PSA: Don’t make your craft swap partner pay for their gift!

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August 12, 2015 by tessaraewilliams

Shipping international packages is a bit different than shipping domestic packages. If you don’t tick the right boxes or put in the right info, your partner could have a hefty fee to pay when they want to pick up your package from the post office. I know filling out forms is an annoyance we all would like to avoid, but in this case it is imperative that you check and double check the form! So here’s some quick tips to save your partner from having to pay for their package!

  1. On your customs form, mark the package as a gift.
  2. When writing the value of each item, especially the handmade items, be conservative in your pricing. Now’s not the time to write the retail price for your work!
  3. Keep the overall value of the package low. I’ve heard different amounts for different countries, but if you keep the overall cost of the package under $35, your partner should be safe. I’ve also heard to keep it under $15 if you didn’t mark it as a gift.

I know that no one would purposely force their partner to pay for their package. Anytime someone gets charged like this, it’s truly just a mistake from the sender. It’s no one’s “fault”, just an unfortunate oversight. So let’s spread the good word about Customs Forms (woohoo! :p) so that we can prevent future mistakes and money wasted.

If you’re interested in learning more about saving money on shipping swap packages, Ros at Sew Delicious has a great blog post about it from an Australian perspective!

If you have anything else to add, more advice/horror stories about shipping/etc, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from people who’ve had first-hand experience with this!

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7 thoughts on “PSA: Don’t make your craft swap partner pay for their gift!

  1. Anke says:

    Even if marked ad a gift, European customs are harsh! For Belgium anything under $25 is safe, even safer if in a padded envelope.

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  2. I’ve had this issue posting things to family members. I always check the customs and duties regulations in any country before I ship. It was something I learned the hard way when I put the retail price on a quilt I’d made (simply for insurance purposes) and sent it as a surprise. My family thought I’d spent far too much on something for them, and had it returned. I reposted it with materials replacement value, and the issue was solved. That said, it really annoys me that I can’t properly insure the gifts I send to my family and friends overseas, but of course I don’t want them to have to pay duties on it.

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  3. Lots of experience here with receiving packages in Germany, so here it goes:

    In Germany any shipment with merchandise under 22 euros is allowed and free of charge (I know, ridiculous amount!) That’s about 24 US dollars. However I have ONCE received fabric with the declared amount of 100 USD and I got it at home and no charges. The other day however I received fabric with the declared amount of 30 usd (it was actually more lol) and they charged me taxes because of that extra 6 dollars.

    Ok, that’s what happens when it’s something I buy. With parcels that my friends send me, they declare values like 40 usd or even higher and it gets through. I guess it’s because their address labels are handwritten and they declare it as a gift. With fabric store it’s almost always a printed label so I guess the people at customs realise it’s merchandise. So I guess in swaps it’s important to mark it as a gift, put a low declared value, and to not make it look “professional”, like something a store would send.

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  4. Tish says:

    Thanks for sharing! This is great advice. I’ve never had to ship anything internationally, but having a heads up if I ever do is good.

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  5. Gina says:

    Here in the UK it’s about the equivalent of $25 even if marked as a gift. I recently had a swap sent to me where my partner had marked the value of the package at $100. It cost me nearly the equivalent of $50 to get it after paying customs charges. I know she didn’t realise and was thinking of insurance value if it went missing but I really thought long and hard about picking it up. If it was up to my hubby we’d have had it sent back as a not paying the charge.

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  6. Super helpful! Thank you! I have to send out a few things and was wondering what is a good declared amount and how to properly ship my package.

    Also, if you are participating in the #hexiefriends swaps there is a global usps stamp you can buy that is good for most countries from the US.

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  7. Beth says:

    I had this-a swap from America to myself in the uk. Wasn’t marked as gift and over marked in value. £20 out of pocket upon collection….not good! Ochhhhh 😦

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