When you want to ship a violin from the USA to the UK, almost any shipping service is suitable for this need. Two of your best options are FedEx and UPS.
You can also choose Airborne, DHL, or even the U.S. Postal Service for this task. Some shippers are more convenient to use, while others provide a more economical structure.
UPS carries insurance for your violin, which gives it an advantage over other choices. The rate you’ll pay is approximately 0.5% of the value declared for the instrument.
Even if you have an entry-level violin that you’re shipping, it helps to declare the value at $1,000. You’ll typically get a more cautious handling approach. Some carriers place limits on the amount offered in payment for lost packages or damaged equipment, so be sure to read the entire policy carefully before signing or paying for anything.
Shipping a Violin from the United States to the UK: FedEx or UPS?
When you ship a violin from the USA to the UK, FedEx and UPS are both excellent choices to consider. It is up to the person who packs the instrument to ensure the experience is a positive one. The best option is to significantly lower string tension or send it with the post and bridge down.
If you use a packing company to prepare your violin for a shipment from the United States to the United Kingdom, the default method is often to ship with the bridge and post down. You can alter this policy by making a specific request to have it sent differently at most, but not all locations.
◼️ Steps to Follow When Preparing a Violin for Shipping
When you want to pack the violin yourself for shipping it internationally, these steps are helpful to take so that the instrument arrives with the lowest damage risks possible.
- Loosen the string tension on the violin. You can now remove the bridge, and this initial step often causes the soundpost to fall. If that outcome doesn’t happen, you can push it over with a small object through the F-hole.
- Wrap the bridge with a generous amount of cloth or tissue paper. The best spot to tuck it is in the tailpiece.
- You can now tighten the strings a little so that the bridge stay put during the shipping process through FedEx or UPS.
- The tissue and bridge keep the tailpiece’s fine tuners away from the instrument’s varnish. If there isn’t enough there with your initial efforts, you’ll want to verify that nothing can scratch the surface.
- Place the instrument in its case. Once the violin is secure, you’ll want to fasten it with clasps or straps.
- Wrap the head with cloth or tissue paper. If you see any empty spaces, fill them with packing materials. The primary areas on a violin include the C-bouts and the ribs. It also helps to keep a small, folded tissue paper pad between the fingerboard and top to protect the finish.
- If there are any internal accessory compartments, they should get emptied before sending the instrument out for shipment. Should that not be possible, taping them shut to avoid product movement can reduce the risk for damage.
- Before closing the violin case, place several tissue paper sheets over the top of the instrument. It also helps to include a small card or note that offers your direct contact information if something should happen during the shipping process.
Once you have the instrument packed correctly, it should go into a long and rectangular box. A corrugated shipping container is your best option, especially if it opens from the broadest side. You’ll want a few inches of empty space between the shipping container and the violin case to have enough protection.
The final step is to have the violin case in the center of the box. Fill the empty spaces with poly packing, Styrofoam, peanuts, or other lightweight and dense materials. Close the box, use high-strength parcel tape to seal all the edges, and then add a second layer on the most vulnerable points of entry.
At this point, your instrument is ready to get shipped internationally using FedEx or UPS.
◼️ How to Pack a Violin Bow Without a Case
When you need to ship a bow with your violin, it shouldn’t be kept in the instrument case unless there’s a specific slot for it to stay secure.
Most violin cases contain enough room for the instrument only.
That means you’ll need to find an alternative for your bow. The easiest way to solve this problem is to purchase a PVC pipe of the correct length. It should be a little longer than both ends so that the tip and frog don’t impact the edges.
You can also wrap the bow in tissue paper or bubble wrap with a metal or wood splint serving as the protective mechanism.
You’ll need to have the tube or splint suspended within a bigger container for shipping purposes. Poster tubes from FedEx and UPS work relatively well for this purpose. You’ll want to have your name and contact information inside the box in case something happens to it in transit.
Since most professional bows cost as much as some instruments, you should insure this container for the direct replacement amount. If that figure is under $1,000, take the larger of the two sums to ensure your delivery occurs as expected.
Why UPS Could Be the Better Choice for Some Violins
If you have a high-quality violin priced above $5,000, you might want to take advantage of the white glove services that UPS offers.
You’ll need to work with UPS Capital and Parcel Pro® to safely ship your instrument from the USA to the UK in this situation. More information is available at https://upscapital.com/.
With Parcel Pro, you receive the timely delivery of your high-value items, whether it involves shipping them across the state or across international borders. This service uses proprietary risk management tools and processes to reduce theft or loss risks.
You’ll have access to several features, ranging from APIs to desktop shipping, that work hard to streamline shipment processing.
Although this solution still isn’t suitable for the highest-quality violins, you can get insurance coverage protection of up to $100,000 for an instrument traveling from the USA to the UK.
If you keep the violin in the United States instead of sending it to the United Kingdom, the protection levels double.
When you use Parcel Pro, you can create guest or vendor accounts to control the transportation of your instrument. This step also lets you manage coverage options while gaining additional shipment visibility.
You can track and monitor your violin as it heads to the UK through your dashboard. The services also let you create drop shipment or email labels for additional convenience.
What Happens When Shipping an Item Through FedEx?
If you were to ship the instrument using FedEx, you could use the shipper’s Declared Value Advantage to have the value listed at $100,000 for the shipment. You must apply for this option, and it is not available for a one-time shipment.
The one benefit you’d receive when choosing FedEx over UPS is that the damage rates are lower.
When shipping items through FedEx, about 7% of the total packages received each day receive damage in some form. If you prefer UPS for your international needs, the rate rises to 11%.
Declared value is not an insurance replacement. You’ll need to pay to protect your violin because it is the shipper’s responsibility for the service. Without this protection, you’d need to pursue options in small claims court or tap into your insurance policy.
When working with FedEx, only the first $100 of covered value is offered for free in most circumstances. You can add more to that figure online or at your local shipping center.
◼️ Key Points to Know About FedEx Shipping Policies
Here is the information you’ll need to know when using FedEx.
- The maximum declared value for a SameDay FedEx delivery is only $2,000. The additional cost is $3 for shipments up to $300. After that amount, you’ll pay another $1 for every $100 declared above that figure.
- Those rates apply to ground, express package, and international ground services. You’ll pay $3 for shipments valued up to $300, with another $1 for every additional $100 of declared value.
- Direct signature confirmation services are available for free if the stated value of the package is over $500. This step requires the shipper to get a signature from the recipient once it arrives. If no one can receive it, the delivery will eventually get refused.
- Items of extraordinary value have direct limits on the content allowed and the destinations where FedEx will deliver.
Some musical instruments only receive a declared maximum value of $1,000, including professional violins. That figure is intended to cover the deductible someone would pay for the lost item through their insurance.
Although the merits of forcing a consumer to tap into their insurance policy for compensation of a loss outside their control is debatable, that step doesn’t prevent the insurer from pursuing FedEx for losses it deems to be negligible.
If you ship a violin from the USA to the UK with a value of less than $1,000, you can add insurance to the package when dropping it off. You’ll get asked to fill the value section box on the accompanying form.
Should your preference be to have FedEx pick up your package, you’ll need to pay for all insurance costs above $100 online to have them apply.
You can drop the shipment off at a drop box, Walgreens, Office Max, Office Depot, select Dollar General locations, retail partners, and some grocery stores.
Shipping Products to Buy to Pack Your Violin for Transport
When you plan to ship your violin from the USA to the UK (or any other location), you’ll need to have some shipping supplies available to get the result you want.
Here are the items that you’ll need. If you don’t have access to these products locally, your next best option is to purchase them online.
|Cardboard Boxes:||• Your cardboard box must have enough room for the instrument, its case, and a cushioning layer of packing peanuts or similar materials. |
• There should be at least two inches of space on all sides.
|Bubble Wrap:||• Bubble cushioning should be flexible, strong, and tear-resistant to offer long-term shipping support. |
• Some products come with “Fragile” labels that you can place on your outer box.
|Packing (Tissue) Paper:||• Your violin is a fragile item. Your packing papers should be unprinted and clean because the inks and dyes can transfer to your instrument’s finish. |
• Choose an item with a smooth finish to prevent unintentional scratching during transit.
|Padded Wrapping Paper:||• Foam wrapping rolls deliver another protective layer for high-value instruments. |
• You can use this item as the folded tissue paper to protect the fingerboard while the violin is transported by FedEx, UPS, or another provider.
|Stretch Plastic Wrap:||• It helps to cover your violin case with this packing material once the rest of the instrument is secure. |
• Although it is technically optional, the extra support prevents the container from accidentally opening while in transit.
|Packing Peanuts:||• Biodegradable packing peanuts let you protect your instrument without harming the environment. |
• Use this product to fill the open spaces in your shipping box once the case is placed in the center. Try to have about two inches on the bottom first to reduce damage risks.
|Parcel Tape:||• Industrial-grade packing tape delivers an extra-song user experience that ensures your cardboard box seams won’t come apart. |
• Although you can’t protect against box cutters or other sharp objects, a double layer at each entry point ensures the safest experience possible.
With careful packing techniques, you’ll find that shipping your violin overseas is a practical and affordable way to get the instrument to where it needs to be.