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How to send masks and other PPE overseas through air? 

shipping masks and other ppe

Medical masks and PPE all around the world have recently been in high demand. While the quarantine regime during the covid time effected countries, many hospitals, pharmacies, and strategic enterprises required PPE. 

Respirators and surgical masks (face masks) are examples of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are used to prevent microbial particles from entering the face by airborne droplets. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to the virus. But before we move forwards, let’s see what PPE includes: 

  • Medical Masks (surgical masks and respirators) 
  • Coveralls 
  • Eye protection (face shield goggles) 
  • Gloves 
  • Aprons 
  • Shoe covers 
  • Cloth masks 

Apart from these, there are other disinfectant products that were in high demand during COVID including cleaning equipment, like hand sanitizers, clinical waste bags and body bags. 

Although the virus has got a bit treatable, the threat lurks and hence the demand for protective items like masks and sanitizers still remain. Since these PPE (personal Protective equipment) are still in demand therefore, their global shipping is still active. Let’s find out how to ship these in the sections below.  

However, firstly one should know the general information for shipping the masks and the other medical or protective equipment.  

General info about exporting masks internationally 

Firstly, you have to consider the material of the mask; usually, it is non-woven textile. The requirement of packaging quality limits is not that much, just be sure that the masks should be placed inside a box and adhere to some other specific requirements.  

Secondly, you should also take into consideration your own responsibilities as a shipper. Here are a few of them: 

  • You must possess your complete documentation and the customs declarations.  
  • Make sure you have your customs value and commodity type declared. 
  • Be ready to pay surcharge and the tax. 

Moreover, duty and tax may be imposed, and they are subject to customs inspection and decision. 

Now that you understand the basics of the mask’s shipment, the next step is to choose the mode of transportation. Many experts recommend using air mode when it comes to PPE, and here’s why: 

Why Air is more suitable for shipping Masks and medical equipment? 

Below are some of the reasons why air is a suitable option for PPE: 

  1. Secure: 

You would never want your medical equipment shipment to arrive at its destination in damaged condition. The sea has a possibility of more incidents to the containers as compared to air since water might fill the containers and the products may damp from moisture. Therefore, in terms of medical equipment, you should avoid taking risks. 

  1. Save your Time: 

People around the world need the PPE products on an urgent basis as the virus threat is still here. There is no other mode of transit for shipping better than air, especially when it comes to saving time. 

  1. Less exposure to theft: 

Due to the tight level of security at the airport, the possibility of theft becomes little to none. That’s why, if security of cargo is your concern, air is the best option. 

  1. Timely arrival and departure: 

The schedule of air is less likely to be delayed that’s why it has timely arrival and departure. 

Which mode is better for shipping masks? 

Since the masks have become ultra-important for the war against COVID, as per the instructions from World Health Organization (WHO), the demand for masks and other protective equipment have increased. There is continuous demand of masks all around the world. And if you are looking forward to shipping your masks too, then let me tell you which mode is mostly used for the medical equipment shipment. 

The most commonly used transport for shipping masks or any other equipment related to medical, is air. Because the world needs this equipment urgently.  

The air cargo doesn’t have time delays often, hence you can ship your masks very timely to the destination. The ocean service can delay several days and using that service may become life threatening for others. 

Your cargo of masks is also going to remain safe from any theft. Air service provides extra security for your cargo. And not just that, it is going to save you a lot of time. 

So, before we move forward to the process of air shipping, let’s see if there are any specific instructions to keep in mind. 

Are there any special things to keep in mind before shipping? 

Of course, the decision of choosing air service for sending masks overseas can have effects upon your budget. Therefore, here are a few things you must take into consideration:  

  • Cost and Charges 
  • Do you have the required documents or not? 
  • Do you have your certificate of origin issued or not? 

Let’s find out what is the process of shipping through air now. 

The Process of Shipping by Air: 

Here’s an easy method for you to understand the process of sending masks overseas through air: 

Exporting cargo 

If you are exporter of masks then this method is for you: 


You have to prepare your cargo for the medical equipment shipment keeping in mind two areas: Unit Load Device Dimensions and IATA Cargo Handling Manual. 
The manual of IATA is available for you on their website and you can get to know the required packing requirements to ensure safety for your cargo.  

Calculating And Determining The Chargeable Weight For You Cargo 

We calculate the volumetric weight at 6000 cubic centimeters per kg.  Thus, if you divide the cubic centimeter volume of a shipment (L x W x H) by 6000, it will bring volumetric weight. 

For instance, let’s say, you have a shipment that is 79 x 119 x 119 cm with an actual weight of 295 kg. We have to calculate its volumetric weight in the following way: 

Volume: 79 x 119 x 119 cm = 1,118,719 cm3 (cubic centimeters) 

Volumetric Weight: 1,118,719 cm3 / 6000 = 186.4 kg 

Now here, the chargeable weight should be 295kg because the actual weight is larger than the volumetric calculation. 

Here is the further detailed method for you of calculating the cost of air freight. 

Booking with Some Freight Forwarder for the Air Shipment: 
After making the arrangements with the freight forwarder, make sure that you have accompanied the documents required, like the commercial invoice and the packing list. You have to provide the forwarder with the shipper’s letter of instruction which instructs the forwarder about handling of the shipment. 

Preparing the Airway Bill (AWB): 
Airway Bill is a document which includes cargo details along with the destination and the shipper’s information. This also includes the flight schedule. You have to prepare it with the freight forwarder. It is similar to the Bill of Lading used for ocean services. 

Moving your Cargo to the Warehouse 
After the confirmation of your AWB, your cargo of masks or other medical equipment will be transported to the warehouse which the airline or the freight forwarder appoints. You’ll receive from the transport service provider the freight certificate or a warehouse receipt. 

Custom Clearance 
Later, some regulatory body or any governing agency will inspect your cargo like customs officer. Their job is to find any unusual or illegal stuff in the process. 

Your Cargo Now Needs to be loaded onto the plane 
Your cargo is now loaded onto an airplane. The carrier issues now a confirmed Airway Bill (AWB) which is evidence of a carriage contract. 

Important Documents You Must Take Hold Of. 

-Airway bill 
-Shipper’s letter of instruction 
-Consular invoice; this is issued from the counselor office from the country you are exporting. 
-Commercial invoice 
-Certificate of Origin 

Now let’s get to know some information about the cost of shipping masks. 
Average Cost of Medical Equipment Shipping Through Air 
The cost of the air service is obviously higher as compared to the other modes like ocean or land. Moreover, the cost depends upon the volume your cargo consumes. The cost of shipping medical equipment is just as similar as any other kind of cargo. It needs a chargeable weight which depends upon the volume of the cargo weight. As we told you before,  either net or gross, whichever is higher will become the chargeable weight. Apart from that, the prices keep fluctuating so giving you one fixed cost is not possible. But roughly speaking, the cost ranges from 2 to 5 dollars per KG. 

If you wish to know how to calculate air freight cost, then you can read How much does Air freight cost? 

How Qafila Can Help You? 

You need someone with experience to guide you through the whole process. Qafila is a modern-day freight forwarder who can assist you in every step of the way to get your cargo shipped safely. We are digitally advanced so you just need to click and book the services online. Qafila works with the top giants in the industry like DHL, Etihad, Emirates and Hapag-Lloyd to provide the best and valuable services for their customers. 

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