Amtrak Shipping FAQ: Rates, What You Can Ship, etc

Everyone knows about FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service, but did you know that you can ship items on Amtrak trains? Amtrak Express Shipping offers station-to-station shipping services between more than 100 cities. Keep reading to find out what kinds of items you can ship with Amtrak and how much it will set you back.

How Does It Work?

With Amtrak Express Shipping, you can ship items and packages between over 100 Amtrak stations across the continental U.S. Most Amtrak stations with baggage check services also offer Amtrak Express Shipping services. To ship with Amtrak, your items must be sent from and picked up at a participating Amtrak station. There is no home delivery or door-to-door service available through Amtrak.

Amtrak shipments are accepted at participating stations between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.. No appointment is needed to ship items with Amtrak. To find a participating station, locate individual Amtrak stations on the Amtrak Train Routes page. Pick the route that goes where you need, then scroll down and select the station you want to drop off at. Click on the Baggage tab under the Station Details section. If your station has checked baggage service, it probably also participates in the Amtrak Express Shipping program. You should see “Amtrak Express shipping available” with the list of baggage-related services available.

Types of Shipping

Amtrak Express Shipping offers two types of shipping services: Small Package Shipment and Heavy and Commercial Shipments.

  • Small Package Shipment: Individual items or packages that meet Amtrak’s weight and size requirements; small packages must be no more than 3 ft by 3 ft by 3 ft in size and 50 pounds in weight
  • Heavy and Commercial Shipments: Offered at most major Amtrak stations for individual pallets weighing up to 500 pounds

For both small package and commercial shipments, individual boxes can’t weigh more than 50 pounds.

What Can You Ship?

Packaged Items up to 50 Pounds

For both Small Package Shipments and Heavy and Commercial Shipments, you can ship most items that can be packaged in individual boxes up to 50 pounds, including books, clothing, toys, household items, products, and more. There are some restrictions on these items, as Amtrak will not ship anything liquid, hazardous, or perishable. For more detailed information on restricted shipping items, see below.

Bicycles

Amtrak Express Shipping handles regular bicycles and unicycles. A “regular” bicycle is any two-wheeled bike that can be partially disassembled and packaged in a bicycle box. Three-wheel, tandem, and bicycles with unusual structures are not permitted.

Bicycles must be packaged in a bicycle box. You can supply your own or purchase one for $15 from a participating Amtrak station. Amtrak recommends calling ahead to the origin station to make sure they have bicycle boxes available for purchase. You can find contact information for individual stations by searching for your nearest Amtrak on the Amtrak Train Routes page.

Human Remains

If you need to transport human remains, Amtrak offers station-to-station shipping for this service. In order to ship human remains, you’ll need to coordinate with funeral directors at both the origin and destination stations, who are typically required to provide their own staff for loading and unloading the remains onto and off the train.

For more information on shipping human remains, contact Amtrak Express Shipping customer service at (800) 377-6914 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.EST, Monday through Friday.

What Can’t You Ship?

  • Appliances
  • Artwork
  • Automobiles
  • Engines
  • Electronics
  • Fragile/delicate items
  • Furniture
  • Liquids
  • Perishable items (food, live plants, or animals)
  • Motorized vehicles
  • Any individual item(s) that cannot be packaged in boxes weighing 50 pounds or less

If you have questions regarding an item that isn’t listed here, it’s best to contact Amtrak’s shipping department at (800) 377-6914 to discuss your options.

 Amtrak Shipping Rates

Amtrak shipping rates vary according to the weight of the items or packages being shipped, as well as the distance between the origin station and the destination station. For small packages, the rates are typically $20 to $50 depending on weight and distance. We confirmed this information with Amtrak customer service representatives.

Shipping fees for heavy shipments are usually available at a per-pound discounted price after the first 100 pounds — for example, shipping from Albuquerque, NM, to Richmond, VA, is $75 for the first 100 pounds and $0.70 for each additional pound.

To avoid additional fees, you must pick up the shipments at the Amtrak station they’re delivered to within 48 hours. After 48 hours, there is a fee of $4 per package per day to hold shipments at an Amtrak station.

You can get an exact quote for your shipping needs by calling Amtrak Express Shipping customer service at (800) 377-6914.

In Summary

Now you know the Amtrak shipping rates and more. Although not as well known as FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service, Amtrak offers station-to-station shipping services throughout the continental United States. Both small package and heavy commercial shipping services are available, and you can also ship bicycles and human remains with Amtrak. Shipping rates for Amtrak Express Shipping vary, so be sure to call ahead and find out how much it will cost to ship your particular items or packages.

Want another option besides Amtrak? Here are the companies that offer one-way rental vans and trucks.

35 comments

  • Geraldine Abergas says:

    I need to ship my portable massage table which is folded in a carrying bag. Will Amtrak accept this for shipment?

    • Lindsey Desmet says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hello, Geraldine! This depends on the size of your table. While portable tables are not explicitly prohibited by Amtrak, items larger than 3 ft by 3 ft by 3 ft or weighing more than 50 pounds can only ship with Amtrak if palletized. You may want to call Amtrak’s shipping department at (800) 377-6914 to discuss the specifics of your item (size, weight, packaging options) and see whether arrangements can be made. Best of luck with your shipment!

  • michael burley says:

    I want a price to ship a small 250 lb.motor scooter from wilmington north carolina to alex. va.

    • Lindsey Desmet says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hello, Michael! In order to get a quote, you’ll need to contact Amtrak directly. The phone number for Amtrak’s shipping department is (800) 377-6914. You can call this number for current rates and schedules, or to get an exact quote for your shipment.

  • I would like to ship some boxes from San Diego, CA to arrive in Oakland, CA, do you know if Amtrak can transport my boxes and how soon they will arrive in Northern California? Thank you in advance for your help.

  • Samantha says:

    I shipped my items from San Diego to DC over 8 days ago and still have not received a phone call. I know there’s no way to track the shipments but I’m worried…

    • Kathleen Wilson says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Samantha,
      I’m sorry to hear your shipment still hasn’t arrived — I know how frustrating that can be! Your best bet is to call Amtrak’s shipping customer service directly and see if there’s anything they can do to help track down your missing shipment. You can call them at (800) 377-6914, 8 AM – 8 PM ET, Monday through Friday. I hope they can help you track it down quickly!

  • Hi,

    My boxes have arrived at Union Station Washington DC. I am planning to hire movers to pick up them. Does Amtrak have a specific parking lot for those who want to pick their shipments? Does the station provide any moving equipment (i.e. dollies)? I couldn’t find this info online. Thank you very much for your response!

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Lera,

      You’re right — they don’t detail this process on their site. After reading several discussion boards, it looks like it’s a really straightforward process, as people are able to drive directly to the loading dock and back up the vehicle to be loaded.They also have self-service handcarts at each station, and Red Cap agents are there to help with baggage handling services.

  • Hi,

    How do they check and make sure you don’t ship prohibited items? Do they open the boxes or xray?

    • Kathleen Wilson says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Anthony,
      Amtrak’s policies on checking shipped items vary by Amtrak station. Some stations may require you to put your boxes/packages through an x-ray machine, but not all locations have this capability. Amtrak conducts random inspections on shipped packages and on passengers’ personal items. During these random inspection, they may ask you to open your items for brief inspection.

  • Hello, can we use UHAUL boxes which have the built-in handles (small holes) on the sides? Thank you!

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Hope,

      It looks like Amtrak will take your U-Haul boxes. Here’s what they have to say about packing up your belongings: “Containers must be able to withstand necessary handling and weather elements. Unsuitable containers like plastic containers, trash bags, containers that let sharp/pointed items protrude, or containers that cannot securely hold their contents or prevent exposure to weather will not be accepted.” It would probably be a good idea to put packing tape over the handle openings before shipping just to be sure your belongings are protected.

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi J,

      It looks like it will cost $20 or less. You can find more information about shipping bikes here.

  • To ship items on Amtrak, is it a must that you use Amtrak boxes even if you have stayed within the weight limitations per box?

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi there!

      According to Amtrak, you can use your own box, if desired. You can find more information here.

  • Thank you so much for your very helpful reply.
    They gave told me there are no spaces left to bring my bike as checked baggage between Oakland and Redding.
    I will ring the number you have given me to check it out.
    Thank you so much. .so helpful
    Nicola

  • Hi. .I will be a passenger on the amtrak train from Oakland to vancouver and wish to bring a bike in a bike bag. However amtrak tells me there is no space for part of the leg of the journey. How do I go about arranging amtrak express from oakland? We arrive into san fransisco airport at 3pm and booked on amtrak at 939pm.
    Can you book the bike in with amtrak express at the station? Do I need to book it in with amtrak express first? I don’t want to have to leave the bike there without knowing I can send it on.
    Thank you.I would appreciate your advice
    Nicola Hill

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Nicola,

      Thanks for your question! First, if you want to use Amtrak Express shipping for your bike, it’ll have to go in a box instead of a bag, and you’ll have to use the type of box provided by Amtrak. The boxes are $15. You’ll have to do some partial disassembling of the bike to get it in the box. You can call the shipping number, 1-800-377-6914, to see whether they’ll take your bike at the station you depart from, whether they have boxes available at that station, and other relevant details. If they are able to ship it on your line, you should be able to drop it off at the same time you catch your train. At the station in Oakland there are typically bike boxes, but you should call to confirm. You can usually take a bike in a box as one of your checked bags. And that seems like it would be the easier option for you. Your line — Coast Starlight — is included here in the list of lines that take bikes with checked baggage, so you should be able to get it on, provided you package it properly! Here’s the number for the Oakland station: (800) 872-7245. I would recommend calling Amtrak to make sure you’ll get a spot, but you should be able to take your bike!

      • Thank you so much for your reply. .so helpful. I wonder if I would be able to take it as checked baggage, even in a box, when they have said there’s no spaces.
        It would be great if I could. I will try the number you have given me.
        Really appreciate your advice.
        Thank you. .Nicola

  • Hi, just wanted to let you know that the maximum shipping weight per day is incorrect. The correct weight 500 lbs or less.

    Amtrak website: “Weight limit for each shipment: 500 lbs. (227 kg),” I also verified it by phone. https://www.amtrak.com/express-shipping

    For reference, I will be dropping my shipment of boxes off at the Syracuse, NY station and having them shipped to the Oakland, CA station.

    Here are the prices I was quoted:
    Amtrak Shipping Service
    800-377-6914

    82.00 – 100 lbs
    162.00 – 200 lbs
    238.00 – 300 lbs
    316.00 – 400 lbs
    393.00 – 500 lbs

    I used the “Medium Boxes” from UHaul which are 18 X 18 X 16 (3 Cubic feet). Worked great, easy to carry, and prevented me from overloading the boxes making them over the 50 lbs allowed.

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Terry,

      Thanks so much for this valuable information! We will update the article to reflect this information.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Ioan,

      Unfortunately, it looks like Amtrak routes run throughout the United States and Canada, but not Mexico. You can take a look at this FQF article for more information on moving cross-country (or to a different country, in your case). Some of the information may be applicable to you as far as cost-efficient ways to move over a long distance, but it’s worth noting that there may be specific restrictions on (for example) driving rented vehicles across national borders. Best of luck with your move and please let me know if I can answer any further questions!

  • How long does it take on Amtrak, roughly? I’m planning a move from DC to southern California, and trying to gauge a rough estimate. For me the longer, the better, since I will be roadtripping and do not have a final destination set.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Kaleena,

      I tried a test itinerary for your route — Amtrak recommended one train from DC to Chicago (24 hours) and another from Chicago to Los Angeles (43 hours) with about a five hour layover in between. All in all, that route would take about three days in total. Amtrak will hold shipments at the station for 48 hours free of charge, giving you about five days total from shipping your items until you would need to be in LA to pick them up. Depending on your planned route for the road trip, there’s a good chance this will not be enough time — so Amtrak might not be the ideal option for your move. I hope this helps!

  • Great article. Really valuable resource.

    I’m moving from NC to CA and have some larger, odd-shaped items that need to go.

    I need to ship a ‘California King’ sized mattress (memory foam, so can be compressed significantly but the length, about 7 feet, will be the same. I also need to ship a 49″ TV.

    Do you have any recommendations of an economical way of getting these from the East to West Coast?

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Nate,

      Unfortunately, there’s not really one perfect way that’s both efficient and cheap to ship those types of items. You may be able to look into LTL (less than truckload) shipping, which will likely be the most economical method of transporting your mattress and television. UShip is a good resource for this method; you can use the site to connect with transportation companies who have extra space in their truck, so you’ll get much cheaper transportation than you would by shipping through another method. If it’s still proving difficult to ship your items without breaking the bank, there’s always the option of selling them and buying new ones once you’ve arrived at your destination. I hope this helps!

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Julie,

      That’s an interesting question! It’s difficult to say whether shipping a painting that fits into a bike box would be allowed — the website does state that it’s bicycles, specifically, that are exempt from the standard size requirements (which are 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft). To be absolutely sure, I would recommend giving Amtrak a call and explaining the situation to see if the painting would be allowed if packed in a standard Amtrak bike box. You can reach the customer support for Amtrak shipping at 1-800-377-6914 (8 AM – 8 PM ET, Monday through Friday). Best of luck!

  • Lorraine Mericle says:

    I am relocating across the country and wish to ship with Amtrak. Are standard heavy duty packing boxes acceptable to ship? If not, what are examples of acceptable containers to ship with? Also, what are the labeling requirements for the packages?

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Lorraine,

      Standard heavy duty packing boxes should fall into the category of Amtrak’s “suitable containers,” as long as the boxes are under 50 lbs, securely hold the contents with nothing protruding, and are less than 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft in size. The boxes should be labeled with your contact information (address and phone number) as well as the recipient’s contact information (address and phone number). Since they’re probably the same person in your case, you should be safe just listing your phone number and the old and new address. For any further questions, Amtrak recommends contacting the shipping information line at 1-800-377-6914 (agents are available 8 am – 8 pm ET, Monday through Friday). I hope this helps!