Everything You Need to Know About Shipping Food Overseas
Thinking of sending some delicious treats to your loved ones living abroad? Shipping food overseas isn’t simple, but with our guide it’s going to be a breeze for you! There are many factors to consider when shipping food overseas, like the type of food items that can be shipped and the different countries’ import restrictions, and we’ll be covering all of that and more!
How to Clear Customs for your Food Package
As a shipper, the most important factor to consider when sending food items overseas is whether customs will accept or reject your packages. Most countries will require your packages to be cleared before they are accepted into the country. So to avoid customs delays, you should:
Have a clear description of your food items
It’s important that when you ship out your parcel with any delivery provider, you provide a detailed description of your food items on your package invoice.
Besides describing the type of food items you will be shipping, it’s also important to declare the value of your items accurately. In short, declaring your item value accurately helps you get the correct compensation if your shipment is lost or damaged in transit.
Having a detailed description and declaring the accurate value of your food items will minimise the risk of customs delays and rejections. 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 country of destination may reach out to the recipient via for more details regarding the package. (E.g Ingredient list, Manufacturer’s details, etc.)
What Food Items Can or Can’t be Shipped?
Shipping food items can be categorised into different risk levels such as low-risk and high-risk food items.
High-Risk items that are Difficult to Ship:
- Meat products (e.g Chicken, Beef, Pork)
- Seafood (e.g Fish, Prawns, Crab, Abalone)
- Meat gravies
- Fresh Foodstuffs
- Perishables (Fruits, Vegetables that need refrigerating)
If you are planning to ship any foodstuff with any traces of meat, chances are they won’t be able to clear customs for most countries. Hence, our advice is that you skip out on shipping any meat products entirely to avoid customs issues!
Low-Risk Food Items that can be easily Shipped:
- Biscuits & Cookies
- Vacuum-sealed food
- Sealed Jars of Jam
- Dried nuts, fruit, and seeds
- Canned food
- Coffee, Tea packets
- Dried pasta
It’s important to understand that high-Risk food items doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to ship them overseas. However, our advice is that you stay clear of shipping any high-risk items to minimise the risk of your items getting delayed or rejected at customs!
If you do choose to be conservative and ship low-risk items, you can take guidance from courier guidelines like FedEx’s which provide you an overview of what the import restrictions and prohibitions are in most countries.
As a matter of fact, 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 careful of the risks. Then, you may be asking “what exactly are the risks of shipping high-risk food items?”
What are the Risks of Shipping High-Risk Food Items?
A high-risk food item means that the item is either a restricted or prohibited item to be shipped globally. Thus, here are the risks of shipping high-risk food items:
Risk of shipping Restricted Items
If you ship a restricted food item and customs ends up highlighting it, then you would have to complete the associated paperwork.
For example, In FedEx’s US-specific list, they listed non-perishable foodstuffs as a restricted item, which means that they set the expectation that additional documentation is required to ship your food item to US.
However, this isn’t the case most of the time. At JustShip, only about 5% of our food shipments to the US get highlighted by US Customs and prompted for an FDA Prior Notice.
Risk of shipping prohibited food items
If you ship a prohibited item like meat products, and customs identifies it, then your shipment will get returned back to SG. Not only that, you will then have to pay return charges which just makes the whole shipping experience a nightmare. So before you ship out any food items, make sure they aren’t prohibited!
Unsure of the difference between restricted and prohibited items? To put it short, restricted items are items when licenses, permits, or approvals are required to ship the items in. Meanwhile, prohibited items are items that are illegal, which you strictly CANNOT ship.
What Is the Price of Shipping a Gift Package?
Shipping a gift package can be a great way to send a present to a loved one! The price of a gift package can vary depending on the type of items it consists of. For example, a standard Gift Package comprising items such as butter cookies, potato chips, chocolates, cashews, hazelnuts would typically cost around $50-$100. (not including shipping)
Additionally, you would also have to consider the extra fees for your courier to handle your fragile packages. Depending on your shipping courier, your package cost will vary depending on the specific details of your shipment. For a better understanding of shipping costs, these are some elements that determine the total cost of shipping:
- Courier Service
- Delivery Speed
- Package weight
- Dimensions of the package for shipping
At JustShip, we charge based on actual or volumetric weight ((length x width x height)/5000), the higher of the two.
Based on our experience, JustShip’s 7kg box C (42 x 26 x 32) would be a great fit box for a package with simple gift items such as butter cookies, potato chips, chocolates, cashews, and hazelnuts. For reference, shipping one Box C full of items to the USA would cost about $160.95 SGD.
Going back to the example of the gift package, you’re looking at spending around $200-$250 (including item costs) on shipping the package from Singapore to the US.
That being said, the shipping cost varies depending on the destination of your package. Shipping the same package to Malaysia would only cost you $100-$150.
Since JustShip charges by actual or volumetric weight, shipping costs can be minimised by fitting your items into a smaller-sized packaging. Fortunately, JustShip also offers professional packing services where we help customise boxes that are true to your item sizes so that you receive the most reasonable shipping rates!
If you want to find out how much it costs to ship your gift package internationally, check out our rate calculator where we provide an accurate quote for your packages!
How to Ship your Home-Made Food Items
Ever thought of shipping your friends & family some of your deliciously baked cookies or special chocolate fudges? Well, here’s how you ship your homemade food items:
1. Don’t try passing off your homemade delicacies as store-bought ones as there might be penalties involved in doing so.
2. Securely Pack your Homemade Food Items:
Packing homemade food items for shipping requires careful consideration to ensure that the food arrives at its destination in the best possible condition. Here are some tips for packing homemade food items:
(a) Choose the Right Container
Use sturdy containers that are leak-proof and able to withstand the rigors of shipping. Glass containers are generally not a good choice as they can break easily. Instead, opt for containers made of plastic.
If you’re shipping fragile glass jars, make sure their tightly sealed and placed in a zip-lock bag with air space for cushioning.
(b) Use Insulation (If your food items are perishables)
To help maintain the temperature of your food during shipping, use insulation like foam or bubble wrap to keep it cold or warm. You can also include ice packs or heat packs to help maintain the proper temperature.
(c) Package Your Food Items Carefully
Make sure the food is well-sealed and secure in the container to prevent spills or leaks.
If you're shipping items that could easily break or become damaged, like cookies or cakes, consider using bubble wrap, packing straw, packing peanuts, or other protective materials to keep them safe.
3. Remember that some countries have import restrictions on certain food items so check beforehand whether your food items are shippable to your desired destination.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about shipping your homemade food items with JustShip as we’ll carry out the difficult parts for you when you opt for our packing services!
All you have to do is make sure that your homemade food item is already sealed tightly in its container and we’ll put it into a nicely-fit box and fill it with bubble wrap, packing straws, etc!
What Store Bought Food Items Can be Shipped?
When shipping your store-bought food items, it’s best that the items are:
- In the Original Manufacturer's Packaging.
- Properly sealed in their packaging and not tampered with in any way.
- Properly labeled with the list of all the ingredients.
- Have a shelf life of longer than 6 months from the date of shipping.
Things to consider when shipping store-bought food:
- Don’t send food items that must be kept chilled as they will spoil by the time they reach their destination.
- It’s best to have the labels on your food products clearly list all the ingredients and the "use by" date because customs officials may verify these upon import.
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 will ship your food items within 2-5 working days at cheap rates! All you have to do is leave your items at your doorstep and we’ll pick them up for free, pack them at our warehouse, and ship it out to your destination in no time!
Need some food items sent overseas ASAP? Create a shipment with us now!