Back to Blog

Shipping to… the US

Posted On 24th March 2016


Perhaps you want to send a loved one who’s living abroad a gift, or you need to ship items to an international eBay customer ‐ whatever your reason for sending goods to the US, armed with the right knowledge, the process is a pretty simple one. There are some things you’ll need to take into account first, of course, such as any major restrictions or US‐specific shipping information. Make sure you leave nothing to chance, and find out everything you need to know about how to send a parcel to the US.

Delivery timings

With some courier services, delivery to the US could be as speedy as next day AM ‐ but check with the company you’re sending with to be sure. Always assume it will take the maximum time provided, so whoever’s waiting for their parcel at the other end won’t worry that it’s late or lost. You should also make sure you’ve checked your chosen carrier’s list of prohibited and restricted items as well as US customs regulations, because if your package has issues this could slow down the delivery process considerably. Also be aware that the recipient may be required to pay customs charges for goods over a certain value; check out the US Customs Border and Protection Office website for more information.

Dos and don’ts of preparing your parcels

Tasks such as labelling and packaging items may seem like a chore, but they’re key to your parcel making it to its destination quickly and safely; and there are a number of packing shortcuts you can try to make the job easier. Check the maximum weight and length (you can find ours here) and don’t exceed them, as it’s likely to cause problems. Do re‐use old boxes (making sure you’ve concealed any addresses or markings) if you’ve got any lying around ‐ but only if they’re still in good condition and strong enough to contain your goods.

If your items are breakable, then do use plenty of internal packaging when it comes to ensure the items don’t move around inside the box. When you’re writing on the address, be sure to use a pen that’s not easily removed

Shipping restrictions

There are a number of things you can’t post to the US , so check with the US Customs and Border Protection Office website to find out what’s on the prohibited items list before shipping.

These rules vary from country to country ‐ in the US specifically, cigarettes and foodstuffs are restricted, while textiles are also very difficult to import unless all materials are named in an invoice. Aerosols, alcohol, cigarettes, explosives, fresh fruit and vegetables, and nail polish are also prohibited.

Things you need to know about the US

When you’re writing the address, make sure you include the ZIP code (postcode) next to the city and state (you only need to include the first five digits, not all nine). Because the US is outside EU jurisdiction, you’ll need to complete forms for customs clearance and pay import taxes that may be in place upon delivery.

If you’re shipping to the US on behalf of a business, make sure you’re aware of the prior notification system introduced in 2003, which requires that senders include declarations to support items going through customs. If you’re unsure about anything, you can contact the US Customs and Border Protection Office for more information.