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A Guide to Shipping Gifts Overseas


The holidays are here, which means that you may be shipping gifts to family, friend or business associates overseas.  It is trickier than just sending a gift in the U.S. as your package will have to clear customs.  You also need to be aware that customs services may inspect your package as many buyers and sellers will try to avoid paying international tariffs and duties on sales by saying it is a gift.

Customs is the regulatory agency that verifies items going into and out of a country are legal and allowed.  Here is a guide to help you expertly ship gifts internationally this holiday season.

Check Customs Regulations

The first step when shipping overseas is to look into customs restrictions.  The restrictions vary from one country to another, and some items may require special certificates or licenses for customs clearance.

Check on what can and cannot be imported into the destination country.  You can find this information on the destination’s country’s embassy or customs webpage.

Important Forms and Details

Be prepared for a potential delay with some gifts.  However, if you are detailed and complete the forms, you can avoid a delay when shipping overseas.

The customs form will require you to write the monetary value of the contents.  Within the form, there is a section marked “Reason for Export”.  This is where you list if you are selling something or gifting something.  Also provide the description of the goods including what it is, the materials it’s made from, what it’s used for, and the country of origin.  Here are a few forms that you may also need to include.

  • Certificate of Origin – Some countries may require it. It is the document that identifies what country the goods originated in.
  • Bills of Lading – It is often the first transportation document required for international shipping. It is a contract of carriage between the exporter and the shipper.  It also serves a receipt.  There is three common bill of lading documents: inland, ocean, and air waybill.

These important forms and details allow for complete documentation and help avoid customs delays or holds impacting delivery.


Packages travel thousands of miles to reach their destinations.  They often make multiple stops and can undergo sorting and processing in multiple locations.  This is why packaging correctly can make the difference between your gift arriving in excellent condition or arriving broken.

Accurate Weight

Weighing and measuring your shipment as accurately as possible is critical.  The shape, length, height, and width are all used to calculate your shipping price.  Just like local shipping, a carrier can refuse a package, or you can face additional charges.  It will also create a delay, so your package will not get there on time.

Work with a Trusted Shipping Company

Reliable companies often have more competitive pricing and a global network, helping you save money while offering fast, secure, and reliable service.  You also will get to choose from a range of delivery speeds, costs, and times to find a service that is ideal for you.  Once you get the paperwork in order, shipping overseas is not as complicated as it may seem.  The best way to ensure your packages get to their destination in time is to work with a trusted shipping company.