Important Tips for Shipping Gifts

Are you shipping gifts to the U.S. or internationally during the holidays?

Important tips for shipping gifts

  • The shipping documentation must be clearly marked “GIFT” and include a detailed description of the commodity to receive special import clearance handling at destination. Note: this is only available for shipments to those countries that recognize special entry status for gift shipments; a maximum dollar amount for duty and tax exemption usually applies. The description on the air waybill must also include a brief description of the contents, as required by customs, for example “gift shipment of books and various men’s clothing made of cotton.”
  • Many countries allow gifts to enter the country duty free if the value is less than a certain amount. This amount varies from country to country. For information on duty-free and tax-exempt imports into Canada please see the "Duty-Free and Tax-Exempt Importations" section below.
  • In some countries, the shipment must be sent person to person – with no company involvement or indication of involvement on the shipping documentation.

Duty-free and Tax-exempt Importations

If someone ships an item worth CAD$20 or less to you, it is duty and tax exempt. However, if the item is worth more than CAD$20, you must pay the applicable duty, the GST or HST, and any PST on the item's full value.

Some items do not qualify for the CAD$20 exemption, including:

  • Tobacco
  • Books
  • Periodicals
  • Magazines
  • Alcoholic beverages

For the shipment to qualify as a gift, the shipping documentation must be clearly marked "GIFT" and include a detailed description of the commodity. If you receive an imported gift by courier and it's worth CAD$60 or less, it is duty and tax exempt. However, if the package is worth more than CAD$60, you must pay duty and tax on the amount over $60 CAN.

For example, if a relative sends you a gift worth CAD$200, you must pay the applicable duty, the GST or HST, and any PST on CAD$140.

Please note:
The $60 CAN gift exemption does not apply to:

  • Goods such as tobacco, alcoholic beverages, or advertising material
  • Items sent by a business, company or association.

As well, the $60 CAN exemption that's available on gifts cannot be combined with the CAD$20 exemption that's available on all items.

General Restrictions:

  • Perishable foodstuffs and any food item requiring temperature control from international express service.
  • Import and export of alcoholic beverage shipments direct to consumers, only licensee to licensee shipments are acceptable.
  • Australia prohibits the importation of pine cones, wood ornaments, fresh fruit and meat products.

Are you shipping food to the U.S.?

How should I describe my holiday food shipments?
Holiday food shipments must be described as one of the following:

  1. For personal consumption
  2. A gift
  3. Not for resale

Are you sending a homemade item?
If you are shipping a homemade item, you must record the shippers and recipients name on the FedEx International Air Waybill and CommerciaI Invoice. The product description, as well as the following statement: “Homemade - For personal consumption,” should appear on the FedEx International Air Waybill and CommerciaI Invoice (e.g., Homemade chocolate cookies, for personal consumption) as well.

What should I do if the food item was purchased at a store or online in a foreign country?
The shippers and recipients name, product description and the statement “For personal consumption” should appear on the FedEx International Air Waybill and Commercial Invoice (e.g., Chocolate Truffles – for personal consumption). Please note that if a company name appears on the shipping or customs documentation then Prior Notice (PN) is required.

Can I ship a gift basket containing food to the U.S.?
When shipping a food gift basket to the U.S. the following guidelines must be followed or the shipment will be delayed by the FDA:

  • The shipment must be addressed specifically to an individual only.
  • If it is addressed to or from an individual c/o their company name and address, it is no longer considered a personal shipment.
  • In the description field of the air waybill, it must say "food, for personal consumption only" or "food, unsolicited gift" and the description of what is being sent in the shipment.
  • The commercial invoice must contain the name and address of the manufacturer or if they are home baked goods, it must state as such.

For more information on shipping restrictions for specific countries, please call FedEx Customer Service at 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339.