There’s nothing like receiving a gift in the post. The excitement of not knowing what it is. The anticipation while unwrapping it. The joy (well, hopefully) of discovering what it is – and the enjoyment of using it. However, in addition to the ever-present problem of buying the wrong present, there are plenty of other things that can go wrong when posting presents.
This is where our ever-so-handy guide to posting gifts comes in. We might not be able to help you choose the present, but we can help to ensure that it’ll get to your loved one undamaged and on time and that there’ll be no nasty surprises for either of you.
Our service providers do their very best to ensure your packages get to their recipients without any damage. However, it’s still vital that you package the items up safely. Use a new box, and use plenty of padding inside. Bubble wrap is ideal, although cardboard or newspaper will work fine as well. There shouldn’t be any movement inside the box, so keep packing that package out!
Use a new box or at least one that’s particularly sturdy
Use packing tape, not Scotch tape, to seal the box and add reinforcement
Make sure the address is written clearly
Secure any shipping labels and attach Customs Documents securely
Some items require specific packaging, so check the restricted items list of the courier you’re using for more info or check out our own list. Also, some items aren’t covered by protection cover, so you’ll want to be even more liberal with the packaging when it comes to these. Find out what items aren’t covered by referring to the prohibited items page of your chosen courier company.
To avoid delays and additional charges, make sure you provide the correct measurements of your package when making a booking. It’s important to get the measurements accurate, so your gift can get sent using the right courier service and you get charged the correct amount. With gifts a common mistake customers make is measuring the item before they package it, which will not provide us or the courier with the correct measurements. Ensure your gift is wrapped, packed and ready to go before you get the tape measure or scales out. Couriers use dimensional weight, so providing the correct information at the time of booking is essential.
There are a number of items you can’t post, and some of these may be a surprise to you. Therefore, we recommend you check the prohibited items of the courier service before making a booking. Many couriers won’t allow you to send popular gift items, such as:
Liquids (including alcohol, perfumes, nail varnish)
Aerosols (so careful with the toiletries gift sets)
Chocolate and confectionary
Flowers and plants
There is often a list of restricted items as well, which couriers will send but not provide compensation for if lost or damaged. These items usually include items such as:
Electrical items like laptops, tablets, and smartphones
Anything with glass in it, such as ornaments and sunglasses
If you’re still in doubt after checking the prohibited items lists, get in touch. Our customer support team will be able to help with any queries you have regarding this. The list of items that can be sent is endless, we regularly help our customers find the best courier services for shipping clothing, sports equipment, vinyl records, toys and more.
Some of our courier services include free protection cover up to a certain value, and you can opt-in for this during the booking process. It’s definitely worth extending the protection cover if it is available with the courier you select via our shipping calculator if your gift is worth more than the standard value. We can provide additional protection cover up to $1000 with some couriers.
If your package is being sent internationally, it will be going through a country’s customs process. Unless it’s within the EU, this means you have to include a customs declaration, which includes information such as what’s in the package, the value of the contents and the nature of it (in this case, a gift). It’s important you’re completely accurate with this information, as it will lead to delays or your package being returned. Parcel Monkey provides a simple and straightforward Customs form to fill in when you make your booking, so there’s no chance of getting anything wrong, as long as you are detailed when completing the customs form.
Once you have booked get the Customs Form printed out and attach it to the outside of the package in a clear plastic wallet or envelope, or even a normal envelope marked 'Customs Documents'.
Better to be safe than sorry! Just in case there’s a problem with gift along the way, it’s always worth including a return address both on the outside and inside of your package. That way, it won’t get lost forever and you can have a second stab at sending it. Nowhere is ‘better late than never’ more appropriate than in the world of present giving, after all.
It’s best to give your gift as much time as possible to arrive, in the event that there are problems with its delivery. Generally, our services are very reliable, as we work with well-known couriers for international shipping like DHL, USPS and we have our own branded International Pickup and Drop Off services, which are operated by FedEx.
At the busier times of the year, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, it can take slightly longer to arrive as the courier networks are stretched with the sheer volume of packages. Also, bear in mind there are last recommended posting dates for Christmas, so you have to be a little more organized than usual then.
At least, not on the outside. Your gift needs to be wrapped in a durable packaging because it will be handled by quite a few pairs of hands. Our partners will look after your package as best they can, but there’s only so much they can do, and fragile materials like wrapping paper may rip and ribbons may get pulled off. Ribbons can be problematic in that they can get caught in machinery when your package is being scanned in sorting centers or under other packages, so if you want to use ribbon make sure it is only on the gift, inside of the more practical packaging.
If you’re sending outside of the US, goods will attract duty and local tax charges. This is generally in the range of 10 to 20% of the value of the item(s) in your package. Most countries provide tax-exemption for gifts up to a certain value, although that is the combined value of the package, not each gift. Amounts vary from country to country, so it’s worth checking before buying your gift with the customs in the recipient country. Generally, you can send items up to $50 to $100 in value without them attracting duty; Mexico and some other countries, however, don’t give you any allowance at all.
The crucial thing to bear in mind with all this is that it’s the recipient’s responsibility to pay the tax charges. That’s not the kind of unexpected present they want to receive, so be careful with all this. You should always provide a contact number for the recipient so Customs or the courier can make contact with them should there be any unlikely delivery problems.