Shipping Plants Internationally by Courier, How to Pack Them Safely

Sending potted and outdoor plants overseas by mail or courier

Shipping plants across the country or internationally may be a tricky task, but it is definitely not an impossible one. Discover how to pack your plants for shipping with expert tips from our specialists. Follow these tips on how to ship house and outdoor plants by courier to have them delivered in the safest way possible and pay close attention to the restrictions of this service.

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Things to know before shipping potted plants

If you are to send live plants using a courier or mail service, you have to take precautions to do it right. Here are a few things to have in mind before shipping plants locally or internationally:

  • Consider the estimated time of delivery when sending plants by courier to make sure your plants can survive the transit time.
  • Organise the collection at the beginning of the week so that it can be delivered within the next few days, avoiding that your plant stays in the courier’s warehouse throughout the weekend.
  • You can use handling labels such as “Handle with care” or “This side up”, but please bear in mind that the carriers are not obliged to treat parcels differently.
  • Pay attention to the weather as most standard courier services cannot guarantee a temperature-controlled environment. Shipping plants in winter may require more attention during packaging to ensure the plant will hold safely during the transit time.
  • Ensure you have the paperwork and certificates necessary for shipping plants overseas before booking the courier service. Check our Regulations Section below for more details.


How to ship live plants internationally?

At Eurosender, we offer various shipping solutions for door-to-door deliveries.
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*Please have in mind that some courier companies may include plants in the list of prohibited items. For any clarifications, please contact our team of specialists via chat.


How to pack small or potted plants in a box

These guidelines apply to sending plants by courier if they are small enough to be shipped in a package comfortably. Follow the steps below when preparing your plants for transportation before sending them via courier:

  • Water your plant to make sure it is adequately hydrated for the journey (without overdoing it).
  • When sending potted plants via courier, cover the pot with bubble wrap and put several pieces of cardboard scrap on the soil to secure it properly.
  • If you wish to ship the plant without the pot, remove the plant from the soil and protect the plant’s roots by covering it with several moist paper towels, bubble wrap and a collar of cardboard. Afterwards, place them in a plastic bag secured with adhesive tape.
  • Protect the top of the plant with newspapers or cling film. Put the plant in the box standing upright, if possible, and empty spaces with cushioning material.
  • Seal the box and secure its seams with adhesive tape. Consider labelling it with “Fragile” or “Handle with care”.


How to pack large plants or trees on a pallet

Plants of large dimensions may not fit under the dimensions limit of package delivery. The safest alternative is to ship live large plants using freight transport services. Here are the guidelines for packing large plants on a pallet safely:

  • Remove the tree from the soil but keep a small amount of it to maintain the tree humid and trim the leaves as much as possible.
  • Wrap the roots with wet paper towels and plastic foil or big plastic bags. Do not soak the paper too much. You can also choose to ship the plant still potted.
  • Protect the pallet with liner paper and place the tree on top.
  • Secure the tree with several straps and bands to make sure it stands still. Alternatively, build a crate around the tree with plywood sheets.
  • Make sure the plant will not be able to move during transit and label your shipment.


Regulations on shipping house and outdoor plants abroad

Sending plants inside the EU

When shipping plants or seeds within the European Union, check whether it needs a phytosanitary certificate, as it depends on the type of plant you are shipping. The same recommendation goes for plant seeds delivery by courier or by mail. The European Union applies strict regulations to plants that are sent from outside the EU. However, there are no legal requirements for additional sanitary checks and certificates if you are shipping a plant that is grown and transported within the EU.

Sending plants to/from countries outside the EU

When it comes to sending plants internationally to countries outside the EU, it is necessary to check the official requirements and regulations from both countries related to this international plant transportation (origin and destination countries).

The first step is to check whether the species of plant you want to send is allowed in the delivery country. Secondly, the sender needs to arrange all necessary documents for it to be cleared during the customs clearance procedures. In the USA, for example, one is required to have a permit of transportation and transit when importing plants into American soil. In Australia, the plant species must be listed as allowed on the BICON website and may be required to go to quarantine upon arrival.


FAQ about shipping plants with a courier service

Will any courier company ship plants?
Not all courier companies will ship plants internationally. For example, DHL, TNT and UPS will not send packages that contain plants. However, each courier has specific rules and requirements for different shipments and services, so we recommend checking this further with the designated courier for your route. When booking Express or Regular Plus shipping services at Eurosender, please make sure not to include these items as the courier will refuse to collect the parcel. If you need further assistance, you can reach us by chat, phone or email before shipping to discuss your options further.
Is it legal to send plants overseas?
If the specific species of plant you want to ship is allowed in the country of destination and you have all necessary documents required for the shipment and customs clearance, sending plants overseas is possible. Always check the local authorities' rules before shipping such items. In general, small quantities of plants, trees, or plant products could be transported internationally for non-industrial, non-commercial, or scientific purposes.
Is it possible to send indoor or house plants as gifts by courier?
Most courier companies consider plants as restricted or prohibited items. However, many people still choose to ship plants abroad by courier or mail since sending indoor or potted plants can be great gift ideas. Make sure your plants are well packed to withstand transit. However, please be aware that when shipping outside of the EU, every package (even gifts) must go through customs procedures, and the respective taxes may be applied.
What are the most suitable plants for shipping with a courier service?
The most important thing to consider when booking a plant courier service is the transit time because you have to make sure your plant can survive the duration of the journey inside the packaging. For that reason, less demanding plants such as cacti or succulents might be good options for plants to ship. Learn more about shipping succulents and cacti.
Is sending seeds in the mail allowed?
In general, it will not be difficult for you to ship such items by post domestically, even though countries like the USA apply local restrictions for interstate packages sent via postal services. When sending seeds abroad in the mail, you need to check the import regulations and restrictions of the destination country.
Does insurance apply when sending potted or outdoor plants via courier?
Unfortunately, insurance does not apply to restricted items, such as plants. Therefore, if you choose to ship live plants abroad, be it succulents, cacti, seedlings or big plants such as fruit trees, you will be doing so at your own risk. For this reason, correctly packing your plant is of utmost importance.
How to ship plants from Europe to the UK, and vice versa?
Since the official end of the Brexit period on the 1st of January 2021, a phytosanitary certificate is required to ship most outdoor and house plants to Great Britain, as this is now considered a regular international border. Besides this, all the plants should be inspected at the customs border control posts and have a physical health check at the destination place.
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Take into consideration these guidelines when sending plants by courier or mail. Nevertheless, please consider that following them does not guarantee that the courier company will transport your package without restriction. In case you decide to ship any type of plant by courier, Eurosender will not be held responsible for any damages caused by the transportation of your shipment.