Are you wondering how to ship a wheelchair?
A couple of months ago, I had the same question and talked to several shipping companies about my options.
Surprisingly, shipping my chair turned out to be a bit harder than expected, and that’s why I’m here to talk you through the most important steps.
Just keep reading.
Table of Contents
- You should consider the wheelchair’s type, dimensions, and weight before they contact a shipping company.
- Manual and electric wheelchairs should be well-packed to avoid product damage during shipping.
- You should research potential shipping companies to ensure you’ve got the best price and delivery time.
How to Ship a Wheelchair in 7 Steps
I have a heavy-duty wheelchair, so it was impossible to take it with me when I moved across the country. I wondered, “Can you ship a wheelchair?”
If you’re in a similar predicament, I have good news. Most shipping services will ship your mobility device if it’s within the company’s size and weight limitations.
But things are more complicated for non-folding wheelchairs or heavy manual chairs, such as mine. So, here are the most important steps to take to ship a wheelchair.
#1 Consider Your Wheelchair Type
First, consider what type of chair you have – a manual or electric wheelchair. The type matters because it determines the manner of transportation.
You can fold most standard manual wheelchairs into a portable size, so courier services will ship them as parcels with no problems. And the shipping cost will be lower.
Manual wheelchairs also have detachable parts, which you can remove if the overall weight exceeds the shipping company’s weight limit.
But not all power wheelchairs are foldable. What’s more, even foldable electric wheelchairs may be too big to ship as a parcel, requiring a freight shipping service.
Some companies also don’t ship full-size power wheelchairs or power chairs at all. And they still can refuse to deal with a manual wheelchair if it’s too heavy.
Knowing these things beforehand can save you time when looking for a suitable shipping company or a freight carrier.
#2 Take Measurements
If you have a standard folding wheelchair (manual or power), you need the folded dimensions to get suitable shipping boxes for wheelchairs:
- Measure the width and length of the folded chair. Even if you have the dimensions from the product description, I recommend rechecking them.
- Weigh your chair. If you plan on shipping any detachable parts separately, remove them.
- Add a few extra inches and pounds to account for measuring mistakes and allow room for bubble wrap and other proper packaging material.
It’s best if you have your chair’s original box. But don’t worry if you have thrown it away. Get a large shipping box, a few inches bigger than your device, so you can foam wrap it.
#3 Research Shipping Services
You can start researching shipping companies once you know the dimensions and weights. Here are a few important facts about carries in the United States and internationally:
- USPS’s regulation limit is 70 pounds, so it’s the best choice to ship a lightweight chair within the country. But it’s not suitable for heavy wheelchairs. (1)
- DHL Express, USP, FedEx, and other popular carriers have a weight limit of 150 pounds. Most standard manual wheelchairs are below, but electric wheelchairs can reach up to 300 pounds.
- If you have a heavy power chair, your only option is a freight company equipped to deal with heavy cargo.
- Some shipping carriers have box dimension limits. DHL Express doesn’t accept packages with a length over 118 inches, while FedEx allows up to 165″ (419cm) in length plus girth.
- You may have to pay additional shipping charges if your box is odd-shaped or non-stackable. I recommend contacting customer service to get an accurate quote.
Moreover, check the company’s delivery and shipment times. If you’re an everyday wheelchair user, you need a service that can deliver your chair in a day or two, not a few weeks.
Also, keep in mind that international shipping can take 1-3 weeks or more, depending on your location and the shipping destination. If it’s urgent, ask for an expedited shipping quote.
#4 Compare Prices
Companies use a formula to determine the dimensional weight charges to ship a package. Depending on the service and delivery time, the differences in price can be significant.
I recommend contacting several companies so you can do a comparison of prices and pick the cheapest one. Or use the company’s online calculator to get an estimated shipping rate.
So, how much does it cost to ship a wheelchair? Well, it can cost up to several hundred dollars, depending on the chair’s weight, shipping destination, and how quickly you want it to arrive.
However, be careful about fraudulent couriers that promise low prices or suspiciously fast delivery. Check the customer reviews of the company or contact the relevant government agency.
It’s also a good idea to read what customers say about the company’s support. If something goes wrong during the shipping, you’d want a company with excellent customer service to solve the problem.
#5 Pack Your Folding Chair in a Box
Once you’ve found a suitable carrier or a freight carrier, it’s time for the next step in my guide on how to ship a wheelchair – packing the chair.
As experts from Freight Center say,
“To avoid damages during shipping, you must adequately package your wheelchair.” (2)
Here’s what to do for a manual wheelchair or a foldable power chair:
- Remove any detachable parts.
- Fold your chair. If it’s non-foldable, consult your user’s manual to see if you can take the chair apart. (If you can’t, you must use a freight carrier).
- Place cushioning material on the bottom to absorb any shocks during the travel and prevent damage to the frame and component.
- Wrapt the chair in bubble wrap and place it inside the box.
- If you’re shipping the detachable parts in the same box, wrap them well and secure them inside.
- Fill the empty space in the box with soft packaging material to prevent your chair from tipping during transportation.
- Seal the box with several layers of adhesive tape.
- Check this video.
#6 Learn How to Pack Non-Foldable Wheelchairs
You need a pallet to ship heavy wheelchairs. As experts from FedEx say,
“Your pallet needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the load it’s carrying throughout storage and shipment.” (3)
Once you find a suitable pallet, you need to secure your power chair to it, wrap it in protective material, and build additional protection around it.
But a freight box with an incorporated pallet is also an excellent option, as long as you can find one large enough for your assistive device.
#7 Deliver the Chair to the Shipping Company/Freight Service
When you finish packing your mobility equipment, the last step is to send the package to the shipping service or ask them to come and collect it.
1. What is the cheapest way to ship a wheelchair?
The cheapest way to ship a wheelchair is to send it in a box using a shipping company. Popular options include DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc.
2. Can you transport a wheelchair on a plane?
People with disabilities can transport manual wheelchairs in the passenger cabin and heavy-duty chairs in the cargo compartment. Contact the airline for details.
3. Can you ship a wheelchair on UPS?
You can ship a wheelchair via UPS if the mobility device is under 150 lbs and up to 165 inches in length and girth.
It’s easy to ship a wheelchair or an essential mobility device in a box when you can fold it into a portable size. However, you must contact a freight company for heavy-duty wheelchairs.
Just make sure you wrap your wheelchair in packaging material to prevent damage, no matter whether you’re sending it as a parcel or freight shipping.
And don’t forget to check the shipping service’s terms and conditions. It will give you an idea of how the company handles refunds, insurance, delivery surcharges, etc.
What do you think about this guide on how to ship a wheelchair? What are the best shipping services for wheelchairs? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
1. Available from: https://support.easyship.com/hc/en-us/articles/360053053811-USPS-Weight-Limit-Per-Shipping-Service
2. Shipping Wheelchairs | FreightCenter [Internet]. www.freightcenter.com. 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 10]. Available from: https://www.freightcenter.com/shipping/wheelchairs/
3. How to ship using pallets [Internet]. FedEx. Available from: https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/freight/packing-guide/pallets.html