Sending a package to an international destination is a little more involved than the typical domestic shipment within the U.S. When you ship anything other than documents overseas, some other critical factors come into play.
1. An itemized invoice or declaration of goods is required. This form clearly identifies the contents of the package, providing a description of each item, their quantities, country of manufacture and values. Customs requires this document, and they have the authority to open your package and verify what is listed on the invoice if there are any questions, or if there is no declaration of goods form affixed to the package. Duties and taxes associated with your shipment will be charged depending on the values associated with the package and are paid by the shipper or recipient (or even a third party), depending upon how the shipment was originally set up.
2. Prohibited commodities. Keep in mind that each country has its own unique import restrictions of items that will not be accepted through Customs. Some examples of generally prohibited commodities include firearms, dangerous goods, hazardous or combustible materials, pornography, and perishable goods or plants. China – animal skins, antiques and jewelry; Mexico – gambling devices and playing cards; Jamaica – coffee; Japan – furs, military equipment.
3. Telephone numbers. The sender’s and recipient’s phone numbers are required information, along with their full addresses. Certain countries’ mail services require that the carrier be able to contact the recipient directly in order to deliver the shipment. This is especially vital in countries that may have “extended service areas,” which are outside of the carriers regular service areas.
4. Tracking number. Once your local shipper has registered your shipment you will receive a tracking number associated with the transport company. You can enter the tracking number on the carrier’s website and can follow where your package is in transit, whether it has been held up at Customs, and if so, the reason(s) it was held.
5. Restricted countries – The USA is restricted from shipping items to the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Mayanmar (Burma)
If you arrive at your local shipper fully prepared with the above information, you have done everything you can to assure that your package arrives smoothly without any unforeseen issues.