Everything You Need to Know About Shipping Food Overseas

Cover Image for Everything You Need to Know About Shipping Food Overseas

Thinking of sending some delicious treats to your loved ones living abroad?

If you find yourself wondering, "Can I ship food overseas?" or are seeking guidance on how to do so, then you've landed on the right page.

With our detailed guide, you'll learn how to select the appropriate food items to ship, navigate the complexities of customs, and ensure your food items arrive in perfect condition.

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Can You Ship Food Overseas?

box of food items

Yes, you can ship food overseas, but it's important to be aware of the varying regulations and restrictions across different countries.

Before you send any food items, make sure to check the specific import rules for your destination. Each country's customs authority maintains a list of restricted and prohibited items, which can significantly impact what you are allowed to send.

For instance, countries like Belgium and Spain, have restrictions on shipping even non-perishable foodstuff. It’s crucial to verify the specific rules for each country where you plan to send items.

For a comprehensive guide on international restrictions, please refer to the Country-Specific Shipping Restrictions & Prohibited Items List.

With this in mind, let's explore which types of food are typically easier or more difficult to ship:

High-Risk Items that are Difficult to Ship:

  • Meat and Seafood: Items like chicken, beef, pork, fish, and prawns often face strict regulations and are likely to be rejected by customs.
  • Fresh Produce and Perishables: Fruits, vegetables, and any foods requiring refrigeration also pose significant challenges.

Advice: To avoid customs delays or rejections, it's generally best to steer clear of shipping high-risk items whenever possible.

Low-Risk Food Items that can be easily Shipped:

  • Dry and Packaged Foods: Biscuits, cookies, sealed jars of jam, dried fruits and nuts, canned foods, and dried pasta.
  • Long Shelf Life: Coffee, tea, and other items with a long shelf life are usually safe to send and are typically welcomed by customs due to their non-perishable nature.

Please note that some couriers, like Singpost, completely prohibit the shipping of food products.

At JustShip, we love shipping food for our customers and we try our best to deliver any food packages that you want shipped out. But the best advice we can give you is to be aware of the risks.

What are the Risks of Shipping High-Risk Food Items?

Shipping high-risk food items can lead to several complications:

  • Risk of Rejection at Customs: Foods that are restricted or prohibited can be outright rejected by customs authorities, leading to a loss of time and money.
  • Additional Documentation: Items that are restricted often require additional documentation and permits for shipping, which can delay your shipments.
  • Potential for Returns and Additional Costs: If prohibited items are shipped and identified by customs, your shipment might be returned at your expense, incurring further charges.

Specific to the US: US Customs may request an FDA Prior Notice for food shipments. Failing to provide this notice can delay or even prevent your food items from entering the United States.

For more details on shipping food to the US, including how to handle these regulations, read our blog post "Obstacles to Shipping Food to the USA, and How to Overcome Them".

How to Clear Customs for Your Food Package

To ensure your shipments clear customs smoothly and avoid customs delays, you should:

  • Provide Clear Descriptions: Be specific about what you're sending. Instead of 'snacks', specify 'handmade chocolate chip cookies'
  • Declare Value Accurately: Accurately declaring the value of your food items ensures you receive appropriate compensation if your shipment is lost or damaged, and helps avoid customs delays by ensuring you pay the correct duties and taxes.
sample of a detailed description & declaration

sample of a detailed description and accurate declaration

At JustShip, we provide an expert review of your item documentation so that you can avoid the pitfalls that most often sabotage food shippers!

Do anticipate that a customs official in the destination country may reach out to the recipient for more details regarding the package (e.g., ingredient list, manufacturer’s details, etc.).

Packing Your Food Items


Effective packing is essential for ensuring that your food items arrive in pristine condition, especially when dealing with delicate or easily breakable goods.

Here’s how to properly secure your food shipments:

  • Choose the Right Containers: Opt for sturdy, leak-proof containers that can withstand the rigours of international shipping. Containers should be strong enough to protect the contents but also light enough to keep shipping costs down.
  • Secure Delicate Items: When shipping items like cookies or other easily breakable food items, it's important to prevent movement within the container. Fill any extra space with some extra cookies or just pad them up to avoid movement within the containers. After placing these containers in the shipping box, use padding materials such as bubble wrap and packing peanuts to fill any extra space.
  • Seal and Label Clearly: Ensure that all containers are securely sealed to prevent any leaks. Clearly label each container with handling instructions such as "Fragile" or "This Side Up" to encourage careful handling during shipping.
  • Custom Fit Packaging: Whenever possible, tailor your packaging to the size of the items being shipped. This not only reduces the risk of damage but also helps in minimising the shipping cost by avoiding excess volume.

By following these packing guidelines, you can significantly enhance the safety and integrity of your food shipments, ensuring that your items reach their destination just as they were intended.

Not sure how to pack? JustShip provides professional packing services exclusively to our shippers. Pass us the items in a bag and we will pack it securely and ship for you.

You’re Ready to Ship!

Now that you have everything needed to know about shipping food overseas, feel free to check out our post on shipping CNY goodies. Or you can get ideas about the best Singaporean food items to ship overseas!

JustShip ships your food items within 2-5 working days at cheap rates! Need some food items sent overseas ASAP? Create a shipment with us now!

December 19, 2022
shipping food, shipping internationally

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