Shipping Masks Overseas? Three Things to Know

Cover Image for Shipping Masks Overseas? Three Things to Know

We’ve had a huge influx of people wanting to ship masks to their significant others. Currently, sending masks is a “grey area” in international shipping – some countries are totally prohibiting it, some countries are restricting masks manufactured in certain countries.

As the COVID-19 situation is changing every day, so are the rules. In this article, I’ll be sharing our top 3 pieces of advice for anyone thinking of sending masks overseas.

1. Packages have been stopped by the US Customs for containing masks (even surgical ones)

You might think that there’s no issue with shipping a normal blue surgical mask, since it doesn’t look as fancy as an N95. Wrong!

Blue surgical masks are considered as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. This means that they need to receive appropriate approvals before entering the US. As such, thousands of packages containing these masks have been seized by the US Customs.

Our advice? Might not be the best item to ship.

2. Washable fabric masks seem to be okay

Wait – what about those cotton masks? The ones that people sew at home?

Those seem to be okay. As stated by the FDA, “face masks marketed to the general public for general non-medical purposes, such as use in construction and other industrial applications, are not medical devices”. Given that cloth masks are not used in hospitals, and are still frequently used as fashion accessories (nothing to do with the virus), they generally fall under this category.

So – if you want to send your cousin a mask sewed out of batik – you’re in luck.

Again, the regulations surrounding the importation of masks depends on each individual country. Always check before shipping!

fabric mask

Sending a fabric mask to your relatives overseas should cause relatively little problems

3. Your mask might be stopped depending on the item’s manufacturer

Counterfeit masks are a huge issue now as they pose public health safety concerns. Therefore, it is always good to ensure you buy and ship masks from reputable manufacturers, and declare the manufacturer on your shipping form.

Then again, countries have been practicing protectionist measures against masks manufactured in certain foreign countries. Again – best to check!


Shipping masks is still a grey area in international shipping. However, if you do your research, and ensure that your masks comply with regulations, then it should not be a problem. Don’t let your parcel get seized, or let your money spent on shipping go to waste.

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February 10, 2021

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