How do you move your stuff from the US to Spain?

Hi there!

We are planning to move to Malaga this summer and we want to reduce our stuff to minimum. However, after almost 20 years in the US, it will be probably hard to leave with just a piece of luggage. Even though we would make effort to reduce at minimum our stuff, we will still have a few pieces of luggage or boxes. I would like to know your experience on this issue.

Do you recommend shipping our stuff there or better taking everything with us? If you suggest shipping, can you recommend any company? Can you share information about the price, procedure and eventual problems (if any)?

I was thinking to take with us as many pieces of extra luggage the airline will allow us to take. I see that Iberia allows a maximum of 9 extra pieces per person, but I can't see anywhere the price per piece of extra luggage. They have a "baggage calculator" tool, but it's mandatory to input the reservation number and the purchase date. Hence you need firstly to buy the ticket in order to find out how much the extra luggage will cost. I called Iberia and TAP and their customer representatives told me the same thing: you need to buy the ticket first in order to get a quote of the price per piece of extra luggage, which is completely illogical. 

I need to figure out the costs in order to determine whether we ship our stuff to Spain, we take it with us, or we use a combination of both. Any suggestion is highly appreciated.

Thank you all for your advise.

Zurlita M.

I intend to use to ship all our possessions including a bike, music instruments and two giant floor speakers that weigh 72 lbs each.We will be down to just boxes for possessions when we move.I shipped a box to my daughter in Granada from the Pacific NW U.S. as a test.  They are GREAT people to work with!They contract with DHS to facilitate the move.Highly recommend them.

It says the link is under review.  You can search for MyBaggage and it will direct you to where you need to go.

Last year I made a table of excess luggage fees after a lot of digging for information. The fees could change at any moment, and having a booking would be the best way to know how much it would cost. But for what it's worth, here are some prices from last year for excess luggage from the US (PNW) to Spain. (All are for economy class - flying in a higher class will give you more free pieces and is worth a look.) I would not count on them being up to date, but maybe they can give you an idea.

The first checked piece is free.

Second piece: $75 (Air France), $80 (Lufthansa), $90 (British Airways), $100 (Delta, Virgin, United, KLM)

Each piece from 3rd on: $170 (British Airways), $200 (Lufthansa, Virgin, United), $285 (KLM, Air France)

I also looked into SendMyBag dot com and found their prices to be comparable. Not dealing with all the extra suitcases at the airport is nice. But there's no way of knowing if you might be hit with customs fees and how much that might add to the cost. I'd send clothes that way, but most of my stuff is decor, collected over decades from around the world, and I wonder about customs taxes on that.

I have been taking  3 to 7 suitcases on each trip to Spain and haven't had any problem. The key is to take only what you can't live without and can't easily replace in Spain. Luckily, I have family in the US who can store the non-urgent items that I want to keep.

Correction with mybaggage ... it is DHL they contract with not the  "DHS"--"department of homeland security1f923.svg"

One thing in Al SAmd's strategy it involves multiple flights between the U.S. and Spain versus a one time transit.  That has to be factored into the overall cost.  However, great insight into airline tariffs.  My question would be is there an upper limit to the number of bags one can check with the airline. 


Thank you, Chasleslieb, for your answer. It helps!

@Al SAmD

Thank you, Al SAmd, for your answer! It helps.

I made the move in 2022. In April I came to Spain to make final plans before moving in July. In April I brought suitcases (one checked and one carry-on) full of things (mainly clothes) I didn't need and left them in Spain. Then in July I brought two checked bags and a carry-on. In July I flew Iberia first class which gave me the two bags and carry-on included in the $725 ticket.

I did not bring anything with a power cord except my computer. Then I bought a new computer cable with a European plug. That meant giving away or selling a lot of appliances I loved but it was not worth bringing them if I couldn't plug them in without an adapter.

I had spent over a year putting all my photos on a digital website. I did the same with music. I gave all my library to the local "Friends of the Library" except for a few Spanish language books. I have greatly appreciated having the digital library of photos, music and books. It has freed me of a lot of "objects" that are easier to deal with as digital storage. And as I traveled, I've appreciated being able to access things on-line. I've created slide shows of photos from years gone by that I would not have done if they weren't digital.

I have spent months building back my wardrobe of shoes and filling in gaps of clothes. I've also bought several items of furniture that fits beautifully into my apartment. I've also purchased some kitchen items as I see I need them. I can't guarantee it was cheaper than shipping but I can assure you it has been easier than packing, dealing with shipping, and stressing over what might get damaged in the process. But I suspect I have spent half what it would have cost me to ship. And I have not missed anything I left behind that I could not replace.

I know I'm a minimalist but wanted to let you know that I have no regrets. You can let go of things and replace what you find you need. Yes, it will take some deep questioning about what something "means" to you at an emotional level.

@tomwins I have just moved from France and over 3 years left more and more things here. But I decided that it was too expensive 2 hire a van for 5 days plus diesel plus a overnight hotel each direction plus pay a mate to help. So I sold and gave away virtually everything, I have a small garage of things that I didn't manage to get rid of plus my mancave tools and paperwork and couple of bits of family heirloom furniture. I will  try and bring these on visits I make to France. I will furnish the place from local second hand store and Market place on Facebook.


Thank you, Tomwins, for your response. Good luck in Santander!

Zurlita M.


Thank you, Compel, for your suggestions!

Zurlita M.

@zurlita I am making similar plans in 4-6 years from now, from Maryland to Spain. However, my planned solution involves shipping by container. The average cost is $5,000-6,000 and you can choose port to port or door to door delivery. Yes, it's far more expensive but if transporting some pieces of furniture, essential books or other items that take up space is important to you and your family, container shipping is worth considering. I do not yet know which companies are the best.