How to ship a gift
If you’re thinking about shipping a gift, then you’re in the right place. These days, when sending gifts has become largely digitalised (e-gifts, vouchers etc), sending a gift through the mail can be a nice surprise for the person receiving it and give your gift that extra personal touch.
Whether you’re shipping a gift to family overseas or someone in the same country, the good news is, posting a gift is a simple process and we’re here to help you do it.
Our handy guide to shipping gifts will tell you:
Packaging a gift for shipping
Even if you choose the gift-wrapped option, ordering something online and having it delivered directly from the store can feel a bit impersonal. The nice thing about shipping a gift yourself is that you get to see the item first-hand and you have complete control over the packaging.
Here are our top tips for packing a gift for shipping
- You can send wrapped presents by courier, but they must be sent inside a heavy-duty cardboard box. Wrapping paper alone won’t protect your gifts in transit.
- Choose a cardboard box that’s big enough to hold your gifts along with enough packing material to stop them from moving around. A box too small won’t leave enough room for padding and a box too big will allow too much movement.
- Fragile items should be wrapped individually with bubble wrap.
- Fill any gaps. The contents of your box should be ‘fully encased’ by cushioning to prevent direct contact with the outer box. Bubble wrap, air pillows or packing peanuts are ideal, or newspaper can be used.
- Consider double-boxing. If you’re sending something fragile, two boxes will offer better protection than one.
- Use strong packing tape to seal the outer box and reinforce the corners.
- Securely attach the shipping label to your package and ensure the barcode is visible. Make sure your printer cartridge is full and the printer is not set to economy print mode or the courier may not be able to scan the label.
- Put a return address on the outside of the package and include one inside too (just in case!)
Weighing and measuring parcels
To get an accurate shipping quote through our free shipping calculator, you’ll need to weigh and measure your package. The weight and measurements should include all the packaging so do this after you’ve packed your gifts.
If you don’t have a tape measure there’s a free app called AirMeasure that turns your smartphone into a virtual tape measure. You can weigh your package using your kitchen or bathroom scales.
The cost of sending a gift by courier is based on the size and weight of your parcel so weighing and measuring your package accurately is really important. If you under-declare the size of the package you’re sending, you won’t pay the correct postage price and may need to make another payment later.
Shipping gifts internationally
When it comes to sending gifts overseas, there are a few things you need to know about, including customs documents, customs charges and country restrictions.
The main difference between shipping gifts overseas and shipping gifts domestically (apart from the price) is the customs declaration that will need to be completed. This is the document that tells the customs authority in the receiving country about the contents of the package.
Customs will use this information to decide whether your package is safe to enter the country and how much customs duty to charge (if applicable).
You will need to provide:
- A description for each item in the package
- The value for each item
- The reason for shipping e.g. Gift
- The address and contact details for the recipient - this is really important because it’s the recipient that will be contacted by customs to clear the package
When you ship a gift internationally through Parcel Monkey, we will provide any customs documents during the booking process. All you need to do is print the completed customs declaration and attach it to the outside of your package in a plastic wallet or an envelope.
See our full guide on how to complete customs documents
Some countries don’t charge duty on gifts up to a certain value, but some do, so to avoid hold-ups at customs and unexpected charges, you need to check with the customs authority in the country you’re shipping to.
The contents of your package will usually have to meet certain criteria to be classified as a gift. For example, when you send a package to the UK you won’t pay UK import tax on gifts worth £39 or less. However, to qualify as a gift, goods must be:
- Described as gifts on the customs declaration
- For a birthday, anniversary or other occasion
- Bought and sent between individuals (not companies)
- Intended for personal use
Excise goods such us alcohol and tobacco will incur excise duty regardless of whether it’s a gift or not.
Another thing that’s important to know is that even in a gift situation, the recipient is deemed to be the importer and therefore responsible for paying any customs charges, so it’s worth doing your research to make sure they don’t get any nasty surprises!
There are some items that are restricted from import to certain countries so it’s important to check any restrictions that apply to the country you’re shipping a gift to. This information is usually available via the website of the customs authority in the receiving country.
Plants (including seeds), food products and items made from animal skin or fur are all things you should watch out for, however, some toys can also be prohibited if they’re coated with a material which contains excess amounts of toxic compounds (this applies to Australia). Books can even be prohibited (see restrictions for China).
What not to send by courier
Before you send anything by courier, you should check the prohibited and restricted items list to make sure your item is safe to send and will be eligible for protection cover in the event of loss or damage.
Prohibited items are not safe to send by courier and could be seized and destroyed. These include things like nail varnish, perfume, cigarette lighters, items containing batteries and any kind of blade or knife, so no dinner sets, please!
Restricted items are things which can be sent by courier, but won’t be covered in the event of loss or damage. These items are often things of high value, such as precious stones and metals, watches, musical instruments, cameras and computers.
Some items may be ok to send on a ground service, but not safe to travel by air. If you’re not sure if your item is safe to send, contact our customer support team and they’ll be happy to help.
How to protect your gift against loss or damage
If you’re sending a gift through Parcel Monkey, the majority of our courier partners include free protection cover up to a certain value. This is clearly shown in the quote results when you get a quote through our shipping calculator and there’s often the option to extend this if your item value is over the free protection cover threshold.
While no one wants to think about their package being lost or damaged, protection cover will give you peace of mind that your package will be covered in the worst-case scenario. Just be aware that if you’re sending an item that is restricted or prohibited, your package won’t be eligible for cover.
Make sure your gift arrives on time
It’s best to give your gift as much time as possible to arrive, just in case there are problems with its delivery. Generally, our courier partners are very reliable, as we work with well-known couriers such as UPS, USPS and DHL.
However, at busier times of the year, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, packages can take slightly longer to arrive as the courier networks are stretched due to the increased volume. At peak times we always recommend you send your gifts as soon as possible. It’s far better for them to arrive early than late.
Couriers will usually publish a final date to mail packages before Christmas and for international packages, this could be as early as late November. It’s always best to send your package before the final posting date if possible as delays during the festive period are likely.
Top monkey tip
Ship early to save money. You can avoid the additional cost of an express service if you plan ahead. Services like USPS Ground (for domestic shipments) and UPS Worldwide Expedited (for international shipments) are just as reliable as an express service, they just take a little longer to deliver. However, your shipping costs will be less!