Duties & Taxes for International Shipping

Anything surrounding duties and taxes when shipping internationally can be intimidating and may take some research to ensure you meet all of the requirements. This article will help you understand duties and taxes and who is responsible for them and provides links to additional resources for further learning.

Understanding Duties

Duties are fees assessed against specific items imported into a country. Each country you ship to has duties on items that may compete with items manufactured in that country.

When shipping to another country, duties may apply to your shipment. The shipment's recipient is generally responsible for paying duties. When the recipient is responsible for paying the duties, this is considered a Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU) shipment. However, there may be instances where you, as the shipper, will want to cover the cost of duties (and taxes). When you cover the cost of duties, it is considered a Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) shipment.

Shipments Not Requiring Duties

Duties are typically not assessed for international shipments when:

  • The shipment's value is below a certain threshold.

    There are value thresholds below which duties are not applied. This is known as the De Minimus value. For example:

    • For most European countries, the de minimums value is €150

    • £135 for the UK

    • $150 CAN for Canada

    • $50 USD for Mexico

  • The item is a gift.

    As a rule, gifts are not subject to duties. However, shipments containing merchandise (goods that are bought and sold) are not considered gifts and are subject to duties.

Understanding Taxes

Taxes are fees assessed against the overall value of an imported item. Most countries outside of the US refer to these taxes as Value Added Tax (VAT) and have a standard VAT rate in addition to a reduced VAT rate for goods and services that affect lower-income households, such as food. Learn more about country-specific VAT rates in Europe.

The shipment's recipient is generally responsible for paying taxes. However, there may be instances where you, the shipper, want to pay the taxes (and duties) instead.

Shipments Not Requiring VAT

There is no exclusion from taxes for most European countries or for the UK. However, some countries do have exemptions. For example:

  • Canada - Shipments valued below $40 CAN are not taxed.

  • Mexico - Shipments valued below $50 USD are not taxed

Sending Packages Delivered Duties Paid (DDP)

As stated in the previous sections, duties and taxes are typically paid by the recipient of the package. However, there are exceptions when shipping internationally with Stamps.com:

  • International Shipments with GlobalPost Plus: With GlobalPost Plus International, shipments are Delivered Duties Paid (DDP). You, the shipper, pay the required duties and taxes, which are then billed to you as an adjustment after the package reaches its destination.

  • Prepay Duties & Taxes for Canada Shipments: When shipping from the US to Canada using USPS First-Class Mail International, Priority Mail International, or Priority Mail Express International, you can choose to pre-pay duties and taxes for the flat fee of $9.95.

Helpful Resources

  • Country Specific Shipping Requirements: This article will help you ensure that you meet the cross-border shipping requirements for several of the most commonly shipped to countries.

  • Look Up HS Classification Codes: Use this tool to find the correct HS codes for your shipped items. HS Classification Codes are a globally agreed upon method of identifying different types of merchandise. The codes are needed when shipping internationally and can be used to calculate duties and taxes.

  • Calculate Duties and Taxes: Use this tool to calculate the possible duties and taxes due on international shipments.

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