How to ship gifts internationally

When it comes to gifts, there's no expectation of payment and it's usually meant to be unreciprocated – but like any other export, you still need to check regulations and provide the right paperwork. Get a clear outline of what you need to check before shipping and the information you need to provide.

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What do I need to check before shipping a gift?

It’s essential you still perform the checks you would do for any export. Before sending your gift, or perhaps before even choosing what to give, be sure to check country regulations on gifts. Some countries only allow goods that meet strict conditions.

This can be the case with, for example, shipping alcohol to Saudi Arabia or sending food or plants to Australia. There may also be quantity, value or even frequency restrictions. It’s a good idea to ask the person you’re sending the gift to if there are any restrictions.

Do they have a value?

When sending a gift, you don’t expect someone to pay for it. But your goods still have a certain value that you have to declare.

Provide customs with a realistic value of the item. If the declared value doesn’t seem right, or if you don’t give any value, customs may decide the value for you.

Does my gift require a commercial invoice?

Even gifts of low value require a commercial invoice. You need to provide a realistic value, detailed description and reason for export – in this case it’s ‘gift’. This way, customs knows it’s not a commercial shipment.

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