance (but not customs) purposes, you
will also have to prepare a packing list (in english), where the
contents of the individual boxes is listed, and the value of the
goods is given.

The rates below may increase if you shipment occupies a large
volume relative to its weight. For instance, Air France uses
the following formula:
Charging_weight = Max(Effective_weight,Volume_weight)
Volume_weight = (L x W x H)/366
L,W,H are the box dimensions in inches.

I have normalized all prices to kg units - for some strange
reason, american companies tend to give prices per pound :-)
As everybody certainly knows from age 3, 1 lb = 0.453 kg.

I was shipping from Chicago O'Hare.
My final destination was Trieste, so my choice of airport was
(in the preferred order) Trieste, Venezia, Milano. Every carrier
goes to Milano, only a few to Venezia, almost nobody to Trieste and
nobody at a reasonable price.

Air France ...... 1-800-232-2746 "about $2/kg" from Chicago to Venezia
Rather good price.

Alitalia ........ 1-800-221-4745 $3.60/kg from Chicago to Trieste.
Other cities may be somewhat less, but Alitalia
has a reputation to be completely out of
the cargo market, with absurd prices.

American Airlines 1-800-227-4622 $3.53/kg from Chicago to Milano.

British Airways 1-800-247-9297, 1-312-686-5720 $3.11/kg from
Chicago to Venezia, from 100kg to 300kg.
But they are crazy, since you must pay for
300kg even if you have less than that.
That is, the shipment has a fixed cost of
300x3.11 = $933 regardless of the actual weight.

KLM ............. 1-312-686-6080 No cargo service to Italy.

Lufthansa ....... 1-312-686-8192 $2.70/kg from Chicago to Milano.
$3.07/kg from Chicago to Venezia.

Swissair ........ 1-312-686-7335 $1.65/kg from Chicago to Milano.
Price to Rome should be similar to Milan.
This is the best price I have ever obtained.
Some friends of mine shipped stuff from
Chicago to Rome using Swissair cargo with
full satisfaction.

TWA ............. 1-314-423-9550 $2.10/kg from St Louis to Milano.
$3.26/kg from St Louis to Venezia. They are
cheaper from St Louis than Chicago, since
their general headquarters are there.

United Airlines . 1-800-631-1500 $3.53/kg from Chicago to Milano.

I ended using Air France, due to their good rate to Venezia, which
is much closer to Trieste (my final destination) than Milano.
Their final rate was $1.90/kg, but I had far more than kg 200
as I initially estimated (RULE OF THUMB: do your best estimate
of how much stuff you have, and then multiply it by two!!!).
I also bought insurance at a cost of 0.5% of the value of the
goods (as declared on the packing list).
Everything went fairly smoothly. I spent about two hours at their
cargo terminal at O'Hare, for unloading, weighting, do the
paperwork and payment. About one and a half hour in Venezia
for customs and loading.
No apparent damages, but as I am writing this I still have to open
a lot of boxes and turn on a few devices.


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