How to avoid common mistakes when packing antiques for overseas shipping

When shipping antiques overseas, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure their safe relocation. Antiques are, in most cases, very valuable and delicate, so you need to handle them with extreme care. A single bump on the road can easily damage your breakable antique pieces if they are not properly secured for transport. To help you prevent this, our moving experts here at Kokusai Express Japan have compiled a list of necessary steps below. Follow these steps and you will manage to avoid common mistakes when packing antiques. Moving such delicate items doesn’t have to be nerve-racking. You just need to prepare well for it.

Making a list with pen and paper (like shown in the picture) before packing your antiques for shipping overseas will help you keep track of everything
Don’t forget to note the current condition of your antiques when making an inventory list

What to do before packing antiques for overseas shipping

One of the most common mistakes when packing antiques is starting a couple of days before the move. You should start packing your antiques well in advance. This is a very challenging part of the relocation that needs to be handled with extra care. Antiques are extremely fragile. More importantly, even the smallest damage will lower their value. Because of this, don’t rush the packing process. Also, there are certain steps you should take before you start packing antique items for relocation.

Take an inventory

In case you own more than a couple of antique pieces, it may be helpful for you to take an inventory of all of your items, as well as their present condition. Relocations can get really chaotic at times. With a lot of things on your mind, the last thing you want is to forget some of your valuables and leave a box behind. The list will come in handy for noting each item’s safe arrival at your new place.  It will also be useful for assessing whether any damage was done in transit.

Consult professionals

Moving antiques even just a couple of blocks away is a challenge. Shipping them overseas is much more complicated. It’s important that you don’t start this hard task without consultation with experts. Overseas shipping companies have the experience and expertise in moving valuable items and will recommend the best ways to protect them. In some cases, they could also estimate the value of your antiques. If they don’t offer this kind of service, then consider getting an appraisal before packing and moving antique pieces. If you need to make any claims after the move, knowing the precise value of your pieces will be of great use.

Get insurance for your antiques

Another important thing to think about when packing antiques for overseas relocation is insurance. Accidents can happen, but if you get the insurance you will, at least financially, be protected against that. Make sure to talk with both the movers and the insurance company in order to find out the best insurance plan for you. Your insurance premium greatly depends on the value of your pieces.

A commom mistake when packing antique mirrors like the one shown in the picture is ot protecting them with glassine
Protect your antique mirror with glassine paper and secure the corners in order to move them safely.

How to avoid common mistakes when packing antiques

Before you start to pack your antiques for the move, you will need to learn how to prepare packages for shipments properly. To save you some time, we have listed some of the most important packing tips that you’d want to follow in order to safely move your antiques.

Packing supplies to get so you can avoid common mistakes when packing antiques

Gather your supplies early so that when the time comes to pack your antiques you have everything you need. Here’s what to get:

  • Packing paper or packing peanuts
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bubble wrap
  • Glassine (special type of paper resistant to air, water, and grease)
  • Packing tape
  • Corner protectors for art and mirrors
  • Boxes, including specialty boxes if needed
  • Moving blankets
  • Furniture pads

How to pack smaller antique items

Moving antiques safely requires proper packing techniques. Clean each item before packing. This goes for antique furniture as well.  Make sure not to use any chemical-based products, especially on wood. When wrapped up in a box, the chemicals can damage your antiques.

Step one: Get a properly sized box. In general, you want to go with the box that’s only slightly bigger than the item you’ll place in it. There should be minimal room for items to shift around. Some items, like paintings and mirrors, should be placed in specialty boxes. Make sure not to overpack the boxes. Regardless of whether an item is on its own or with others, fill in any gaps in the box with packing paper or packing peanuts, so that items won’t move around.

Step two: Wrap all glass pieces with a layer of glassine. Secure it with packing tape, and the item will be protected against stains and smudges.

Step three: Place corner protectors. Due to their shape, corners of mirrors and artwork are prone to scratches and damages during moves, so it’s important to add an extra layer of protection.

Step four: Add cushioning. Use bubble wrap to create a soft cushion around each item. For maximum protection, wrap the bubble wrap around the item at least twice, making sure to cover all sides of the item. Secure with packing tape.

Step five: Label the boxes. This is necessary for all boxes, but especially for boxes in which you pack antiques and collectibles. Mark anything fragile of heavy so that the person who is carrying the box knows to take extra care.

Pack your antique furniture similar to the one in the picture proper
Never use plastic packing materials directly on antique furniture.

Avoid common mistakes when packing antique furniture

When it comes to larger antique items like furniture, make sure to disassemble what you can. Wrap each item in moving blankets or furniture pads. It’s crucial not to put plastic wrap directly on old furniture, especially wood furniture. This is because plastic wrap can trap moisture and lead to damage. Also, use twine instead of tape to keep drawers closed. After you have the first layer of protection on your furniture you can use plastic packing materials. Be sure to wrap all surfaces of your antique furniture and secure with tape. This way your precious antiques will be ready for cargo export, and they will arrive at your new house damage-free.


As you can see, it’s not hard to avoid common mistakes when packing antiques. You just need a proper plan and a dependable crew by your side. Follow the advice mentioned in this article and your antiques will be safely shipped overseas.

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