Moving Specialty Items (Like Swords) to Portugal

If you decide to have professional movers handle your stuff (which as we’ve mentioned elsewhere is expensive and time consuming, but it *is* an option) in your move to Portugal, you should be aware that there are certain items that will cause issues with customs. I assume this goes for all countries, but we didn’t think to look up laws around swords.

Having worked at Renaissance Faires for quite some time, being previously married to an amazing hiltsmith, and being a blacksmith myself, I have amassed a small collection of swords. They’re all decorative, none of them are edged (meaning the blades are not sharpened) so I didn’t think anything about it. They’re more works of art than they are anything else and we hang them on the wall, where works of art belong – and some of them I helped make.

Turns out, our movers VERY strongly suggest against shipping them, as those items could result in our entire household goods shipment being delayed in customs for months and months.

I couldn’t find a lot of info on why, except from this very old post from 2012 in a sword collectors forum that says that Portugal “requires a class F weapons license here for any knife-like object over 10 inches” if you’re importing from outside of the EU. Now, this info could be outdated, as laws change constantly, but it’s all I could find, and the movers were pretty clear that they thought it was a bad idea to try to move them.

This apparently even applies to Brady’s cheapo replica alloy katanas that he got on a trip to Japan with his father when he was a boy. You’d have more luck hurting someone with a pair of nail clippers than these things. His dad has since passed, so these junky “swords” are for sentimental purposes only, but here we are. (And yes, I’m being a little bit of a sword snob here. Casualties of being a rennie. Sorry, honey.)

We’re going to try to have my sister ship them separately, after we’ve left. That way, if they get caught up in customs, it won’t delay the entirety of our belongings.

I’m still looking at all of the shit we’re planning on packing and I hate how much of it there is, but some things are sentimental, other things are just damned hard to get over there, and still others are custom made items, so finding an equivalent or having one made would be stupid expensive.

There are arguments to be made for not taking anything with you and starting fresh (less hassle, way cheaper, etc), but there are also arguments to be made that some elements of your old home can made transitioning into a new country a little easier emotionally, as you work through the process of making new friends and getting your footing.

Pretty bummed about the swords though. I hope we can get it sorted out so they can be shipped. I’ve had most of them for over 25 years, and they represent a lot of memories for me.

Make sure you consider anything “weird” you might be wanting to move and talk to your movers as early as possible about it. I’m sufficiently weird that I don’t think having a sword collection is weird, but other countries apparently disagree.

Até breve,
Alison (aka “snipe”)

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