Shipping to India from USA: Do’s and Don’t

If you’re planning to move from the United States to India, figuring out what makes the trip and what gets left behind can be complicated. Household goods shipping to India from USA come with restrictions, and each country has its own customs regulations. Learning the import policies and forbidden items list for India will save major headaches.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about shipping your belongings, including: Timeline and Documentation Needed, Restricted Items and Prohibited Goods, Shipping Specialty Items (electronics, appliances, vehicles etc.), and Best Practices for Packing and Labeling Boxes. With smart preparation and knowledge of Indian customs rules, your international relocation can go smoothly without prohibited item fines or frustrating shipment delays.

Read: Budget-Friendly Tips for US Expats in India

Planning Timeline and Paperwork Needed

First and foremost, be sure to reserve shipping services 4-6 weeks in advance of your move. This gives adequate time to sort belongings, fill out required paperwork, and coordinate with movers.

Speaking of paperwork, these documents are mandatory when importing goods into India:

  • Passport and Visa
  • India Customs Declaration Form
  • Original Bill of Lading/Airway Bill
  • Comprehensive inventory list with item descriptions and monetary values

Pro-tip: Take pictures of expensive items before packing so you have visual proof. This smooths any claims should damages unfortunately occur.

Also if shipping specialty items like cars, pets, or firearms, supplemental paperwork is required. More details on that further down.

Overview of Restricted and Forbidden Goods

India strictly prohibits import of certain commodities. Some items face outright bans while others have quantity restrictions. Familiarizing yourself with the rules curbs chances of customs delays, big fines, or even prosecution.

Banned items include:

  • Narcotics
  • Wild animal products (ivory, skins, horns, etc.)
  • Counterfeit currencies and coins
  • Harmful chemicals
  • Gutkha and pan masala chewing tobacco

In addition, goods like alcohol, tobacco, gold bullion, electronics, foodstuffs and more have capped allowances before considerable import taxes apply. We’ll examine highlights in the specialty items sections below.

The moral? When in doubt on a product category, assume it’s either banned or heavily restricted in India without the right clearance protocols. Declare everything to avoid unintended consequences!

Shipping Your Electronics to India

From laptops to TVs to gaming systems, electronics represent prized possessions for many transferees. India allows household appliance and computer imports but duties can prove costly if quantities exceed limitations.

For example personal computers, phones, tablets and the like for personal use only avoid import taxes. But extras for resale or business purposes will incur significant fees around 28% of item value. Similar steep rates apply to appliances if gross shipment quantities suggest commercial intent rather than personal household goods.

Pro tip: Keep expensive gadget and computer shipments minimal with thorough descriptions on packing lists for customs. This demonstrates goods are for personal rather than business reuse in India.

Transporting Household Appliances

Shipping common household appliances like refrigerators, microwaves and air conditioners also falls under special import rules. India does not permit inbound shipments of air conditioners over 3 years old. Any AC units should have verifiable manufacturing or purchase invoices.

Moreover used fridges, freezers, washers, dryers and more must meet operational condition standards. Appliances should function properly without need for repair per Indian customs guidelines. If possible, service items before shipping and keep maintenance records handy during the clearing process.

What About My Car, Motorcycle or Boat?

You can easily ship vehicles like motorcycle to India. Vehicles fall into the restricted commodity category when shipping to India too. While you can import cars, bikes, RVs, watercraft and more, expect to pay high import duty fees around 168% of the vehicle cost. On a $10,000 car that tallies up to $16,800!

Documentation like foreign registrations, purchase invoices, driver licenses and insurance certificates will need verification as well.given the high taxation rates. India customs officials take vehicle shipments very seriously!

Guidelines for Pets Relocating to India

Bringing your furry friends? Pets can definitely make the move but be ready for medical checks and quarantine periods upon arrival. Documents required:

  • Veterinary Health Certificate (dated within 2 weeks of travel)
  • Vaccination records (including rabies shot details)

Cats and dogs avoid licensure fees but exotic animals have associated charges. Finally, certain dog breeds face outright bans so double check rules if you own mixes that have bull terrier lineage.

Packing Best Practices

With logistics understood, let’s talk packing strategies. Proper box labeling, inventory manifests and loading techniques prevent damages and speed duty clearing.

Our top tips include:

  • Pack similar category items together in boxes (kitchen goods, clothes, books etc.)
  • Wrap fragile belongings thoroughly and indicate this on labels
  • Clearly number all shipping containers and keep thorough lists
  • Tape small boxes inside large ones to prevent collapsing
  • Seal boxes securely with reinforced packing tape
  • Attach packing lists to boxes specifying contents
  • Load boxes neatly onto pallets and shrink wrap

These simple habits make container stuffing and delivery depot unpacking much easier on both ends. Nothing worse than ransacking a mountain of mystery boxes if something gets flagged!

The key Takeaways

  • Schedule movers 4-6 weeks out
  • Research banned items and duty costs before packing
  • Gather all required paperwork for household goods and specialty items
  • Organize boxes methodically and label meticulously
  • Load containers properly onto pallets


Moving your life overseas can definitely seem daunting. Yet hopefully this guide has shown that navigating customs policies doesn’t need to be complicated. By understanding India import regulations, planning timelines strategically, and organizing methodically, your shipping yo india from USA can go off without a hitch.

Just focus energy on the right paperwork, shipment preparations, and labeling habits well in advance. Before you know it, you’ll be settled into your new Indian home surrounded by all your familiar belongings from the US. We know this is a hectic procedure, but don’t worry let Universal Relocation help to lessen your burden. From packing to shipping, we’ll handle everything!

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