If you’re anything like the members of our editorial team, then you love to indulge yourself—and your loved ones—in perfume on every occasion.
And what a better gift for a birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any day with sentimental value than a timeless and alluring fragrance!
The challenge is that, nowadays, gifting ain’t what it used to be. An act of kindness we used to do in person, we now have to adapt to giving our wishes over the phone and sending our gifts via mail.
And, while buying perfume online for yourself and getting it delivered to your door is virtually effortless to do, the same can’t be said for mailing perfume to someone else, be they a family member, friend, or someone you sold it to on eBay.
Why It’s Burdensome to Send Perfume by Mail
The nature of the challenge is that almost all fragrances contain ethyl alcohol.
And alcohol, when subjected to high temperatures, is flammable. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the International Air Travel Association—the body that represents the airline industry—considers fragrances containing alcohol as dangerous goods.
This, in turn, creates some strict rules and regulations for what you can, and cannot, do when it comes to mailing someone a fragrance.
Read on for the dos and don’ts of mailing perfume, as well as how to properly package and send the bottle so that it arrives intact.
Research Your Mailing Options
Take a closer look at the ingredients list to determine if the fragrance contains alcohol (hint: it probably does) and consider the intended destination. Your options are probably narrowed down to USPS.
Is your recipient domestic or international, and where exactly do they live? Generally, you can mail perfume by ground domestically (within the U.S.), but you can’t have it transported by air internationally.
If you’re using the United States Postal Service (USPS), you can’t ship fragrances containing alcohol using air transportation, domestically or internationally. However, you can send them domestically by ground methods such as Parcel Post.
When it comes to other shippers, your choices as an individual are even more limited.
FedEx considers colognes and perfumes—along with aerosol sprays, nail polish, and nail polish remover—to be dangerous goods. As such, they are subject to special requirements for how they are classified, packaged, and labeled.
When in doubt, FedEx recommends calling 1-800-463-3339 (for U.S. customers only) and saying “dangerous goods” to consult with the team behind its Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Hotline.
To ship perfume, UPS requires you to have a UPS Dangerous Goods Contract and go through an approval process for sending the package as a hazardous material. The UPS Hazardous Materials Support Center is available at 1-800-554-9964.
In case you’re wondering how perfume retailers can get away with all of this, and you can’t, it’s because they have special contracts and volume discounts with these shippers, and they classify, package, and label all boxes based on a pre-defined process.
According to the United States Postal Service’s rules for mailing flammable and combustible liquids, a “glass primary receptacle must not exceed 8 ounces of flammable liquid.” Simply said, USPS allows you to ship perfumes of up to 8 liquid ounces by ground.
It’s important to note that these regulations apply only to transportation by land—not airmail services—which have stricter limitations regarding hazardous materials shipments.
Label Your Package Appropriately
It is crucial to consider the label requirements when shipping perfume by ground transport.
The USPS requires senders to place a “Consumer Commodity – ORM-D” label on these types of shipments, which needs to be attached directly onto the package opposite from the address label.
Please print out the proper labels and affix them to the box before sending your fragrance. Ensure that your label states precisely what is inside the package and that it is marked as a flammable product.
The important thing is never to lie about the contents of your package to take a procedural shortcut. This is considered illegal and can get you into serious trouble with more than one authority.
Consider The Shipping Or Mailing Fees
If your perfume needs to be sent via USPS Priority Mail, there are additional fees.
First and foremost, you must declare the value of the box. On items valued at $100 or more, you’ll need to pay an extra insurance fee that covers up to $500 worth of loss or damage.
After adding these additional fees together, it can become costly to ship perfume in the mail. For USPS Priority Mail, add on $12 for insurance and $13-$27 (depending on weight) for postage.
By the time you’re done, you may be better off buying the perfume directly from a retailer and having it shipped to your family member’s address (just remember to instruct the retailer that this is a gift).
Pack It Up Properly for Shipment
Suppose you’ve decided to mail a bottle of perfume. Here’s how to wrap it so that it arrives intact.
Use bubble wrap:
The first thing to do is to bubble wrap the bottle. Bubble wrap is mainly known for its ability to reduce the impact on products in transit. Basically, it works as a “shock absorber blanket.”
Make sure that the bubble wrap is wrapped snugly around the bottle. You could even consider wrapping the perfume with two layers of bubble wrap just in case.
Once you’ve wrapped the bottles with bubble wrap, it’s time to add tape around the bubble wrap to secure it in place. Make sure to double-check the sturdiness of the bubble wrap around the bottle before moving on to the next steps of the packaging process.
An additional method you could use, it to place the bubble-wrapped perfume bottle within a zip-lock plastic bag. This way, you’ll prevent the spill of perfume from leaking or broken perfume bottles.
Packaging perfume in a box requires a few special considerations because fragrances have ethyl alcohol to carry the fragrance oils to your skin. Alcohol is flammable, especially when exposed to heat, light sources, changes in temperature, or atmospheric pressure.
Use a sturdy box with space fillers:
If you want to be extra safe, use two boxes, one just smaller than the other. Make sure that your larger box is sturdy and of good quality. Use a smaller box for your bubble-wrapped product and ensure it fits snugly inside. When that’s not the case, add packing peanuts.
Packing peanuts are small polystyrene particles that are light and provide plenty of shock-absorbing goodness. They are also cheap to buy, making them an excellent space filler. This will protect the product from breakage, especially if you are sending it long distances.
Don’t use anything that can bleed ink onto your fragrance’s box or bottle either, as it could totally ruin your gift’s looks. This includes newspaper and tissue paper.
A great idea to include when packaging up an item like perfume for shipment would also be to add some cushioning material on top of the bottle just in case something comes loose inside the package.
Next, fill the bottom of the larger box with packing peanuts or shredded paper and place the smaller container inside, then fill this box to the brim with the shock-absorbing materials.
Do not send perfume through the mail without properly wrapping it up! The bottles on most fragrances are fragile, and can break easily unless packaged correctly.
Send Out Your Package
Once you have everything ready for transport, take it over to your local carrier’s location, post office counter or leave it on your doorstep for collection.
If you go to your local carrier’s offices or post office, show them your address label and ask if they ship perfumes by ground domestically (most shippers do).
However, many different rules apply depending on your chosen shipping company and destination, so make sure to double-check before leaving anything at your doorstep for collection.
If you are unsure what your shipping companies’ rules and regulations regarding perfume (containing alcohol) shipments are, give them a call (we’ve listed the support lines for FedEx and UPS above) or do a quick online search.
While this may seem like a lengthy process to ship something as simple as a bottle of perfume or cologne, remember that these rules have been put in place to ensure the safety of transport personnel and others.