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Tips and advice for packing, shipping and more during the holiday season.

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What Is a Shipping Gift Allowance?

Woman resting hand on gift with white wrapping paper, red and white striped ribbon, and bow.

Are you planning to ship gifts to friends and loved ones this holiday? Before you do, be sure to double-check the price tag! Gifts no longer become gifts when they exceed a certain dollar amount, which will vary from country to country. This is called a gift allowance—you must stay within the allowance determined by the country you’re shipping to in order to avoid paying applicable taxes and duties on the item(s).

Let’s say you live in Canada but have a family member in the U.S. with a portable speaker on their wish list. Well, thanks to you, they’ll finally get it this holiday season! The speaker cost around $200 CAD, and you’re getting ready to package it up and ship it off to them. There’s only one problem—the allowance for gifts sent into the U.S. is $100 USD or less per person. While you may still consider the speaker a gift, it is no longer classified as such to Customs, and you will be required to pay applicable duties and taxes on it.

Speaking of the U.S., some items do not qualify for the $100 USD gift allowance. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, items worth $5 USD or more that are not included in the gift allowance are: alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and perfume containing alcohol. It is also important to note that in the U.S., you may only send a gift up to $100 USD if the individual you’re sending it to does not receive more than $100 USD worth of gifts in a day. Try coordinating with other friends, loved ones, or the receiver beforehand to avoid this!

If you are on the receiving end of holiday gifts this year from someone outside of Canada, there is also a gift allowance that must be abided by. To qualify as a gift, it must be $60 CAD or less. If you receive an item worth more than that amount, you must pay applicable duty, goods and services tax (GST)/harmonized sales tax (HST), and/or provincial sales tax (PST) on the total amount of the item subtracted by $60. An example provided by the Canada Border Services Agency is available here.

Can I send more than one gift under the gift allowance?

The short answer is yes. However, there are some steps to complete first to prevent any issues. Although this can vary depending on the country you’re shipping to, in addition to indicating that your package is a gift, you will need to specify the recipient’s name for each gift (i.e., Recipient 1: ___, Recipient 2: ___, etc.), a description of what each gift is, the value of each gift, and the total value of all the gifts combined. Some countries will allow their gift allowance to apply to each individual item (each item can be under $100, for example), while others may require the gift amounts to be combined and under their allotted amount.

Does every country have a gift allowance?

No. Countries such as the Philippines and Kuwait, for example, currently have no gift exemption, which means you will need to pay applicable taxes when sending gifts. Be sure to check all the requirements of the country you’re shipping an item to in order to be sure you’re not missing vital elements that could possibly delay your shipping if not provided.

Access the UPS Import/Export Country or Territory Regulations web tool for a quick view of a country’s gift allowance. If you are sending from Canada, select “Canada” under the Origin Country or Territory, add the destination you’re shipping to in the drop-down menu, and select the appropriate boxes under “Country or Territory Regulation Topics.”

Ship with The UPS Store this holiday season

Have questions about shipping gifts internationally this year? Talk to our experts at The UPS Store in a neighbourhood near you about domestic and international shipping options. Additionally, check out our International Shipping Frequently Asked Questions for further details about customs, duties, taxes, and fees.


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