Portugal Country Guide

Everything you need to know about moving to Portugal

How to Ship Your Belongings to Portugal

There are a number of ways to get your belongings to Portugal

For many expats, how to get personal belongings to Portugal is a fundamental question. There are various options that range from selling everything and buying new, to shipping large containers. In this overview, we’ll review when it makes sense to ship and how to do so safely and economically.

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Your Options to Bring Your Belongings to Portugal

There are a few common ways to expats bring their belongings to Portugal: 1. sell most items and buy new in Portugal, 2. bring “extra luggage” on the plane, 3. ship a pallet, or 4. ship a container. Here is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of each option.


  1. Selling and buying new in Portugal: This is often the most practical approach, particularly if you are interested in down-sizing.
    • Pros
      • Simplifies the moving process and reduces shipping costs.
      • Allows for a fresh start with new, locally sourced items.
      • No customs or importation paperwork.
    • Cons
      • May involve replacing essential or sentimental items.
      • Purchasing new items can be costly, depending on your needs.
      • Limited to locally available products, which may differ from what you’re used to.
  2. Purchasing extra baggage on your flight: Some airlines allow passengers to purchase extra luggage at affordable rates. It’s not uncommon for some expats to purchase 8-10 extra bags, and bring down a considerable amount of belongings that way.
    • Pros
      • Fast and hassle-free
      • Can be much more economical than shipping a pallet or container
      • No customs or shipping-related delays.
    •  Cons
      • Limited space, typically restricted to airline baggage policies
      • Not suitable for larger or bulkier items like furniture or appliances
      • An agent at customs may flag you and require import duty payment
  3. Shipping a pallet: Shipping a pallet is a smaller-scale option where you transport a limited number of items on a pallet. Suitable for individuals with fewer belongings or individuals looking to reduce costs.
    •  Pros
      • Quicker shipping and lower costs compared to a full container.
      • Ideal for essential items or sentimental possessions.
      • Easier to manage customs procedures.
    •  Cons
      • Limited space for belongings.
      • May not accommodate larger furniture or appliances.
  4. Shipping belongings in a container: This option involves packing your household items and personal belongings into a shipping container. It’s ideal for individuals or families with a significant volume of items.
    • Pros
      • You can bring most of your possessions and familiar items from home.
      • May be more cost-effective for larger households, as you will not need to purchase furniture in Portugal.
      • Suitable for items that are not easily replaceable.
    • Cons
      • Longer shipping times, typically taking several weeks to a couple of months to arrive.
      • Higher shipping costs, including container rental, handling, and customs fees.
      • Requires thorough planning, packing, and customs clearance.


How to bring belongings to Portugal is a deeply personal decision that will depend on a number of factors. If you’d like guidance on how to approach this issue, please reach out to [email protected] or book a free 15-minute consultation call with a relocation specialist.

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What to Bring vs. What to Sell When Moving to Portugal

When moving to Portugal from the US, it’s important to consider what items to bring with you and what might be more practical to purchase in Portugal. It may be more economical to simply sell certain types of items and buy new ones once you’ve arrived.


Items to Bring: Bringing certain items with you from home can help you ensure quality and save money. These include electronics, like laptops and cameras, as they are often more expensive in Portugal. If you have specific prescription medications, bring an adequate supply until you can establish a local source. Personal items like favorite clothing or sentimental possessions should also come with you.


Items Better to Buy in Portugal: Portugal offers a wide range of local products and services, making it more practical to buy certain items locally. Electrical standards in Portugal are typically 230V/50Hz, and outlets have the European-style plugs. Consider purchasing small appliances, such as toasters, kettles, and irons, in Portugal to match the local standards. Furniture, home decor, and gardening tools are often best purchased in Portugal to save on space in your luggage. Bedding sizes may differ between North America and Portugal. Buying linens and bedding locally ensures they fit properly.

How to Ship a Container to Portugal

    1. Select Shipping Method: Choose between sea and air freight based on your budget and urgency. Sea freight costs for a 20-foot container range from $1,200 to $3,500, depending on the origin in North America. Air freight is pricier but faster, taking 5-8 business days for standard shipping. A 250 kg container by air costs approximately $2,800-3,500, depending on origin.

    2. Choose a Reputable Shipping Company: Begin by selecting a reliable international shipping company with expertise in handling moves to Portugal. Research and compare different options to find the one that best suits your needs. Reach out to [email protected] if you’d like to be put in touch with a best-in-class shipping company.
    3. Get a Luggage Certificate: Before moving your household items to Portugal using a moving company, obtain a Luggage Certificate (Certificado de Bagagem) from your local Portuguese consulate or diplomatic mission. Provide a complete inventory of your possessions, and you should receive the paperwork within a few days. Note that your items must arrive in Portugal within ninety days of your arrival.

    4. Pack Securely and Label: Pack your belongings securely for international shipping, using sturdy boxes and ample packing materials. Clearly label each box with your name, destination address, and a detailed inventory.

    5. Insurance Coverage: Consider purchasing shipping insurance to protect your belongings during transit. This can provide coverage for potential loss, damage, or theft.

    6. Coordinate Customs Clearance: Work with a customs broker, if necessary, to facilitate the customs clearance process in Portugal. Provide all required documentation and coordinate closely with local authorities.

    7. Plan for Arrival: Coordinate with the shipping company for an estimated arrival date in Portugal. Be prepared to receive your items and complete any final customs paperwork upon arrival.


Keep in mind that it typically takes between 2-4 months for items shipped in containers to arrive and clear customs.

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