Shipping Gifts Into The US? Here Is What You Need To Know

'Twas a few days before Christmas,

And as far as you know,

Gifts can be shipped without issue,

But “you must know before you go!"

Each year around this time, consumers ship gifts to clients, friends and family. If these gifts are crossing into the US from a foreign country, there are a few things you should know. Keep reading to learn tips on how to make the process go smoothly for both yourself and the receiver.

Part 1: B2B Gifts

Gifts Sent Via Commercial Courier Or Carrier

Gifts sent from business to business of up to $800.00 US may be passed free of duties and taxes, when shipped via commercial courier or carrier as long as all other government agency requirements have been satisfied and it does not contain articles that are prohibited or restricted such as Alcohol, tobacco or perfume containing alcohol. This provision is limited to one shipment addressed to one company per day.

Gifts in excess of $800.00, sent via commercial courier or carrier will require an entry, payment of relevant duties, taxes and fees, and compliance with any associated other government agency requirements.

What Goods Are Subject To Partner Government Agency Requirements?

Items such as chocolates, candy and other food products require additional review by a PGA. Additionally, seafood is also reviewed by a PGA with certain seafood products beginning prohibited from the use of the duty free provision.

Of course food and beverage items aren't always the contents of a gift therefore it would important to check and see what agency - if any - regulates the gift item you plan on sending.

Part 2: Gifts Sent To Family And Friends

Depending on how many gifts you are sending and their respective value, there are specific instructions you will need to follow.

Gifts Sent By Mail

Gifts worth up to $100 may be sent free of duty and tax, to friends and relatives in the US, as long as the same person does not receive more than $100 worth of gifts in a single day. If the gifts are mailed or shipped from an insular possession, this amount is increased to $200.

Tip: Alcohol, tobacco and perfume containing alcohol may not be sent duty free as gifts.

Gifts for More Than One Person

Gifts for more than one person may be shipped in the same package if they are individually wrapped and labeled with each recipient's name.

Be sure to mark the outermost wrapper with the:

  • Words "Unsolicited Gift" and the words "Consolidated Gift Package;"
  • Total value of the consolidated package;
  • Recipients' names; and
  • Nature and value of the gifts inside. For example, tennis shoes, $50; shirt, $45; toy car, $15.

For instance:

  • To Jeffery Jacks - one belt, $20; one box of candy, $5; one tie, $20.
  • To Marianna Smith - one skirt, $45; one belt, $15; one pair slacks, $30.

If any item is worth more than the $100 gift allowance, the entire package will be dutiable.

If a package sent by mail is dutiable the US Postal Service will collect the duty from the person receiving the gift along with any postage and handling charges due.

Shipments Of Gifts Sent By Courier Or Carrier

Shipments of up to $800.00US may be passed free of duties and taxes, when shipped via courier or carrier as long as it does not contain articles that are prohibited or restricted. This provision is limited to one shipment addressed to one person per day.

Part 3: Prohibited And Restricted Items

Regardless of if the gift will be sent to a business or person, some items are not allowed into the US or will experience restricted access.

Prohibited means the item is forbidden by law to enter the US. Examples of prohibited items are:

  • Dangerous toys
  • Cars that don't protect their occupants in a crash 
  • Bush meat
  • Illegal substances like absinthe and Rohypnol 

Restricted means that special licenses or permits are required from a federal agency before the item is allowed to enter the US. Examples of restricted items include:

  • Firearms
  • Certain fruits and vegetables
  • Animal products
  • Animal by products
  • And certain animals

We hope this information helps you get your thoughtful gifts to those intended without issue so that you and your family can enjoy this holiday season.

Happy Holidays Importers!

import your good into the US
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About Author
Misty Gibbins

Misty has been working in the brokerage business for 36 years. She was the manager of the Blaine Office of Peace Bridge Customs Brokers for nine years, before coming to Pacific Customs Brokers Inc. US operation. Misty has worked in the trade compliance group at PCB for the past 13 years. She is currently the Senior Trade Regulatory Analyst, which involves keeping up with trade related regulatory changes.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.
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