The lowdown on sending parcels to USA

America is Britain's biggest and most important global export market. Trade links are strong and our friends across the water seem to love our manufactured goods. Naturally, there are strict rules and restrictions in place to govern what is exported to the USA, ignorance of which results in thousands of seized and returned packages each year.

As such, it's crucial that all senders are aware of the rules, especially given that some 678,000 Brits live in the USA - that's a heck of a lot of Marmite not to get through customs. Here's the low down on sending parcels to America:

Declaration forms

When mailing goods from the UK, senders are required to complete a small customs declaration form to disclose the contents of the package and its value. If the item(s) are worth less than £270, then a CN22 form is used and adhered to the packet. Anything valued at more than £270 requires a more comprehensive CN23 form.

Depending on the value and content of the goods, your parcel could be subject to customs duties and taxes. The rules pertaining to taxes can be complicated and it is recommended that those sending high volume/value good seek advice from HRMC.

Delivery times

The US of A is a big country; there's a five hour time difference between the east and west coast; which can make specifying delivery times possibly a little bit difficult. Transit times usually vary considerably between ZIP codes, so it's probably worth sending your parcel a little extra ahead of the time that your recipient needs it. 

Restricted items

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency considers it the senders' responsibility, as an exporter, to understand export regulations and to obtain any other necessary supporting paperwork (i.e. licences, certificates of origin, authorisations). Get this wrong and you may face some hefty penalties, but if in doubt, check with your international parcel delivery firm - they'll know. And with more people buying and selling internationally on eBay, this can be a big concern.

Essentially, restrictions apply to wood products, antiques, works of art, tobacco, tyres, some metal goods, fabrics and believe it or not, toys. There are also bans on goods that have connections with or have originated from certain countries, including Afghanistan, Cuba and Vietnam, to name but a few. 

Back to that Marmite...

When it comes to food and drink, again, many restrictions apply. A measure taken under the Bioterrorism Act impacts the importation of food items by businesses, but the same bans don't apply to private individuals that are sending gifts to the US. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires the correct labelling and documentation of said foods.

Dairy, fruit, vegetables, meat, peanuts and sugary products are subject to restrictions. The CBP says that foods which are commercially packaged are usually okay - so your Marmite and a bar of Dairy Milk should make the cut, providing you've declared them on the customs label.

As long as you follow the CBP's rules and regulations, there won't be any problem in sending your parcel to the USA - and if in doubt, ask an expert!

Also see our related content...

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Royal Mail International Price Comparison

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Please note if you do not select the “signature required” delivery option, UKMail will not be liable should your items be subsequently lost or damaged after the delivery (see clause 11.7 of the Terms & Conditions). *We define a “Parcel” as a package with dimensions up to 80cm x 80cm x 80cm and a weight of up to 25kg.

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