4 Biggest mistakes Australians make when sending a gift to the USA and how to avoid them
If you don’t want to pay a small fortune in postage, and want to successfully get a cherished Australian parcel to your VIP, colleagues or loved ones across the oceans, there are 4 key factors you need to consider.
1. the WEIGHT – yes it’s about size
Firstly, select a gift that is light and small! This is because, for most international carriers, and for Australia post, the cost of postage is calculated based on the dimensional weight (also called volumetric or cubic weight), or the actual weight – whatever is heavier. So a very light item in a large box could cost a lot more than you think to send!
Each freight carrier has a different calculator for dimensional weight that is a multiplier depending on the width / length / height of the package.
Here are some links to calculate dimensional weight:
2. PACKAGING – what are you going to put it in?
Secondly, you want to consider what you are going to put in your gift to get it posted BEFORE you buy it. If you haven’t thought about it but go to your local Australia Post shop, you might find your gift doesn’t quite fit in their standard Box 2 (31 x 22.5 x 10.2cm) but will have too much room in their standard Box 3 (40 x 20 x 18cm).
As you can see from the point above, the size of the box will impact how much it costs to send your gift across the oceans.
If you don’t get this right, you’ll also need to buy some bubble wrap or similar cushioning so your gift arrives without damage to its final destination. This can be a hidden cost you wan to avoid.
3. WHAT TO SEND – MAKE SURE it’s allowed!
Thirdly, consider what you are sending as this impacts the feasibility of getting through customs and not getting returned to sender. Here is a list of restricted and prohibited items that can’t be sent to America.
As you can see alcohol is on this list or restricted items and some States within the US do allow it (each State is different). We recommend you avoid sending it even in these cases for 2 reasons:
(1) Even when it is allowed, each State has slightly different rules and unless you understand these well, you run the risk of either your item being returned or the alcohol taken out of the package (if you have a bigger gift)
(2) Most of the rules of sending it even as a gift state that the recipient must be a licenced premisis (e.g. like a restaurant or a bar). Most private addresses I do don’t hold one of these – so again your risk the package not making it to your loved one or VIP.
In terms of value of your gift, the US has lifted value of items coming from Australia – as long as it’s under $800, doesn’t contain anything on the restricted or prohibited list; and is marked as a gift for personal use – you should be okay.
4. documentation and PERMITS
We always include a commercial invoice with documents (yes even for a present!) that includes a overall description that the item is a ‘Gift for personal use only‘ as well as an itemised list of products included. For each product within the gift we include:-
- Name of product
- Where the product was manufactured (ideally Australia if you are sending an Australian gift to the UK!)
- Nett and gross weight of product
- Value of the product
- Expiry date of product (for food like biscuits – make sure you have at least 6 months)
- The American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are the body that issue permits allowing the import of foods. You can see more information on their rules of importing foods to America here
- Usually food imports require a permit however the FDA has made special rules and will allow you to send food (as long as it’s not on the prohibited or restricted list!) to individuals for non-commercial use. See here for more information on their Prior Notice Policy for sending food as a gift to America
- If you’re doing it yourself…
- 1. Pick something light AND small
- 2. Think about your packaging before you buy your gift and make sure you have the right ‘fit’ packaging to save on hidden costs
- 3. Don’t send anything on the prohibited or restricted items list
- 4. Make sure your documentation is right and you comply to the FDA prior notice food import rules
- If this is all too hard (and it is time consuming!) select a site who specialise in sending Australian gifts to America. For one price they’ll cover all freight, duties and taxes; and send a beautiful Australian made gift hamper with a personalised card on your behalf. And as an added bonus, your gift will be tracked door-to-door and they’ll let you know when it’s signed for other end. They even donate $1 from every pack to the Australian Koala Foundation. Now that’s value!
- Shop here to take the hassle out and send Australian Gifts and Aussie Care Packages / Hampers delivered to the USA via the experts
- Australia post International post guide – up to date information on what you can / can’t send to America
- Dimension calculator for DHL, Toll, Fedex & UPS
- American FDA prior notice food import rules for gifts
- Cover Photo via Visual hunt