Printable Version Let FedEx Ship All Your Seasonal Gifts This Year

The busy Christmas and New Year shipping season is just a few weeks away, so it’s very important to make sure that all your gift shipment documentation fully meets the Customs requirements of each of your destination countries.

In most cases gifts are regarded as small consignments of a non-commercial nature which are sent from an individual to an individual, or from a company to an individual, and which are intended solely for personal or family use.  However, there are many differences in the criteria set by individual countries to define what a gift is, and duty and tax free exemptions and prohibited commodities also vary greatly from country to country. 

As an example, here is a summary of the most important regulations concerning the shipment of gifts to the USA:

1     All gift shipments – for which the maximum permitted gift allowance is set at a retail value of $100 or less for each individual recipient per day - must either be from an individual to an individual or from a company to an individual.

2     Shipments from business to business are considered as commercial imports and are therefore not treated as gifts.

3     Each such shipment must be appropriately identified as a “gift “, and wording to the effect that it is an “unsolicited gift, not for resale“ should appear on the Air Waybill.

4     The following information must also appear on the accompanying invoice:

     (a)  the complete name, address and phone number of both the Shipper and the Consignee;

     (b)  a complete description of the product(s) which must also specify whether the item is home-made or has been purchased in a shop. Examples:  “Home-made (or store-bought) chocolate biscuits for personal consumption; not for resale” or - “Man’s shirt, sweater, 100% cotton.”

     (c) a statement indicating that the shipment is an “unsolicited gift, not for resale“.

5     Consolidated gift shipments require that the name of each person receiving a gift, the gift item(s) for each person and the value of each item must be listed individually.  The maximum ceiling for such gifts is set at $100.  Examples: “James Borrell - 2 dozen home-made chocolate biscuits, $15” or “Lola Horsler - 1 cashmere scarf, $100”.

An entire shipment will be regarded as dutiable if any item exceeds the permitted gift allowance.

Non-perishable food items

Home-made and non-perishable food items, purchased in a shop, which are sent from an individual to an individual and which have a value less than $200 do not require the advance submission of a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Prior Notice.

General prohibition

Perishable food, alcoholic beverages, cigars and cigarettes sent by one individual to another as well as imports of Cuban cigars are all banned.


Gift shipments of textiles and clothing are not subject to quota limitations.

Perfumes containing alcohol

As gift exemptions do not apply to these products such shipments may be subject to duty and/or tax and formal entry filing procedures.

Personal and household effects

Such items purchased for the sole, personal use of an individual and shipped unaccompanied will not be treated as gifts but will be entered under separate Customs provisions.

Fish and wildlife products

Wildlife products and items that contain wildlife parts may require specific clearance.

For more information and advice on shipping Holiday Gifts to the USA please click here.

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