Whether you’re thinking of shipping personal effects for summer holidays with one of our luggage courier services to the US and Canada or you just need to send a package to a client, there are a few things you need to consider before booking. While you may be aware of common restrictions for international deliveries, you may not be aware of country specific import restrictions. We recommend you check the country restrictions for Canada and the US, before shipping. As a general guide, here is an overview of what can and cannot be shipped to North America to help you plan.
How to Plan a Shipment to The United States or Canada
- We always recommend customers ship a few days early, just in case there is a delay at customs.
- Transit times do not take into account customs delays.
- Include full contact details of recipient including mobile, email, address and a second contact number if possible.
- Always follow the carrier’s packaging guidelines to ensure your shipment is fully covered under any insurance scheme.
- Take out enhanced cover on valuable, rare or sentimental shipments, but be aware you will need to prove the value of the items if you claim.
Every country has its customs regulations, which set the duties and taxes. Typically, the recipient must pay these taxes upon entry of that country. Unless you are shipping documents, you will need to provide a customs invoice, detailing the contents, the reason for export and the value of each item. In some cases, you may also need supporting paperwork that states the country of manufacture. Most customs paperwork will include fields to complete these details. Duty and taxes are based on the reason for export and the value of the items. For example, high-value goods for re-sale can attract a higher level of import duty and tax than gifts.
While most of our Express services offer transit times of 1-2 days. This does not take into account potential customs delays, service disruption or deliveries to remote areas of the US.
What to Include in Customs Paperwork
- What you are shipping
- The value of each item
- The reason you are sending, eg: gifts, business samples
- A Textile-Declaration is only required for samples or merchandise for commercial use.
Apart from document deliveries, any item or items being sent to the US or Canada require customs docs, or customs invoice. Even if you are sending a gift that may be exempt, customs paperwork is still required.
ParcelHero will create your customs documents as part of our booking process, it’s easy. One thing to remember, as customs duty and tax is levied at point of entry to the USA or Canada, any charges cannot be included in your courier quote. And it will usually be the responsibility of the parcel recipient to resolve these charges and get the package moving again. Find out more.
How to Ship Personal Effects or Gifts
- Personal effects: clothing must be owned and personally worn by the sender for at least six months. For the USA, there are no value exemptions but, generally speaking, items valued below $200 USD should be exempt as long as they are declared as personal effects. The receiver will need to complete this form.
- For personal effects to Canada, the same rules as above apply, but the value threshold is $20 CAD. The receiver will need to complete this form.
- The current exemption value for gifts is USA: $100 USD, Canada: $70 CAD.
If you are using one of our luggage courier services to the US, you will need to ensure that you have filled out the appropriate paperwork. If you are shipping your luggage by courier, it’s important to consider the outer suitcase will be considered packaging, so if it is damaged in transit it will not be covered under the insurance policy. Please do not lock your suitcase as this will impede customs checks. You can purchase a universal lock with TSA. While personal effects and gifts are generally exempt from customs duties, they have to meet certain criteria.
When shipping personal effects to North America, we recommend that customers review our Customs & Import section on our website.
Shipping Hazardous Materials to The United States
Obviously any item that reads ‘DANGEROUS GOODS’ or ‘HAZARDOUS MATERIALS’ cannot be shipped unless formerly arranged with a courier that specialises in the transportation of these goods. Often this is industry specific and not appropriate for one-off or consumer shipments. As a guide any item that is combustible, flammable, poisonous, toxic, potentially infectious or corrosive cannot be shipped.
Hazardous Items That Require Special Paperwork
- Liquid Cosmetics
- Lithium Batteries
- Electrical equipment
- Household goods (paint, bleaches, spray cans etc.)
- Select Pharmaceuticals
- Photographic supplies
- Thermometers (with mercury)
- Tool Boxes (with flammable or corrosive liquids)
- Alcohol (Wine & Beer)
- Ammunition/Handguns (even if antique)
- Antiques (high value and over 50 years old)
- Artwork (masterpieces)
- Bodily fluids (blood etc)
- Coins/castings (which contain precious metals or over 50 years)
- Pens and ink cartridges
- Live animals
- Lottery tickets
- Paper money or coins
- Perishable goods
Most carriers will not accept certain items. These need to be professionally imported or exported with the proper licences and customs declarations. Please note, every country has its own rules and regulations, additional to your courier’s prohibitions. So there are two sets of rules to follow: country import regulations and courier transport regulations.
For the definitive story on this, check our prohibited items page.
How to Ship Large & Heavy Parcels
Not all carriers offer Large & Heavy services or Pallet Services abroad. We offer both, but if you require a vehicle with a forklift, this will need to be arranged in advance with our customer care team.
The heavier your shipment is the stronger your box should be. As a guideline we recommend customers use double ply walled boxes for any shipment over 10Kg to the USA or Canada. For shipments over 30kg, we generally recommend triple lined corrugated boxes. Any shipment over 50kg will require a pallet or wooden box. When booking a Large & Heavy service to the US & Canada, it is important to remember the courier may need assistance in collecting and delivering the item. Pallet services require special arrangements for non-stackable pallets. For more packaging and labelling advice to the USA and Canada, see ParcelHero’s packaging guidelines.